In the middle of the Thames at Twickenham lies Eel Pie Island. It was once the site of the Eel Pie Hotel, a 19th-century guesthouse turned jazz venue that attracted the likes of Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. Now, it’s been transformed into a hippie artists’ colony, accessible only by boat or footbridge.
Here, anything goes: mannequins dressed in hi-vis jackets, benches made from salvaged junkyard items, craftsman-style cottages with kitsch sculptures emerging from their roofs… Mud trails guide the way, culminating in an idyllic outdoor dining area decked with candlesticks and swinging chandeliers.
But there’s a catch! The island is only open to the public three times a year when the Eel Pie artists organize open studio weekends. These usually take place twice in July and once in December, with dates published on their website well in advance and no bookings required. The rest of the time, it’s shrouded in mystery: an escapist’s paradise just beyond reach.
The dates for this summer are the 15-16th and the 22-23rd of July, from 11 am to 6 pm!