High on every tourist's visiting agenda, Covent Garden offers a mixed bag of restaurants, shops, hotels. The area is synonymous with the Royal Opera House, hosts daily alfresco entertainment at its central piazza, and is surrounded by a plethora of theatres. Chain stores have moved in, but it’s still a nice place to stroll – if you can catch it early on a fine morning.
The best bits of Covent Garden
15 reasons to go to Monmouth Street, WC2
‘Monmouth Street has still remained the burial-place of the fashions,’ Charles Dickens proclaimed in ‘Sketches by Boz’, ‘and such, to judge from all present appearances, it will remain until there are no more fashions to bury.’ That was in 1836, but if Chuck D could see it today, he’d have to eat his words. Monmouth Street is now about 70 percent fashion and beauty boutiques – most of them independent, all of them great. The rest of this axis of Seven Dials is mostly for the foodies, with non-chain restaurants, cafés and shops selling all kinds of edible treats plus the street’s namesake caffeine mecca Monmouth Coffee. The first sundial pillar at Seven Dials, right in the middle of Monmouth Street, had to be demolished in June 1773 because London mobs used it as a meeting place. At the time it was one of the most dangerous streets in London, with a reputation for petty crime and murder. The area provided inspiration for William Hogarth’s famous engraving ‘Gin Lane’, a depraved street scene full of gin-fuelled Londoners causing mayhem. Today, cobbled streets and listed buildings remain, and, with the mobs long gone, the sundial was rebuilt in 1989. The vibe is now indie haven in the West End. Oh, and we could totally imagine Dickens picking out a chic greyscale wardrobe in French-inspired boutique LOFT Design By. Drink this A photo posted by . (@luffypiece) on Oct 9, 2016 at 1:19pm PDT An expertly roasted cup of the brown stuff from Monmouth Coffee: the ori
Five historical things to look out for in... Covent Garden
In medieval times, Covent Garden was owned by Westminster Abbey – hence the original name, Convent Garden. But skip forward to the seventeenth century and Inigo Jones's original plans for fancy homes for the wealthy had become a place of gambling dens, brothels – and a fruit and veg market. Despite it now being a bit of a tourist trap, here are five curiosities you may not have noticed in the area before. Photo by Look Up London 1. Punch and Judy plaque, Covent Garden Piazza Look directly at St Paul's Church and you'll spot a plaque that commemorates what Samuel Pepys saw – an 'Italian puppet play' – on this spot in 1662. The authentic Neapolitan characters were Pulcinella and Joan (who morphed into the famous Punch and Judy) but before we get too nostalgic, like most fairytales, the original story was horribly violent. The show was an endless series of Punch beating up Judy – so not exactly family-friendly entertainment. Photo by Look Up London 2. Mysterious ears, Floral Street The next time you're at a loose end on Floral Street, have a look for one of Tim Fishlock's Covent Garden Ears. Several are rumoured to be dotted around the area, but there are definitely two to be found on this street. They're perfect casts of the artist's own ears but other than that very little is known why they're there – presumably so people can make the same 'the walls have ears' gag on repeat. Photo by Look Up London 3. Bridge, Floral Street Built in 2003 by Wilkinso
Restaurants in Covent Garden
Covent Garden highlights
Cheap eats in Covent Garden
Finding somewhere decent to eat on a budget isn’t always easy in central London, but if you know where to look, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into in the Covent Garden area. From British to Japanese, Indian or vegetarian have a look at our top picks below. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
Where to shop
Covent Garden is brimming with fashion boutiques and vintage stores. Home to fashion favourites such as Rokit, Orla Kiely and Opening Ceremony, as well as a smattering of beauty and skincare stores, Covent Garden is a real shopping destination for the fashion forward - and with amazing new shops like Farrell and Y-3 popping up, there's more reason than ever to stop by this evolving shopping destination.Think we've missed a shopping gem in Covent Garden? Let us know in the comment box below.
Covent Garden's best pubs
Covent Garden boasts an array of pubs ranging from traditional (like Cross Keys) to modern (Porterhouse). The area is home to one of London's oldest pubs, The Lamb and Flag. Use our guide to discover WC2's best watering holes. Think we've missed a great pub in Covent Garden? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to check out our guide to Covent Garden's best bars.
Covent Garden's best bars
Cabaret, live music and some of the city's best cocktails - Covent Garden has it all. Try the raunchy fun of cabaret bar Cellar Door, or hang out at relaxed wine bar Bedford & Strand. The area's drinking scene is diverse, so check out more of our picks of the best places for after-hours drinks in the area. Think we've missed a great bar in Covent Garden? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to read our guide to Covent Garden pubs.
What's on in Covent Garden this week
See a play in the West End
Cheap West End theatre tickets
Unless the show is very hot or the run is short, you should be able to shop around and get discounted tickets to any West End show via third party sellers like our own Time Out theatre tickets service and TKTS. Cheap seats aren't guaranteed to be great seats but many big shows release excellent day tickets on the day of performance, generally at a cheap rate, available from the box office only. See below for show-by-show info on day tickets and Time Out's best West End offers.
Hotels in Covent Garden
The Hospital Club
Opened in an eighteenth-century hospital building as a club for creative people, Covent Garden’s Hospital Club features 15 rooms across a range of categories, including the windowless but well-designed Sleeper. All feature high-quality toiletries, artworks, upscale retro tech and an‘erotic minibar’ full of high-fashion sex toys.
The perfect weekend in Covent Garden
Love London Awards: last year's winnersSee the full results of last year's Love London Awards
Acklam Village Market
A weekend street food market in west London, with a large covered area created from recycled materials. The ten stalls provide Cuban cuisine, burgers, barbecued wild game, Jamaican jerk, Indian, Peruvian and more. Plus Fuller's bar sell beer from micro-breweries, alongside the usual beverages. There's a big focus on the local community here, so on any one weekend you could find installations by local artists here, street entertainment, live music ranging from jazz to rock 'n' roll, DJs and even a pop-up beach.
Venue says: “Grab a cheeky drink and enjoy free live music in an epic space ... the mundane truly becomes extraordinary!”