Baker Street. Simpson's-in-the-Strand. Criterion Grill. A tobacco shop on Oxford Street.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes know those are the London spots where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective lived, dined, drank, and possibly bought his pipe tobacco.

But even if you haven't read any of the four novels and 56 short stories about Holmes' crime-solving with his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, the latest film adaptation, Sherlock Holmes, coming out Christmas Day, might pique your interest.

What better way to explore London than to track down Holmes and Watson's haunts of the 1880s to early 1900s, or to tour the spots where Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams were filmed last winter?

Since Holmes had his Watson, I enlisted Thomas Wheeler, author of the recently updated The New Finding Sherlock's London,   to clue me in to the top spots of the more than 300 sites in his book.

Here are Wheeler's slice-of-Sherlock tips:

Baker Street

The famous apartment that Holmes and Watson shared at 221B Baker St. never existed, but Baker Street is still the best place to start, Wheeler says.

"The Sherlock Holmes Museum, on the 200 block of Baker Street, has a sign over the door that reads 221B. But it's not really where the fictional place would have been, and the museum's actual address is 239. But the museum has a replica of Holmes and Watson's rooms on the second floor. The ground floor has a kind of curio shop, where you can buy Sherlock Holmes items.

"Across from the museum at the Baker Street Underground station is a statue of the detective.

"Where did Holmes actually live? In my book, I consider it 31 Baker St. I came to that conclusion studying 'The Adventure of the Empty House,' in which a route is given that ends up at an empty house across from their rooms."

Best place to buy a deerstalker hat and a calabash pipe

"Probably the museum, where the hats go for about 20 pounds," $33, Wheeler says. "The shop also has books and everything else for sale.

"On Oxford Street is a tobacco shop that has been in business a long time. It might be where Sherlock bought his pipe tobacco or cigarettes. He had cigarettes in some of the stories."

Best Sherlockian place to eat

"Go to the Sherlock Holmes Pub, at 10 Northumberland St. Its second floor has a restaurant with decent pub food - bangers and mash," Wheeler says. "And behind glass is a replica of the 221B drawing room, just as you imagined it. There's good beer downstairs.

"Restaurants mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes adventures that are still in business include Simpson's-in-the-Strand, at 100 Strand - mentioned in 'The Adventure of the Dying Detective' and 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.' If you order the tableside carved roast at Simpson's, remember to tip the carver in cash. And there's the Criterion Grill, 224 Piccadilly, where Watson first heard of Holmes, in A Study in Scarlet. At the Criterion, ask if they still have the good-value pretheater dinner."

Best place for Sherlock sleep

You can stay at several hotels mentioned in the stories.

"There's the Charing Cross Hotel, which I like because it's at the center of Sherlock's London. It's within walking distance of Simpson's-in-the-Strand, Sherlock's favorite restaurant," Wheeler says. "And Trafalgar Square is right across the street. The Charing Cross is a nice hotel and was recently refurbished. Also, the Charing Cross Hotel was mentioned in 'The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.'

"At Brook and Davies streets is Claridge's. It's mentioned in several stories and is probably the only hotel in which Sherlock stayed as a guest. After he retired and moved to the Sussex countryside to become a beekeeper, he returned to London in 'His Last Bow' during World War I as a double agent feeding false information to the Germans. In the story, he was staying at Claridge's. It's a five-star place (www.claridges.co.uk).

"Others include the Grosvenor Hotel, on Buckingham Palace Road - mentioned in 'The Final Problem' - and the Langham Hotel on Portland Place: The Sign of Four, 'A Scandal in Bohemia,' and 'The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.'

"My favorite, though, is the Royal Horseguards. You know you're in London when you stay there. It's a great old hotel within a half block of the Sherlock Holmes Pub. It's also near the Embankment tube station, which has four underground lines. You can get anywhere quickly from there. The tube station is where London Walks offers its Holmes tour, Fridays at 2 p.m., for 7 pounds," about $11.70, "per person. Reservations aren't required; just show up."

The hood that looks most like Sherlock's turf

"I'd say Craven Street, off Northumberland. It's where a lot of houses were never torn down, and many are Victorian. It's one of those backstreets just east of the Sherlock Holmes Pub. This area is covered in the London Walks tour."

Best short walk for casual fans

"One I cover in my book is only six-tenths of a mile and retraces the route to 221B Baker St., as covered in 'The Adventure of the Empty House.' The walk starts at Cavendish Square and ends up on Baker Street at the true Holmes-Watson site," Wheeler says. "The buildings on the walk are a mix of commercial and residential. Probably more commercial these days: It's expensive to have a home in London.

"This is in a part of London right off Oxford Street that has big stores - but you're taking backstreets. The route is flat; this is an easy walk."

Best add-on - for mood

"Dennis Severs' House, 18 Folgate St., in Spitalfields, is a must for seeing how Londoners lived in the 19th century. Their Monday evening tour is the most unique," Wheeler says. "Advance booking is necessary, and the cost is 12 pounds," about $20, "per person. They also offer daylight tours of the house most Sundays between noon and 4 p.m., and between noon and 2 p.m. the Monday following the first and third Sundays. No advance booking is required for the daylight tours."

Tracking Sherlock Holmes

Thomas Wheeler, 78, is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London (www.sherlock-holmes.org.uk), one of the foremost associations of serious fans. The New Finding Sherlock's London lists more than 300 Sherlock Holmes spots from one end of London to the other.

The volume is organized in several ways. One is by the year each story/novel is set. (Got a favorite? Look it up, review the synopsis, and see the scenes.) Another section groups sites by which of 80 Underground stations they're near. Other groupings are by train stations and 10 rail lines.

Five walking tours are outlined, and two lists tell which adventures feature 450 named characters.

As the man with the magnifying glass noted in "A Case of Identity": "The little things are infinitely the most important."

Sherlock Holmes places

The Sherlock Holmes Museum, 239 Baker St., London, is open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.

Admission: About $9.77; about $6.50 for 15 and younger.

Claridge's

Brook Street, Mayfair

The Grosvenor Hotel

Buckingham Palace Road

The Langham Hotel

Portland Place

Royal Horseguards

Whitehall Court

London Walks Holmes tour

Fridays at 2 p.m., about $11.70 per person. Reservations are not required. www.walks.com.

Dennis Severs' House

18 Folgate St., Spitalfields

- John BordsenEndText

Holmes & Watson teaming up again

Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, will open in area theaters on Christmas Day. For a review, see Friday's Weekend section.