Soho, Covent Garden and The Strand
This is the famous 'West End' of London and the center for musical theater, nightlife, eating out and shopping.
In Soho, you'll find restaurants from pretty much every country in the world, in the narrow streets boutique hotels rub shoulders with dive bars, old-fashioned tailors sit side by side with sex shops, gay bars with French patisseries. It's home to Chinatown and the theater district, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden.
If you want to be in the heart of the action, this is where to stay, but be prepared for hustle and bustle and a certain amount of street noise.
The theater district is on your doorstep and the narrow streets of Soho are chock-a-block with bars and restaurants to suit every taste. Many of the more popular restaurants don’t take bookings, so don’t be surprised to see queues outside on the street.
You'll find restaurants to suit every budget here, and many of the pricier restaurants do deals on pre-theater set menus, so you can grab a bargain by eating early. After dinner, catch a West End show or take a wander through the streets of Chinatown to Leicester square, where all the film premieres take place, and see if you can spot a celeb.
Just across Charing Cross road in Covent Garden you can watch street performers from a bar terrace or see what’s on at the Royal Opera House. Then, walk down to The Strand and visit Somerset House, or just sit in the Neoclassical courtyard and watch the water feature, which turns into an ice rink in the winter.
If clubbing is your thing, you can splash the cash at upmarket clubs like DSTRKT, The Box and Cirque le Soir. Or, for more relaxed late-night venues, try Club 49, the Zoo Bar or Tiger Tiger. Jazz enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Ronnie Scott’s, one of the oldest Jazz clubs in the world. But book in advance as it’s very popular.
If you fancy a bit of shopping, take a walk down Carnaby Street for a retro feel, or head to Covent Garden where Long Acre and Floral Street have a good selection of British and International shops and you’ll find everything from high-end stores like Chanel, to street stands selling jewelry in Covent Garden Market hall. If you’re traveling with teens, walk south of the main market to Jubilee Market Hall for slogan t-shirts, scarves and souvenirs.
On the other side of Long Acre, Neal Street and the small streets radiating out from Seven Dials are full of quirky boutiques and specialist food shops to explore. Pop into Neal’s Yard Dairy and discover its fabulous selection of British cheeses, stop for a flat white in the Monmouth Street coffee shop, and feed your sweet tooth with a macaron from Pierre Hermé.