London Bridge is Falling…Up?

By Abi King | England

Jan 24

London Bridge Hotel the Shard GlassThe London Bridge Hotel lives next to London’s record breaking The Shard and is only a hop, skip and a jump away from London Bridge…in all its forms.

 London Bridge Hotel & Surrounding Area

London Bridge Hotel, cunningly situated on London Bridge Street, just metres from London Bridge station and – you guessed it  – London Bridge itself, hides secrets from the past right next to London’s most futuristic building.

First of all, there’s The Shard. If you haven’t yet heard of it, it’s one of London’s shiniest, newest, sparkliest buildings. Oh and it also happens to be its tallest. It hovers over the London Bridge district just waiting to prism the rays of sunshine through its 309.6 metres high panes of glass because, well, let’s face it we need a magnifying glass effect when it comes to sunshine in the city.

Then there are the secrets buried in the basement.

London Bridge the Shard

London Bridge Hotel: Remains

Excavations during refurbishment revealed remains from nearly two thousand years ago. Not skeletons (fortunately, although reports do mention combs made from bone) but ceramics. The principle find involved amphorae from Spain, elegant jugs that the Romans used to haul around olive oil and fish sauce in cold and grey Britannia.

So there you go. Cutting edge and digging deep. Now onto the juicy part. The London Bridge story…


The London Bridge Story

With its square stone towers, shields, pomp and circumstance London Bridge is one of the icons of the city, its silhouette recognised, feared (steady on – Ed) and loved across the length and breadth of the world. Or so say so many tourists.

For in fact, the famous one is Tower Bridge and London Bridge is a far plainer, drabber, well, simply duller kind of bridge.

It’s also, as you’ll probably notice, quite new.

Tower Bridge in London

London Bridge – This Isn’t It

The story goes like this*: a rich but clueless American wanted to buy London bridge and transport it to his hometown in Hicksville. So he signed a contract, paid his cash and waited. London Bridge was disassembled and transported across the Atlantic to spring back to life on the lowly waters of whatever the fictional river is that flows through the also fictional Hicksville.

Despite the intricate engineering involved, the American was displeased. For of course, it was Tower Bridge he had fallen in love with, with all its flourishes and fancies. Not London Bridge.

Now out of cash and heartbroken, all our fabled American could do was chalk the whole inglorious debacle up to experience and leave Londoners to enjoy its fabled Tower Bridge.

So what’s the moral of the story? Do your homework could be one, read this blog could be another. But yet another would be this: London’s a gritty city that thrives on sass and street smart (however sweet Kate Middleton looks.) Come, play, enjoy. But keep your wits about you.

*I have no idea whether or not the story is true. It’s an urban legend in London and I’m taking a break from my usual fact-checking because there’s a tiny part of me that doesn’t really want to know what happened. I don’t think it would end well – either way.


London Bridge Hotel Review – the Traditional Kind

London Bridge Hotel is a comfortable, stylish independent four star boutique hotel decked out in plums, scarlet, jet black and white. While not the most luxurious property in London, it does excel within its four star bracket. Staff are knowledgeable, helpful and polite and rooms are clean, cool and well-equipped with flat-screen TVs and complimentary wifi. It’s a short walk from the well-connected London Bridge station, as well as a flotilla of international restaurants and plenty of chances for sightseeing.

The Quarter Bar & Lounge are worth a visit on their own mid-week. Breakfast is served in the basement downstairs with both continental and cooked versions, not to mention the Brit special marmite.

What I loved

London Bridge Hotel DiningThe London Bridge Fizz cocktail at the Quarter Bar – fresh raspberries and blackberries soaked in the warmth of cherry brandy and crème de mure, topped with Prosecco

The Macaroon Cocktail – which takes cognac-caramelised raspberries and throws them together with Gran Marnier and Prosecco

The location:  so close to the resplendent Tower Bridge and so convenient for accessing central London

London Bridge Hotel RoomThe history found buried below

Fine dining at the Quarter Bar & Lounge

Complimentary wifi

Tea & coffee making facilities in-room

Things to know

Because of its location, the week nights are the busiest in the bar. So if it’s atmosphere you’re after, that’s the best time to visit. If it’s peace and quiet – paradoxically – try the weekend.

Rooms are on the small side so if you’re travelling with very young children, you’ll struggle to fit a travel cot in. UPDATE! We did return with our lovely small child and a travel cot does indeed fit in, with space to walk around. The trick the staff have is to remove some of the more decorative furniture. Plus, everyone was very friendly towards our mini-explorer so it’s still worth staying here!

London Bridge Hotel Sign


London Bridge Hotel Review: Specs

138 rooms with six spacious rooms for disabled guests. Deluxe and Executive rooms step it up a notch. Satellite TV, complimentary wifi, minibar, DDI telephone, hairdryer, air-conditioning, iron and ironing board, duvet and choice of pillow, tea and coffee, mineral water, White Company toiletries and fibre optic reading lights available in each room. Deluxe rooms have a king size bed, sofa bed and walk-in closet together with a DVD player and i-Pod docking station. There’s no gym on site but you can use the Fitness First health club nearby for free. Room service runs for 24 hours.

London Bridge Hotel near Tower Bridge

Disclosure: I stayed at the London Bridge Hotel on a complimentary basis for review purposes. As ever, I am free to write whatever I like. Find the small print here.

Did you know about the London vs Tower Bridge story?


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Donna Hull says:

    The London Bridge was relocated to Lake Havasu City in Arizona. It’s a gambling town and is a popular budget-friendly destination for snowbirds (U.S. citizens looking to escape snow and cold weather). Located near the California border, the town is also a popular gambling spot. It’s hot, hot, hot in the summer.

    • Abi says:

      Ah, Donna. I’m not sure whether I feel better knowing that this story is true…or not! Thanks for the info :-)

  • Harold Durie Finch, Major (retd) says:

    Guy’s hospital is dwarfed by the Shard. A friend of mine went there in the sixties and remembers very well the story of the American who bought it thinking he was buying Tower Bridge. It was universally accepted as true. Means it probably wasn’t.
    The old bridge was taken down as the new one was built without any stoppage of traffic. Or flow of bowler hats and rolled umbrellas across it to London Bridge. cf TS Eliot.

  • Harold Durie Finch, Major (retd) says:

    London Bridge railway station that is.

    • Abi says:

      Some stories are just meant to stay alive…

  • George the Travel Monkey says:

    London Bridge is Arizona’s second most popular tourist attraction after the Grand Canyon. Not a mistake to buy it then.

    • Abi says:

      Really?! Ah…the perspective of travel. I would LOVE to see the Grand Canyon. I probably wouldn’t scratch my eyebrow to see London Bridge ;-)

  • David Jacobs says:

    Hi. I stayed at the London Bridge Hotel a couple years ago. Found it pleasant and extremely convenient but as you say the rooms are not too big. Very close to the River Thames and the “new” London Bridge. Also quite close is a really nice riverside pub called “The Old Thameside Inn” in Clink Street. The Clink was a famous prison in medieval times.

    • Abi King says:

      I missed the pub but will keep an eye out for it the next time I’m in London. Yes, I’ve heard of ‘The Clink’ – it’s a euphemism for any jail in the UK now, such is the history of language, eh?!

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