The West End is truly the heart of London culture. There’s always something going on at any time of day or year. It’s also home to some of the most famous attractions and historic buildings in the city, as well as world-famous restaurants and some of Europe’s best shopping opportunities. The “West End” doesn’t just refer to anywhere in the west of London: it specifically means the theatre district around Covent Garden and Leicester Square, the shopping along Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, and the central city area just to the west of the official City of London.
The West End is very central and easy to get to from just about anywhere in London. You can catch the Tube or London Underground using the Piccadilly, Central, Jubilee, Victoria and Bakerloo lines to reach the West End – there are plenty of stations dotted throughout the neighbourhood. Once you arrive, you might find that it’s easier to walk between stations than to descend underground and come back up again. Staying at hotels in the west end of London, UK is a great way to get a first-hand look at the city. The walk between Leicester Square and Covent Garden is just five minutes long, so why bother spending more money on Tube fares when you could explore above ground instead?
If shopping in the West End is your idea of heaven, it’s a good idea to be strategic – with so many shops to get through, you run the risk of burning out before you’ve seen all there is to see. Oxford Street is best done by starting at Tottenham Court Road and heading towards Marble Arch. Along the way you can explore side streets like St Christopher’s Place or take a detour along Regent Street. You’ll find plenty of big-name international brands including Topshop, the Apple Store and Ralph Lauren, as well as uniquely British names like high-end department store Selfridges and seven-storey toy shop Hamleys. If you make it to the other end of Oxford Street, your reward is the peaceful green of Hyde Park where you can rest your feet.
There’s also plenty of shopping to be done in Covent Garden, home to smaller boutiques as well as international chains. It’s a very pleasant area to wander through on foot, so take your time. Covent Garden is also part of “Theatreland”, where you can find the best of London’s West End stage shows. This is the Broadway of Europe and you’d be mad to miss it. Current offerings include multiple Tony award winner Matilda: The Musical, 20-year West End institution Les Miserables, cinema adaptation Billy Elliot and much more. Apart from blockbuster musicals, straight stage plays also run here, including the critically acclaimed Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton. If you just can’t decide, head over to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discount theatre tickets and see what’s on tonight.
And of course we can’t forget the stunning variety of bar and dining options. Just up the street from Leicester Square is Chinatown, home to the highest concentration of Asian food in the whole United Kingdom. Here you can find authentic Chinese hotpot, Japanese bakeries and supermarkets selling ingredients you’ve never even dreamed of. It’s always a treat to wander through, and at Chinese New Year thousands come to watch the spectacular parades. Outside of Chinatown there are plenty of gourmet restaurants serving every kind of cuisine imaginable, from classic British fare to Mexican, seafood, tapas and much more.
Keep your mind and your eyes open as you explore the wonderland that is London’s West End!