London is absolutely awash with first class museums, with so many on offer that the humble visitor may feel somewhat spoilt for choice during your stay at our King’s Cross hotel. Big hitters like the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum cry out for attention. If you’re staying in one of our Family roomswith the kids, you may find that the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Museum of London are top of the must-visit list.
Creative types, meanwhile, will find themselves in fabric strewn, arty heaven at the V&A and the Design Museum. Whatever your interests – from dinosaurs to buses, from ancient Egyptians to Mary Quant, from typography to tanks – there is guaranteed to be a museum that’s right up your street. And as most of them are free, you’ll have stacks of cash left over to chuck around liberally in the gift shop. Hurrah!
The British Museum
The British Museum is widely regarded as one of the best museums in London, and here you’ll find an astonishing collection that covers a mind-boggling two million years of history from pre-historic times right up to the present day. Six million visitors a year flock here to stare at the Rosetta Stone, marvel at the Parthenon sculptures, and get freaked out by the Lindow Man.
As well as the huge permanent collection, there are regularly updated special events, displays and exhibitions, all carefully curated for maximum jaw-drop. Established in 1753, this is one of the oldest museums in the world, and exudes a learned air, though it’s totally family friendly. And, if the kids are playing up, you can threaten to let the mummies in the Ancient Egyptian collection babysit them for a while, allowing you to relax with a glass of wine in the well-appointed café.
Entry is free, though some of the exhibitions do require tickets. From King’s Cross, hop on the Piccadilly Line to Holborn (take the Kingsway exit), from where it’s just a seven minute walk to the museum which is located on Great Russell Street.
The Design Museum
The Design Museum is the world’s most renowned museum dedicated to contemporary design in all its guises, including graphics, furniture, industrial design, fashion, architecture and multimedia. The exhibitions (which are regularly updated) celebrate human creativity and how it shapes our world. And, as a bonus, most of the exhibitions are generally complemented by a series of children’s workshops.
Once you’ve finished worshipping at the design alter, you can stock up on design books and products to your heart’s content in the shop in a (potentially futile) attempt to recreate the wonders you have witnessed in your own home. Plus, if all that creativity has made you peckish, you can enjoy a delicious snack and a stunning river view from the uber cool Blueprint Café. From King’s Cross, take the Northern Line to London Bridge, exit via Tooley Street and from there it’s a pleasant fifteen minute stroll to Shad Thames where the museum is located.
The Imperial War Museum
Travel back in time at the Imperial War Museum and learn about life for those both on the front line and at home during WW1 and WW2, discover more about the United Nations, and examine the spine-chilling and emotionally draining exhibits in the Holocaust Exhibition (not recommended for children under the age of fourteen).
The Central Hall is the star of the show, with its fabulous collection of military artefacts including tanks, guns and aircraft suspended from the ceiling. Entry is free. From King’s Cross, take the Northern Line to Elephant & Castle, exit through the shopping centre and from there it’s just a short walk to Lambeth Road and the museum.
The Museum of London
The Museum of London holds the title of the largest urban museum in the world, and tells the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present day in an exciting and very interactive way, involving carefully reconstructed street scenes and interiors (but no smellivision – thank goodness!). There are plenty of fascinating artefacts discovered during the archaeological digs carried out by the museum’s resident team of experts.
Entry is fee, although some of the exhibitions do require tickets. There is an action packed and ever-changing programme of short-term displays, walks, talks, and kid’s events, so having a browse on the website before you plan a visit is highly recommended. The nearest tube to the Design Museum is Barbican (five minute walk), so jump on a Circle or Hammersmith & City or Metropolitan line train from King’s Cross and you’ll be there in around twenty minutes.
For more information about museums like this one that are closer to our King’s Cross home, check out our guide to 7 inspiring museums near King’s Cross.
The Natural History Museum
Though one word immediately springs to mind when the Natural History Museum is so much as mentioned in casual conversation (DINOSAURS!), there is so much more to this London landmark. Dinosaurs aside (and you will find big ones, small ones, angry ones and friendly ones here), you can also see a blue whale (life-sized and boy is it enormous!), a four hundred million year old arachnid, a Neanderthal skull and countless other weird and wonderful exhibits from nature.
These are all housed in a spectacularly beautiful and impossibly vast building. Entrance is free, although you will need to pay to view certain exhibitions. From King’s Cross, take the Piccadilly Line to South Kensington and follow the hordes through the fabulous underpass to the museum.
We’ve dedicated 2 area guides plus a customised map to the wonders of South Kensington, for the low down on how to get there and things to do, head to our King’s Cross to South Kensington guide, and for tips on the best local restaurants and bars try King’s Cross to South Kensington: where to eat and drink post.
The Science Museum
If you feel like giving your brain a good work-out, head to London’s iconic Science Museum to put your grey matter through its paces and intermingle freely with all of the major scientific discoveries of the last three hundred years over seven impressive floors. A real highlight is the massive in-house IMAX cinema. Here you can book tickets to immerse yourself in all manner of scientific scenarios, from a trip to outer space to exploring the ocean depths.
The shop here is quite simply awesome, and you will need to set aside a good chunk of time to properly do it justice. You may also wish to re-mortgage your house. General entrance is free, although you will need to pay for IMAX tickets and certain other interactive exhibits. Route to South Kensington as above.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
One of the best London museums, the V&A houses an absolute treasure trove of delights from the global art and design world. Around every corner (and there are a LOT of corners in this magnificent place) is something new. It’s easy to lose track of time as you navigate the seemingly endless corridors and rooms replete with arty pleasures including paintings, furniture, jewellery, metalwork, textiles, glass, photography fashion and sculpture.
In total, there are 150 ornate galleries across seven floors, containing pieces sourced from all over the world. General entrance is free, though some exhibitions are ticketed. Route to South Kensington as above.
We have lots of art-led venues near us in King’s Cross too, which we compiled into our guide to the 7 must see galleries near King’s Cross.