Covent Garden is one of the oldest and most iconic areas of London. The great architect Inigo Jones developed its famous piazzabetween 1631 and 1637, which was unique to London at the time. Initially attracting the wealthy gentry, a market developed to the south of the square around 1654, and taverns and coffee houses began to spring up, beginning a seedier – and infinitely more interesting – period in the area’s history as playwrights, wits, and rakes moved in. the area’s artistic connections abide to this day, and Covent Garden is home to no less than 13 theatres – it’s also a gateway to the West End, and its bars and restaurants are frequented by those who have just attended, or are about to attend, a play or show. The area has been noted for its street performers since as far back as Samuel Pepys’ diary in 1662, a tradition which continues to this day.
Covent Garden’s fame, popularity and abundance of shops and restaurants meant that towards the end of the twentieth century it had become a congested tourist trap. In recent years, however, it’s undergone something of a resurgence.The best new restaurants and bars are jostling to compete for the retail space in the area, and the Seven Dials area is blossoming with trendy shops that draw the young and fashionable from all over London.If you’re looking for hotels from which to explore the Covent Garden area, the Montcalm at the Brewery London City, near Liverpool Street Station, is a luxurious property in a great location to explore the shops, cafés, bars and restaurants that the area has to offer.
Coffee holics will absolutely love Monmouth Coffee, which sells an ever changing menu of exotic beans, which customers can sample before buying to take away or enjoy by the cup in a relaxed café setting. Jersey milk and organic whole cane sugar are also available to buy, ensuring that you can replicate the full coffee shop experience in the company of your own home. If browsing the shops has worked up your appetite, there’s no shortage of fantastic places to eat. A particular favourite is Dishoom, an Indian restaurant based on iconic Bombay cafés like Leopold’s and B. Merwan,which serves exquisite Indian food and an extensive menu of drinks and cocktails in an evocative, authentic setting.
If you’ve spent the day eating and shopping and want to round things off with a drink or two, you could do much worse than staying in Covent Garden and trying out one or two of its many bars. For a cocktail with a difference, head to B.Y.O.C – if you can find it, that is. This is a tiny basement speakeasy underneath Juice Club on Bedfordbury. You bring your own spirits, and the mixologist will prepare you a selection of cocktails over the course of the evening. For something a little more conventional, head to the vibrant La Perla for an authentic, riotous Mexican drinking experience. The margaritas are excellent, as is the grill menu, which contains a selection of classic Mexican dishes like fajitas, burritos and tacos.