Covent Garden is one of London’s most bustling and popular neighbourhoods, packed with a huge variety of attractions, as well as a rich history of its own. A great place to visit when you’re staying at the Park Grand Lancaster Gate, Covent Garden has something for everyone.
Read on to find out more about the story of the area, and the many things you can discover in its busy streets.
The history of Covent Garden
The area now known as Covent Garden has been a thriving part of London since the Middle Ages, and its name alludes to its historical origins as a garden belonging to Westminster Abbey. The main Piazza, which still serves as a busy centre of attraction in the area, was initially laid down in the early 17th century, and the square soon became a popular spot for market traders, selling fruits and vegetables.
Over the centuries to come, Covent Garden also became a popular spot for artists and bohemians, with several popular actors of different eras living in the area, and what would become the famous Royal Opera House, initially known as the Covent Garden Theatre, was opened in 1733.
While the start of the 20th century saw the historic fruit and vegetable market moved elsewhere, the Covent Garden you can see and enjoy today soon took shape, as older buildings, pubs and streets were restored, and new stores and restaurants moved into the area. With a unique mix of past, present and future in its charming streets and alleyways, the chance to visit Covent Garden is always a good reason to opt for Central London accommodation during your stay in the city.
Shopping in Covent Garden
With its market origins, it’s no surprise that Covent Garden is one of the most popular spots in the city for shopping, and you can find an enormous variety of stores to indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
Covent Garden Market, otherwise known as Apple Market, is one of the most iconic parts of the neighbourhood and is one of the city’s finest covered market spaces. Located on the site of the original 17th century Piazza, you’ll find a variety of stalls here, selling everything from arts and crafts and clothing, to more unique antiques and other surprising treasures.
Beyond the confines of the market, it’s well worth exploring the many little streets that wind around the area. Lined with colourful storefronts, the area is packed with both independent local stores and a range of well known international brands.
Covent Garden can get extremely busy, and the narrow, crowded streets can often become packed with tourists at weekends. The area is easy to get to from the Park Grand Lancaster Gate, so if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit during weekdays, or earlier in the daytime.
Discover great food
Shopping can be hungry business, and thankfully, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants near Lancaster Gate, as well as a great variety of eateries around Covent Garden itself. The vibrant and colourful conclave of Neal’s Yard is one of the best places to enjoy a delicious coffee and a spot of people watching, or simply to sit back and admire the pretty, colourful buildings around you.
By evening, make sure to explore the smaller winding streets around the area, to discover some of the many charming and unique bars and pubs, as well as a variety of smaller restaurants. While there are a growing number of well-known chains setting up in the area, it’s often much more rewarding to venture off the beaten track. Head towards Seven Dials, the bright and busy seven streets that lead from Covent Garden towards Soho, which are packed with mouth-watering spots for foodies of all persuasions to enjoy.
Explore the area’s rich culture
There’s more than great shopping and food around Covent Garden. The historic area is packed with gems dating back through the centuries, from a plaque commemorating the first Punch and Judy play in the square, performed in the 17th century, to a variety of fascinating museums just a short walk away.
With great value central London accommodation in the area, a visit to Covent Garden is the perfect opportunity to dive into the wealth of history and culture in the capital. Head to Somerset House, to discover a variety of contemporary art exhibitions, and find out more about the city’s role in the film industry, at the London Film Museum, where you can take a close look at historic props from some of the biggest blockbusters on screen.
Or learn more about the history of London’s transport, at the London Transport Museum. Located within the Covent Garden Piazza, it’s a wonderful place for all ages, with a treasure trove of exhibits that bring the Tube, London’s iconic red buses and taxis to life, as well as providing a glimpse into the intriguing forms of transport used by Londoners in the past. Afterwards, enjoy a tasty treat with one of the great afternoon tea deals London available.
Head to the West End
While Covent Garden is a great place to shop and eat by day, by evening, it is often packed with keen theatregoers heading to some of the many shows at the West End. The neighbourhood is home to two of the city’s most prestigious companies, the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera, at the historic Royal Opera House.
With its magnificent glass fronting, the Royal Opera House is one of the city’s finest architectural delights. The stunning building is one of the best places to experience a performance in the city, from captivating classical operas and ballets to compelling modern shows.
With over twenty other major theatres in the area, you can also experience London’s diverse and award-winning theatrical productions, including several musicals, dramas and comedies. Afterwards, enjoy the perfect post-theatre drink or meal, in one of the neighbourhood’s lovely pubs and restaurants, where you can relax and unwind in style.