Since 1835, people from all over have flocked to London to see the famous Madame Tussauds waxwork museum.
Founded by Marie Tussaud, the museum has been a constant fixture on the to-do lists of many tourists visiting London for the weekend or longer. Everyone from Madonna to Tony Blair to David Beckham have been replicated in wax and put on display for the public to see. It is almost seen as a rite of passage for celebrities, whether they are deemed worthy of a waxwork.
Situated on Marylebone Road, just a stone’s throw from Baker Street Underground station, Madame Tussauds is a great outing for couples and families alike. Marvel at the sheer skill that has gone into the lifelike models which you will be astounded to believe are not simply people standing incredibly still. You will also see which celebrities are still considered waxwork worthy.
Singer Olly Murs became the latest to be reinvented in wax so who else will you see during your visit to this iconic London attraction? Here is our in-depth guide to visiting Madame Tussauds.
History of Madame Tussauds
Born in Strasbourg, France in 1761 Marie Tussaud was taught the art of wax modelling by Dr Philippe Curtius, himself a physician skilled in this discipline. Ms Tussaud created her first-ever wax sculpture, of the French writer Voltaire, in 1777, and never looked back. During her early years she created wax models of the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin.
Her talent knew no bounds and when Dr Curtius died in 1794 she inherited a collection of wax models. She spent the next 33 years travelling across Europe showing her skills to the public. It was not until 1802 when she received a special invitation from magic lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer Paul Philidor that Ms Tussaud travelled to London.
Mr Philidor wanted to showcase the French sculptor’s work alongside his own at a show at the Lyceum Theatre. The exhibition was a major hit and it resulted in Ms Tussaud making the English capital her home. In 1835, she had settled in the Baker Street area of London and had opened a museum – originally called The Baker Street Bazaar.
In 1846, Punch Magazine coined the name Chamber of Horrors for the museum’s ‘Separate Room’ where the gruesome waxworks of the French Revolution are displayed, a section that is still used to this very day. Following Ms Tussaud’s death in 1850, her sons took over the museum and relocated to Marylebone Road in 1884.
It has stayed there ever since and has survived fire in 1925 and also a bomb during World War II which destroyed 352 head moulds and the attached cinema. During the 1990s it underwent significant renovations and held a number of special exhibitions including one of the wedding dresses made for royalty.
The brand has spread across the globe with Madame Tussauds museums being opened in America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In the UK, there is the London venue and another in Blackpool, in the north-west of England. The likes of Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hollywood, Sydney, Berlin and Tokyo all have similar museums.
Opening times and admission prices
Like with the many tourist attractions around London, Madame Tussauds is subject to peak, off peak and super peak times of the year. Months such as July and August, the first two weeks of April, the last week of May, the last week of October and around Christmas are considered super peak due to the school holidays.
The majority of weekends are classed as peak so if you want to visit this attraction when it is slightly quieter then going during the week is advisable.
How to get to Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds is just a few minutes walk from Baker Street Underground station making it a breeze for anyone visiting. The station is served by Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith, Jubilee and Metropolitan lines making it accessible no matter what part of London you are travelling from.
If you are coming by train simply get off at London Marylebone station and then it is just a ten minute walk to the attraction. It has good connections with mainline stations such as Euston, St Pancras, Paddington, Victoria , Waterloo, King’s Cross and Charing Cross which are all within five stops on the Tube.
Travelling by bus? No problem, use any of the 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 189, 205, 274 or 453 which pass by the museum.
While it is advisable to leave the car at home and use the plethora of transport links in the city, if you are driving then there is secure parking available at 170 Marylebone Road.
Where to stay for visiting Madame Tussauds
If you are basing your stay in London around a visit to Madame Tussauds you will need a hotel that is both within easy access of the attraction and provide the level of comfort and luxury you have come to expect. Luckily there are a number of five star hotels within walking distance of Madame Tussauds and a host of other attractions.
We recommend The Marble Arch by Montcalm on Great Cumberland Place. At this boutique hotel you can enjoy the height of luxury in a small setting. Situated in a petite townhouse it offers all the chic decor and mod cons you would want from a high class hotel in the heart of central London.
All rooms are beautifully designed and kitted out with LCD TVs with satellite channels as well as tea and coffee making facilities and much, much more. The best thing about it is that you are just a short stroll from Madame Tussauds.
Across the road from The Marble Arch is another five-star hotel that provides good access to Madame Tussauds. The Montcalm on Great Cumberland Place is the quintessential five-star hotel for staying in London. Everything you could wish for is on hand with 153 bedrooms and 14 lavish suites you can not go wrong.
After a long day of sightseeing you can unwind with a gourmet meal at either the Sixtyone Restaurant or try more traditional fare at The Crescent Restaurant & Lounge. If you are celebrating you can enjoy a glass or two of bubbly. For real relaxation, why not head to the fitness centre and indulge in a sauna, steam or Jacuzzi.
Like with The Marble Arch, The Montcalm is just a stone’s throw from Madame Tussauds.
Retail therapy around Madame Tussauds
Unless you plan on spending your entire day at Madame Tussauds you may want to indulge in a spot of retail therapy before or after visiting the museum. Luckily you are close to two prime shopping districts of London, Marylebone and Great Portland Street. Here you will be able to find all the latest brands and designer labels to be kitted out with serious threads when you next step foot in London.
There are also plenty of bars and restaurants so you can properly make an evening of it once you have finished at the museum. Baker Street itself has a number of outlets you can browse around and even grab yourself a quick drink.
Catching a film
At the end of a long day you may simply want to just chill out and catch a film. You are in luck as just down the road from Madame Tussauds is the Everyman Cinema on Baker Street. Here you can watch either a Hollywood blockbuster or an arthouse production from the very best in European cinema.
Why not grab a bite to eat while you’re there as the Everyman Cinema has a selection of food from its menu. You can enjoy some hummus and flatbread or an antipasti platter while watching an engrossing film.