Numerous historic homes are open to visitors within the confines of London—from Spencer House, situated cheek-by-jowl with Green Park, to Apsley House and Syon Park. An especial standout is the recently restored Leighton House in Holland Park. Crafted by Victorian painter Frederick Leighton, the brick home-cum-studio boasts a period exterior, but step inside and enter a far-flung fantasy that mixes Oriental influences with glorious tilework, peacock hues, and burbling fountains. The home’s Arab Hall, housing more than 1,000 Islamic tiles culled from Damascus, is especially breathtaking.
Windsor Castle, rich with history, is the former residence of British monarchs since being built by Henry I in the eleventh century. It stands as the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The Queen still uses the estate as a weekend home, but tourists can visit the State Apartments, St. George’s Chapel, and the curious Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, an aristocratic palace in miniature. For details on admission, visit royalcollection.org.uk.