It’s true when they say, you never know what you’ll find around the corner. And that’s definitely so when it comes to living in London. Whether it’s finding the spot where the latest romcom was filmed or the area that inspired Dickens with Great Expectations, the options are endless. Thousands upon thousands of novels have been inspired by the streets, hotels, cafés and parks across our city, and you’d be forgiven not to have put one literary clue with another, let alone even visited them. So get strapped in literary heads, we’ve compiled a list of some of the famous landmarks that inspired some of the world’s greatest authors…
If you’re a lover of murder mysteries, it’s probably because you read Agatha Christie growing up. With 66 novels and 15 short stories under her belt, Agatha Christie is world renowned for both her literary skills and jaw-dropping thrillers. What you might not know though, is that her novel At Bertram’s Hotel is based on the hotel bar at Flemings in Mayfair. Having given such notable descriptions of the quintessential London hotel, she actually last minute changed Bertram’s managers name because it was so close to the real one at the time!
Flemings is one of the capital’s oldest established hotels, dating back to 1851, and to this day, it’s one of the few remaining privately owned hotels in London, now with the same family for over 40 years.
Where: Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London, W1J 7BH, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
Dickens, Dickens, Dickens, little did you know you’d still be spoken so highly about so many years on. If you haven’t heard of Dickens then you really must be have been living under a rock… His novels are notoriously taught in schools so you’re bound to have read (or pretended to at least) during your younger years for a school assignment.
Tucked away amongst the buildings of London’s School of Economics is a little shop transformed by Charlies Dickens’ novel by the same name, The Old Curiosity Shop. With its sloping roof and uneven Tudor gabling, it’s marked as one of London’s oldest shops dating back to the sixteenth century. Although home of the teenage orphan, Nell Trent and her grandfather in Dicken’s story, it’s actually now home to high end shoes retailer. It might be a little beaten up but it’s definitely worth the visit for any hardcore literary heads…
Where: 3-14 Portsmouth Street, Holborn, WC2A 2ES
Considered one of the most important literary figures in the twentieth century, Virginia Woolf was a born and bred Londoner at heart, so it’s not surprise her novels are typically set in and around London. Her novel Mrs Dalloway follows a day in the life of a wealthy upper-class woman living in London as she prepares herself for a party she’s hosting later on that evening. If you’re in central, why not take a step back in time and stroll the same glorious path where Mrs Dalloway begins her walk in London’s famous St James’ Park.
Where: St James' Park, SW1A 2BJ
If you’re not too haunted by the dystopian memories of reading Nineteen Eighty-Four growing up, why not take a visit to the Senate House in Bloomsbury where Orwell’s most significant landmark, the Ministry of Truth, was inspired. Believe it or not, Orwell’s wife actually worked at the building during WW2 so it’s hardly surprising it featured in his dystopian novel. It’s where Winston Smith spent his days aimlessly rewriting the past on behalf of ‘the party’. Nowadays, the Art Deco building is the administrative centre of the University of London, in the heart of Bloomsbury.
Where: Senate House University of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HU
Everyone’s favourite childhood bear has to be the bear from Peru. Some might say A Bear Called Paddington was just a publicity stunt for marmalade companies, but this little bear definitely won us all over on multiple occasions. With his red hat and blue duffle coat, Paddington grew the popularity to visit London Paddington Station also. It’s where the little bear was found by the Brown family who took in him and how Paddington came to get his name. You might have visited this spot in a rush, but it’s always worth the time to visit with a marmalade sandwich at hand…
Where: Praed Street, Paddington, W2 1HQ
Just a five minutes’ walk from Hampstead Heath, you’ll find a pub that was built back in 1585. The Spaniards Inn was allegedly the place where John Keats was inspired to write Ode to a Nightingale while listening to the birds chirping in the inn’s garden. It’s not only Keats who was inspired by the history behind inn as it’s also mention on Charles Dickens The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula. To this day, it’s still oozing with history and represents what a traditional British pub truly is. Just maybe take some garlic so you don’t attract Dracula himself…
Where: Spaniards Road, Hampstead, NW3 7JJ
Whether you’re a fan of his work, Karl Marx is one political figure everyone’s heard of and studied in a history lesson. A spot to head to Quo Vadis on Dean Street – in the rooms above, it’s where Karl Marx lived as a political exile and began writing Das Kapital. Back in the day, 26-29 Dean Street has formerly housed a Soho brothel and while Marx was a lodger, it was known for being on the filthy side. But now it’s a elevated into a safe haven, decked with flowers and has a seriously good reputation for their honest food and drink. Restaurant customers can ask to have a look up at the old rooms of the political head…
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3LL
It wouldn’t be a literary hotspot guide without adding a little bit of magic. You guessed it, the mystical Platform 9¾, located at King’s Cross St Pancras is filled with hardcore Harry Potter fans and tourists flocking to the station. All of the witches and wizards out there will be elated to know they can update their profile pics with a photo into front of the famous trolley. Even if you’ve just got a train to catch watch the crowds posing in front of the spot, you might even spot Harry around…
Where: King's Cross St Pancras, N1C 4TB
Talking about literary hotspots, see London’s best bookshops here…