In the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, a London Walking Tour (I)

Sherlock Holmes is currently in vogue. He always has been. But even more so today. On the one hand this is undoubtedly due to the release in 2011 of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the second of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, which stars Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. And, on the other hand, because of the second season of the TV series Sherlock, which is even more interesting and exciting than the first, if possible.

Anyhow, we have decided to pick up the Sherlock Holmes trail and propose an all-day route featuring the famous fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To begin on a good note, we think it important to emphasise the literary aspect of the character. And create an itinerary that it both classic and comprehensive. Of course, the locations of the adventures described in the novels have little to do with the spectacular locations used by Guy Ritchie on the big screen, and even less to do with the super-modern locations of the television series.

Having said that, off we go. Don your hat, grab a magnifying glass, a pipe and a notebook and together we shall try to discover the essence of Sherlock Holmes. If you’re a person who likes to focus on the minor details, I assure you you’ll even be able to see him walk alongside Dr Watson 😉

A) To begin this route, have a quiet breakfast at your hotel and take the nearest tube to Baker Street (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Hammersmith, Metropolitan and Circle lines). Even before leaving the station you’ll come across the statue of Sherlock Holmes, one of the very few London statues dedicated to fictional characters. Before continuing on, a curiosity: the station houses a series of tiles featuring the typical Holmes profile in various shades.

B) The Sherlock Holmes Museum, at number 221-B Baker Street. Without a doubt, the best way to fully immerse yourself in the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is to visit the museum, which is located at the fictional address of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

In case you were unaware, the British government have allowed the address to maintain the number 221-B in honour of its illustrious resident, though in reality it would correspond to the number 239.

C) The Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel at number 109 Baker Street. If you didn’t have breakfast in your hotel, either because you were in a hurry or because breakfast was not included, the hotel bar – called Dr Watson’s Bar – serves tea with toast and jam.

D) The Rubens Restaurant at number 79 Baker Street is located on the very spot where the chemist’s shop frequented by the creator of Sherlock Holmes drug formerly stood. Yes, Conan Doyle was a trainee medical student in the navy.

E) Behind the Camden House at number 32 Baker Street you will see the house where Colonel Sebastian Moran, Moriarty’s right hand man, shot Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Empty House, a story from the volume The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Ah…hold on a second…. He fired through the window of Sherlock Holmes’ house from here?! Many believe that Conan Doyle imagined Holmes’s house at 221 Baker Street. The truth is that number 221 didn’t exist at that time. Curioser and curioser…

F) Number 2 Devonshire Place was where Conan Doyle had his consultation room and also where he wrote A Scandal in Bohemia. Note that the building is known as Conan Doyle House.

G) Number 15 Welbeck Street is where Moriarty himself tried to do away with Holmes.

H) Number 2 Upper Wimpole Street is the former home of Conan Doyle. You can see one of the famous blue plaques to this effect.

I) Of course we couldn’t leave without visiting the home of Dr Watson. Where? At number 9, Queen Anne Street.

J) The Langham Hotel, a spectacular and monumental 5-star hotel that opened in 1865 and was Europe’s first Grand Hotel. It was frequented by Conan Doyle and even Oscar Wilde.

K) Oxford Circus, often called Regent Circus, is another location visited by Holmes and Watson in several stories.

L) Hotel Café Royal at number 68 Regent Street. An old cafe frequented by writers, including Conan Doyle. Right outside the cafe is where Holmes received a tremendous beating in The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.

M) The Criterion Restaurant at number 224 Piccadilly. If your budget allows, it would be great to eat here before continuing your journey. 100% recommended. However, while I didn’t have a reservation, if you feel like splashing out I would recommend you book a table in advance in order not to miss out on a restaurant that is unique for its opulent neo-Byzantine architecture, gilded ceilings, marble floors, mirrors … it may be worth adding that the restaurant also received the Best Restaurant in London award in 2011. This restaurant was opened in 1874 – indeed, it’s even older than the famous statue of Eros, which was erected in 1893 – and, according to Conan Doyle, Holmes and Watson met here on the New Year of 1881.


By the way, the St James’s Hall concert venue, which opened in 1858 and was apparently frequented by Holmes and Watson, is also close by. The hall was an architectural gem designed by Owen Jones, who also decorated the interior of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition, or Expo, in London in 1851. St James’s Hall was located in the area now enclosed by Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Vine Street and George Court.

Once you have had lunch – either in the Criterion or another, less pricey restaurant – prepare for Part II of your Sherlock Holmes itinerary.

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