Bloomsbury Neighborhood Guide
Introduction to Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury, located between Holborn and Euston Road, is an area in Central London full of culture and dotted with garden squares. It was a fashionable residential neighborhood in the 17th and 18th centuries, and has turned into a hub for the arts and education. It is as peaceful as a central neighborhood could hope to be, save for the gaggle of tourists congregating near the British Museum.
What would a London neighborhood be without its pubs? We’ve put together a list of the best pubs in Bloomsbury, and there is something here for everyone. Whether you want to relax with a pint and a chat after work, have a hearty dinner after sightseeing, or cheer on your team in front of some plasma screens, you will find a new favorite below.
Rugby Tavern - Frequented by everyone from local businessmen to tourists, Rugby Tavern is situated in a busy, well-connected area. A pub with something slightly different to offer, customers can play darts, or join in on poker, poetry, and quiz nights.
Bloomsbury Tavern - After taking in Bloomsbury’s cultural attractions all day, rest your feet at the Bloomsbury Tavern. If haunted pubs are your thing, swing by and try to catch the ghost that calls this pub its home.
Museum Tavern - Much of the Museum Tavern survives from 1855. When the British Museum was built in the 1760’s, the name changed to match. Grab some great traditional pub food and spend some time in the same room where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Karl Marx once visited.
College Arms - Right off of Tottenham Court Road, the College Arms is a cosy mix of a traditional British pub and wine bar. Head to the College Arms for something a little more than the traditional pub but with the same great atmosphere.
The Duke - Situated on an out-of-the-way corner and populated with dark wooden benches, tables, and chairs, The Duke is a great no-frills pub. If you need a quiet chat or a peaceful pint, The Duke is your pub.
Yorkshire Grey - Open for lunch and dinner during the week, the Yorkshire Grey has been standing in its current spot since 1676. Grab a friend and soak up the history with traditional fish and chips, a more modern gourmet burger, or a sharing board.
The Perseverance - The Perseverance, an independently managed traditional pub, is proud of their friendly atmosphere. If the ground floor gets a bit busy, there is space for a quiet sit-down in a small room upstairs.
The Marquis Cornwallis - A stately pub, The Marquis Cornwallis offers traditional cask ales, craft beers from all over the world, and fine wines from the glass. Their pub fare contains the British classics, as well as monthly seasonal specials.
Friend at Hand - If you’re looking for the perfect spot to watch the big game, look no further than Friend at Hand. A friendly, traditional pub with three plasma screens, you won’t miss any of the game coverage as you cheer your team on.
The Square Pig - Situated a few steps from Holborn station and on the edge of Bloomsbury, this pub is spacious yet cosy. Have a working lunch or drinks after work to the sounds of acoustic, soul, and Motown.
Coffee is meant to be enjoyed. Take a break from trekking around Bloomsbury, taking in the culture, and discovering all that the British Museum has to offer and enjoy some perfectly crafted coffee. You could even grab some coffee and pastries to get energized before your day at work or sightseeing. Here are five of the best coffee shops in Bloomsbury!
Bloomsbury Coffee House - Serving up Allpress coffee, Teapigs teas, and homemade bakery items, this coffee house has it all. Their daily changing lunch menu acts as a great starter for all the sweet treats.
The Espresso Room - This independent specialty coffee shop mainly sticks to serving up what they do best: caffeinated drinks. Previously the recipient of Time Out’s Best London Coffee award, you can’t go wrong with a brew from The Espresso Room.
London Review Cake Shop - Walk through a history section corridor in the London Review Bookshop and you will find the well-liked Cake Shop. Filled with sweets, savory lunch items, tea, and coffee.
Bea’s of Bloomsbury - If you’re looking for high-end sweets or light savory lunch items along with your coffee or tea, Bea’s of Bloomsbury is the bakery for you. From tea specials and coffee to elaborate cakes, Bea’s has an impressive array of offerings.
Cafe in the Gardens - Head to Russell Square for a quality little cafe, where they offer great coffee at a nice price. What better way is there to enjoy a nice day in one of Bloomsbury’s many green spaces?
Everyone loves a good green space, especially when the sun manages to shine in London. The neighborhood with an abundance of landscaped squares, there are plenty of ideal areas to choose from for your run or picnic in Bloomsbury.
Bloomsbury Square - The basics of Bloomsbury square have been around since the 1660’s, and has since been redesigned several times. It features oval tree lines and pathways, and is the perfect space for an after-work run.
Russell Square - Russell Square has received multiple awards for its beautiful landscaping. It also holds a great cafe, drawing in many locals and tourists alike for lunch on manicured lawns and next to pretty blooms.
Gray’s Inn Gardens - Also known as “the Walks,” the Gardens were originally laid out by Sir Francis Bacon. On a sunny day lines of trees cast dappled shade on the spacious footpaths, and make the space a perfect haven from the busy city around it.
Brunswick Square Gardens - The former recreational space of an orphanage in 1739, Brunswick Square Gardens are tranquil and picturesque. The garden is also home to a “Great Tree of London,” according to the charity Trees for Cities. If you have children in tow, a play area is just around the corner in Coram’s Fields.
Gordon Square - A picturesque garden, this square was put to multiple uses since its original design in 1800. Named after Lady Georgina Gordon, this square features mature trees, a well-maintained landscape, and winding footpaths.
Bloomsbury's Traditional Attractions
If you want to soak up some uniquely London culture, spend a few days in Bloomsbury. From historical buildings with brilliant architecture to museums you cannot find anywhere else, the neighborhood has a little something for everyone. There is even a museum the kids will appreciate! Here are our five favorite cultural attractions in the neighborhood.
British Museum - On Great Russell Street, the British Museum is among the most comprehensive museums in existence dedicated to human history and culture, and it contains some 8 million works.
Wellcome Collection - The Wellcome Collection calls itself “the free destination for the incurably curious,” and offers an eclectic variety of galleries and events, as well as meeting, reading, and eating places.
St. George’s Church - The final London church to be designed by English Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, St. George’s is a working church, concert venue, and community arts centre. They occasionally offer guided tours.
Pollock’s Toy Museum - Benjamin Pollock was a Victorian toy theatre creator, and toys from all over the world reside in the museum that takes his name. From an Egyptian clay mouse to doll houses, you’ll find just about every sort of toy. Toy theatre performances run during school holidays.
Charlotte Street Gallery - This Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery on Charlotte Street is known for its displays of non-Western artistic traditions, as well as Western contemporary art that strays from the norm.
No matter the cuisine you’re craving, you can almost certainly find it in Bloomsbury. From wraps to Chinese to mediterranean, there is a delightful variety in the neighborhood. Grab a few friends and head out to try something new!
Orchard - The cosy, vintage-chic interior of Orchard is a perfect match for the simple but unique and delicious dishes served up on mismatched china. There is an impressive array of sweets available, as well as artisan coffee.
Danny’s Gourmet Wraps - Relatively new, Danny’s Gourmet Wraps opened early in 2007. The wraps are healthy and inspired by Lebanese style cuisine. Danny uses khobez bread as a base and fills the wraps with his own mix of ingredients.
Chilli Cool - A hidden gem in a bustling part of the neighborhood, Chilli Cool serves up some spicy traditional Sichuan cuisine. Popular in China, the owners have brought their own secret recipe of red hot chilli oil to London - so dig in to their famous Beef and Ox tripe and wake up your taste buds.
Hummus Bros - The friends that opened Hummus Bros are committed to taste, value, freshness, and simplicity. So if you’re craving for something filling and drastically different than heavy pub fare, grab a hummus bowl with some great toppings and pitta bread.
Garufin Garufin is an Argentine Kitchen and Charcoal Grill open for lunch and dinner. With an intimate, exposed brick atmosphere populated with simple furniture, it is the perfect place for a meet-up with friends or a date.
We all need a little retail therapy every now and then - why not combine that with some great unique experiences? No one does shopping exactly like London, and the neighborhood of Bloomsbury is no exception! From everyday shops to unique independently owned boutiques, there is enough merchandise to browse through for days.
Brunswick Centre - The Brunswick Shopping Centre allows you to take a peek at a wide variety of eclectic fashions, as well as home stores, restaurants, and cafes. If watching a film strikes your fancy, check out the famous Renoir art-house cinema.
James Smith & Sons - A world famous shop founded in 1830, James Smith & Sons are known for their umbrellas. Just down the street from the British Museum, be sure to check out the umbrella shop if only for the history - and what a convenient place to be if it starts to rain!
Ask - If you are in need of electronics, head straight to Ask. They are a family-run shop with the latest and greatest technology and tech brands on offer. Located on Tottenham Court Road, Ask is the best place to try out the newest gadgets.
Drink Shop & Do - DSD is a little farther north, but definitely worth the trip. This unique little shop offers tea, cocktails, breakfast, light lunches, sweets, and products from independent designers. Almost everything is for sale at DSD, “even your tea spoon!” On Fridays and Saturdays, head over at night for some dancing.
Skoob Books - If secondhand books (and palindromes) are your thing, check out Skoob Books! With used books at half price or less, friendly staff, and a student discount, what’s not to love? Book lovers rejoice: there are over 55,000 different titles to peruse!