The iconic London telephone booth appeared in the capital in 1926 and became a common sight across the country until the 1970s when they fell into disrepair. By the 1990s, many had been replaced by a modern, dull alternative or disappeared altogether. Thankfully, the old London phone booth has had a bit of a comeback, with London’s remaining ones being restored to their former glory or repurposed in imaginative ways. If you fancy a photo opportunity or even making a call in a classic London red phone box, here’s where to go.
Parliament Square telephone box
Make a note of this number: 020 7930 1397. That’s the telephone number for the Parliament Square London call box, and if you ring it, there’s a good chance a tourist will pick it up. You could even arrange for someone you know to give you a ring when you get inside the booth yourself. This red phone box is on the northern side of the square, and it’s popular because Big Ben tower is in the background. So there’s often a line of tourists waiting to get a photo in the definitive London red phone booth. But with this phone number, you could have a proper phone conversation instead of pretending!
‘Out of Order’ tumbling telephone boxes, Kingston upon Thames
Visit this remarkable public art installation in this London suburb where 30 phone boxes lean on each other like dominos. Created by David Mach and installed on Old London Road in 1989, this piece of public art looked worn and tired in the early 21st century. But as the red London telephone box regained its cool, they were restored in time for their 30th anniversary. Now, with their glow-up, they’re a quirky and much-loved landmark in the neighbourhood, and it’s an unmissable photo if you’re in the area.
Covent Garden phone boxes
If you’d rather stick to central London, you can take a photo of not just one, but five K2 telephone boxes in Covent Garden. In a neat row, all five call boxes are on Broad Court in front of some handsome Georgian buildings. If you angle your camera just right, you can fit them all into one photograph. Also there’s a pair of red telephone boxes on St James Street near Covent Market.
Walkmisu phone boxes, Russell Square
For a bit of fun, visit Walkmisu on Russell Square to buy a box of homemade tiramisu straight from a phone booth. Many of Britain’s old red phone boxes have been repurposed into mini libraries or defibrillator stations, but this is one of the more unusual uses of the tiny space. Walkmisu is open Friday to Sunday and serves coffee too.
The Double Decker Phone Box, Maida Vale
No, that isn’t a typo. There really is a double-decker telephone box. It’s not an original phone box but a piece of street art created by the famous French urban-furniture designer Philippe Starck. This tall phone box appeared in 2004 outside the old Telephone Exchange building on Hall Road in Maida Vale. It isn’t a functioning call box, but you can peer inside to see how these old phone boxes would have looked in the 1930s. There’s a handsome black Bakelite phone inside and a coin box. It’s rather beautiful, definitely quirky, and the chances are there won’t be a queue of tourists here either.
See more London heritage when you stay at The Clermont, Victoria or The Clermont, Charing Cross. Our grand hotels both capture a slice of London’s past while bringing all the modern luxuries you’d expect from top four-star establishments.