London/Bloomsbury

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Bloomsbury is a district of central London.

Russell Square in Bloomsbury

Understand[edit]

This is a vibrant historic district made most famous by a group of turn-of-the-century writers that included Virginia Woolf and EM Forster (the Bloomsbury Set), economist John Maynard Keynes and the artist Roger Fry.

It is also the location of the British Museum, the British Library, the campus of University College London and numerous historic homes, parks, and buildings.

Bloomsbury forms the southernmost part of the London Borough of Camden.

Get in[edit]

Map of the Bloomsbury district

By tube[edit]

Bloomsbury can be easily accessed from several convenient tube stations as follows:

  • Euston Square (Circle, Metropolitan and District lines)
  • Goodge Street (Northern line)
  • Holborn (Central line)
  • Russell Square (Piccadilly line)
  • Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines)
  • Warren Street (Victoria and Northern lines)

By train[edit]

Within walking distance of King's Cross, Euston and St Pancras mainline rail stations.

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

Most of the sites are reachable by foot or a single stop on the tube.

See[edit]

Bedford Square in Bloomsbury - wonderful Georgian architecture

Landmarks and parks[edit]

  • Bedford SquareWC1 (tube: Russell Sq). This wonderful square was built between 1775 and 1783 as an upper middle class residential area takes its name from the Dukes of Bedford, who were the main landlords in Bloomsbury. Distinguished residents have included Lord Eldon, one of Britain's longest serving and most celebrated Lord Chancellors. This is one of the best preserved set pieces of Georgian architecture in London and the majority of the buildings are grade I listed. The gardens are private and always remain locked.
  • British Telecom TowerMaple St, W1T 4BG. Not open to the public. 620ft skyscraper can be seen from far away and is the sixth highest building in UK.
  • Bloomsbury SquareBloomsbury Sq, WC1A 2LS (tube: Holborn, Russell Sq),  +44 20 7974-1693fax: +44 20 7974-1543. Dusk-dawn. This garden square was established by Lord Southampton in 1665 and is the oldest square in London. It was opened to the public in the 1950s. The square is surrounded by a number of beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings and terraces. Free.
  • Coram's Fields93 Guilford St, WC1N 1DN (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7833-2393. A park which is run specifically as children's play area. Facilities include a pet's corner, lawns, sports pitches and a nursery. No adults are allowed to enter the park unless they are accompanying children. All visitors are welcome to join the local kids.
  • Russell SquareWC1B (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7974-1693fax: +44 20 7974-1543. 07:30-22:00. The largest square in London. It was established in 1806 by the 5th Duke of Bedford and his statue can still be seen in the square. There is also a café.

Museums and exhibitions[edit]

Ceiling of the Great Hall, inside the British Museum
  • British MuseumGreat Russell St, WC1B 3DG (tube: Tottenham Court Rd),  +44 20 7323-8000fax: +44 20 7323-8616, e-mail: . Sa-W 10:00-17:30, Th F 10:00-20:30; Central Great Court remains open Sa-W until 18:00, Th F until 23:00. A vast repository of the world's cultures, with entire sections devoted to Egyptian, Greek, and Middle Eastern artifacts, as well as the piece which united them all, the Rosetta Stone. It also includes the largest collection of mummies outside Egypt and the Elgin Marbles. A definite highlight of a trip to London. Temporary exhibitions are invariably excellent and meticulously researched, but can be expensive. Free.
  • Cartoon Museum35 Little Russell St, WC1A 2HH (tube: Tottenham Court Rd),  +44 20 7580-8155, e-mail: . Tu-Sa 10:30-17:30, Su noon-17:30. A vast collection of cartoons and comics on display. £5.50, concessions £4, students £3, under-18s free.
  • Charles Dickens Museum48 Doughty St, WC1N 2LX (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7405-2127fax: +44 20 7831-5175, e-mail: . M, W-Sa 10:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30), Tu 10:00-19:00, Su 11:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30). Museum at the former home of Dickens exhibiting writings, paintings, furniture and other items relating to the writer. £5, students and seniors £4, children £3, families £14 (two adults and up to five children), special group rates apply.
  • Foundling Museum40 Brunswick Sq, WC1N 1AZ (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7841-3600fax: +44 20 7841-3601, e-mail: . Tu-Su 10:00-17:30. A museum and a gallery telling the story of the Foundling Hospital, an orphanage for abandoned children founded in the eighteenth century. Massive art donations by British artists and the involvement of George Friederic Handel as a patron made this child care organization an early center of art and music. £5, concessions £4, children free.
  • Fitzroy House (L. Ron Hubbard House), 35/37 Fitzroy St, W1T 6DX (tube: Warren St),  +44 20 7255-2422fax: +44 20 7255-2422, e-mail: . A historic house formerly inhabited by playwright George Bernard Shaw, it is where writer L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, worked in the 1950s. The building is reminiscent of the time, complete with Adler typewriters, Grundig tape recorders, and Western Union telefax. Tours by appointment. Free.
  • Petrie Museum of Egyptian ArchaeologyMalet Pl, WC1E 6BT (tube: Euston Sq. The museum can be hard to find. Whilst preparing for a move to new premises in 2012, it is housed inside the DMS Watson library down Malet Pl, a narrow lane. Find the large Blackwell's Bookstore on the corner of Malet St-Malet Pl continue over Torrington Pl. Venturing down the lane, the museum's banner should be prominent on the left hand side. Go through the doors and ask the porter for the museum),  +44 20 7679-2884fax: +44 20 7679-2886, e-mail: . Tu-F 13:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-14:00. Formerly the teaching collection of Sir Flinders Petrie, one of Britain's greatest archaeologists, now preserved by University College London and well worth a visit. Exhibits include beaded dresses, sculpture and wall reliefs, items of everyday use, papyri, cartonnage and pottery. Fascinating! Free.

Other[edit]

  • Goodenough CollegeMecklenburgh Sq, WC1N 2AB (tube: Russell Sq). Goodenough College offers accommodation for international postgraduate students. The College's student community of approx 650 represents over 90 countries, offering a unique experience through stimulating intellectual debate, fostering cross-cultural activity and providing an exceptional social environment.

Tours around the College are offered every Friday at 13:00 and every first Saturday of the month at 11:00.

  • University College London (UCL), Gower St, WC1E 6BT (tube: Euston Sq, access from the northern end of Gower St),  +44 20 7679-2000, e-mail: . Includes a small but beautiful quad and an interesting Neo-Classical facade. The core buildings of UCL were built after the university's foundation in 1826.

Do[edit]

  • Bloomsbury Theatre15 Gordon St, WC1H 0AH (tube: Euston Sq). Theatre owned by University College London staging both student and professional productions. Broad range of performances.
  • Cochrane Theatre Bar48 Southampton Row, WC1B 4AP (tube: Holborn),  +44 20 7269-1606. Established by Jeannetta Cochrane, now owned by the University of the Arts. Has servings throughout the performances.
  • Dominion Theatre268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 7AQ (tube: Tottenham Court Rd). A large London theatre that tends to show mainstream blockbuster-type musical productions
  • RenoirBrunswick Sq, WC1N 1AW (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7837-8402. Cinema showing arthouse and foreign language films. £3.50-6.80.
  • Walks +44 20 7388-8822. Bloomsbury has a number of famous walks that cover the lives and works of the Bloomsbury Group.
  • Bloomsbury Festival takes place in the Summer around the environs of Bloomsbury, concentrated in Russel Square, and hosts arts and crafts fair, children's painting classes and dance workshops. The food stalls are good value too.
  • London Mathematical Society is based on Russell Square, where they give lectures and exhibitions, for those numerically inclined.
  • For something very alternative, the Squatter's Centre on Russel Sq, is an institution that has been around for several decades providing information and support for squatters. Can be interesting to learn more about the underground squatting scene in the UK and for chatting with hippies and weirdos alike.

Buy[edit]

Tottenham Court Road is the centre for electronics retailers in London. If you are visiting the city and need to buy or replace an electronic item, you will not find a better selection nor better prices than here. Explore both sides of the street to the north of Tottenham Court Road station.

With University College London being a dominant presence in Bloomsbury, it is no surprise that there are a lot of bookshops. The area around Marchmont St and The Brunswick Centre (north of Russell Sq) has claims to be the bookshop capital of London.

Bookshops[edit]

  • Judd Books82 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AG (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7387-5333, e-mail: . M-Sa 11:00-19:00. Large stock of used, remaindered and academic books especially in the fields of architecture, history and philosophy.
  • Marchmont Books39 Burton St, WC1H 9AL (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7387-7989. Antiquarian bookshop
  • Skoob66 The Brunswick, WC1N 1AE (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7278-8760, e-mail: . Wide selection of secondhand academic books, philosophy, modern literature and classics. Very popular with students.

Other[edit]

  • Nomad Travel Store40 Bernard St, WC1N 1LJ (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7833-4114, e-mail: . Stock a huge range of travel related items from camping gear to medical kits. As well as stocking leading brands, have their own label range which is very reasonably priced. Also have a travel health service.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

This area is teeming with students so there is a wealth of cheap eating options. Charlotte Street near Goodge Street underground station, parallel to Tottenham Court Road (where the Fitzroy Tavern is found) has a number of nice restaurants, some of them very reasonable. Look for the cheap Korean restaurants under Centre Point at Tottenham Court Road. They are great value and very close to the British Museum.

  •    Attendant27A Foley Street, W1W 6DY (tube: Goodge St; corner of Foley St and Great Titchfield St, outide the Crown & Septre),  +44 20 7637-3794, e-mail: . M–F 08:00–18:00, Sa 10:00–17:00, Su 10:00–16:00. An independent coffee shop in a converted Victorian public toilet. £2.70 for a cappucino.
  • Mary Ward Cafe42 Queen Sq, WC1N 3AQ (tube: Holborn, Russell Sq),  +44 20 7269-6000. A selection of veggie and vegan dishes that changes daily. Cakes, pastries, and salad available as well. Busy, eat in or take away. Under £5 for a heap of food.
  • Ravi Shankar133-5 Drummond St, NW1 2HL (tube: Euston Sq),  +44 20 7388-6458. noon-22:45. Indian restaurant named after the famous Indian sitarist and composer. A superb vegetarian Thali can be had for under £10. Wash it down with a Kingfisher and you are set for the night.
  • Salaam Namaste68 Millman St, WC1N 3EF (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7405-3697, e-mail: . Mo-Sa 11:45-14:30, 17:30-23:30; Su 11:45-14:30, 17:30-23:00. Indian restaurant with dishes from around the country. Mains from £5.95.
  • Valtaro Snack Bar66 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AG. A cheap greasy spoon offering a decent-sized plate of pasta for under £5 as well as more English dishes.

Mid-range[edit]

  • The Court RestaurantThe British Museum, Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG (tube: Tottenham Court Rd),  +44 20 7323-8990, e-mail: . Sa-W noon-17:30, Th F noon-21:30. Housed in the British Museum, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience. For history buffs, its the perfect setting to sit down and enjoy familiar favorites. Reservations recommended. Main courses from £16.25.

Splurge[edit]

  • Crazy Bear26-28 Whitfield St, W1T 2RG (tube: Goodge St),  +44 20 7631-0088, e-mail: . Su-W noon-midnight, Th-Sa noon-01:00. Stylish Thai restaurant, also dishes from other Asian countries. Small mains from £13, set menu from £39.50.
  • Hakkasan8 Hanway Pl, W1T 1HD (Tottenham Court Rd),  +44 844 858 0682, e-mail: . M-W noon-15:15, 18:00-23:30; Th Fr noon-15:15, 18:00-00:30; Sa noon-16:30, 18:00-00:30; Su noon-16:30. Michelin stared kitchen based on Cantonese tradition but also experimenting in other areas. Small mains from £14.
  • Pied a Terre34 Charlotte St, W1T 2NH (tube: Goodge St),  +44 20 7636-1178, e-mail: . M-F 12:15-14:30, 18:15-22:30, Sa 18:15-22:30. French restaurant with two Michelins stars. Starter and main course £56.60.

Drink[edit]

There are a number of pubs and winebars around the British Library and University College London campus.

  •    The College Arms18 Store St, WC1E 7DH (tube: Goodge St),  +44 872 148 2469. Pub often frequented by students from nearby University College London and Birkbeck College.
  •    Bubbledogs70 Charlotte St, W1T 4QG (tube: Goodge St),  +44 20 7637-7770, e-mail: . Tu–Sa 11:30–16:00 / 17:30–23:00. Champagne and cocktail bar serving gourmet hotdogs. From £6–11.50 (glass of wine/champagne), £6–8 (hotdogs).
  •    Fitzroy Tavern16 Charlotte St, W1T 2NA (tube: Goodge St),  +44 20 7580-3714. Owned by the Samuel Smith brewery, the Fitzroy Tavern offers good, cheap beer. The pub, which took its name from a local aristocrat, the Earl of Fitzroy, in turn inspired the name of the surrounding area of Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia, and was a popular drinking place for BBC broadcasters (including George Orwell) following the Second World War. A very friendly pub, with nice outdoor seating in summer.
  •    The Jeremy Bentham31 University St, WC1E 6JL (tube: Warren St),  +44 872 148 1528. Named after the prominent political philosopher and early supporter of University College London, and located very near the main entrance to the college, the pub tends to attract more senior academics than does the College Arms.
  •    The Lord John Russell91-93 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AL (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7388-0500. Authentic pub popular with University students.
  •    Match Bar37-38 Margaret St, W1G 0JF (tube: Oxford Circus),  +44 20 7499-3443, e-mail: . M-Sa 11:00-midnight, Su 16:00-midnight. Lounge in style sipping on a cocktail as the resident dj plays soulful tunes in the background. Beers from £3.25.
  •    The Museum Tavern49 Great Russell St, WC1B 3BA (tube: Tottenham Court Rd, opposite the British Museum),  +44 20 7242-8987. M-Th 11:00-23:00, Fr Sa 11:00-midnight, Su noon-23:30. A very good pub, offering a wide range of real ales, and some excellent food. Can get busy in the summer months.
  •    TCR Lounge Bar (formerly, and commonly still known as, Ye Olde Surgeon), 183 Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 7PE (tube: Goodge St). A common drinking place for medical students from University College Hospital, who jostle alongside office workers. Gets exceptionally crowded after office hours.
  •    The Lamb94 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1N 3LZ (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7405-0713, e-mail: . M-W 12:00-23:00, Th-Sa 12:00-midnight, Su 12:00-22:30. This beautifully preserved Victorian pub still has numerous frequenters, both young and old alike. Classic ales and some great food. Crowded after 17.00.

Sleep[edit]

Bloomsbury is a great choice of district to stay in as there is a large range of hostels, B&Bs, budget hotels and four star hotels in the area.

Budget[edit]

Hostels[edit]

  • GeneratorCompton Pl, (off 37 Tavistock Pl), WC1H 9SE (Tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7388-7666fax: +44 20 7388-7644, e-mail: . Right in the heart of Bloomsbury. Communal showers and cold water, all-night parties and generally an architecture obviously designed exclusively with the easy clean-up of bodily fluids in mind. It is cheap, though, in London terms. Dormitory from £20, private single £60.
  • University College LondonBloomsbury and King's Cross. Student halls of residence which are made available for rental during academic holiday periods.

Hotels[edit]

Many of the budget hotels are located on Argyle St in the very northern part of the district, nearest tube station: King's Cross St Pancras.

  • Alhambra Hotel17-19 Argyle St, WC1H 8EJ +44 20 7837-9575. Well known multi-lingual (Spanish, Portuguese, French) family hotel. Free wireless Internet. Single from £50, basic double £60, excellent English breakfast included.
  • The Apollo Hotel60 Argyle St, WC1H 8EP (tube: King's Cross St Pancras). Clean, but staff somewhat unhelpful. WiFi Internet. Single from £48, basic double £58, English breakfast included.
  • Avalon Hotel46-47 Cartwright Gdns, WC1H 9EL (tube: King's Cross St Pancras). Friendly staff, good rooms, and you get to take a spare key of both your room and the front door - of course very useful if you plan on staying out late. From £59, breakfast included.
  • Excelsior Hotel42 Argyle Sq, WC1H 8AL (tube: King's Cross St Pancras),  +44 20 7837-0571fax: +44 20 7713-5835, e-mail: . Budget hotel situated in a quiet, leafy square close to King's Cross Station. All rooms have high speed internet connection. From £59.
  • Jesmond Dene Hotel27 Argyle St, WC1H 8EP (tube: King's Cross St Pancras),  +44 20 7837-4654fax: +44 20 7833-1633, e-mail: . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. A budget hotel run on a bed & breakfast basis. Free WiFi Internet access. Basic single £50, basic double/twin £80.

Mid-range[edit]

  • George Hotel58-60 Cartwright Gdns, WC1H 9EL (tube: King's Cross St Pancras),  +44 20 7387-8777. Historic building, full English breakfast. Double room, ensuite £75.

Splurge[edit]

  • myhotel Bloomsbury11-13 Bayley St, Bedford Sq, WC1B 3HD (tube: Goodge St). Funky and fashionable hotel with interiors by Conran and no surprise that it is listed in Hip Hotels. Doubles from £206.
  • The Russell Hotel1-8 Russell Sq, WC1B 5BE (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7837-6470. This gothic building is a real landmark and dominates the eastern side of Russell Square. Not a cheap hotel by any means but good value for the location and standard. Popular with families. See the magnificent ballroom which was designed by the same people who created interiors for RMS Titanic.
  • Sanderson Hotel50 Berners St, W1T 3NG (tube: Oxford Circus). Hotel features the Courtyard Garden, Jeffrey Chodorow’s Spoon restaurant, the Long Bar, the Purple Bar, Billiard Room, Agua Bathhouse, penthouse suites and multi-service meeting spaces.

Connect[edit]

  • Rex Lounge30 Woburn Pl, WC1H 0JR (tube: Russell Sq),  +44 20 7637-4545. M-Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 10:00-22:00. Internet cafe also with full business services.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Bloomsbury
North LondonMayfair-Marylebone  W Bakerloo line flag box.svg E  SohoLeicester Square
West LondonMayfair-Marylebone  W Central line flag box.svg E  Covent GardenThe City
Hammersmith and FulhamMayfair-Marylebone  W Circle line flag box.svg E  Holborn-ClerkenwellThe City
Hammersmith and FulhamMayfair-Marylebone  W Hammersmith & City line flag box.svg E  Holborn-ClerkenwellThe City
North LondonMayfair-Marylebone  W Metropolitan line flag box.svg E  Holborn-ClerkenwellThe City
North LondonCamden ← Bank branch ←  N Northern line flag box.svg S  → Bank branch → IslingtonThe City
North LondonCamden ← Charing Cross branch ←  N Northern line flag box.svg S  → Charing Cross branch → SohoLeicester Square
Westminster-Mayfair-MaryleboneHolborn-Clerkenwell  S Piccadilly line flag box.svg N  CamdenNorth London
WestminsterSoho  S Victoria line flag box.svg N  CamdenNorth London


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