“The game is afoot!” It’s London, amidst the Victorian alleyways and iconic landmarks, where the world’s most fictional famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, once trod, unraveling enigmas that captivated readers across the globe.
For aficionados of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant detective and even the ardent fans of the modern renditions by the BBC or the silver screen, retracing the detective’s steps in the city is akin to stepping right into a living page of a thrilling novel.
“Elementary, my dear Watson”, he’d often quip, and yet, the magic of Sherlock Holmes is anything but simple. Deducting Sherlock Holmes places in London offers you a thrilling chase through the annals of literary history. From the iconic 221B Baker Street, immortalized forever as the detective’s residence, to lesser-known haunts that have witnessed Holmes’ unparalleled deduction skills, London is a treasure trove for every Holmes enthusiast.
So, don your deerstalker hat, grab your magnifying glass, and let’s embark on a journey that takes you through gas-lit streets, past historic pubs, and into the very heart of London, where the spirit of Sherlock Holmes is as alive today as it was in the days of Doyle.
221b Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes Museum)
When people think of Sherlock Holmes places in London, 221b Baker Street is often the first thing that comes to mind. In true Holmesian fashion, you may need a clue or two to find The Sherlock Holmes Museum, located at this fictional address. (Friendly tip: Don’t expect the house numbers to go chronologically; instead, look for the crowd!)
The museum seeks to replicate part of the Holmes-Watson residence between 1881 and 1904, so you’ll be able to see what Sherlock’s study or Watson’s bedroom looked like. However, it’s rather small, so you’ll probably need half an hour or less here, which you may or may not find worth queuing up for.
Other tips? The queue can take over an hour to clear. Your best bet for avoiding it is to head over early in the morning or to book a ticket in advance. There is also a small gift shop next to the Museum which stocks interesting Sherlock curiosities and souvenirs.
The Baker Street Sherlock Holmes Statue
Photo courtesy of It’s No Game via Flickr
Right outside the Baker Street tube station and very close to the Sherlock Holmes Museum is the Sherlock Holmes statue by John Doubleday. Fun trivia: it took 72 years from the time a Sherlock Holmes in London statue was first proposed before it was finally unveiled!
The famous detective is depicted wearing an Inverness cape, and deerstalker hat, and smoking a calabash pipe. It is larger than life at around 3m tall but as Baker Street is a very busy location, you’ll need to wait a while to get a photo without people swarming all around!
Speedy’s Café at Euston Square
Photo courtesy of ML M via Flickr
Fans of the BBC’s Sherlock will recognize the familiar red awning of Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe at 187 North Gower Street, a traditional British cafe that appeared in almost every episode of the TV show.
In the show, Speedy’s was set on the ground floor adjacent to 221 Baker Street, where Holmes and Watson lived. For fans of modern Sherlock, this is unsurprisingly one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes places in London.
It doesn’t hurt that you’ll get one of the most delicious and affordable breakfasts in London here, with quick and friendly service to boot!
St. Bart’s Hospital
Photo courtesy of Andrea Vail via Flickr
If you want to know where it all began, head over to St. Bart’s Hospital Museum in Smithfield. In A Study in Scarlet, published by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, we learn that Sherlock and Watson met at the hospital’s chemical laboratory within the Pathology Department.
A plaque was erected to commemorate the meeting of the two famous literary heroes and inscribed with these words:
At this place New Year’s Day, 1881 were originally spoken these deathless words ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ by Mr. Sherlock Holmes in greeting to John H. Watson, M.D. at their first meeting The Baker Street Irregulars – 1953 / By The Amateur Mendicants at the Caucus Club
The plaque was originally located in the Pathology Museum Curator’s room where not many people could see it! In the mid-2000s, the plaque was moved to St. Bart’s Hospital Museum. (You’ll find it near the window to the left of the entrance.)
Hard-core Sherlock fans will also recognize St. Bart’s, one of London’s oldest hospitals, as a filming location in the momentous “The Reichenbach Fall” episode of the BBC TV show Sherlock.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
One of the less obvious London Sherlock Holmes sites is Madame Tussauds, where you can find wax figures of two of the most popular modern Sherlock Holmes actors: Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Sherlock Holmes Pub
Photo (R) courtesy of The Sherlock Holmes Pub
Previously named Northumberland Arms, the Sherlock Holmes Pub appeared in the 1892 Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” under that name. This kid-friendly, dog-friendly Victorian-themed public house is one of the best Sherlock Holmes sites in London for Sherlock memorabilia, such as Dr. Watson’s old service revolver.
Located near Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square, the pub celebrates its heritage by holding events such as a Sherlock Holmes costume contest. You can also find a recreation of Holmes’s apartment on the upper floor.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s House
Photo courtesy of Dr.Amy via Flickr
For more off-the-beaten-track, Sherlock Holmes sites in London, head over to 2 Devonshire Place, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had an eye surgery clinic and wrote two Holmes novels. Today both 2 Devonshire Place and Doyle’s next address, 2 Upper Wimpole Street, are being used as dental clinics.
Photo courtesy of Simpsons-in-the-Strand via Instagram
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was such a fan of Simpsons-in-the-Strand, he made Holmes and Watson regulars too! Watson refers to it as “our Strand restaurant” and, at the end of the book The Adventure of the Dying Detective, Holmes- after fasting for three days- tells Watson, “Something nutritious at Simpson’s would not be out of place.”
Opened in 1828 as a chess club, Simpsons is one of London’s oldest traditional English restaurants and has appeared in other novels and films besides Sherlock Holmes, such as Howard’s End. Note that the dress code is smart casual.
If you have questions about London Sherlock Holmes sites and how to visit them, let me know in the comments!