- WHERE TO STAY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
Bloomsbury is a great area to stay to enjoy London's culture and nightlife.
The area is dominated by three big institutions, the British Museum, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital and the University of London. But it is for Bloomsbury's central location and proximity to the West End Theatres and nightlife that most visitors come.
There is a range of rooms types and prices available in Bloomsbury. You will find that Bloomsbury is slightly more expensive than equivalent hotels slightly further out from central London. You can expect to pay a minimum of £100 per night for the cheapest mid-range hotel in Bloomsbury and luxury hotels will be significantly higher.
The extra you could be paying is for the excellent location in central London which offers that mix of attractions on or very near your doorstep and all the entertainment you could wish for from the nearby theatre district.
The north of the district around Tavistock Square and the Holiday Inn is village like with small community shops and launderettes. The University and student halls set the tone for this area.
Tavistock Square is just one of the many beautiful small parks in the area, for which Bloomsbury is noted. These parks are attractively set out with plenty of seats, tame squirrels and birds, there is even a cafe at Russell Square. Most of the budget accommodation is located in this area. If you have kids, Coram's Fields is the largest park by far, with some facilities to keep your children entertained.
Around Russell Square, the British Museum and Holborn there is more of a buzz. You will find most of the large hotels and commercial activity here. Hotels tend to gravitate towards large, global chains, with the small independents either offering basic cheap accommodation or at the boutique and stylish end of the scale.
There are several small Tesco and Sainsburys mini-supermarkets spread throughout the southern part of Bloomsbury, lots of collector shops and just about every cuisine in the world is represented at all budget levels.
Off the Charing Cross Road is Denmark Street, the centre of the London music scene. Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, David Bowie were all here. Today it is still geared around the music industry with musical instrument shops and publishers. There are a couple of notice boards with bands looking for vocalists, drummers etc.
Bloomsbury is famous as London's literary district. Charing Cross Road, that leads south down to Trafalgar Square is the axis of the bookshops. It is perhaps best known for the Bloomsbury Group, a group of writers, artists and intellectuals that lived in the district of Bloomsbury in the years between the two world wars. Virginia Woolf, being the most famous member.
Russell Square is one of the main hubs of the Bloomsbury area. North of Russell Square, the district is dominated by the University and becomes much quieter, almost village-like in places. This is in contrast to the south of Russell Square. Russell Square is a traffic island big enough for a small park, one of many similar, though smaller squares you will find around the Bloomsbury area.
On the eastern side of the square are the Underground Station and Southampton Row along which you will find many of the large 4-star hotels in the district. This area is particularly vibrant in the evenings with bars, pubs and restaurants, tourists as well as locals.
On the western side of the square is the British Museum, the biggest tourist attraction in the district. Having a free entry and late evening opening times means that people staying in the area can visit this vast museum in bite-size chunks.
In the evening, many people staying in Bloomsbury stroll down to the south of the district towards Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Chinatown. London's China Town is the largest in Europe, full of restaurants and has an amazing atmosphere throughout the day but especially when lit at night.
Originally Covent Garden was London's main vegetable and flower market. The wholesale market moved outside the centre long ago and has been replaced with Covent Garden Piazza, full of restaurants and surrounded by theatres and the opera house. It's the kind of place most cities have, a place where visitors gravitate to for a meal, to be entertained and to people watch over a drink. Street performers are out in force and for its genre, it's very well executed.
Leicester Square, to the west of Covent Garden, has a more vibrant, younger feel and is where a lot of the film premieres take place. Many of the discount theatre ticket booths are here too. Off the north side of Leicester Square is China Town. Throughout this area, you will find a West End theatre around nearly every corner.