With incredible al fresco dining options, where you can while away sunny afternoons, hidden gems of streets to stroll down and an incredible array of festivals and events, the West End is an amazing place to discover over the summer months. What's more, it's all within easy reach of Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Green Park Underground stations.
1. Peer into inviting shop windows and fall in love with the West End’s wealth of world-famous shops. As well as boasting the treasure-trove department stores of Liberty, Fenwick of Bond Street, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, the area is also home to an extensive list of renowned brands including Cath Kidston, Lego and M&M’s World.
2. Browse the seven atmospheric streets, packed with independent boutiques, international fashion labels and salons that make up Seven Dials. Treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind timepiece in Nixon or an expertly crafted bike saddle from B1866. If you’re in need of a little pampering, take home a custom-made Le Labo perfume or stop by traditional barber Murdock for some specialist grooming. Afterwards, try out the chocolate workshops in Rococo or cocktail-making in award-winning bar The Escapologist.
3. Learn how a handmade bespoke shirt is made at royal shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser, dressers of discerning gentlemen since 1885. Choose from more than 1,000 fabrics and enjoy a glass of champagne while royal warrant-holder Steven Quin takes your measurements. With more than 130 years’ experience in shirtmaking, T&A’s legendary client list includes Picasso, The Beatles and Twiggy.
4. Discover a distinctive mix of renowned and independent brands in Newburgh Quarter, including Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Shinola, Barbour Heritage, Lazy Oaf, Red Wing Shoes and newly opened womenswear store, The Ragged Priest. Treat yourself to beauty and grooming from Pankhurst London and Johnny’s Chop Shop, and if you need a pit-stop between shops, make sure to try British Asian fusion restaurant The Ugly Dumplings.
5. Celebrate payday in style at River Island’s Oxford Street store. On the last weekend of every month, in-store DJs get the party started by spinning tunes while you browse the latest collections.
6. Pick out your perfect floral summer outfit from the special collection of botanical inspired designs at Coast on Oxford Street, created in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society.
7. Discover a whole new world of indulgent beauty buys at one of London’s oldest shops, Liberty, and treat yourself to a luxurious treatment in their in-store beauty rooms. With regular residencies throughout September from brands such as Aromatheraphy Associates, Malin & Goetz, Bamford & Ren, it’s the perfect respite from a busy day of shopping.
8. Add a personal touch to the gifts you buy in Seven Dials. Have the recipient’s initials marked in the leatherware from The Cambridge Satchel Company or on a classic watch from Larsson & Jennings; spell your name in a necklace from Tatty Devine; or create face oils tailored especially for your skin at Neal’s Yard Remedies.
9. Make yourself feel fabulous with a Too Faced Cosmetics make-up masterclass by Elyse at Oxford Street’s flagship Debenhams store. Beauty addicts can also add rainbow colours to their hair at BLEACH and upgrade their manicure at WAH London with a special Virtual Reality Nail Designer treatment.
10. Pick up some new threads on Oxford Street with G-Star’s latest jeans and denim collection. The stylish G-Star RAW designs showcase a fresh take on traditional denim, including reworked denim finishes, summer-inspired white denim and camo-print patterns.
11. Take advantage of instant tax refunds for international visitors from House of Fraser's Premier International Lounge. Just some of the benefits include instant cash refunds, money-saving fees and consolidation of multiple purchases. The swanky lounge also has free WiFi and mobile phone charging points. September also sees the exclusive launch in store of iconic Brazilian fashion brand Issa, known for its wrap dresses, feminine prints and vibrant colour combinations.
12. Explore Nike’s huge flagship store on Oxford Street for four floors of sports apparel, footwear and equipment. Visit Nike Town London to find the perfect running shoe in the trial run zone, customise your own football club shirt, design a bespoke pair of trainers, and much more. The store also offers personal shopping and a great range of other services.
13. Pick up a beautiful collection of travel-inspired keepsakes at Pandora on Oxford Street. The jewellery store welcomes its summer range which features blue and pink leather bracelets, as well as delicate hand-finished charms.
14. Get some expert advice on your new summer wardrobe from the Regent Street Stylists. Find leading names in high-fashion and celebrity styling on hand to help you find the perfect outfit in one-on-one, tailored appointments. Alternatively, explore the street on your own and experience the in-store personal shopping experiences at world-class flagships like lululemon, Tory Burch, Coach, Burberry and many more.
15. Find a truly unique mix of original independents and international brands in Soho. Shop at cutting-edge clothing designers OTHER, Oliver Spencer Soho and Universal Works, find bespoke tailoring at Chris Kerr, streetwear at Supreme and Palace, or pick up Swedish trends at Sandqvist and Nudie Jeans. If you’re a fiend for footwear, get the latest trainers from Footpatrol or Axel Arigato’s sportwear section. Alternatively, create your own fashion and interior designs from the quality fabrics at Misan.
17. Head to TOPSHOP from 6 August to pick up a handcrafted piece from its Key to Freedom collection, including silk kimonos, quilted cotton bags and traditional Indian inspired prints. All profits go to Key to Freedom, an initiative supporting the Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF), which helps vulnerable women in West Bengal with the skills needed to make the items.
18. Check out four favourite brands under one roof as ASICS opens its largest store at 249-251 Regent Street – the first of its kind uniting the four ASICS, ASICS Tiger, Onitsuka Tiger and Haglöfs brands.
Delectable dining experiences
19. Sip on a classic at one of the city’s 250 best bars during London Cocktail Week (2-8 October). At the heart of the festival is a week-long cocktail village offering bespoke drinks created from every spirit and liqueur under the sun. Sign up for a Festival Pass to enjoy unlimited £6 cocktails, exclusive deals and discounts, plus “first look” and priority booking.
20. Visit Ralph Lauren’s first London dining destination, Ralph’s Coffee & Bar, nestled next to the flagship store on Regent Street. This new London edition houses a 24-seat cafe, with 12 additional spots at the bar, echoing the sophisticated club-like atmosphere of The Polo Bar in NYC. The new intimate space offers a curated menu of light fare in the traditional American style.
21. Experience the culinary delights of Heddon Street, a hidden gem dotted with top-class places to eat. Take your pick of the chic eateries including Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen, stylish European restaurants Piccolino and Aubaine, and vegetarian and vegan paradise Tibits.
22. Take the world-famous afternoon tea served in the spectacular Palm Court, noted for its glittering chandeliers and elegant mirrors, at The Ritz London. Enjoy a large selection of finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a delicious range of exquisitely presented pastries and teacakes served by the attentive and dedicated waiters who provide a flawless service.
23. Explore the diverse selection of restaurants, bars and cafes in Soho, where traditional British pubs such as The Blue Posts meet eclectic restaurants, from tapas bar Ember Yard to Asian fusion gastropub The Duck and Rice. Travel the globe as you try the area’s international cuisines; get a taste of Asia with Thai grill Kiln, tuck into Indian small plates and cocktails at Kricket or head to Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant Shackfuyu for Western inspired dishes. Alternatively, get stuck into Neil Rankin’s South American BBQ at Temper, Mediterranean meze at Med Café, or head to the East Coast with New York City-inspired Dirty Bones.
24. Visit Wiltons, one of London’s oldest restaurants, known for serving the finest oysters, wild fish and game in a tranquil and traditional atmosphere. Celebrating its 275th anniversary this year, Wiltons was established by George William Wilton in 1742 and started life as a shellfish-monger. Today, the restaurant has an international reputation that reflects the epitome of fine British dining.
25. Eat your way around the world in Carnaby with 30 global cuisines and more than 60 restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to try in this colourful part of Soho. Start in Europe with Greek delights from The Life Goddess, Spanish-Italian flair at Dehesa with hearty tapas options, and British comfort food at Mother Mash. Head to the Hawaiian coast at Island Poké and Kua ‘Aina, and be among the first to try the delicious Indian sharing plates at the new Darjeeling Express.
26. Escape lively Oxford Street at the John Lewis Gardening Society Rooftop, opening for its second summer atop the flagship department store. Cool down with an ice-cold beverage served from the new Gardener's Arms, rumoured to be Britain’s smallest pub. Reserve a “summer house” complete with a private herb and flower garden and outdoor seating, or a larger “pavilion” where you can sit and enjoy British-inspired food from a rooftop menu.
27. Make the most of London’s summer with a delightful picnic in one of the gorgeous Royal Parks surrounding Sofitel London St James hotel. Its head chef serves a ploughman’s picnic with a selection of sandwiches, tasty charcuterie from Trealy Farm, salad, cheeses and Parisian pastries.
28. Explore the three floors of alfresco foodie haven Kingly Court and see why the cult restaurants like Shoryu Carnaby, Pizza Pilgrims, Le Bab and Señor Ceviche are favourites among Londoners. Tasty, healthy choices are available from The Detox Kitchen, Moosh and SO Pure Café; or if you feel like a treat, allow yourself to be tempted by the novelty cocktails from 1940s bar Cahoots or Caribbean beach shack The Rum Kitchen.
29. Walk through one of London's oldest markets, as you explore Berwick Street Market. Dating back to 1778, the bustling street food destination offers a huge array of delicious options, including Greek2Go, Savage Salads and Jerusalem Falafel, as well as traditional fruit, vegetable and florists’ stalls.
30. Stop your search for the best flat white or that truly authentic macchiato and head straight to Soho. Classic tea and coffee houses such as Yumchaa, Damson & Co and My Place Soho have helped to establish Soho’s thriving cafe culture. Soho Bikes has an in-store cafe serving exciting new blends each week, while Timberyard has been voted Europe's best independent coffee shop by the European Coffee Awards. Venetian restaurant Polpetto serves up some of the finest traditional Italian coffee, or head to Flat White for standout coffee with Aussie-Kiwi heritage.
31. Discover London’s newest dining destination, St James’s Market, and its collection of one-of-a-kind restaurants and cafes. Indulge in outstanding coffee and pastries at Ole & Steen or Urban Tea Rooms, delight in the Scandinavian flavours at Aquavit, experience duck in all its styles at Duck & Waffle Local, tempt your tastebuds with Asian flavours at Anzu and take a culinary journey to Venice through Salt Yard Group’s latest endeavor, Veneta.
32. Step back in time to a world of high spirits and swing at Cahoots, a 1940s-themed cocktail bar hidden under Carnaby’s Kingly Court. Be swept up in the Blitz spirit with its late nights of dazzling cocktails, swing dancing and singalongs around an old piano.
33. Where better to celebrate National Dumpling Day on 26 September than Chinatown London? Sample Dumplings' Legend’s xiaolongbao (steamed Jiangnan dumplings) and sui mai (open dumplings); head to Orient London for Cantonese-style versions; or try something a little different with sweet potato taro dumplings from XU or foie gras dumplings at Plum Valley. End the evening by pairing Opium’s dim sum with cocktails.
34. Visit the world’s best bar (as voted in the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2016 list) as New York’s Dead Rabbit takes over the Claridge’s Bar for one week only. The Mayfair pop-up features nightly piano playing, Psycho Killer cocktails, and walls mirroring the quirky Dead Rabbit’s interiors. 15-22 August
35. Celebrate “Golden Week”, which follows Chinese National Day on 1 October by joining locals and visitors for a taste of regional Chinese food in Chinatown London. Get a taste of Taiwan at Old Tree Daiwan Bee, head to Baiwei for the authentic Sichuan sensations, take a seat at Orient London for Cantonese food, or visit Hot Pot for northern Chinese treats. 1-7 October
Music and entertainment
36. Trace the vibrant music history of iconic Carnaby with the free walking tour app, Carnaby Echoes. From the opening of Jazz club Murray’s on Beak Street in 1913, through to the present day, immerse yourself in the musical past of Carnaby with the app that brings stories, sounds and performances vividly back to life.
37. Revel in a unique evening of fine dining and live entertainment at the Ritz BBC Big Band Ball on 22 September. Begin the evening with a champagne reception at the magnificent William Kent House and follow this with a four-course dinner at the Ritz Restaurant, created by Michelin-starred Executive Chef, John William MBE. The night ends with an exclusive live show from the BBC Big Band with singer Iain MacKenzie.
38. Treat the little ones to a show this summer. For the whole of August, under-16s can attend some of the biggest West End plays and shows for free – when accompanied by an adult paying full price – as part of Kids Week 2017. Encouraging young people to get involved with theatre, there’s a schedule packed with activities to accompany it, from puppetry workshops and Motown masterclasses, to dance classes and exclusive Q&As.
39. Try your luck inside the UK’s biggest and busiest gaming club, Leicester Square’s Hippodrome Casino. Over three floors, you’ll find everything from blackjack and baccarat to roulette and slots, plus a 180-seat music and cabaret room, six bars and the Heliot Steak House.
40. See emerging artists every Wednesday and Thursday at London’s latest live music venue. Selfridges’ 170-capacity Ultralounge, sponsored by Smirnoff, features a state-of-the-art low stage for a totally immersive experience. Book tickets at Selfridges.com.
41. Become the star of your own short film, as Victory House hotel launches its exclusive Movie-Maker package. Spend a day shooting your favourite London sights with professional filming equipment and advice from the hotel’s in-house film director. The package also includes a one-night stay with breakfast.
Arts and culture
42. Get your brain working with one of Waterstone’s Piccadilly’s early morning writing classes, Write & Shine. Writer Gemma Seltzer guides you through a writing session, waking you up with words and energising you for the day ahead. You'll join a group to try out morning-themed exercises and create new pieces of poetry, fiction or life writing. Multiple dates from 14 September.
43. See the work of an American art icon as the Royal Academy opens the doors to a new exhibition from Jasper Johns on 23 September. Widely known for his iconic images of flags, targets, numbers, maps and light bulbs, Johns has occupied a central position in American art since his first solo exhibition in New York in 1958.
44. Regent Street celebrates all things “Fashion & Design” in September, with the return of its renowned Speaker Series at Hotel Café Royal; Style Sketch Showcase, where sketch artists capture the sartorial style of shoppers, on the second weekend in September; and new for 2017, Creative Classes – a series of in-store workshops.
45. Spot the giant globe bearing the words “London Welcomes the World” hanging above Carnaby Street. The installation celebrates London’s openness and diversity as part of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s #LondonIsOpen campaign.
46. Get to know the coolest artists in London as you explore Carnaby. Visit souvenir store, We Built This City to pick up fun artwork and gifts from more than 250 homegrown designers, including the exclusive Carnaby chocolate bar with a wrapper illustrated by Harry Bloom. Get involved in creative events at the Lomography Gallery Store, including regular workshops and discussions by guest speakers. Head to Carnaby from 21 to 24 September for a series of fashion activations and to pick up your own piece of Carnaby art with a limited edition tote bag designed by London illustrator Hattie Stewart.
47. Take the chance to experience some of Mayfair’s leading galleries on a Brown’s Hotel Saturday Mayfair Art Tour, hosted and curated by Maeve Doyle, a London art aficionada with more than 18 years' experience as an agent, curator and gallery owner. Following the final gallery visit, guests return to the hotel for a three-course lunch with wine pairings.
48. Experience the infectious buzz of one of London’s hidden shopping gems this summer with a visit to St Christopher’s Place. An essential addition to any London visitor’s little black book, this neighbourhood has the perfect blend of independent brands and high street heroes alongside unrivalled outdoor all-day dining.
49. Check out the kaleidoscopic colours, bold patterns and geometrical shapes emblazoned on 13 of London’s most decorated streets. Carnaby’s street art includes the Little Marlborough Street mural, a giant 3D Union Jack flag on Carnaby Street, and a giant plug on Ganton Street. The street art continues with Julian Opie’s LED walking portrait, Shaida Walking, and the newly installed #LondonIsOpen giant globe on Carnaby Street.
50. Explore Bird Street, the world’s first “smart street” debuting this summer. The street plays host to a revolving mix of pioneering pop-ups, from trailblazing fashion and wearable technology, to the latest in dining innovations. The tech-friendly hub, just off Oxford Street, is home to range of progressive sustainable technologies, including Pavegen technology that generates electricity and data from football.
51. Book your spot at one of the many new shows coming to the West End. Mel Brooks’ musical comedy Young Frankenstein is brought to life at The Garrick Theatre; Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire take to the stage in political comedy Labour of Love at the Noel Coward Theatre; while Wyndham’s Theatre hosts the gripping Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle.
52. Watch as Regent Street is transformed into an American Football zone on Saturday 30 September to kick off the 2017 NFL London Games. Join in the fun with interactive games, cheerleaders and appearances by NFL stars as excitement builds ahead of games featuring the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams in the capital.
53. Head to trendy Carnaby during London Fashion Week this September. Home to more than 100 international and British brands, this go-to destination for fashion lovers will host a range of fashion and beauty events, as well as live-streamed catwalk shows.
54. On Saturday 19 August, enjoy a free day of comedy, music, dance and theatre at Seven Dials’ Spotlight Festival. Relax on the pop-up lawn around the Dial and make the most of in store and on street activities and discounts from retailers, restaurants and cafes throughout the seven streets of Seven Dials.
55. Celebrate the London Fashion Festival by hunting down 1980s music-inspired illustrations at The Carnaby Fashion Festival, including the chance to hitch a free ride in the illustrated Carnaby Taxi decorated by graphic fashion designer Lauren Rolwing. 21-24 September.
56. Let your kids explore the world of engineering with fun workshops at Dyson’s Oxford Street store. Aimed at six to 16 year-olds and run by the James Dyson Foundation, these all-day drop-in sessions encourage young people to think differently, make mistakes and realise their engineering potential. 7-20 August.
New to the West End
57. Step into a world of vintage cinema in one of London’s most exciting new hotels, as Victory House London Leicester Square, MGallery by Sofitel opens this August. Featuring a unique design evoking the golden age of the silver screen as well as food by Randall & Aubin, this historic building is a haven of tranquility in the heart of the West End. Book a suite during one of Leicester Square’s red carpet events to enjoy a VIP view from the comfort of your suite.
58. The Langham hotel has just opened the doors to its latest establishment as The Wigmore has arrived on Regent Street. Inspired by the great British public houses of the past, The Wigmore features great wine on tap, cask ales and craft beer, plus a menu of tastebud-tantalising British grub overseen by Michel Roux Jnr.
59. Experience the new food and fashion on offer at Seven Dials. BOKI opens the doors to its tea and coffee emporium on Earlham Street, and neighbour Rosa's Thai Cafe joins the street with fresh, authentic Thai Food. Also, British jewellery brand Dinny Hall brings refined elegance to Monmouth Street, while unisex leather accessory brand Knomo debuts at Neal Street.
60. Get your hands on all the latest gadgets at Dyson Demo - Dyson’s first UK shop, on Oxford Street. Try out a range of Dyson technology from vacuum cleaners to hairdryers, and look out for the debris wall featuring more than 1,000 jars filled with dust and debris. You can also visit the store’s team of professional hair stylists for a spot of free pampering.