I finally got around to visiting the Wellcome Collection in London in March 2013. It bills itself as ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’, which is a pretty accurate description. Henry Wellcome was an pharmaceutical entrepreneur who amassed many medical artifacts during his travels.
For me, the most evocative piece in the museum was the ‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture by John Isaacs: the British sculptor’s statement on obesity.
‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture at the Wellcome Collection
Array of surgical instruments at the Wellcome Collection
Tranparent model of female body at the Wellcome Collection
I booked a room at Travelodge London Bank for four nights in March 2013. The total cost was £146, on the non-refundable Saver rate, booked 5 months in advance. £36.50 a night is a really good price for Zone 1 ensuite double room in a London hotel. The hotel is a two minute walk from either Cannon St or Bank stations. There’s an M&S Food at Cannon St station and a Tesco Express about five minutes walk away. Many of the restaurants and cafes nearby are closed at the weekend.
Travelodge sign in St Swithin’s Lane
I arrived at the hotel around 12.30 but check-in wasn’t until 15.00. As Travelodge don’t offer luggage storage facilities and I wanted to make the most of the daylight hours, I paid the £10 early check-in charge, enabling me to deposit my suitcase in my room and get out and about. I was allocated a double room on the first floor, directly above the hotel entrance overlooking the cobbled courtyard, shared with a restaurant. I was a bit concerned that my room might be noisy if people from the restuarant and hotel came out into the courtyard for a cigarette, or if the restaurant’s rubbish bins were wheeled out early in the morning. But I wasn’t disturbed by any exterior noise.
I stayed at Travelodge London Clapham Junction for two nights in March 2013. I chose this hotel because it cost £34 a night for a family room, booked around 10 weeks in advance, and I wanted to explore the Clapham area.
Family room at Travelodge Clapham Junction (taken with fish eye)
Although there isn’t a Tube station at Clapham Junction, there’s a very frequent rail service into Victoria Station (a ten minute journey) and it’s a stop on the London Overground. It only took me a couple of minutes to walk from Clapaham Junction station to the hotel. There’s an Lidl supermarket opposite the hotel, a McDonald’s up the road and plenty of other shops, restaurants and bars within a five minute walk.
Exterior of Travelodge London Clapham Junction
The receptionist was very friendly. I was allocated a room on the second floor. It was a large family room, nice and bright with two windows. I could hear a bit of exterior noise as there was a bus stop across the road. However I didn’t hear anything from adjoining rooms.
The Travelodge London Clapham Junction doesn’t have a Bar Cafe, so there’s no free WiFi here. I did have problems getting online with both my USB modems. I assume this was because I was on a lower floor, if I stay there again I’ll request a room on a higher floor which should improve the mobile broadband signal.
London has some fantastic art galleries. While the National Gallery and the Tates (Britain and Modern) generally take the plaudits, as well as the Saatchi Collection and White Cube for the modern art fancier, there are plenty of less well-known art galleries in London.
UCL Art Museum different take on what a gallery is all about; it’s an archive of art education, as well as art. Since the Slade was the first art school to admit women, it has a good collection of work by women artists, such as Gwen John, Paula Rego, and Dora Carrington, and also has the neoclassical artist Flaxman’s copy of plaster casts, spectacularly displayed under the dome of the library.
Portrait of Frederick the Wise at UCL Art Museum by Jisc
The Estorick Collection specialises in modern Italian art – Futurists, Surrealists, even the occasional figurative artist. It’s housed in a Georgian mansion, though the white-walled, bare gallery inside feels quite contemporary.
The Wallace Collection is another not-quite-secret gallery, with an offbeat selection of works including fine French art (Watteau in particular) as well as arms and armour and porcelain, all displayed in a fine mansion that retains much of its original furnishings and atmosphere.
Large drawing room at the Wallace Collection by megoizzy
Being Scottish, I’m always on the lookout for free things to do when I visit London. Here are my travel tips for seven free things to do in London.
Watch a Free Show at Covent Garden
There were two guys pedaling unicycles with a young member of the audience throwing skittles for them to catch, when I was at Convent Garden. The best place to view the show is from the first floor terrace of the Punch and Judy pub. However only over 18s are allowed out onto the terrace.
Free entertainment at London’s Convent Garden
Be Dazzled by Colour at Neal’s Yard
I’d repinned photos of Neal’s Yard on to my London board on Pinterest. I happened to notice Neal St as I was heading north from Convent Garden. I assumed that they Yard would be close by. Sure enough, Neal’s Yard was up an alleyway. It was late afternoon on a cold March weekday, with very few people around, so I had one of the circular benches in the courtyard to myself.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury for one night in mid March 2013, on a complimentary basis. The hotel is close to Russell Square tube station.
The lobby at Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
I was allocated an executive room on the 6th floor. The room was really bright and airy, as it had two large windows.
Executive room at Holiday Inn London Blooomsbury
The room was a good size, with a very comfortable bed and an office chair at the desk. The bathroom was spacious and there was a bathrobe and slippers. The standard of maintenance and cleanliness of the room were very good. The room had air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilites, a safe and a mini-bar.
View of London skyline from my room
It was pretty grey and drizzly this morning as I walked from Travelodge London Bank to the Write on Finance Blog Up (I’m also a personal finance blogger) at Guoman Charing Cross. I took the scenic route along the River Thames Walkway from St Paul’s to Embankment. It’s amazing how much the Shard dominates the London skyline; I saw it as my train pulled into King’s Cross and it was very evident from the Thames Walkway by the Millennium Footbridge.
Although it was a rainy morning in London, I decided to don my waterproof gear and walk from the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury to the Guoman Charing Cross, the venue of the Write on Finance Blog Up I’d organised for my personal finance blog Help Me To Save. I had time for a wander around Trafalgar Square before going to the event venue. There were rows of white tents and a stage in Trafalgar Square; part of the Maslensita Russian Festival.
I’m staying at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London tonight. My 6th floor bedroom has become my office for the day. Across the road is a beautiful Art Deco building at 7-11 Herbrand Street. It was constructed in the early 1930s as a car hire garage for Daimler. In 2000 the McCann advertising agency moved into the building.
I did a long (by my standards) walk around London this afternoon, starting at my hotel near Bank in the City and ending at the Wellcome Collection near Euston Station. At the western end of Fleet Street, I spotted one of the dragon boundary marks which guard the perimeter of the City of London.