To editorialise for a second, the Barbican is one of my favourite places in London. A huge residential and commercial centre in the north of the City, the Barbican is a complex, ageing maze of a structure which always felt to me like Blade Runner had it been set in England. The Barbican Centre is Europe’s largest arts centre, and hosts an incredible array of cutting edge arts events, as well as three restaurants, one of London’s biggest libraries, the London Symphony Orchestra and an unexpected and stunning conservatory filled with lush plantlife and exotic birds. There’s something special in the way that the brutalist architecture works with the lofty artistic ambitions of the project, and with the conservatory and the lake in the centre. There’s really nowhere else quite like it.
If shopping for Barbican hotels on a budget, you can’t really beat Sundial Court. While designed as cheap accommodation for visiting students, Sundial Court is open to anyone, and prices are £37 per night, which is pretty rare in the City. The rooms are modest, but spacious and clean, and the basement has a ‘leisure room’ with pool tables and a jukebox.
Barbican hotels generally hover around the four star mark, but include some really charming boutique places, one of which is the Rookery, a four star establishment in a period style, wonderfully decorated in mahogany, with furnishings straight from an old-fashioned gentleman’s club. Of particular note is two-storey suite The Rook’s Nest, an amazing apartment in the upper reaches of the building.
Alternatively, the Zetter is a rather lovely small hotel in a much more modern style. It has a light, airy feel and a distinctive sense of design, with the rooftop studios boasting incredible views and private balconies. The real draw here is the hotel’s restaurant Bistro Bruno Loubet, which has repeatedly been named in the top three restaurants in the UK, with visitors coming from all over the world.
Barbican Station services the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.
Barbican Station is in Zone 1 and on the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines between Farringdon and Moorgate stations. It is not far from a great many Barbican hotels and it was originally named Aldersgate Street which is the name of the street on which it stands. The current building replaced an earlier version which oddly featured a sign declaring that it was "Shakespeare's House", however there's no historical indication that the famous playwright ever lived there despite the name William Shakespeare once featuring on a 1598 subsidy roll.
In the 1950's a glass canopy existed over the station platforms but that has long since been removed and the remnants can still be seen. There are 3 platforms in use at the station and 4 platforms in total. Good hotels near Barbican station are plentiful, the 4 star Rookery Barbican hotel and the 3 star Malmaison London are just two of the hotels nearby.
The Barbican Theatre at the The Barbican Centre which also houses an impressive art gallery is one of the closest attractions to the station. The theatre was originally intended to be the home of The Royal Shakespeare Company but in 2002 the company terminated their involvement with the venue. Over the years a number of prominent artists and performers have held shows at The Barbican and it's got a lively and varied calendar. The art gallery at The Barbican Centre also has a reputation for putting on some of the best exhibitions in London.
The Museum of London is also within walking distance from most Barbican hotels and it documents London from over 400,000 years ago right up to present day. The famous 'The Great Fire' exhibit is a reconstruction of how different the city was before three quarters of London was destroyed by fire in the year 1666.
Smithfield Market is not far from nearby Barbican hotels and is an enchanting place to shop; produce has been bought and sold there for over eight hundred years. Furthermore, most of the best hotels near Barbican station buy their meat and vegetables at Smithfield because the market is famous for selling the highest quality meat, cheese, pies and poultry.
For those who want to visit the Middle East in the heart of London without having to stray too far from their Barbican Hotels, Darbucka is ideal. It is a Bedouin-styled world music bar that serves cocktails, smoothies and a Syrian Meze menu and it's on St John Street.
The Betsy Trotwood and The Eagle are both British Pubs with a typical menu, each are located on Farringdon Road and have outdoor spaces for summer drinking. The Clerkenwell Diningroom and Bar on St John Street is slightly more up-market, stylish and modern with a European food-style and extensive drink selection. Spanish Tapas fans should visit The Green on Clerkenwell Green which is described as 'warm and well worth a visit'. You may even be able to find somewhere to eat closer than you'd initially imagined. Hotels near Barbican station often have their own bars and offer delicious food, in fact the Restaurant at The 4 star Zetter hotel has won stunning reviews.
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