Covent Garden, WC2 postcode, is an expensive area with expensive hotels.
For visitors to London wishing to soak up the atmosphere in this part of town then head to the nearby Strand Palace Hotel for your stay, if you want something very special then the Kingsway Hall Hotel or One Aldwych Hotel are both just a short stroll from Covent Garden - don't be surprised if you bump into one or two stars staying at either one of these hotels.
If you have deep pockets then check out The Covent Garden Hotel. This seriously hip hotel even has a cinema screening room.
The centre of London’s tourist experience, whether its grown up entertainment or kids entertainment, it has it all.
You could occupy yourself for a week in Covent Garden alone with its fantastic shopping, usually weird and often wonderful street performers, hugely popular nightlife and proximity to the West Ends top theatres.
This cultural oasis has a well doumented history, the ‘Convent’s Garden’ was a humble flower market in the 1500s and soon grew to become the country’s most exotic market, with strange and beautiful items carried straight from boats on the Thames to be hawked around Inigo Jones’s Italianate piazza during the age of discovery.
There was plenty strange and not-so-beautiful acts performed after dark in 17th and 18th century Covent Garden, as riotous theatre performances and bear-baiting competed with the square’s notorious ladies of the night.
Covent Garden Market is still one of London’s most colourful and popular places, with mimes, buskers, jugglers and string quartets sound-tracking the hundreds of art, fashion, food and jewellery stalls in the piazza.
At night, Covent Garden transforms from markets and street entertainers to a superb upmarket nightlife culture with many bars and restaurants catering for the theatregoers.
Neal Street and Long Acre are retail paradises with funky high street fashion names and a café every couple of doors for refuelling; Neal’s Yard offers a hippyish oasis, with organic cafes, natural therapists and the famous original branch of Neal’s Yard Remedies (15 Neal’s Yard, 020 7379 7222, www.nealsyardremedies.com) for feel-good cosmetics and natural herbs.
Two of the world’s oldest and most famous theatres – the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, 020 7304 4000, www.roh.org.uk) and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Catherine Street, 0870 890 6002, www.reallyuseful.com/theatres) – are next to the piazza, with over 1000 years of history between them. The Lyceum Theatre is also in this area.
All the other major West End venues are within a ten minute walk of Covent Garden; if a night at the theatre tickles your fancy, head straight to the Official TKTs Booth (www.tkts.co.uk) in Leicester Square for half-price best seats for most shows – don’t be fooled by the clutch of imitators around.
As well as some of London’s most famous stores there are some fantastic restaurants and bars around – two recommended joints being the ever-lively Mexican street food restaurant Wahaca (66 Chandos Place, 020 7240 1883) and budget Japanese noodle experts Wagamama (1 Tavistock Street, 020 7836 3330, www.wagamama.com), but you’ll be spoilt for choice. Finish off the day with a pint on Punch & Judy’s balcony (40 The Market, 020 7379 0923) watching a busker and soaking up the legendary atmosphere.
Notorious busy Covent Garden station is on the Piccadilly Underground line, and it’s close to Holborn and Leicester Square. No matter where you are in central London, travel to Covent Garden is simple.