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London - Around Town : Covent Garden (part 2) - The Best of the Rest, Shopping

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A Walk around Covent Garden

Morning

Take the tube to Leicester Square and visit the latest exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery.

Head up Monmouth Street, where the delicious smell of coffee roasting will lead you to the Monmouth Coffee Company for coffee and a pastry. Continue up Monmouth Street to the small entrance to Neal’s Yard and buy soap at Neal’s Yard Remedies. Check out Neal’s Yard Dairy round the corner in Short’s Gardens, and explore the shops in Earlham Street. Visit Covent Garden Piazza (see The Piazza and Central Market) for the street entertainers outside Inigo Jones’ elegant St Paul’s Church. Take a look inside before lunch in the Royal Opera House’s Amphitheatre Restaurant, with its wonderful views.

Afternoon

Before leaving the Piazza, pop into Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, then turn down Russell Street and Wellington Street to the Strand. Cross the road and turn left to Somerset House , home of the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery. Start with their collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Pause to relax by the Courtyard fountains or at the River Terrace Café before checking out the new Embankment Galleries at riverside level, with exhibitions dedicated to a programme of contemporary arts, including design, fashion, architecture and photography.

The Best of the Rest

  1. Free Entertainment

    Every day from 8am–10pm there are street entertainers in the Piazza, while opera singers and classical musicians perform in the Central Market areas.

    • WC1

  2. The Sanctuary

    A totally hedonistic day can be spent in this women-only spa with pools, jacuzzis, saunas and solarium.

    • 12 Floral Street WC2

    • Open 9:30am–6pm Mon–Fri, 9:30am–8pm Sat & Sun; evening spa: Mon (Oct–May), Wed–Thu 5–10pm

    • Admission charge

  3. Africa Centre

    The centre has a restaurant and bar as well as a bookshop on two floors. Ethnic goods are also sold.

    • 38 King Street WC2

  4. Victoria Embankment Gardens

    In summer, outdoor concerts are held in these attractive gardens by the river.

    • WC2

  5. Savoy Hotel

    Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer of this grand old London hotel .

    • Strand WC2

  6. London Coliseum

    Built in 1904, the home of the English National Opera has retained its Edwardian flavour, with gilded cherubs and scarlet curtains in the foyer .

    • St Martin’s Lane WC2

    Globe atop London Coliseum
  7. River Entertainment

    Two ships moored near the Embankment are open to the public: RS Hispaniola offers pianists and singers with dinner, while the Queen Mary has bars on its sunny decks.

    • Embankment WC2

  8. Oasis Sports Centre

    Famous for its heated outdoor pool, studios, squash courts, gym and sunbeds.

    • 32 Endell Street WC2

    • Admission charge

  9. Players Theatre

    The company at this tiny Victorian theatre recreates traditional music hall shows. Check their website for details of upcoming events.

  10. Bush House

    Home of the BBC World Service, Bush House has an imposing portico on its north side. In the arcade on the south side, the BBC World Service Shop sells DVDs, tapes, videos and books.

    • Strand WC2

Shopping

  1. Floral Street

    This stylish street is home to Paul Smith, which sells trendy clothes, Camper shoes and cool French designer Agnes B.

    • Floral Street WC2

  2. Shorts Gardens

    One of the best places for streetwear, this street is home to G-Star, Boxfresh and Miss Sixty, along with beauty shops and Neal’s Yard Dairy.

    • Covent Garden WC2

  3. Neal’s Yard Remedies

    Remedies and toiletries, all made with purely natural ingredients, have been sold at this shop for over twenty years.

    • 15 Neal’s Yard WC2H

  4. Stanford’s

    With an extensive range of travel guides, literature and maps, this shop is a traveller’s paradise. The basement is devoted to the British Isles and sailing.

    • 12–14 Long Acre WC2

    Specialist travel book shop, Stanford’s
  5. Ellis Brigham

    All the outdoor gear you could ever want plus lots of useful gadgets and gizmos.

    • 32 Southampton Street WC2

  6. Octopus

    Home to a kooky collection of colourful bags, eye-catching jewellery, luggage and household goods. Ideal for unusual gifts for children and adults alike.

    • 54 Neal Street

  7. Penhaligon’s

    In business since 1870, this traditional perfumery carries a glorious range of old-fashioned English scents and soaps for men and women. Perfect for gifts.

    • 41 Wellington Street WC2

  8. Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop

    The place to go for toy theatres, theatrical gifts and traditional toys such as puppets and musical boxes.

    • 44 The Market WC2E

  9. The Tea House

    Over a hundred teas – from Moroccan Minty to Mango & Maracuja – are on sale at this speciality shop in Neal Street. There are also novelty teapots and books on how to master the very English art of tea-making.

    • 15a Neal Street WC2

  10. Thomas Neal Centre

    This upmarket designer shopping mall has a range of fashionable boutiques over two floors. On the lower floor there is a pleasant café and restaurant.

    • Earlham Street WC2

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