10 Reasons why Bloomsbury London is the coolest place in London
Tucked in the corner of the Borough of Camden, you'll find Bloomsbury, the intellectual and literary capital of London. Historical, beautiful and seething with bookish charm, we examine how Bloomsbury is so much more than an intellectual’s playground. In fact, Bloomsbury’s actually pretty cool. If you want to hold an event at the prestigious Senate House contact our exceptionally cool Events and Conferencing team. So, let us take you by the hand and lead you through the coolest streets of London.
The reasons why Bloomsbury in London is cool
1 - It’s got the coolest name in London
Say it; Blooooomsbury. How fun is that? Blooooomsbury. Anyway, Bloomsbury’s cool name dates back to 1201, when landowner William De Belmond acquired the land. But it wasn't until the 16th & 17th century when the wealthy Russell family acquired the estate that it started to bloom into the colourful and affluent Bloomsbury we know today. Nowadays, the name “Bloomsbury” is recognised worldwide due to its affiliation with many prominent establishments and organisations, such as Bloomsbury Publishers and the Bloomsbury Group.
2 - It’s home to some of the coolest educational institutes
Bloomsbury harbours some of the coolest, oldest and most prestigious schools and colleges in the whole of the UK, let alone London. The University of London has made Bloomsbury the base for a number of its colleges, including the rather amazing London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health is home to clinicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, social scientists, molecular biologists and immunologists all working to improve health worldwide. It received its royal charter as part of the University of London in 1924.
But it’s not just us Brits residing in Bloomsbury. American Universities such as the University of California, the University of Delaware and Florida State University have their London based study centres in Bloomsbury. (And if Americans don’t make a place instantly cool, what does?)
On top of that, the most talented luvvies in the country swarm to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, otherwise known as RADA. As one of the most respected Theatre and Performance schools nationwide, it's fair to say it's a very cool place to study. Or even stand close to. Some of RADA's alumni include the likes of Game Of Throne's Sean Bean, Eastenders star Steve Mcfadden, the illusive Doctor, David Tennant and the legendary Alan Rickman.
3 - It’s the coolest place to be a book nerd
No one else gave Harry the time of day, but Bloomsbury Publishing knew a cool wizard when they saw one. Back in 1997, Bloomsbury Publishing said yes to most profitable book deal ever, putting to paper the world's most famous boy wizard in all of muggle history. But, aside from instilling the dream of receiving an owl-posted invitation to Hogwarts into every child that ever lived, Bloomsbury Publishing has an impressive array of further authors and titles under its belt.
You might have heard of The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje? Or Cats Eye by Margaret Atwood? Well, these are merely a splash in the ocean. The range of significant titles that Bloomsbury Publishing is responsible for is huge! They also have an extensive collection of educational, philosophical and professional resources, all aptly mirroring the collective heritage of the area.
And due to the booky nature of Bloomsbury, it's home to an abundance of places to pick up a new (or, in most cases, old & dusty) read. Hours can be lost rummaging through the many bookshops in Bloomsbury, with unique treasures to be found behind every bookcase. A book lovers highlight is Skoob Book Shop. Based in the Brunswick Shopping Centre, it’s one of those enchanting places you won't forget walking into... Thousands of multi-coloured book spines layer the walls like bricks, creating a literary maze you never want to find your way out of. It’s much cooler than any kindle and smells a lot better too.
4 - It has this cool green stuff everywhere
Despite its central location, Bloomsbury is home to some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in the whole of London. It’s well known for it’s truly picturesque foliage filled squares – a welcome distraction in an otherwise blurry backdrop of industrial grey. Perhaps the most famous square in Bloomsbury is Russell Square. A stones throw from Russell Square tube station, this grand open space was created at the same time as Bloomsbury Square in the early 1800’s and was described in 1830 as “a pleasant retreat from the cares of business”. Framed with pretty Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian buildings, it’s still a pretty cool place to be today.
Other parks in the Bloomsbury area include the aforementioned Bloomsbury Square as well as Bedford Square and St George’s Gardens. It’s these areas and their gentle elegance that signify Bloomsbury as a haven of green and clarity in central London. And at the slightest hint of sunshine, Bloomsbury swells into bloom as students, office dwellers and families’ alike flock to the greenest corner of London.
5 - The buildings are cool
Bloomsbury is home to a mash up of rather extraordinary architecture. Each building is a perfect example of its era – and Bloomsbury has seen a fair few Eras! Firstly, there are the buildings that are best associated with the area. These are the picture-perfect Georgian Terrace Houses that one could only wish to inhabit. Some remarkable examples of these are found picture-framing Bedford Square, and are the purpose built quarters for the rich and glamorous. Wouldn't be a bad place to live, would it?
However, there's another side to Bloomsbury's architecture. The staggering Brutalist buildings from mid to late 20th century were spawned from the modernist architectural movement, and many astounding examples can be found here.
Another example is Bloomsbury’s very own Brunswick Shopping Centre. A Grade II listed building, the chunky, concrete exterior of the building is as Brutalist as they come. The building is used residentially as well as being a hotspot for shopping, dining and everything recreational. The brainchild of architect Patrick Hodgkinson, the building came to be in the 1960's, with further development being completed in the late 80's. These buildings offer a stark contrast in an otherwise romantic architectural landscape.
And furthermore, Bloomsbury is home to our Art Deco Library, Senate House. Also a Grade II building, Senate House was one of the first ever sky scrapers in London. The towering presence of this building cannot be denied and can be seen from quite some distance. Originally built as a quick solution to expand the university after the WWI, Senate House played host to the Ministry of Information during WWII.
6 - A lot of really cool medicine happens there
Tucked away on Great Ormond Street is the world renowned Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. GOSH helps critically ill children across the UK as well as overseas, and has been running in the Bloomsbury area for the last 162 years. As pioneers in medical research and medical care, GOSH’s contribution to world of medicine is huge.
And they’re not the only medical geniuses in the area. On the same road you’ll find the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, the largest public sector provider of integrated medicine in the whole of Europe. What is integrated medicine, you ask? It's a type of medical practice that focuses on a person as a whole and their individual well being, rather than focusing on just treating a disease. It uses aspects of alternative medicine along with conventional biomedicine to create a very modern and unique medical experience. Pretty cool, don’t you think?
As well as those two impressive medical institutes, The University College Hospital lays on Euston Street. So overall, Bloomsbury is pretty safe place to break your leg. Which is probably why RADA is there.
7. Some cool people live/d there.
Bloomsbury's had its fair share of cool people make it their home, both permanently and in passing. Most notably, it was home to Virginia Woolf, one of the influential members of the Bloomsbury Group. This group of intellectuals lived in the Bloomsbury area during the first half of the 20th century. Together they discussed stuff in detail, thought about a lot of things, and were overall really smart people. Virginia’s contribution to modernism in the twentieth century was regarded as extremely influential. She resided in Bloomsbury for most of her life.
Other notable inhabitants of Bloomsbury have included Mathama Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Bob Marley, Ricky Gervais, Charles Dickens and Catherine Tate. Which looks like a pretty cool guest-list for a party, actually.
8. It’s a super cool day out.
Fancy a cool day out? Go to Bloomsbury. There’s more cool stuff to do in Bloomsbury than you would have thought. And it's not all book shops! Let's start with the British Museum.
The museum exists all thanks to Sir Hans Sloane, the physician who collected more than 71000 objects during his lifetime from 1660 – 1753. (Talk about hoarding). A public lottery was held in 1753 to raise funds to acquire the collection to be housed, preserved, displayed and shared with the world for years to come, the rest, as they say, is history. King George II accepted the gift of these trinkets upon Sloane’s death so they could be preserved and shared with the world for years to come. With them, he opened the British Museum, and the rest is history. The collection has since grown with exhibitions, additional architectural design (the stunning Queen Liz II Great Court) and amazing treasures that seep ancient history – it truly is a cool place to go.
On top of that there’s the cartoon museum. That's right, a museum about cartoons! From political sketches to rare original sketches from the likes of the Beano amongst others, it’s got everything a comic book lover could ever need. And there's more.
And as far as museums go in Bloomsbury, we've barely begin. There's also a Charles Dickens Museum, a Toy Museum, A Zoology Museum and The John Soans museum. And it goes on; The Foundling Museum tells the story of abandoned children of the past and compares their lives to those of contemporary children. The Peter Pan Gallery (of which all story rights were given to the Great Ormond Street Children Hospital) details the history of the beloved children’s story and its creator, J M Barrie.
Bloomsbury is also home to the head office of Alain De Botton's School of Life. The philosophical programme operates across the globe, but often runs workshops from it's central hub with the aim of developing emotional intelligence via the use of culture, tackling issues such as relationships, fulfilling work - anything that helps one achieve a fulfilled life.
Bloomsbury also has an entire play-park where adults are only allowed in if accompanied by a child. So it’s fair to say that Bloomsbury has something for everyone, which is pretty cool.
9 - It’s the coolest place to be for a drink/meal/snack/date
Bloomsbury’s a place where students are a 'plenty and where offices work hard to play hard. This inevitably makes it a good place to be for a pint or 4. Be it Ale, mojitos or merlot, there’s a drinking hole for you; and to top it off, they're all very cool places to be.
Due to the historic nature of the area, there’s no lack of character in these buildings. For a real vintage feel, enjoy a bevvy in The Lamb, a stunning grade II listed pub that is so wonderfully preserved, you feel as though you’ve been transported back to the Victorian era just by walking through the door.
If you’re less London Pride and more Chardonnay, The Bloomsbury Club Bar might just be the ticket with an array of grape-based goodness delightful enough to bring a giggle and hiccup to any wine buff’s face.
However, if you’re after something more chic, head to Shochu Lounge, a sleek, deeply cool bar with a subtle Japanese twist that screams glamour. Grab one of the sweet, fruity cocktails and sit smugly knowing you and your peers are amongst the most sophisticated in central London.
But it’s not all boozing. Well, there’s a lot of it, but there’s also performance, restaurants and live music. Bloomsbury Theatre plays host to talented performers from all over the globe and its peaceful simplicity is the perfect place to focus on the array of arts, comedy and theatre that is welcomed onto the stage every night.
And as for food – well, there’s more Michelin here than there is driving on all of the roads in the UK. You want good, pricey and swanky meals? Bloomsbury is your place. You want 2-4-1 Harvester meals? Maybe not. But there are a good few grab & go’s. Check out Hummus Bros for a delicious dinner without the huge price tag, but bags of taste. Specialising in all things hummus, there are also great choices for those who prefer not to indulge in meat, wheat, nuts, celery... the list goes on! It's fair to say they'll cater for anyone who has a taste for the good ol' chick pea.
Image via Hummus Bros.
10 - It's got its own festival
If having your own festival isn’t cool, what is? Each year the Bloomsbury Festival celebrates the achievements and culture of the area by putting on an event that captures the essence of Bloomsbury perfectly. The festival showcases an array of art, music, performance, and literature – everything that the creative corner of London is renowned for.
Hosted at various venues like the Horse Museum, the Dairy Art Centre, UCL Art Museum and of course, Senate House, the festival celebrates an area that influenced the world in more ways than most. Pretty cool, don’t you think?
Senate House London
So, although Bloomsbury is full of book lovers, intellectuals and arty-types, it doesn't mean it's not a cool place. In fact, hopefully you'll now agree that Bloomsbury is the coolest place in London. Share this realisation with the rest of London and let's not use the word ‘cool’ again for a while.
For information on celebrating any major (or minor) event in this remarkable area, Senate House London facilitates every kind of occasion; conferences, events, filming, banquets, conventions and more. For more information enquire about your event.