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Right in the heart of busy and bustling London is a square of tranquillity known as Bloomsbury. While small and picturesque, it's packed with museums, cafés, bookstores and green spaces. Walk its leafy streets on a spring day and you'll soon forget you're in the middle of one of Europe's busiest cities.
It's a cosy place, with a scholarly air and an atmosphere of modest sophistication and the kind of romance you only find in novels. If this sounds like the sort of London experience you're after, here are 5 things you absolutely must do when you visit Bloomsbury.
Bloomsbury is known best for its green spaces and tranquil surroundings. ‘Lived in squares and loved in triangles’, so the saying goes about the Bloomsbury bohemians; and indeed, the romance of Bloomsbury wafts most palpably from every square.
Many of the green spaces are spaces once occupied by churches, while others are simply thoughtful spaces and public gardens. Tavistock Square has a collection of statues to find, including Mahatma Gandhi or Virginia Woolf.
The champion of Bloomsbury, however, is Russell Square. Sheltered by lofty trees, sprinkled by the central fountain where young and the not-so-young alike dash through on summer days, and are nourished by an amiable Italian café, which serves excellent ice-cream.
Whatever the pressure of the high-flying London madness, the green squares of Bloomsbury are the perfect way to release everything into the fresh air.
There is something exhilarating in the sheer simplicity of turning a corner down Great Russell Street and suddenly, there it is: the towering majesty of the British Museum, home to ancient treasures of antiquity.
Inside, you'll find an immense dome of glass under which are housed exhibits and displays from every era of history. Completely free and open every day from 10am, the British Museum is a must for any visitor to London.
Experience guided tours or simply wander the displays on your own. Discover the Rossetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures, samurai armour, Bronze Age treasure troves and much, much more.
If you can tear yourself away for a quick break, enjoy a slice of cake in the café or peruse the museum's gift shop. Intellectual, cultural, beautiful and communal, the British Museum is the beating heart of Bloomsbury.
The Grant Museum of Zoology is one of the oldest natural history collections in the UK, and is the last remaining university natural history museum in London. Home to 68,000 zoological specimens, the collection is a unique window on the entire animal kingdom.
The Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy was established in 1827 by Robert Edmond Grant (1793-1874) to serve as a teaching collection at the newly founded University of London.
Grant was best known during his time for his work on marine invertebrates, in particular sponges, sea pens and molluscs. His work on sponges established once and for all that they were animals and coined the term Porifera. It was this work and his radical evolutionary views that influenced the young Charles Darwin.
This quirky, hidden museum is like Bloomsbury itself – a hidden treasure. A testament to the golden age of scientific curiosity, imagine the feeling of magic people felt when they saw these creatures for the first time.
As the home of Birkbeck, UCL, SOAS and the New College of the Humanities, it's only right that Bloomsbury also offers some stellar bookshops. Here are only two of the many gems that speckle the map.
The independent Dillon’s Bookstore may have been replaced by The Waterstones At Gower Street, but to the chain’s credit, it has maintained the wide range of academic, second-hand and remainder books that make it so unique.
Less well-known but equally haven-like is Skoob Books, which offers great discounts for students on top of the second-hand prices. Although there is no central catalogue that can tell you where to find what, the charm of a trip to Skoob lies in the thrill of exploring and navigating its chaos.
Leaf through Herodotus or Hardy by the ancient piano that sits, unexplained, amidst piles of manuscripts and pre-loved novels.
If the cosiness of Bloomsbury's atmosphere is a bit too soporific, you can liven things up with a slice of Vintage America that hides in the heart of Bloomsbury.
Bowling is a cult American pastime, immortalised on screen in everything from the Big Lebowski to King Pin to Buffalo 66.
So for a little slice of vintage Americana head down to Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes and hit up any one of its 13 lanes. If bowling is not your thing, why not soak up the 1950s retro-styling by enjoying a milkshake in the red vinyl booths.
If you need to get to Bloomsbury, you can get there via the following tube stations:
Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines
Northern and Victoria lines
Central Line and Northern Line
Circle Line, Hammersmith & City Line, Metropolitan Line
If you're looking to make the most of a stay in London's leafiest district, choose one of Grange's fine Bloomsbury hotels. Choose from a number of local hotels, including the Buckingham, Clarendon, or Blooms Hotel.
For affordable luxury in the heart of London, book today.