If you’re a lover of Sherlock Holmes in any of his innumerable permutations (yes I did just link to that last one), no trip to London would be complete without a stop to 221b Baker St. When Sir Arthur Doyle originally penned the stories, there was no such address. Today there is, however, and it houses the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Entry costs £8 (~$12) for adults, £5 for children, and it is open every day of the year (except Christmas) from 9.30 AM to 6PM.
Walking to the museum from the Baker St Station takes about two minutes, and while you’re in the area you can check out a bunch of small shops selling British rock n’ roll paraphernalia.
Buy tickets at the gift shop to the right of 221b after you pick up your obligatory souvenir pipe and magnifying glass. One more door down is Mrs. Hudson’s cafe where you can grab a bite to eat from one of the ladies dressed in Victorian garb. Also, if you know a ‘presentable young man’ who is at least 6′ tall, the museum is hiring more Victorian policemen to pose for photographs with children and the smitten female–and male–tourist.
221b itself is three floors–when you’re let in, run up to the top floor and work your way down to avoid the other people–recreated on the first two to resemble how Holmes and Watson would have lived. Avid (rabid) fans will take note of the envelopes impaled on the mantle, bullet holes in the wall, books about bee keeping, a medicine bag with the initials ‘J.H.W’, a worn violin, and other items. The casual observer will notice a lot of junk as the museum doesn’t really explain what you’re looking at. Kind of an ‘indier than thou’ fan’s paradise, actually.
The third floor is filled with wax caricatures that I can’t bring myself to think of as I only got rid of the nightmares last week.
I think ‘curios’ means playing cards and shot glasses.
There’s also a guestbook where you can leave your undying love for Holmes. If you’re not in London, though, take heart–the museum has hired someone to answer letters written to the famous address. So grab your Hello Kitty stationary and write away.
And if you’re a fan of BBC’s Sherlock, you can always make your own tour around places seen in the series, much to the amusement and exasperation of your British peers.
Speedy’s is the new face of 221b and quite easy to get to, if not actually eat at as they close fairly early. I went there four times and managed to miss it each time, each instance muttering “I’ll be back,” in a California governor-esque voice.
Despite the heavy eye-rolling of the Korean exchange students who live above the cafe and ‘in’ Sherlock’s fictional digs when they catch you snapping pictures, Speedy’s itself is pretty much rolling in the publicity, going so far to have a contest for fans to design their new Sherlock sandwich. However, be warned if you are in the area during filming, you can’t get close to the cafe and will be asked to move away as recently fans have been swarming the area and being all manners of distracting. Think ‘The Beatles’ landing in the USA. No, seriously.