Accommodation near Covent Garden

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Covent Garden Travel Course

Exploring Covent Garden

Set in the heart of London’s historic theatre and entertainment district, and now one the city’s most popular visitor destinations, offbeat Covent Garden is a hub for visitors looking for a slice of Old London life. Its centre is the city’s former fruit and vegetable market, now a thriving hub of street entertainment, great food, traditional pubs and upscale boutiques, all set in heritage buildings. The world-famous Covent Garden Opera House is also of course found here, within easy walking distance of a good selection of comfortable accommodation. The district is a warren of narrow streets, lined with historic buildings wrapped around the 250-year-old Italianate-style market square. By the 18th century, the formerly-exclusive enclave had become the haunt of London’s beggars and ladies of the night, but the area is now back on top as one of the capital’s most exclusive. Even the street names are historic here, with Long Acre having been named over 500 years ago. The district extends down to the banks of the River Thames, London’s ancient highway.

Accommodation near Covent Garden

This popular area has a number of accommodation options for every budget. Recommended options include The Strand Palace, The Waldorf Hilton and St. Martins Lane.

Sightseeing near Covent Garden

Staying in one of the district’s hotels will put visitors at the heart of the major attractions, including the Piazza, with its street performers, quaint covered market selling gifts, souvenirs and local designer jewelry, and its restaurants, bars and trendy boutiques. Narrow shop-lined Neal Street leads past the Donmar Warehouse Theatre to Neal’s Yard, with its health food restaurants.

- St Paul’s Church

The best-known original heritage building in the square is the 17th century St Paul’s Church, known as the ‘Actors’ Church’ for over 300 years. The graveyard and interior hold the remains of many historic theatre personalities, including Dame Edith Evans and Dame Ellen Terry. Its unique connection with London’s theatre world began in 1663 with the building of the Drury Lane Theatre Royal, further established in 1723 when the Royal Opera House opened.

- The Royal Opera House

The scene of performances by opera and ballet legends such as Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, the Royal Opera House began life as the Covent Garden Theatre. The first London venue to stage Handel’s operas from 1735 onwards, this theatre plays a pivotal role in London’s entertainment culture. The magnificent Grade I heritage-listed frontage, foyer and auditorium date from its 1858 rebuilding after a disastrous fire, while the backstage and onstage workings are the result of a massive update in the 1990s. Backstage and front-of-house tours are available, giving visitors the chance to see ongoing rehearsals and classes.

- Drury Lane Theatre

Just a minute’s walk from the piazza, the Drury Lane Theatre, dating from 1812, is known for its musical theatre productions, many transferred directly from Broadway. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma, South Pacific and The King and I were immediate hits, while My Fair Lady, set partly in Covent Garden Market, ran for a full five years. The theatre has a reputation for being London’s most-haunted venue, with sighting of clown Joseph Grimaldi, actor Charles Macklin, Dan Leno and the infamous ‘Man in Grey’.

- London Transport Museum

This fascinating museum, set in a former flower market hall, traces London’s public transport system over the last century, with original buses, trains (including steam locomotives), trams and trolleybuses on display. Its highlight is the beautifully-restored steam train no 23, used on the first-ever underground railway, London’s Metropolitan Line.

Transportation near Covent Garden

Visitors staying in a Covent Garden hotel will be right at the heart of the city centre’s public transportation options, with Covent Garden Tube station on the Piccadilly Line just off the Piazza in Long Acre. Leicester Square Northern and Piccadilly Line station is just a few minutes away, while Holborn, Tottenham Court Road and Embankment Tube stations are less than 10 minutes’ brisk walk from the district, giving easy access to most of London’s famous landmarks.

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