London’s Top 5 West-End Attractions
London’s west end has lots to offer visitors. The reputation for glitz and glamour is well deserved, offering world-renowned theatre shows to high-end shopping experiences. Unsurprisingly it attracts tourists from all over the world, which can make the West End a bit of a tourist trap if not done well. So, avoid the union jack flags and creepy masks with the Queen’s face on that you’ll see in every other shop, and find out why London’s west end has earned its international reputation for being entertainment HQ.
During your London trip, our top 5 list will guide you through some of the best attractions the West End has to offer. As everyone knows Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, we will try to focus on some of the opportunities you might have overlooked.
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I know we said we’d stay away from more obvious choices, but this isn’t an opportunity you can afford to miss. London’s West End is also known as the theatre district, so it will come as no surprise that a trip to one of its famous shows makes the top of the list. With 39 theatres to choose from, the real challenge comes with deciding what to see. The West End has a show to suit every taste and budget. From new additions such as – and I kid you not – ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ to classic West End shows such as ‘Hairspray’ and ‘The Jersey Boys’ you will be spoilt for choice. It’s not all about musicals though, London’s longest-running show is ‘Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap’, a classic murder mystery play that’s been going for 68 years strong. Whatever you decide to see, be sure to avoid the ticket touts and resellers around Leicester Square – they will not offer you the best value. A better option is the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. Here you can buy legitimate tickets for the shows on the day – offering sizable discounts to those who are willing to fill up the remaining seats.
2. Flagship shopping
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Oxford Street is well known for its huge shopping superstores. These huge versions of your favourite high-street brands are commonly referred to as the company’s flagship stores. So not any are you pretty much guaranteed to find something in your size, it also means that they often offer products, services and experiences that you simply cannot get anywhere else. Much more than just a way to spend your money, most of the stores have hugely invested in the customer experience. Huge installations and artwork by London artists – yep. Have your clothing customised and tailored in-store – yep. The Adidas store even has an accompanying app to guide users around the store experience and get their desired trainers brought to them.
If you have kids with you, then the Disney Store will be essential. They will also want to go to the Lego Store on Leicester Square and (for reasons I will never truly understand) the M&Ms Store. For the adults looking to lighten their wallet, the huge department stores of Selfridges or luxury newcomer Flannels will be more than happy to help.
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In this year of the ox, London’s Chinatown makes a great spot to visit on your trip to London. The main street (Gerrard Street) runs through the centre of the area and will be your main focal point for the visit. It’s difficult to miss as large red and gold arches mark the entrance and multicoloured lanterns crisscross the street. A sensory overload awaits from the range of Chinese restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. You will also be able to spot stone lions lining the streets, along with contemporary Chinese art installations.
For most people, the highlight remains the food, which is often enticingly displayed in the windows. The menus are often vast, though the dim sum is always fantastic at BaoziInn. For those looking for more traditional Cantonese food that they will be more familiar with, then Four Seasons is one of the better options.
4. Drop into a different museum
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While the British Museum is most definitely the most impressive museum in the West End, odds are, if you have been to London before you will have already visited. The West End has many other smaller and more unique museums that are worthy of your time. If the British Museum has whetted your appetite for Egyptian artefacts, then the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has an extensive collection from the era. The tube is something of a London institution in its own right, so for those interested in the history of transport around the capital and what the future might hold, then the London Transport Museum offers interesting insights into both. If classical music is your thing - this is west London after all - then the Handel House Museum might be up your street. Based in the original home of the composer where he wrote original works including the Messiah, the museum hosts original manuscripts, décor and furniture from the composer’s life. For those with children in tow, Pollock’s Toy Museum has children’s entertainment from a bygone age.
5. Carnaby Street
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Carnaby Street is just of Regent Street, while its primary attraction is still shopping there is a very different vibe here to the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. As the epicentre of the swinging 60s moving through to the punk era, Carnaby Street has always reflected the culture and lifestyle of London. In the modern era, its boutique shops are home to 100s of unique brands as well as more familiar ones, which are guaranteed to offer a distinctive shopping experience. If you are looking for a unique gift, the cutting edge of fashion, or simply to soak up some of London’s cultural history, you can’t go wrong with Carnaby Street.
London’s West End has something to offer everybody. While it’s typically associated with high-end shopping and theatre, our top 5 guide highlights the variety in activities for those with money to burn just as much as those on a budget.
As with all activities, do make sure you give enough time for any potential travel delays. Passengers should be back at Hammersmith Bus Station (Stop D) at least 15 minutes prior to the pre-booked departure time. Unfortunately, the coach is not able to wait if you are running late.
London transport costs vary. The London Underground will be a lower-cost alternative to a taxi or Uber. Remember walking is free!
All information was correct at the time of writing. However, please always check venues prior to travel in case of any changes due to COVID-19 or otherwise.