Discover Holborn, the playground of London
There’s plenty to explore in Holborn. From Clarendon serviced apartments you can find out about a part of the capital that’s as historic as it is hipster. What to know, where to see and where to eat this is Part 1 of our location review
Holborn might be an area of London closely associated with modern life and culture but its history stems from much further back in time. It’s first mentioned in a letter dating from 959. The name ‘Holborn’ is believed to come from the Middle English for ‘spirit’ which is said to refer to the ‘old Bourne’ a stream that used to run by Holborn Bridge. The district is recorded in the Doomsday book as having vineyards and “wood for 100 pigs”. The fashionable Bloomsbury area was developed by the Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries.
There may not be any vineyards left but Holborn is not short of exotic eateries. The Banh Mi Bay serves Vietnamese food, Ginnan food from Japan and closer to home L’Osteria serves traditional Italian food and The Lady Ottoline British. A choice of cuisine is not the only spectacle to dine out on. There are quirky places to eat, like Bounce where you can enjoy a game of ping pong before dinner. If a cocktail is more likely to tempt you then the Pearl Bar should be top of your list with an exotic cocktail menu and a 500 strong wine list. There are plenty of traditional pubs; one of the best is The Lord John Russell in Russell Square which has a wide selection of cask ales.
Holborn is well known for its connection with the education world; an elite list of establishments call the district home and ensure it plays host to many academics and specialists. The Senate House Library, University College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the School of Oriental and African Studies are located close to each other. Holborn is also home to world renowned hospitals including Great Ormond Street, the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
The whole of Holborn doesn’t have to be seen from inside a university or hospital, however. There’s plenty to see and do around the district, in fact some of the capital’s cultural highlights are based here. The British Museum is free – which is probably one of the reasons why it is the most visited attraction in London. Housing artefacts from all over the world the museum’s open every day. From a museum holding pieces from every country in the world to one much more specific; Holborn is also home to the Charles Dickens museum which is housed in the only remaining London home of the famous writer. It is one of the most important collections of artefacts belonging to Dickens and contains manuscripts, rare items, painting and other visual sources.
For those who like their entertainment more focused on retail, Holborn is home to one of the capital’s most famous shopping districts. Tottenham Court Road is filled with small independent shops, rubbing shoulder with major high street brands. It’s often described as the place to go for gadgets and gizmos with plenty of stores offering the latest audio visual tool or a quick fix for a computer.
Keep walking along Tottenham Court Road and you reach Oxford Street; the shopping mecca of London. It’s world famous because of the range and breadth of the stores with their flagship here. Oxford Street is home to almost every high street name, department store or fashion retailer.
For those who like shopping without the crowds Exmouth Market is a little cobbled street close to Saddler’s Wells. A short walk from the Saddler’s Wells Theatre you’re more likely to find independent boutiques and a wide range of bars and restaurants.
Explore Holborn from your Clarendon Serviced Apartment. North Mews offers one, two and three bedroom apartments. Each has a fully equipped modern kitchen and stylish en suite bathrooms creating a home from home for travellers.