Covent Garden Area Guide
Covent Garden is an ever-evolving area with an abundance of independent shops, restaurants and many cultural sights to see. Once home to the world-famous fruit and vegetable market, the Apple Market continues to support market traders, offering a range of unique handmade crafts and goods throughout the week. You will also find the East Colonnade Market, usually filled with jewellery stalls, handmade soaps and the like.
One of the most popular things to do in Covent Garden is to see a show or performance, and there’s perhaps nowhere more iconic than the world-famous Royal Opera House. Home to t Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera and the ROH Orchestra, it is open to the general public and to ticket holders for performances. Pre-booked guided tours are also available daily. The Domar Warehouse, centrally located is an intimate venue which supports new writing, often producing critically acclaimed productions spawning many West End transfers. The longest-running London production The Mousetrap sits in the St Martin’s theatre, a must see for any Agatha Christie fan. There are a multitude of other theatre shows to choose from that are performed year round in Covent Garden and the surrounding area, from West End musicals to classic plays and comedies.
Also in the heart of Covent Garden is the popular London Transport Museum that explores the link between transport and the growth of modern London, its culture and society since 1800. Highlights include the iconic red London bus and the world’s first Underground steam train. Ideal for adults and children alike, interactive galleries include a Tube driving simulator that can be enjoyed.
Along with the central market’s hub of quirky stalls and emerging designer boutiques, Covent Garden has also become a destination for premium brands such as Apple, Burberry and Paul Smith. There are many wonderful shops within a short distance from the Covent Garden Piazza just waiting to be explored, hidden away in picturesque courtyards and down bustling narrow cobbled streets. Neal’s Yard is one of the best – a courtyard bursting with colourful architecture and vibrant cafés. Outside, Neal Street is home to shops in the area, and not forgetting Cecil Court – a bibliophile’s haven brimming with bookshops and stores selling antique maps and memorabilia. While in the area, don’t miss Seven Dials, where the streets radiating out from the central sundial include independent shops, chocolatiers and cafés.
When all the exploring gets a little too much, there’s certainly no lack of places at which to eat and drink in the area with plenty of independent restaurants, pubs and bars to choose from. On the corner of Aldwych and Drury Lane, we are particularly well located for those wanting a spot of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. We are also ideally positioned for enjoying a meal before or after a nearby theatre performance. For those in a hurry, The Delaunay Counter – our traditional Viennese café adjacent to the restaurant, also offers a selection of food and drink to take away. As The Independent puts it, “Simply walking into the Delaunay makes you feel you’ve found the perfect restaurant” and who are we to argue with that.
P.S. Did you know?
Covent Garden has a number of places of historical interest, some of which are mentioned above, but not least of all are the buildings commemorated with a recognisable Blue Plaque. London’s Blue Plaque scheme is run by English Heritage and honours the notable men and women who have worked or lived in the buildings they decorate.
In Covent Garden alone, three notable figures of history stand out in particular. Thomas Augustine Arne may not be recognised by name, but his patriotic song certainly lives on. A British composer in the late 18th century, Thomas Arne wrote ‘Rule, Brittania!’ and a version of ‘God Save the King’. He worked on Drury Lane and his plaque is located at 31 King Street, where he used to live.
Another notable figurehead (this time someone certainly known by his name), and a resident of Covent Garden is Charles Dickens. The English writer and social critic, responsible for creating some of the most famous fictional character and widely regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, actually has two Blue Plaques in the area…
Finally, Dame Margot Fonteyn, the legendary ballerina, lived in Flat 9, 118 Long Acre in Covent Garden, where a plaque in her name is located today. A dancer with the Royal Ballet, she was often described as one of the most elegant and greatest performers of her time and is remembered today for making ballet both fashionable and accessible.