The Barbican has a secret. On first appearances this monster of concrete is one of London’s ugliest buildings, but it has a softer side – if you know where to look.

Located on the third and fourth floors of the Barbican Centre, the Conservatory serves as London’s little piece of the tropics (with a twist). The brightest pinks, purples and oranges mix with lush green and the occasional rustic brown to keep things interesting. But all this sits against a backdrop of the toughest grey: concrete, metal and stone in the same brutal design as the complex itself. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

Barbican Conservatory, London

North London blogger SilverTiger summed it up nicely when he described the Barbican as ‘”masonry” rather than “architecture”‘ and the cloudy weather when we visited did nothing to make the building more welcoming.

But turn into the Conservatory on the third floor and you’re greeted with a pretty and lovely place that was made for quiet Sundays. There is really nothing else like this within central London.

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The Conservatory is only open on Sundays and bank holidays – check the website before visiting. It’s completely free to visit.

Nearest Tube: Barbican

More information: Visit the Barbican website