How to spend a day at Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station has been a part of the London skyline for decades.
Battersea Power Station has been a part of the London skyline for decades. | © Charlie Round Table

Editorial Manager

Following a massive renovation, London’s Battersea Power Station is now open to the public. The exterior of the art deco building, made up of more than six million bricks, looks as stunning as it always has, but we take a peak inside to find out why this riverside part of the capital is now one of the hottest destinations around.

For Londoners Battersea Power Station has always been an odd landmark to visit. It was notoriously difficult to reach and once there, there wasn’t actually all that much to do. I had been invited there a few times for events and launch parties in the early 2000s, but usually managed to talk myself out of going due to how awkward the journey home would be. The building was iconic for sure, but I had seen enough pictures of it already so felt no need to go there myself.

The (Brief) History of Battersea Power Station

The Power Station was built in two stages: Battersea A was completed in 1935 and Battersea B, despite the war, came into service in 1944 with the fourth chimney completed in 1955. Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott originally proposed that the chimneys be square instead of circular but thankfully reconsidered giving the building an easy-on-the-eye exterior which hides its functionality.

At its peak, the power station provided 20% of London’s electricity. It would have lit up places like Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Wimbledon. It is also famous from numerous film and TV appearances including Children of Men (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Meaning of Life (1983). Most people will know it best from the artwork of Pink Floyd.

This ariel view of the power station in 2008 highlights how much work had to be done to turn the area into a destination visitors to London would want to visit. Locals has all but given up hope after years of false starts.

The four chimneys were the first part of the major renovation when they were painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt to original specifications between 2014 and 2017. The signalled the beginning of a new era with residential buildings, hotels and new entertainment spaces set to open in the coming years.

Today the venue is surrounded by new apartments, rooftops and green spaces.

Visiting Battersea Power Station

As with all good London venues, transport is key. I got sense this was a serious project a few years ago when an extension to the Northern Line tube was announced with a dedicated station being opened at the power station itself.

With regular buses running here too, the issue of accessibility had been addressed. You can even get here by the river if you take a clipper service but what exactly can you do once you arrive?

If you’re looking to stay close by and don’t fancy travelling at all, then art’otel is a great option. The rooftop pool offers unbeatable views of the power station and serves up a selection of snacks and drinks. You can visit this spot even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, but you will be tempted to spend the night once you take a look inside. The sumptuous interiors are exquisitely designed with a light feel running through every area.

The view from the Masterpiece Suite at art’otel

How to spend the day at Battersea Power Station

Once you get here you won’t be short of options on what to do. Make sure you take some time to explore the surrounding areas. There are some great food and drinks options along Electric Boulevard which is also a great place for shopping. If you carry on towards the river, you’ll find a series of smaller shops under the arches of the nearby rail bridge. This is also where you’ll find the first branch of The Cinema, a small boutique theatre which has a much larger outlet in the power station itself.

The green space in front of the main entrance is also a great area to explore. In the summer there are fun activities to try with a large screen playing movies and live events. On the morning when I arrived I caught the second half of a World Cup game whilst others were playing paddle board as part of the Battersea Games. Check out the latest line-up of events and activities here.

The power station and green spaces are a year-round destination

Having got here early and keen to get a full view of where we were, we decided to head to the base of one of the chimneys for a truly unique experience. All four corners a identical with one notable change and the eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted the glass box that appears to sit on top of the north-west riverside chimney.

Lift 109 at Battersea

The Lift 109 experience begins in the Power Station’s magnificent Art Deco Turbine Hall A. This first glimpse of the breath-taking interior gives an idea of the scale of the building, but we wanted to get a more lofty view. Once past the ticketed entrance area for the experiences, visitors can delve into the building’s rich history, architectural significance and enduring presence in popular culture.

Continuing onwards and upwards, we entered the unique circular-chimney glass elevator; Lift 109. Rings of light and a soundscape reminiscent of rising energy guided the way as the lift makes its ascent of the Power Station’s north-west chimney. In you haven’t figured it out yet, you are going up 109 metres to get 360-degree views of the city.

View of the city and Battersea Power Station

Things to do in Battersea Power Station

Now that we were fully settled in, and just as the typical British summer had opened up the heavens, we took a look around. Feeling peckish I took a quick detour to Arcade Battersea, the latest opening from the food hall experts. The retro feel works well here and as usual all the food options are of the highest order. I opted for something light as my next stop was going to be a trip to the cinema.

The Cinema in the Power Station is the sister venue of the one I previously mentioned under the arches. Here you can enjoy the latest theatrical releases in a state-of-the-art Dolby Cinema, including two screens, and reclining seating. You can enjoy all the usual cinema treats as well as a selection of gourmet extras. Recently opened is an exclusive private members bar and restaurant just off the foyer. The bar is as laid-back as it is luxurious with five star staff who greet members as a returning friend each time.

I felt welcome even though I was dressed in bright yellow and orange in preparation for the Barbie movie I was about to watch…

Battersea Power Station Turbine Hall A

Having enjoyed the movie and with a hankering to unleash my inner Ken, I took a look at the shops in the main halls. There’s a decent split between high-end luxury and more affordable options, so you’ll be able to browse at things you might buy and things you want to buy (but will need a mortgage to finance).

Having spent more time and money than I should have in the Adidas store, I needed a drink. Control Room B is a fantastic spot and not just because of the tasty cocktails and light snacks on offer. Many of the original control room fixtures have been kept so you can see how engineers operated the huge turbines that kept London running from the comfort of the bar. You can book a tour or even take part in an adrenaline-fuelled escape room experience, but I was fine with a signature cocktail in the style of one of the machines I was sat by.

Turbine Hall B, Battersea Power Station

There are more fun experiences to try in the coming months too. Bounce brings its ping pong vibes to the great halls having recently launched here and if you’re into something more cultural you can explore more of the history of the building with exhibits and tours.

I like to keep it simple, however, and wanted to try one of the food options I had been recommended by a frequent visitor. NOCI serves modern Italian cuisine and is the perfect place to end a day out here. The dishes were excellent with the beef shin ragu a particular highlight. There is also a great selection of deserts and luckily I had worked up an appetite after all the activities as part of my 24 hours at Battersea Power Station.

There are a number of exciting additions coming in the near future but there are already more than enough reasons to visit today!

landscape with balloons floating in the air


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