One of the most difficult things about writing about central London neighborhoods is that they’re so big and full of curiosities that it’s hard to distill the highlights into to a digestible blog post. But today I’m attempting to tackle one of my favorite parts of central London, if for no other reason than that I adore it. The sheer number of Bloomsbury cafes, restaurants, museums, shops, squares, streets, and gardens is enormous, so today I bring you A Lady in London’s list of places to love in Bloomsbury.
Bloomsbury Cafes, Restaurants, and Pubs
Given my obsession with all things food and drink, I will start with the best of Bloomsbury’s food scene. This London neighborhood has no shortage of good places for coffee and cake, lunch and supper, but my favorite is a little cafe off formerly-eye-sore-but-now-rapdily-improving Tottenham Court Road. Store Street Espresso serves the best coffee I’ve had in London, and I’m a little bit addicted to the cappuccinos there.
Elsewhere in the area, Bea’s of Bloomsbury serves great pastries and one of the best afternoon teas in London. And that’s to say nothing of the most adorable French bakery in the city center, Patisserie Deux Amis.
For more substantial fare, Ciao Bella on Lamb’s Conduit Street serves solidly good Italian food in an authentic dining room (they’re always generous with the limoncello, too). And while there’s no shortage of good pubs in Bloomsbury, my favorite is the sweet little Lady Ottoline. I love the upstairs dining room!
Bloomsbury Squares and Gardens
And speaking of ladies, perhaps the thing that really draws me to Bloomsbury is its strong literary history, replete with famous female writers. The Bloomsbury Group, with its ties to Virginia Woolf and other strong women, has left its mark here.
Over in Tavistock Square, a bust of Virginia Woolf herself sits next to those of Ghandi and other celebrated historical figures. And in Gordon Square is a statue of Noor Inayat Khan, a female secret agent during World War II. Queen Charlotte is also represented, with a statue in (surprise!) Queen Square.
And it’s not just the sculptures that make Bloomsbury’s squares so lovable. It’s also the sheer number and variety of squares and gardens in the neighborhood. From the giant expanse of Russell Square to the tiny sliver of Marchmont Community Garden, there’s a green space for every mood here.
But Bloomsbury’s indoor spaces are as impressive as its outdoor ones, and another place that holds all sorts of sculptures (and more!) is the British Museum. Perhaps the neighborhood’s most famous landmark, the museum is one of the world’s great treasure troves (or plunder rooms, depending on your perspective).
But that behemoth isn’t the area’s only museum. There are lots of good small museums and secret museums, too. Just down the street are The Cartoon Museum and Grant Museum of Zoology, and a few streets away are the Charles Dickens Museum and The Foundling Museum. And that’s to say nothing of The Building Centre, which along with New London Architecture presents free exhibitions on all things related to the future of urban development in London.
Bloomsbury Streets and Shops
But back in today’s world, there are more things to entertain. One of them is shops, and Bloomsbury has a few streets that offer them in abundance.
My three favorite streets in Bloomsbury are Store Street (of aforementioned espresso goodness), Marchmont Street, and Lamb’s Conduit Street. Store Street is home to a mouth-watering array of delis and cafes, and a lot of pretty flower-laden tables to go with.
Marchmont Street has more restaurants and cafes, as well as an abundance of blue plaques calling to the former homes of historical figures.
And Lamb’s Conduit Street has everything from hip men’s stores (including one with what can only be described as pantaloons (pantaloons!) in the window) to pretty textile shops.
Above all, I love Bloomsbury for its lively atmosphere, helped by the fact that University College London and other academic institutions populate the area with students. Sidewalks full of coffee carts and cafes are always buzzing with ideas born of procrastination and other winning study methods.
It gives me an energy like no other part of central London, which is perhaps why I’ve finally mustered the strength to tackle the task of writing about Bloomsbury.
How about you? What are your favorite Bloomsbury cafes, restaurants, museums, shops, squares, streets, and gardens?