Attraction Reviews,  Things to Do

The Wallace Collection Review (2024): Is It Worth It?

Are you a fan of art and well aware that London is full of awesome art museums – but looking for something a little different? You could visit The National Gallery, the Tate Museum(s) (Modern or Britain), the National Portrait Gallery, or even the British Museum… but honestly, between the crowds are a bit much and you’ve probably seen many of the most famous items in photos already.

Well, have I got an option for you! The Wallace Collection is a unique London museum and experience, home to paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain, and even armor. It’s one of my favorite London museums, and I’m always encouraging people to visit – hopefully, my Wallace Collection review will encourage you to do the same.

Below you’ll find all the essentials for visiting The Wallace Collection, a recap of my own experience there, and my thoughts on whether The Wallace Collection is worth it for your London itinerary.

Basics of Visiting The Wallace Collection

Before jumping into my specific thoughts and recommendations about visiting “The Wallace,” I thought it might help to cover some of the basics of planning a visit if that’s what you decide to do as part of your London itinerary.

Location & Transport

The Wallace Collection is located in Hertford House, a townhouse in Manchester Square very close to Marylebone High Street – just a stone’s throw from some of my favorite Marylebone restaurants, such as Chiltern Firehouse and Royal China.

Being centrally located in Marylebone, there are lots of buses that you can ride to get close to the museum. You could also ride the Tube to Bond Street, Oxford Circus, or Baker Street and walk from those stations to the Wallace Collection.

Hours, Admission & Tickets

The Wallace Collection is open every day of the year between 10am and 5pm, except for the Christmas holiday.

Regarding admission, is the Wallace Collection worth it moneywise? Well, good news: the permanent collection at the Wallace Collection is free to visit. As for the paid exhibitions, that would depend on what’s being shown – the quality can vary, so it’s really up to you (check ‘what’s on‘ to see which one(s) you might want to pay to see).

Food Options & Facilities

The museum has its own restaurant, The Wallace Restaurant, which offers breakfast, a light lunch, and afternoon tea. (Note that the last order is at 4:30pm, and that availability is on a walk-in basis.)

While the restaurant has quite a beautiful setting, filled with natural light and set amongst trees in the sculpture garden, the food isn’t the best. I would say it’s worth it if you just want to get a cup of tea in a nice setting – mind you, a cup of tea, not the afternoon tea set!

However, don’t go if you’re a foodie who cares about the quality of the actual food. There is much better food to be had just a few minutes walk away in Marylebone. (Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I wanted to be totally honest in my Wallace Collection review!)

Gift Shop & Souvenirs

Like most London attractions, The Wallace Collection has its own gift shop. (You can also view the online shop here.)  

It has slightly more sophisticated souvenirs, such as soaps, English cookies, and chocolate, with some of its artworks on the packaging. Not as quirky as what you get at the Globe or Natural History Museum, though. Basically, more practical things one can actually use and won’t regret purchasing after going home!

My Experience at The Wallace Collection

Photos courtesy of Francisco Anzola via Flickr

I used to study at London Business School, which is located at Regents Park, just north of The Wallace Collection, so I often spent a quiet afternoon with friends at The Wallace Collection.

It’s a nice, small, intimate museum that’s not as noisy and crowded as, say, The British Museum. You’ll feel like you’re a visitor in a posh friend’s home instead of just one of a million tourists in a gallery. IT’s definitely a great way to spend a quiet afternoon with friends without shelling out a lot of money!

While The Wallace has a good art collection – it’s extensive enough to warrant a few hours – I think the “Arms and Armour” collection really stands out. It showcases arms from medieval Europe all the way to 19th-century Asia and is one of the best arms collections in the world. Children will even have the opportunity to try on some arms. (There’s also a live mock battle.)

Additionally, here are some of my favorite things to see at the Wallace:

  • Painting Collection: Rainbow Landscape by Peter Paul Reubens, 1636. It captures the beautiful pastoral landscape around Reubens’ country house outside of Antwerp. The colors are stunning and it’s a nice escape from the city, even if it’s through a painting!
  • Decorative Arts Collection: China’s Imperial Wine Cups from the 18th century: only four of these cups exist in the entire world and two of them are housed at The Wallace! They’re decorated with pearls, precious stones, and kingfisher feathers and were used by Emperor Qianlong to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
  • Sculpture Collection: Trophy Head. I’ve always had a soft spot for sculpture and this is one of Africa’s largest historic sculptures that can be found outside of Egypt. It was made in 18th or 19th century Asante, which is modern-day Ghana.
  • Live Events: Another thing I really enjoyed about the museum was the live events. Some of the events have moved online after Covid, but they still offer interesting sessions such as a Sculpting Masterclass in February. (It’s ticketed, of course.)

My Wallace Collection Review: Final Thoughts

Photos courtesy of Vulpes Lumin AI Flickr

Overall, I definitely recommend The Wallace to any art lover and/or war history enthusiast who is visiting London

However, if you’re more of a general tourist on a short visit, not particularly interested in art, I’d opt for one of the bigger, more popular museums; the British Museum is a great choice for world history enthusiasts, the Natural History Museum is great for fans of the world’s wonders, and the Tate Britain or Tate Modern are both excellent for a wider art overview.

Do you have any questions about visiting The Wallace Collection or whether it’s worth it, after reading my review? Let me know in the comments below.

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Zhen fell in love with London when she first visited at the age of 4. After that, she was lucky to have the opportunity to live in UK for 11 years, 7 of which were spent in London. (She particularly adores the areas around Kensington, Southwark and Baker Street!) As someone who loves both food and travel – don’t we all? – you can find her sharing her Asian food recipes over at greedygirlgourmet.com.

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