Things to do near Russell Square
Visit the British Museum
Without a doubt, the British Museum is the greatest attraction that Russell Square holds. Even those who think of it as a ‘warehouse of colonial loot’ have to acknowledge that it’s a pretty impressive collection of artefacts from around the world. They date from the early civilisations to the present time, so you might find it difficult to visit all of the collections in one go. Pressed for time? Grab a coffee (it’s not bad at all) and then go see the mummies (on the upper floors). If, however, you’re the type of visitor who likes to be thorough, you could easily spend 2+ days here. A tour or an audio guide, therefore, can be a great middle-of-the-way option. You will be able to take it all in without having to spend the whole weekend here. That said, do avoid the weekend because it gets incredibly busy.
Explore Asian and African art
The Brunei Gallery is part of SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). It is tiny compared to the British Museum, but it’s a great quirky find. It only takes 15-30 minutes per visit, and there is always something interesting to see. Paintings of the Japanese mining industry, anyone? There’s a small Japanese garden on the rooftop too. It’s not that impressive in winter, but lovely during the warm season. Just so you’re aware: although it’s a lovely gallery with lots to offer, there’s a dark side too. Its name dates back to when the Sultan of Brunei donated funds for the building. There have been calls to change it because of the country’s crimes against the LGBT+ people.
London as a whole is a great place for bookshops and Russell Square is one of the hot spots. SOAS has quirky little shop, but for a real treat, visit Skoob. Yes, that’s ‘books’ spelled backwards. The shop does not look impressive from the outside, but do give it a chance. They have a huge selection of second hand academic books and you don’t have to be a student to enjoy them. If you are a curious person, start browsing and you will soon end up down a rabbit hole that takes you some very exciting places. The shop has over 55,000 different titles. None of them are catalogued, so there is no telling what you will find. The atmosphere will remind you of a massive old library-cum-warehouse, so hold onto the hand of your friend or you will lose them.