Russell Square is one of central London’s historic squares, lined with the tall, terraced Georgian or early Victorian terraced homes of the wealthy. The square, originally developed in the 18th century on land belonging to the Dukes of Bedford, still contains a number of the Georgian homes, set mostly on the western and southern sides. The square and its central gardens are dominated by the massive Victorian Hotel Russell, built in 1898 and still going strong. The central gardens were recently re-landscaped in their original style, and backing the square is famous London University’s main campus.
Attractions within easy walking distance of Russell Square include one of London’s favourite visitor destinations, historic Covent Garden with its street entertainers, restaurants, quaint pubs, upscale boutiques, covered market and several theatres including the Royal Opera House. The world-class British Museum is nearby, as are London’s major shopping hubs of Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and exclusive Mayfair. A little further on is London’s Soho theater district, Chinatown and Piccadilly Circus with its bronze statue of Eros.
Russell Square, and surrounding Bloomsbury, is famous for its museums, library and educational institutions, amoung other things. Visit the oldest square in London or check-in to the grand Gothic Russell Hotel.
One of Bloomsbury’s most distinctive heritage buildings, the elaborate Russell Hotel was designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll and constructed in 1898. Its highly decorative terracotta brickwork and gabled roofline was based on a famous Paris mansion on the Bois de Boulogne, the Château de Madrid. The hotel’s restaurant strongly resembles its counterpart in the ill-fated Titanic, which the architect also designed.
To the north of Russell Square off Great Russell Street is Bloomsbury Square, the district’s oldest, developed in the 17th century by the Earl of Southampton. The imposing former homes date from the 18th and 19th centuries, although most are now used as offices.
The British Museum’s magnificent colonnaded structure was built in 1825, fuelled by the need for a permanent home for treasures brought back from Britain’s ever-expanding overseas empire. Artefacts from ancient Egypt, the Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires, Asia, the Middle East, ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia, the Islamic world and even from pre-history form the breathtaking collection, only a fraction of which is on display at any one time. The Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Hotel is a short stroll away.
Central London is made up of distinct small areas, almost like villages, all joined to create the massive city. As villages do, each small area has its local shops, restaurants and pubs, and the streets around Russell Square and the square itself are no exception to the rule. For more dining options, Russell Square’s Piccadilly Line tube station or a London black cab gets hungry visitors to Mayfair for its Michelin-starred and other famous restaurants, or to Covent Garden with its huge choice of international eateries and pubs equipped with dining areas and nearby Strand Palace Hotel. For a special treat in opulent surroundings, the Titanic-style restaurant in the Hotel Russell is a must. Tottenham Court Road is one of the city’s best roads for electronic and book shopping.
For longer journeys by tube to almost all the attractions in London, seven more tube stations on various lines are located close to the square. Holborn and Tottenham Court Road’s Central Line, Goodge Street or Warren Street’s Northern Line and the mainline stations at Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras are all within reach. London buses are an inexpensive way to travel, but tend to get snarled up in London’s heavy traffic, making nonsense of any timetable, but fine if you’re not in a hurry. For a quick trip across the English Channel and a day in Paris, the Eurostar runs from St Pancras via the Channel Tunnel to France’s romantic capital.
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