Home to some of the best theatre in the English speaking world, London’s West End or theatreland is a true must-see destination in the buzzing heart of the capital.
With a history stretching back to the late 16th century, the number of playhouses slowly expanded from the first, original lonely venue until a boom of growth with the 19th-century Theatres Act. Today the West End has around 40 different venues to discover, among the most famous being the Royal Opera House and the Old Vic. And some of the world’s most famous actors from stage and screen tread the boards in theatres across the area.
The best-known roads in theatreland are Drury Lane and Shaftesbury Avenue, so taking a stroll up either of these streets will give you a great sense of where things are.
Most of the playhouses are set in impressive Victorian and Edwardian buildings, with each venue having its own little quirks, making every visit an atmospheric and memorable one.
You can experience anything from musical theatre to comedy, to famous long-running shows like The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre, The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Woman in Black at The Strand Theatre.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, why not explore the Fringe Theatre scene just outside the West End, in characterful places like the Bush Theatre and Donmar Warehouse?
To really get the most from your time in the West End, immerse yourself in the area and visit some of the local restaurants nestled between the theatres.
Here you’ll find something to suit every taste and budget. Smollenskys on the Strand is perfectly set up for theatregoers with a set menu and daily happy hour, conveniently placed in the heart of the action. Try the Mews of Mayfair with its lovely private courtyard, Massimo Restaurant & Oyster Bar for a real treat, or you can dine on Spanish cuisine at the always popular aqua nueva.
Hotels in theatreland London are typically varied too, so you’ll definitely be able to find somewhere perfect for you. For a more luxurious retreat try places like every hotel Piccadilly or St Martins Lane London Hotel. And for more purse-friendly options check out the Premier Inn London Leicester Square or St Giles London – St Giles Classic Hotel for a comfortable stay close to everything.