No visit to London would be complete without taking in the buzzing atmosphere of the West End. One of London's most vibrant areas for shopping, shows, culture and food and drink, this lively central London area also houses many historic and hip hotels for a memorable stay in London.
Most West End venues have reopened following the coronavirus lockdown, but some remain closed. Check with the individual venue in advance and follow the latest lockdown rules as you begin to revisit the go-to spots in the West End. Just remember to stay safe, be responsible and follow social distancing guidelines when out and about.
Find the best things to do in the West End below and top tips on how to get there and where to stay.
Where is the West End?
When people refer to London's West End, they are talking about:
- London's entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden, including “Theatreland” – home to many of London’s top theatres.
- Shopping along Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street
- The term is also sometimes used for the wider area of central London to the west of the historic City of London, taking in Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Mayfair.
West End shopping hotspots
Iconic London shopping streets filled with flagship stores, courtyards crammed with pretty boutiques, department stores with a difference… shopping in the West End is unlike anywhere else.
- Find more than 80 flagship stores on Oxford Street, including Topshop, Vans and Primark.
- Enjoy one-of-a-kind shopping experiences at the likes of Adidas and Nike, or take the kids to the Disney Store.
- Delve into department stores, from historic Selfridges, to relative newcomer Flannels – which has a whole floor dedicated to pop-ups.
- Seek out heritage and pioneering brands along Regent Street, including Hamleys, Lulemon and L’Occitane.
- Combine a visit to the world’s largest LEGO Store with chocolatey treats at M&Ms World, both in Leicester Square.
- Get your tech fix (quite literally) at The Apple Store. Or check out the latest products at Microsoft, which even hosts its own esports zone.
- Sharpen up your look at exclusive Bond Street boutiques. You’ll find the world’s leading designers here, including Chanel, Dior and Hermes.
- St Christopher's Place is a great spot for a shopping pit stop with its cafes and small-scale shops.
- Wander along Piccadilly, home to “the Queen’s grocer” Fortnum & Mason, the UK’s largest Waterstones and pretty Burlington Arcade.
- Discover more shopping gems in the wider area: Carnaby is home to mock-Tudor department store Liberty; elegant Mayfair and St James’s host upscale boutiques; while Seven Dials and Covent Garden are full of fashion, beauty and lifestyle hotspots.
West End shows
Perhaps the most famous thing about London's West End is its theatre scene. Plan ahead and see West End musicals, classic plays and comedies when they're all back in action…
- Take your pick from the 40-or-so theatres in London's "Theatreland", which show top London musicals and plays most nights of the week.
- Enjoy ever-present musicals such as Les Miserables and The Book of Mormon; and London’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap.
- On a budget or just seat savvy? Visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discount theatre tickets for on-the-day performances and advance booking shows.
- The London Coliseum and Royal Opera House offer some of the best ballet and opera around – book ahead for tickets from as little as £10.
- Add a note in your calendar for the annual West End Live festival in Trafalgar Square, which puts on free West End performances from the casts of top musicals in London.
Find more London theatre.
Must-visit attractions in the West End
- Grab a selfie in front of the iconic lights at Piccadilly Circus.
- See world-class art at The National Gallery or The Royal Academy of Arts.
- Grab your besties as you go on a quest for crystals at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience.
- Spot your favourite film and TV icons in statue form on the Scenes in the Square sculptural trail in Leicester Square.
Glitzy West End cinemas
- Go to London’s“home of film” in and around Leicester Square, where some of London’s best cinemas roll out the red carpet for Hollywood stars during film premieres.
- See the latest box-office hits at the Odeon Leicester Square.
- Grab some popcorn for cult films, all-nighters and dedicated seasons at independent Prince Charles Cinema.
- Or discover new films, old classics and world cinema at Regent Street Cinema.
- Put your feet up after some serious shopping at Selfridges’ very own cinema.
West End restaurants for your bucket list
With enough Michelin stars to be the envy whole countries and cheap eats galore, the West End is one of London’s go-to dining destinations for any occasion.
Best for special occasions
- Splash out on Michelin-starred fare at the likes of Veeraswamy, Alyn Williams at The Westbury and .
- An afternoon tea in the West End is a must! Hotel Café Royal’s Oscar Wilde Lounge, The Langham’s Palm Court and Scoff & Banter Tea Rooms are among the many options.
- Just off Regent Street, Heddon Street boasts some of London’s top eateries, including Spanish-influenced Sabor, North African Momo and Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen.
- Going to a show? Brasserie Zedel and J offer dining until midnight – both perfect spots for post- pre-theatre dining in London.
Best for laid-back treats
- Feast on plant-based perfection at By Chloe or pile your plate high with vegetarian delights at Tibits.
- Family Bubba Gump Shrimp, Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe are all handily within the West End.
- Travel the world in , from Japanese delights at Aqua Kyoto, to South American fusion at Leicester Square Kitchen,modern Indian dishes at Farzi Cafe or regional Chinese fare at Chinatown’s many affordable eateries.
- Fill up your Insta feed at picture-pretty hangouts Berners Tavern, Brasserie of Light, Sketch and Feya.
- Take your pick from the 11 street food traders at Market Hall West End, or visit one of London’s oldest markets, Berwick Street Market, for handheld treats.
- Soak up the summer vibes at alfresco spots Alto by San Carlo, Hush Mayfair or the many outdoor eateries in St Christopher’s Place, St Martin’s Courtyard and Kingly Court.
Read more about restaurants in London.
West End nightlife
There’s never a dull moment in London’s West End bar and nightlife scene.
- Request your favourite tunes at audience-led The Piano Works.
- Struggle to keep a lid on your laughter during a night at The Comedy Store.
- The West End is home to some of London’s long-running casinos, including the 24-hour Hippodrome Casino, award-winning Heliot Steak House and five bars.
- Get a head for heights at some of the capital’s trendiest rooftop bars, including John Lewis Rooftop’s seasonal pop-ups, LSQ Rooftop and Aqua Spirit.
- Dance the night away at Cafe de Paris or Tiger Tiger.
- Enjoy a romantic cocktail or two in the swanky surroundings of hotel bars, including Artesian at The Langham, The May Fair Bar at The May Fair Hotel and Maskelyne and Cooke at Le Meridien Piccadilly.
- Or, sip on quirky creations at The Lost Alhambra and Swift.
- With many bars and clubs in its historic streets, Soho parties long into the night. It’s also the place to go to find the most lesbian and gay bars and clubs in London.
Special events in the West End
The West End hosts a number of fantastic events and festivals.
- Get snap-happy in Trafalgar Square, home to special events throughout the year including Chinese New Year, St. George's Day and the Trafalgar Square Festival.
- Both Oxford Street and Regent Street have family-friendly and traffic-free days during the year. Find out how they are welcoming you back to the West End on Oxford Street.
- Spend Christmas in London, and see the West End sparkle with festive decorations and attend seasonal special events.
- Gaze in awe at the Christmas lights throughout the West End, which always prove popular with Londoners and visitors alike.
- London's New Year's Day Parade also takes place on the streets of the West End.
Hotels and hostels in London's West End
Some of London's finest hotels can be found in the West End. Take your pick from the following, or browse our hotels section for more options:
- London's West End is home to a many of London's luxury hotels. Stay in five-star One Aldwych, or Hotel Café Royal in buzzy Soho. Experience the glitz of The Ritz London and the glamour of The Savoy, or admire the historic red brick architecture of Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire Hotel.
- Bed down in the surrealist wonderland at St Martins Lane, choose modern luxury at W London Leicester Square or visit the ultra-Instagrammable Haymarket Hotel.
- Sample the Edwardian grandeur of The Waldorf Hilton Hotel London, try upscale Victorian railway hotel AMBA Hotel Charing Cross, or enjoy a stylish stay in Covent Garden at Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel or off Regent Street at The Langham.
- Book a stay at one of the family-friendly hotels in the West End. Be close to family-focused shops at Hotel Indigo at 1 Leicester Square, get a family room in The Trafalgar, St James, Curio Collection by Hilton, or make use of special services at The Cavendish or Le Méridien Piccadilly.
- Experience the best of the action on a low budget by choosing a cheap hotel in London's West End. Z Hotel Piccadilly or sibling hotel Z Hotel Soho are among the options.
- If you're keen on hostels, SoHostel is great for young travellers,YHA London Oxford Street is in the heart of the shopping area, or book in at The Generator London in Russell Square.
- The Central London YHA hostel and LSE Grosvenor House’s self-catering studio rooms offer great value for money in central London.
Read more about accommodation in London.
Travel to and around the West End
There are many underground stations around the West End. The major hotspots for exiting include: