Sunday, January 11, 2004

WHAT: Tracing the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes; his colleague and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson; and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

WHY NOW: Because as devotees of Holmes -- "the world's first and still most famous consulting detective" -- have collectively deduced, he was born Jan. 6, 1854, thus making 2004 his sesquicentennial celebration.

SHERLOCKIAN SITES: The exact site of Holmes's 221B Baker St. residence remains a matter of debate. Because the entire Portman Square neighborhood in which it was located was reduced to rubble in World War II, the "modern" world of Sherlock Holmes has been relocated to the northern end of the extended -- and renumbered -- Baker Street. Highlights include:

• "The Great Detective." Standing vigil outside the Marylebone Road exit of the Baker Street tube station is this statue, erected in 1999 by the Abbey National Bank (the residents of 221 Baker since 1932). The bank's nearby display window contains a diorama of Baker Street in Holmes's day; don't be afraid to step inside and ask the receptionist if Holmes is in.

• Sherlock Holmes Museum. Masquerading as 221B (but really at 239), this authentic Victorian boardinghouse now houses an excellent museum and souvenir shop. It's exactly 17 steps to an impressive re-creation of Holmes's and Watson's sitting room. Farther up are their bedrooms and two more display rooms, each of which is full of "genuine" artifacts and life-size wax tableaus. Admission is about $10.75. Info: 011-44-20-7935-8866,

• Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Co. Across the street at 230 Baker is this combination museum/emporium whose upstairs contains an exhibit of many of the props used in the popular Granada TV series starring Jeremy Brett. Downstairs is another array of Sherlockiana -- and lots of books, including first and rare editions. Admission to the exhibit is about $4.50. Info: 011-44-20-7486-1426,

WHERE TO EAT: Over the years, a number of Sherlock-theme restaurants have come and gone, but for nearly 50 years the Sherlock Holmes Pub (10-11 Northumberland St.), near Trafalgar Square, has served admirably as the unofficial meeting-place-cum-watering- hole for Holmes fans. It's housed in the former Northumberland Hotel, scene of some of the opening action of "The Hound of the Baskervilles."

Downstairs, patrons can examine the Sherlockian contents of numerous display cases. Upstairs in the restaurant, diners have a choice of starters and entrees named after the adventures and their characters; entrees from about $15. The real piece de resistance is served under glass: the original re-created Baker Street sitting room from the London Exhibit of 1951.

For something a bit more genteel, head to Simpson's-in-the-Strand (100 Strand), an elegant, wood-paneled carvery that dates back to 1828 and where Holmes frequently repairs for "something nutritious." Linger over generous portions of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; entrees start at about $18.

WHERE TO STAY: During the Victorian era, the present-day Sherlock Holmes Hotel (108 Baker St., 011-44-20- 7486-6161,; Web rates from $245 double) served as the home for the Bedford College for Women. Alas, it recently went boutique, ditching its cozy, traditional English layout in favor of minimalist public spaces and staff attired in black.

For those preferring an authentic period piece, there's the Langham Hilton Hotel (1C Portland Pl., 011-44-20- 7636-1000,, where Doyle contracted to write "The Sign of the Four" in 1889. Doubles start at about $267 a night.

SHERLOCKIAN TOURS: Two different guided walks are offered by Original London Walks (011-44-20-7624-3978, On Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m., it's "221B Baker Street," which covers his residential neighborhood. On Thursdays at 2:30 p.m., you can follow "In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes," which retraces his exploits in the West End. Both cost about $9.

If you want to hoof it yourself, check out "The Sherlock Holmes Walk," a guidebook published by Louis' London Walks (

INFO: Visit London, 011-44-20-7932- 2000,

-- Marshall S. Berdan

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