‘Shop, eat, drink, and be merry’, could very well be the slogan for the tourism of West End London. West End is not defined by a municipal boundary, but is essentially a collective name for some of the most happening districts of London. Located in central London, the area has the highest entertainment venues in the city including Theatreland, which has more than 40 theatres. It also has shopping avenues, restaurants, government buildings, museums, and more. The West End includes the districts of Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and the popular streets like Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street. Every London vacation itinerary must have a day spent visiting the West End attractions!
Exploring West End
From riveting dramas to hilarious comedies, the West End Theatres offer the best live stage entertainment east of the Atlantic. Comparable to Broadway in New York, the West End Area is famous as the theatre district of London. The area has more than 40 theatres including legendary ones like the Queen’s Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, and Savoy Theatre.
The theatres showcase an array of productions including musicals, plays, and pantomimes. Watching a show at one of these theatres often features among the top things to do in West End London. The productions are high quality with fantastic actors and an ensemble of skilled singers, dancers and musicians. A West End show is a spectacular sight, especially musicals with the hi-tech stage props and incredible costumes.
There is a theatre show for every person in the West End. The classic lovers can choose from The Mousetrap which has been running since 1952, or The Phantom of the Opera or The Woman in Black. Families with children love watching The Lion King, Wicked, Aladdin, Matilda and School of Rock. Shows like Kinky Boots, Motown the Musical, and Mamma Mia, are perfect for the date night. Lastly, anyone can sign up for a good laugh at The Play That Goes Wrong and An Ideal Husband!
West End London is synonymous with shopping, leisure, and entertainment. Every street offers a plethora of attractions that are exciting and also allow a peek into the history of London. Some of the famous ones are the Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Soho Square, and St. Giles Circus.
Other popular West End attractions like the London Zoo, Hyde Park, and Regent’s Park are great places to go with children. Sports lovers will love a visit to the 200-year-old Lord’s Cricket Ground while those keen on a riskier game than cricket can head to the famous casinos of West End. The Hippodrome Casino, Genting Casino, Sportsman Casino, and the Grosvenor Casino are some famous casinos in West End.
Shopping on West End Streets is the ultimate shopaholic's dream, and Selfridges, the biggest departmental store in the world, is the best place to start! Bond Street has exquisite jewellery and antique stores; Oxford Street has the best of high street brands; Knightsbridge has high-end fashion stores, including the famous Harrods; while Covent Garden is perfect bargain hunter’s paradise with Jubilee and Apple Markets.
London has over 200 museums that are dedicated to a range of subjects, and some of the best of them are located in the West End district of London. The National Gallery situated in Covent Garden is the best of them and showcases more than 2,300 paintings dating from the 13th century. The National Portrait Gallery is the world’s first portrait museum and has exclusive photographs of the Royal family.
The Wallace Collection is an eclectic collection of fine art from 15-19 centuries, while the Royal Academy of Art is a multi-functional space where contemporary artists exhibit their works. London Transport Museum showcases the evolution of London transport while the most interesting of all is the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The museum is located exactly at 221B Baker Street where the fictional character resided!
The West End also has some quirky museums like the Cartoon Museum, a museum for British cartoons and comics with over 5,000 books and 4,000 comics; the London Film Museum, with over 100 original vehicles and artefacts from James Bonds movies; the Pollock's Toy Museum; and the Postal Museum.
Where to Stay in West End
A quick look at the map of London West End will show how the area is centrally located and ideal for tourists who wish to explore London. It has a variety of accommodation options that suit every budget and style.
Luxury Hotels in West End London
Mid-range Hotels in West End London
Budget Hotels in West End London
Where to Eat in West End
The Araki is undoubtedly the most exclusive of all restaurants in London West End. The three star Michelin restaurant serves only one menu, the Sushi ‘Omakase’ Chef’s Set Menu and has only seating for nine!
Le Gavroche is among the best West End restaurants that serve fine dining French cuisine. Run by Chef Michel Roux Jr, it offers an array of delicious French dishes paired with vintage wines. It is a gastronomic delight!
Sticks N Sushi
Giving tough competition to top West End restaurants is the irreverent Sticks N Sushi that combines Japanese and Danish culinary traditions. It serves up amazing sushi and yakitori sticks of a variety of meat.
Barrafina is a friendly and lively restaurant and offers great Spanish Tapas dishes that are ideal for a pre-theatre dinner. Diners can look into the exciting open kitchen where the magic happens and enjoy the a la carte menu with the best of Spanish sherries.
Kati Roll Company
Luscious kebabs rolled in flat bread make for a filling meal and the Kati Roll Company is the best place to get them. The Indian restaurant is cosy and perfect pit stop for a day spent wandering in the West End London.
With delicious toppings like Calabrian peppers, kalamata olives, anchovy, and wild venison, diners always have more than just one slice at Homeslice. The Pizzeria is one of the best pizza restaurants in town and perfect for a quick break in between shopping in West End.
Traveling in West End
West End is a fairly large area, and while walking is a great option to explore it, visitors might want to use transport when short on time. The cheapest transport is the tube or underground metro, and there are many stations including Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, and Leicester Square.
Buses and taxis are also convenient with high frequency, although they can take their own time during peak hours with traffic. The best way to use the tube and bus is to buy an Oyster Card, which is a travel card that is prepaid and can save you up to 50% on travel costs.
More West End Guides
For more West End information, here are some helpful quick links!