In the heart of Westminster, a short walk from Downing Street, the Churchill War Rooms invite visitors on a journey through history to discover the secret bunker where Winston Churchill set up his command post during the Second World War.
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of London? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Looking for a hotel in London? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in London? Advice & recommendations
Brief history of the Churchill War Rooms
The bunker before the war
At the end of the 1930s, the need to build secret underground headquarters in London where the political and military powers could take refuge if war were to be declared became more and more pressing.
The construction of the secret command post began in 1938 under the British Treasury building, Whitehall, and was completed on August 27, 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany.
Churchill’s bunker during the war
In October 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain held the first war council in the War Rooms. Following his election in May 1940, Churchill, now Prime Minister, took over the War Rooms to direct the war effort underground, sheltered from German bombing.
The same year, during the London Blitz, the walls were reinforced with concrete (some are 1.50 meters thick), and the infrastructures were extended the following year to accommodate new offices and dormitories.
If Churchill had his very own bedroom in the War Rooms, he rarely slept in the bunker during the war and mostly preferred to return to 10 Downing Street.
In August 1945, the Japanese surrender marked the end of the war: the Churchill War Rooms were closed and Churchill and his advisors are finally were able to rule the country from more convential offices, in broad daylight!
The Churchill War Rooms after the war
Three years after the end of the war, the Churchill War Rooms became a national monument. But the bunker was open to the public much later, in 1984.
Visiting the Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are divided into two separate areas:
- The Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill’s bunker, inviting visitors to explore some of the rooms – preserved in the same state as the day after the war – where Churchill and his advisors led the war effort out of public view.
- The Churchill Museum, tracing the tumultuous life of the man some have even nicknamed “the greatest Briton”: Sir Winston Churchill.
The Cabinet War Rooms
The Cabinet War Rooms comprise some thirty rooms which visitors are free to explore to discover the daily life of Winston Churchill and his advisers during World War II.
Some rooms are particularly striking.
Cabinet War Room
115 strategic meetings were held in this very room between 1940 and 1945. When he first entered this room the day after he was elected Prime Minister, Churchill is said to have declared: “this is the room from from which I will lead the war”.
The Map Room is one of the most striking rooms in the Churchill War Rooms.
Here, army officers followed at all hours the advance of the troops around the world to provide detailed reports to Churchill, as well as to the king and the chiefs of staff.
The maps currently exhibited in the Map Room are authentic and are the very same that British officers were working on when the Japanese army surrendered in 1945.
Transatlantic Telephone Room
This tiny room may not look like much at first sight (believe it or not, it’s actually an old broom closet!), but it did play a key role during the Second World War.
The Transatlantic Telephone Room indeed allowed Winston Churchill to have a direct and secure line to contact his American counterpart Franklin Roosevelt.
Churchill’s bunker corresponds to the living quarters of Churchill and his advisors. Churchill’s wife, Clementine Churchill, even had her very own room.
Adjacent to the Prime Minister’s bedroom, a small room appointed with broadcasting equipment allowed Churchill to address the entire nation in speeches transmitted by the BBC. The Prime Minister adressed the nation on 4 different occasions from this small room during the war.
The Churchill Museum
Ludic and interactive, the Churchill Museum is dedicated to the long life of the iconic British Prime Minister, from his childhood to his death in January 1965 at the age of 90.
This modern and charming museum traces the extraordinary and tumultuous journey of Winston Churchill with speeches, correspondence, personal items, photographs and archive films as evidence.
We are all worms but I do believe that I am a glow-worm’
Getting to the Churchill War Rooms
To discover the Churchill War Rooms, head to the heart of the district of Westminster, in Whitehall, a short walk from Downing Street.
The nearest subway stations are St James’s Park (Circle and District lines) and Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee lines).
The Churchill War Rooms are also easily accessible by hop-on hop-off tourist bus.
👉 For more information: hop-on hop-off tourist bus ticket + Thames River Cruise
ℹ️ For your information: ℹ️
Although underground, the Churchill War Rooms are easily accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
Opening hours of the Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are open every day of the year (except December 24, 25 and 26) from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last entry at 5 p.m.).
Captain Ulysses recommends allowing at least one hour and a half for the visit, more if you want to take your time!
16 to 64 years old
5 to 15 years old
1 adult and up to 3 children
2 adults and up to 6 children
|Reduced fares |
Seniors over 65, students, people with disabilities
The price of the ticket comes with an audio guide available in various languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew, and Mandarin.
👍 London Pass & London Explorer Pass 👍
Access to the Churchill War Rooms is also included in the London Pass and the London Explorer Pass.
Captain Ulysses tends to prefer the former, which includes access to 80 attractions, among which many of London’s most iconic monuments and museums (The Tower of London, The Shard, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, the London Bridge Experience, Windsor Castle, a cruise on the Thames, a day of sightseeing in a hop-on hop-off bus, etc): an investment that will no doubt pay off if you’re staying a few days in London!
For Churchill’s admirers
If visiting the Churchill War Rooms isn’t enough to satisfy your insatiable curiosity and you want to know more about the emblematic Prime Minister, Captain Ulysses recommends going on a guided tour following Churchill’s footsteps.
The Captain recommends this tour in particular: guided tour of Westminster and the Churchill War Rooms.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!
👉 Find the perfect place to stay in London!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions in London!
🛏️ Accommodation: If you haven’t booked your accommodation in London yet, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Expedia. And for more tips and recommendations, check out the Captain’s detailed article: Where to stay in London?
🎟️ Activities: For your visits and activities in London, the Captain recomends checking out GetYourGuide, Civitatis and Tiqets. Skip-the-line tickets, cruises, guided tours, activities off the beaten tracks… You will undoubtedly find what everything you need… and more! Keep in mind that London is a very touristy city: if you want to avoid queuing for hours, skip-the-line tickets are great time savers!
🎫 Citypass : If you’re spending a few days in the capital, Captain Ulysse recommends investing in a city pass which will give you access to the most iconic monuments and attractions in London. There are 2 options: the London Explorer Pass and the London Pass (which also includes a 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.). These passes have 2 major advantages: the discounts and the skip-the-line accesses.
🚐 Transfers: London is a huge city and the airports are quite distant from the city centre. If you want to avoid spending hours in public transports to get to your hotel, you can book a transfer from the airport. A car will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you wherever you want in the city centre. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: The capital being quite spread out, there’s no avoiding taking public transports. The good news is that they are quite easy to navigate! You can also opt for a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, which includes an audioguide and stops at the main attractions and monuments in the city.
✈️ Flights: To get to London, there are plenty of options: planes, buses, trains and even ferries. For your flights, the Captain highly recommends that checking out Skyscanner: you’ll be able to find the best deal for the dates on which you plan on traveling to London. If your dates are flexible, you will even be able to compare prices over several weeks in order to find THE best deal. London is also easily accessible by bus and train. To book your trips, the Captain warmly recommends Omio, which allows you to travel through 44 countries with 207 train and bus companies, including Eurostar.