London: A cheapo guide to Bloomsbury’s hotels, restaurants and bars

Russell Square London
Lounging in Russell Square, in the heart of Bloomsbury. Photo: Tom Meyers

It’s not surprising why Bloomsbury is so popular with visitors to London. It’s both charming – picture streets of Georgian townhouses with pretty garden squares and cozy pubs – and convenient, being situated in the centre of the city with attractions such as the British Museum just around the corner.

There are still lots of budget accommodation available in the area, while the large student contingent, courtesy of University College London, means Bloomsbury offers plenty of cheap eats and entertainment options, too. What more could a Cheapo ask for?

Where To Stay

The Ridgemount Hotel
65–67 Gower Street

One of the few hotels on Gower Street that is still family run, the Rees family are charming hosts (you can read our interview with Aled Rees here). This is a clean and comfortable base for a stay in London that offers excellent value for money. Accommodation is split between private and shared bathrooms. Doubles from £64.

Celtic Hotel London

The family-run Celtic Hotel offers affordable rooms with private bath (and a yummy breakfast). Photo: EuroCheapo

Celtic Hotel
61–63 Guildford Street

Owner Rosanna Marazzi is also one of our favorite proprietors (read our interview here) and is responsible for the warm welcome visitors receive at the Celtic Hotel. This traditional townhouse is homely and bedrooms are small but pretty, and exceptionally clean. No wonder past guests have been known to refer to it as their “home in London”. Doubles from £79.

Generator Hostel
37 Tavistock Place, Russell Square

For a different kind of accommodation option, head to this socially inclined hostel. It sleeps over 800 and, while perhaps not the place for those seeking some peace and quiet, it is perfect for those on the look out for something more lively. It’s even got its own nightclub offering different events every evening. Doubles from £60

Want more options? Here’s a full list of our recommended budget hotel picks in Bloomsbury.

The cafe at the Mary Ward Centre offers cheap and healthy food options. Photo: naturewise

The cafe at the Mary Ward Centre offers cheap and healthy food options. Photo: naturewise

Where To Eat

Mary Ward Centre
42 Queen Square WC1N 3AQ

This small but perfectly formed veggie café offers a hearty and healthy pit stop. Prices are extremely reasonable and you can indulge in a homemade soup for £2.15 or a hot main for £4.30. There are always vegan and gluten free options on the menu, too. The café is situated within an adult education centre and opening hours can echo the times of classes, so it’s worth checking ahead before making a special journey there, especially over the weekend.

Gig’s
12 Tottenham Street

Gig’s comes with the recommendation of many, including Aled Rees of the Ridgemount Hotel (see above). It’s been based here since 1958 and offers generous portions of traditional British fish and chips in all their fried and battered glory. You can take away, or eat in to enjoy the charming service on offer from the staff. Its owners are Greek, so expect some kebabs and Greek specialties on the menu alongside the usual cod and haddock.

Sfizio Caffe
35–37 Theobalds Road

This family run Italian café bar will service your culinary needs for breakfast, lunch and evening. It’s all traditional fare, and better quality than many of the “Italian” chains you’ll find around the city. Generously filled focaccie are about £5 and you can pick up a pizza for less than £8. It’s well worth popping in for an aperitivo, served up with tasty finger food between 5 pm and 7 pm every day.

Cheap drinks and no-fuss environment at the Fitzroy Tavern. Photo: Ewan-M

Cheap drinks and no-fuss environment at the Fitzroy Tavern. Photo: Ewan-M

Where To Drink

Fitzroy Tavern
15 Charlotte Street

Samuel Smiths pubs are always worth seeking out for their cheap drinks served in no-fuss environments. In this case, the Fitzroy Tavern’s rich history is simply another bonus. Built as a coffee house in the 19th century, it’s been a meeting place for many bohemians over the years including Dylan Thomas and George Orwell. Who knows whom you’ll be drinking your pint next to?

Calthorpe Arms
252 Grays Inn Road

This Grade II listed pub was originally built to serve traders and shopkeepers and, for a busy area of central London, it still attracts a friendly local crowd. It’s very much a traditional boozer, with chat taking the place of music or TV screen, and Young’s Ales on tap. There’s pub food available, too.

Walk like an Egyptian at the Petrie Museum. Photo: Nics Events

Walk like an Egyptian at the Petrie Museum. Photo: Nics Events

Bonus attraction:

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology
Malet Place

If you would rather avoid all the crowds in the Egyptian galleries at the British Museum, the Petrie is worth a visit. Part of University College London, it’s free and has one of greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archeology in the world, with over 80,000 objects revealing what life was like in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago.

About the author

Frances Ambler
Frances Ambler has been doing her best to live in London on the cheap since 2003. She works as an editor in one of London’s best – and free – museums, as well as writing for various websites including domesticsluttery.com. An avid second-hand shopper, ten years of "research" culminated in her most recent project: writing for the soon-to-be-published "Rough Guide to Vintage London."
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