A weekend in the West End of London

The famous West End of London is right in the very heart of the city and encompasses all the trendy and stylish areas of Piccadilly Circus, Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Oxford Street and Regent Street. It’s packed with upmarket department stores, trendy bars and restaurants, famous tourist attractions like Covent Garden and Chinatown, and its theatres are legendary. Every visitor to London really must visit a West End theatre at least once; otherwise it’s like going to New York and missing seeing a show on Broadway. A weekend break is just the ticket for enjoying the West End and taking in a show or two.

Famous long-running West End plays

The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre has been running since 1999 and is still hugely popular thanks to its stunningly colourful and imaginative costumes and stage sets, along with hypnotic African rhythms. Kids and adults alike adore seeing their favourite characters come alive on the stage, and the show has become a real phenomenon, with no signs of flagging. We Will Rock You, a musical based on the music of Queen, opened at the Dominian Theatre back in 2002 and is still going strong with its rollercoaster tribute to glam rock and some of the most iconic anthems ever bashed out by Freddie and his band. It’s a real sing-along event that’ll leave your head throbbing and a smile on your face. From a Night at the Opera to Phantom of the Opera is just a short walk along to Her Majesty’s Theatre to see a magnificent production that has been going since 1986 and wowing audiences with Lloyd Webber’s magical symphonic score and haunting storyline. Pick up tickets for these and a host of other shows in the West End and you’re guaranteed a brilliant night out in theatre land.

An evening’s sheer entertainment

The perfect evening in London’s West End would consist of turning up at the theatre a few hours before the performance, just to check where it is, and then heading for the nearest trendy restaurant for a meal with a few drinks followed by coffee. By early evening the West End is really starting to come to life, with the bars and restaurants buzzing, street cafes filling up and a really great atmosphere setting the scene for a cultural night out. There’s no better way to experience the living and vigorously pumping cultural heart of this great city and feel a part of its vibrant and celebrated life. Leicester Square is a great place to start too, easy to get to by underground train or bus. Loads of great places to eat and drink too. Or try the Seven Dials area for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Other West End attractions

Apart from the iconic West End theatres, there are plenty of other great attractions around this part of London. The legendary shopping on Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street is just a short walk away with great stores like House of Fraser, as is the historic City of London with its ancient buildings and traditions. Just down from Covent Garden, with its famous Piazza, street entertainments, cafes and markets, is the Strand which takes you along to Trafalgar square in a few minutes. Just across the river from nearby Charing Cross Station is a whole world of entertainment, shopping and dining in the South Bank Centre. When you book your tickets for a show in the West End you’ll be able to spend a great afternoon exploring all that this part of London has to offer before heading for the venue.

Where to stay

Central London has no shortage of short term rental accommodation close to the West End, and you needn’t search far to find apartments in London that will suit you down to the ground for a short stay here. One and two-bedroom apartments in the Oxford Street and Bloomsbury areas are ideal for accessing the main sights, and there are also numerous studio flats and suites on offer, depending on taste and budget.