Top tips for new students to the Warburg Institute

Moving to a new area can be exciting, but it can also take a while to get to know the neighbourhood. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a whole host of tips for new starters to the Warburg Institute. 

Read on to discover recommendations from Warburg students, staff and fellows including favourite lunch spots, where to get second-hand books, the best place to get a pint, and more.

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At the Warburg Institute

The Warburg Institute holds a great deal of resources for you to make the most of whilst studying; a library which holds more than 360,000 volumes on Renaissance studies and the history of the classical tradition; a Photographic Collection with tens of thousands of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographs and slides; and an Archive of the working materials and papers of the Institute’s founder Aby M. Warburg and of other distinguished scholars closely associated with the Institute.

The Warburg Institute offers a varied and exciting range of lectures and conferences available to students. As well as the events taking place at the Warburg, there are eight other research institutes in the area as part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), all of which host a number of interesting eventsAdditionally, due to the Warburg being located in an academic and cultural hub, not only do we have all of the SAS institutes to take advantage of, there is also University College LondonBirkbeck, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Institute of Education, the British Library and the Wellcome Collection; which all have their own programmes of events open to the public.

Something important to note when beginning your studies is to take a look at what each of your tutors has published, which can be found on each tutor’s profile page. You will get a sense of your tutors’ interests, the approaches they take to scholarship and the arguments they support on some of the issues you will be studying.

The Institute is not only a great resource of books but also of people. Enjoy sharing your research interests not only with staff, other students and fellows but also with scholars and readers who happen to work in the library.

Dr Alessandro Scafi, Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Cultural History

Places to eat

From Indian restaurants to Italian cafés, there are a wealth of places to choose from for lunch, dinner, and coffee in the area surrounding the Warburg Institute.

“I often go for lunch at Moreish at the junction of Marchmont St and Tavistock Place, nice sandwiches, hot dishes and cake, and good coffee. Over the way from Moreish in Tavistock Place is the cheapest pizzeria I know, Pizza Sophia, run by Italians and very good.”
Dr Paul Taylor, Curator of the Photographic Collection

“There is a vegetarian Indian nearby: Diwana on Drummond Street. They have an excellent and very cheap lunchtime buffet.”
Dr Eckart Marchand, Deputy Curator of the Photographic Collection

Buffet lunch at the Diwana Bhel Poori House | Photo by Alan Stanton

"My top tip for a nice meal in the neighbourhood is The Life Goddess on Store Street (authentic Greek cooking in a lovely space very near Senate House). We are exceptionally well served for South Indian restaurants (vegetarian). The most famous street for them is Drummond Street, just above Euston, and Diwana is a family favourite with a particularly tasty (and filling!) buffet at lunch. The Indian YMCA in Fitzrovia is also well worth a visit: it has vegetarian and non-vegetarian.”
Professor Bill Sherman, Director

bibimbab
A bowl of bibimbab from Bibimbab Cafe

"Pizza Sophia on Tavistock Place, a snug Italian restaurant, serves the best pizza in the area, with meat, vegetarian, and vegan options available. I also hear a Pasta Sophia is coming very soon, so keep an eye out! I would also recommend venturing out to Bibimbab Cafe, opposite the British Museum – a great little spot for fresh and authentic Korean food.

For lunch, head over to Duetto Pizza on Marchmont Street, or Diwana, an Indian vegetarian restaurant on Drummond Street – both are very cheap, welcoming, and serve excellent food."
Rita Yates, PhD student and Warburg Events and Communications Trainee

"My favourite place is The Life Goddess. I recommend getting the daily special, which is always amazing, and the portions are massive. Also very good coffee."
Gavanndra Hodge, MA Student

"For a cheap meal out nearby, I'd always head to Ciao Bella on Lambs Conduit Street - its family run and a classic. Whenever anyone asks for food recommendations though, I also have to mention Koya in Soho, possibly the best Japanese in London. Fork Deli, Store St Expresso (both on Store St and Tavistock Place) and The Observatory offer coffee, yummy daytime food and a friendly space to sit with a book or laptop should a library break be needed." 
Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

© Koya

I recommend the Bloomsbury Farmers Market, located just by the Warburg Institute. Taking place weekly on a Thursday, everything on the market either comes straight from the farm or contains local, sustainable ingredients.”
Sarah Wells, Personal Assistant to the Director and Administrative Officer

I’ve recently stumbled upon the app Too Good To Go. It allows you to save a restaurant’s leftover food at much cheaper prices – i.e. the food that’s not been sold by the end of the day, which is perfectly edible. A great way to save money AND help cut down on food waste

Hannah Freeman, Digital Communications Officer

“Obviously people need to walk down towards St Pancras and try The King of Falafel – best lunch (try the wraps!). Slightly more luxurious Middle Eastern food is available at HIBA (opposite Holborn Tube Station).”
Dr Julia F Christensen, Research Fellow B.I.A.S. Project

The Fryer’s Delight in Holborn | Photo by Andrew Dickson

“I highly recommend this place for the best Fish & Chips, The Fryer’s Delight in Holborn. Gordon's cafe at UCL's Student's Union serves good coffee. In addition, there are the street food stalls at the American Church on Tottenham Court Road, and the great cheap pizza place ICCO on Goodge Street.”
Mark Amies, Warburg Library Scanner Operator

full spread of food from roti king
An array of dishes from Roti King

"Here are a few of my suggestions of good places for lunch (tested over many years!):

Euston(ish)

  • Murger Han (Xi’an/noodles; well-priced (c.£11-15); large portions)
  • Roti King (Malaysian/Singaporean; authentic; cheap)
  • Chillicool (Sichuan; reasonable prices)

Bloomsbury/Fitzrovia

  • 49 Café (Italian pasta/sandwiches/salad; good meal deal prices c.£6-7.50)
  • Indian YMCA (Indian canteen; low price (c.£7-9) but high quality/quantity)
  • Seoul Bakery (Korean café; £5 fresh bibimbap – add-ons aren’t worth it though)
  • Salumeria (Italian deli; slightly pricier than 49 Café)
  • Hare Krishna (free vegan food; every weekday by SOAS or old ULU building)
  • Farmer’s Market (outside Birkbeck every Thursday; lots of overpriced options but The Parsons Nose (sausage sandwiches etc) and Le Petit Moulin Traiteur (French) are more reasonable c.£6-9)
  • Bento-ya (Japanese bento/sushi take-away; behind Warren Street tube; much higher quality and comparable prices (c.£7-10) to nearby options on Tottenham Court Road)
  • ICCO Pizza (Italian; cheap; fast)

Noah Cashian, MA Student 

Coffee and cake

Store Street Espresso
Store Street Espresso

"Here are my suggestions in the nearby area for barista-style coffee and good cakes, pastries and the occasional sandwich or light lunch. Some of these coffee shops are small and hard to find, but well worth seeking out:

Jon Millington, Academic Engagement and Impact Officer

Places to drink

Those that like a tipple or two can find plenty of drinking spots in the area. from students bars to pubs, there are a variety of drinking spots in the vicinity of the Warburg Institute.

The WC winebar | Photo: Chris Howlett Photography

“For pubs and watering holes, you are spoiled for choice. There are about 20 within a 15-minute walk. The Institute Bar, just round the corner on Bedford Way, is among the cheapest places to wet your whistle in the area.

The Lady Ottoline is a bit further away (about 15 minutes walk) but offers a great atmosphere and slightly higher-end dining upstairs. They have an excellent gin selection. If you’re after a laugh and top-notch service, see if James is working (you’ll know him when you meet him) – he makes some of the best mixed drinks in the area.

For a really fun, unique, and intimate (albeit slightly pricey) experience, the WC Bloomsbury bar near Coram’s Fields (10 minutes from the Warburg) is a Victorian public toilet block that has had the cubicles stripped out and is now a really nice cocktail bar.”
Hugh Cullimore, PhD Student

Marquis Cornwallis pub Coram Street, Marchmont Street | Photo by Philafrenzy from Wikimedia Commons

“For those who drink, the Marquis Cornwallis in Marchmont St keeps its beer well, and serves OK food; the room upstairs is always a bit quieter. The Norfolk Arms in Leigh St has rather more expensive meals but keeps its beer well, and over the way from that is the North Sea Fish Restaurant, in case you want to soak up the alcohol with a plate of chips. The Lord John Russell in Marchmont St is also a nice pub, but it’s beer, crisps and TV only.”
Dr Paul Taylor, Curator of the Photographic Collection

"For an unfussy pint, I'd say the Lord John Russel or The Lamb"

Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

Bookshops

With Bloomsbury home to some of the best libraries and academic institutions, there are naturally a number of wonderful bookshops in the area. As well as Waterstones, there are also a variety of independent ones including Treadwell’s BooksJarndyce, and The London Review Bookshop amongst others.

 

Skoob Books in the Brunswick Centre, in my (humble) opinion, is the best second-hand book shop in the area, and it has real character.”  
Mark Amies, Warburg Library Scanner Operator

For second-hand academic books, Judd Books on Marchmont Street is one of the best.

Professor Bill Sherman, Director

"The London Review Bookshop has a really well curated range of fiction and poetry with lots of small press and indie titles. In the basement, they have a table with books for clearance where you can pick up some good bargains. There’s a cake shop attached with nice herbal teas and banana bread.

Ten minutes from the Warburg is Bookmarks, London’s oldest radical bookshop. Affiliated to the Socialist Workers’ Party, it has a great selection of first- and second-hand Marxist, feminist, and Queer literature, as well as newspapers, pamphlets, and badges. Great to browse around."
George Brocklehurst, PhD Student

the front of bookmarks bookshop
Bookmarks bookshop | Photo by Secretlondon

"In addition to Skoob Books and Judd Books (both a must), check out the London Review Bookshop (which also has great cake) on Bury Place and Gay's the Word on Marchmont Street, the oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop in the UK -- both also organise a host of great events too." 
Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

London Review Bookshop | Photo by RachelH_

"Skoob Books in the Brunswick Centre has an enormous collection of second-hand books to get lost in, with fair prices and very helpful staff; you can also head over to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road for an afternoon - it offers six floors of books, music, and stationary."
Rita Yates, PhD student and Warburg Events and Communications Trainee

Essentials

There are a number of Ryman stationery shops located near to the Warburg Institute where you can purchase pens, notepads, post-it notes and all other items of stationery you could possibly think of (most probably). Make sure to have your student card ready as they also offer student discount.

In terms of pharmacies, there are a total of three Boots stores and a Superdrug located nearby on Tottenham Court Road. Again, both offer student discount, but you will need to sign up for either a Boots Advantage Card or a Superdrug Health & Beauty card to claim.

"Always carry your student card with you and ask shops, restaurants and cafes if they have a student discount. Not everywhere does, but many places do, and it’s not always advertised! It’s also a good idea to download the apps UNiDAYS and Student Beans - both of these give you access to loads of discounts."
Louisa McKenzie, PhD Student

Things to do

There are plenty of things to do in the Bloomsbury area during your time at the Warburg Institute, below are just a few examples:

Green spaces

"Take advantage of London’s green spaces. Regent’s Park is nearby, and Hampstead Heath, just a bus ride away, feels like a slice of the countryside in London. Alternatively go for a walk alongside the River Thames - there’s loads of routes to choose from. If you want to stick nearer to the Institute, head to Coal Drops Yard near King’s Cross - there’s a great selection of shops, cafes and restaurants - and then walk alongside Regent’s Canal to Gasholder Park.";
Louisa McKenzie, PhD Student

coal drops yard
Coal Drops Yard photo by diamond geezer on Flickr

“There is a plethora of green spaces and parks around the Institute and Bloomsbury area (including Woburn Square and Gordon Square Gardens directly outside the Institute); perfect for lunches in the summer, sitting with friends, or taking a stroll through when in need of some nature."
Hannah Freeman, Digital Communications Officer

gordon square gardens
Gordon Square Gardens, London Borough of Camden, WC1 by Ewan Munro

"Some of my favourite quiet spots include Camley Street Natural Park next to Kings Cross - take a walk around the woods and wetlands, or sit in their cafe which overlooks a huge pond."
Rita Yates, PhD student and Warburg Events and Communications Trainee

camley street
Camley Street Natural Park

Museums and galleries

"With over 250 cultural institutions in London, most of which are free, there is no excuse not to go and check them out. It’s a short tube journey from Goodge Street to the National Gallery; who we offer our MA in Art History, Curatorship, and Renaissance Culture in conjunction with. The Wellcome Collection is only a ten-minute walk away and regularly hosts various free exhibitions around the themes of science, medicine, life, and art. Additionally, it’s worth visiting the British Museum, also a ten-minute walk, which has a permanent collection of about eight million objects dating over two million years of human history and culture.”
Hannah Freeman, Digital Communications Officer

 

"For Renaissance and early modern material culture, The Wallace Collection is a local gem. UCL Art Museum, just across the road, has an amazing collection of Renaissance and early modern prints, with often a lot more availability for viewings than the British Museum's Prints and Drawings Collection. Anyone with an interest in the history of collecting and antiquities must pay a visit to Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields. I'd also recommend visits to Leighton House Museum, the Freud Museum and Dennis Severs' House - all, like the Sir John Soane's Museum, are homes now turned into museum spaces. The latter is particularly interesting when thinking about historical afterlives, imagination and the hyperreal: it is the house of a late 20th century individual, Dennis Severs, who designed and lived in his house between 1979 to 1999 as if it belonged to an Huguenot family who had lived there since it was built in 1724, with each room fashioned as if it was the eighteenth century. Oh, and The Foundling Museum right by the Warburg Institute is worth a visit and often has lunchtime concerts, free with a museum ticket."
Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

The Great Gallery of the Wallace Collection, London UK, as it appeared in July of 2012 | Photo by Musicartgeek

"The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is a hidden gem, tucked away on Malet Place.  You can easily spend a couple of hours marvelling over their cabinet displays - expect to see tools and weapons, stone vessels, toys, jewellery, clothing, carvings and frescoes, mummy portraits, and much more! 

Friday Lates at the National Gallery

Keep an eye out for the National Gallery’s Friday Lates, as well as Tate Modern Lates. There’s often the opportunity to enjoy the collections after hours, listen to live music, or take part in drawing sessions. The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Canonbury Square (5 minutes away on the tube) similarly offers late opening nights. Recently, a few PhD’s took part in a life drawing class there, held in conjunction with the exhibition, Osvaldo Licini: Rebellious Angel."
Rita Yates, PhD student and Warburg Events and Communications Trainee

Other things to do

"The Curzon Cinema and the Barbican often have well curated film programmes (the Barbican also has excellent exhibitions and concerts to check out and fantastic brutalist architecture to explore). If near the Barbican, check out the music events at LSO St Lukes, and actually on the subject of amazing church spaces to hear live music in London, the Union Chapel in Islington is amazing."  
Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

Store Street is a must – super nice coffee shops, flowers, shops e.t.c.”
Dr Julia F Christensen, Research Fellow B.I.A.S. Project

© Store Street Gallery

Part-time work

"If you are a PhD student, I really recommend The Brilliant Club, where you teach self-designed courses in your subject to less-advantaged A-level students with the aim of helping them access the most competitive universities and succeed when they get there. It is both great teaching experience and incredibly rewarding to boot!"
Thalia Allington-Wood, Lecturer in Art History

“For people who are looking for jobs, these are the two websites with information about Postgraduate Teaching Assistant jobs (I did it for Latin in the Classics department at UCL for one year):”

UCL Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Scheme
Jobs.ac.uk

“There are also bucket loads of tutoring agencies in London that pay quite well, here are just a few:”

Bright Young Things | Academic Tuition 
Keystone Tutors
Young Giants Tutoring Agency
Holland Park | Tuition and Education Consultants

Antonia Von Karais, PhD Student

I’d recommend signing up to artsjobsonline, a fantastic resource for part-time positions in culture and heritage, as well as looking through the Association for Art History’s Jobs and Opportunities page, and Jobs desk – a listing source for museums and galleries run by the University of Leicester. 
Rita Yates, PhD student and Warburg Events and Communications Trainee

> Find out more about our postgraduate programmes