10 Things to do in Bloomsbury
Spending time in Bloomsbury’s beautiful squares is a genuine treat. You get to tap into the unique atmosphere that comes from centuries of ideas and larger-than-life characters. But it doesn’t have to stop there. There is much more to Bloomsbury that its squares. Armed with a smartphone and a few spare hours, you can be a tourist in your own city and explore some amazing Bloomsbury attractions. We have rounded up 10 of our favourite things to do in Bloomsbury.
Explore the Brunswick Centre
A thriving shopping, foodie and cultural hub, the Brunswick Centre is a Bloomsbury icon and well worth exploring. It is also a great example of 1960’s Brutalism – the bold vision of renowned architect Patrick Hodgkinson. You’ll find a whole host of restaurants and bars as well as all your favourite high street shops and even an arthouse cinema.
Lose Yourself in Literature at Skoob Books
Whether you want a new page-turner or a rare out-of-print book, Skoob has it covered. A basement warren overflowing with multi-coloured spines and delightfully dusty tomes, it is a bibliophile’s paradise. The knowledgeable staff are more than happy to help you find exactly what you’re looking for or make recommendations. Be warned: it is very easy to enter in daylight and emerge into dusk.
Expand your Mind at The School of Life
Philosophy is not always about deep and meaningfuls and chin-scratching, it can have a practical application and positive impact on your everyday life. And that’s where Alain de Botton’s School of Life comes in, “offering good ideas for everyday life” by “developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture.” Your life can become more fulfilled by experimenting with new approaches to relationships and your work-life balance as well as taking part in discussions, training and classes in this Bloomsbury hotspot.
Go Blue Plaque hunting and see where the Bloomsbury Group Hung Out
Bloomsbury is chockablock with Blue Plaques including several associated with its much-lauded literary past, in particular the Bloomsbury Group of writers. The Bloomsbury set which included Virginia Woolf were highly influence literary and philosophical figures, with fascinating and occasionally scandalous lives.
Be Inspired with Contemporary Art at October Gallery
Dedicated to contemporary international art, this small cutting-edge gallery is well worth a visit. Since 1979, the gallery has been dedicated to pushing boundaries and showcasing diversity. As with much of Bloomsbury, it is also a hotbed for intellectual discussion and development, where artists, poets and school children find enrichment.
Quiet Time in St George’s Church
St George’s Church Bloomsbury was designed by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor and was consecrated on the 28th January 1730 by the Bishop of London. It is architecturally impressive and unusual – the steeple is based on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and can be seen in William Hogarth’s Gin Lane (1751) as shown below. In 1913, St George’s hosted the memorial service for the suffragette Emily Davison, who died when she threw herself under the King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby.
Travel across Time and Cultures in the British Museum
A cornucopia of artefacts from across the world, all housed in this magnificent Bloomsbury Museum. Founded in 1753, it was the first national public museum in the world and contains thousands of objects collected by naturalist Sir Hans Sloane. You can travel from ancient Egypt to the Pacific Islands and beyond. There are free tours and talks too.
Spare time! Vintage Bowling
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-stylings by enjoying a drink reclined in reclaimed furniture?
Refuel with a cupcake from Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Cupcakes are everywhere nowadays; bright colourful sugared lumps of heaven that they are. But back in 2008 when Bea’s opened in Bloomsbury – they were not even a ‘thing’. Housed in a former bank dating from 1860, the shop is a cosy shabby chic emporium packed with delicious treats. The Bloomsbury café is the original and where Bea’s bake for their expanding empire of eateries. We couldn’t agree more with their strapline: “Life is short. Eat more cake.”
Get Some Comic Relief at the Cartoon Museum
Founded in 1988 by a group of cartoonists and enthusiasts, the Cartoon Museum finally settled into its Bloomsbury location in 2006. Dedicated to celebrating British cartoon art, this lovely museum has three main galleries exhibiting an ever-expanding collection. It’s also got a cracking shop and a library with more than 5000 books on comics.
20 Bedford Way
Yeah we know it’s cheating but in at number 11 is us. Yep, our Bloomsbury venue with its imposing building designed by the late great Sir Denys Lasdun, is one of the best examples of Brutalism in the country. Explore the internal and external spaces of this Bloomsbury landmark and event venue. And why not take some snaps to help spread the concrete love via your Tumblr and Instagram accounts whilst you’re at it?
For a map of all of our featured Bloomsbury locations click here.