Leicester Square is London’s entertainment hub. The centre of red carpet world première cinema, outstanding theatre and great comedy. The vast array of shows on offer means there is truly something for everyone.
1 THE COMEDY STORE
Nestling in the heart of London’s West End, The Comedy Store is the city’s busiest comedy venue with over 3,500 people attending every week. Since opening in 1979 it has showcased some of the finest comic talent from around the globe.
Walk north from Leicester Square to find the bustling hub of London’s Chinatown. Whether you’re looking for authentic artefacts or a bite to eat, Chinatown has goods and flavours you can’t find elsewhere.
3 THE PALACE THEATRE
is located at the intersection between Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, and is a large and imposing red brick structure that stands out amongst the other buildings in the vicinity.
is the largest single screen cinema in the United Kingdom and still has an operating Compton organ. The cinema now regularly plays host to premières and awards ceremonies as well as screening the biggest of the week’s film releases.
5 LONDON COLISEUM
is a magnificent historic building and an excellent venue in which to enjoy the soaring sounds and high drama of some truly thrilling operas. With an illustrious history as a live music venue located in the heart of the West End
6 LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE
has hosted big name guests such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Boy George, The Sex Pistols, Macy Gray and The Clash, who previewed their ‘London Calling’ material there in 1979.
ARTS AND CULTURE
The Leicester Square area is home to the National Portrait Gallery and National Opera as well as a huge array of theatres and galleries – a culture vulture’s haven.
1 NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
The first of its kind anywhere in the world, the National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. The gallery moved to its current site adjoining the National Gallery at St. Martin’s Place off Trafalgar Square in 1896.
2 GARRICK THEATRE
Built on top of one of London’s many underground rivers is the Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road. The theatre is named after David Garrick, considered the most influential Shakespearean actor.
3 ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA
Collaborating with creative talent from across the arts, English National Opera stage more new productions and contemporary opera than any other UK opera company. With a world-class reputation for distinctive and highly theatrical productions, the ENO has gone from strength to strength and the Company received every available UK opera award for work in 2008, a unique achievement.
4 THE HAROLD PINTER THEATRE
Built in 1881 in just six months, The Harold Pinter Theatre was notable for the role it played in overturning stage censorship by establishing the New Watergate Club in 1956, under producer Anthony Field. Formation of the club allowed plays that had been banned due to language or subject matter to be performed under ‘club’ conditions. Plays produced in this way included the UK premières of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge and Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.
5 NATIONAL GALLERY
With its present building dated from 1838, entry to the National Gallery’s main collection is free of charge, its collection belonging officially to the public of the United Kingdom.
6 THE NOËL COWARD THEATRE
The Noël Coward Theatre, located on St. Martin’s Lane, opened on 12 March 1903 by Charles Wyndham behind Wyndham’s Theatre, built 1899. The Grade II Listed structure seats 872 patrons as the ‘New Theatre’ and was built by Sir Charles across four levels. It was designed by architect W. G. R. Sprague with a classical style on the exterior while the interior was outfitted in the Rococo style.
BARS AND PUBS
Whether your choice of drinking establishment is an underground bar, such as the Cork & Bottle, or champagne flowing Bob Bob Ricard, Leicester Square offers a vast array of bars to choose from.
1 BOB BOB RICARD
Situated in the trendy setting of Soho, Bob Bob Ricard is London’s most glamorous all-booth restaurant. It’s ideal for afternoon tea and pre-theatre, with a menu comprised of an eclectic variation serving luxurious Russian and English foods.
is London’s biggest Irish Bar. Comprised of four unique bars that cover six levels, there’s something for everyone at Waxy O’Connor’s!
3 CORK & BOTTLE
has been a Leicester Square institution hailing back as far as 1971. The wine bar and restaurant’s underground grotto of cosy vaults continues to cater to the West End, remaining an unpretentious, hidden gem for those who are lucky enough to find it.
4 THE LYRIC SOHO
offers a great selection of draught and bottled beer. With open fires and a selection of great food, it’s an idyllic setting for all. The modern taste for pubs owned by large chains is spacious minimalism.
5 THE CROSS KEYS
is testimony to the fact that the preference of the Londoner is still for Victorian clutter. A permanent amber hue suffuses this foliage covered pub, reflected from the copper and brass artefacts that adorn every available inch of wall and ceiling. Definitely a pub for those happy to completely lose track of the passage of time.
6 LIGHT BAR
Famous for its cocktail selection, such as the Strawberry Cheesecake and the Raspassion Martini, the Light Bar offers a unique setting for guests. Alongside the atmospheric lighting are black and white shots taken by the celebrated photographer Jean Baptiste Mondino.
STAY IN LUXURY
Leicester Square and its environs is home to some of London’s finest hotels, such as the W Hotel London and Firmdale’s Ham Yard.
1 HAM YARD HOTEL
Part of the Firmdale Group, this boutique hotel includes 91 individually designed bedrooms and suites, created by Kit Kemp. As well as the beautiful British style interior design, the exterior of the hotel encompasses a tree filled garden, which includes a bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg.
2 ST. MARTIN’S LANE HOTEL
Home to the wildly popular Light Bar, St. Martin’s Lane Hotel was designed by Philippe Starck and offers a host of unique facilities. The guest rooms have special light features, creating a memorable experience for visitors.
3 THE W HOTEL
The W Hotel is in the heart of Leicester Square and comprises 192 rooms and suites as well as a private cinema and luxurious spa. In addition to these pastimes, guests have an array of shopping havens nearby alongside iconic cinemas such as Empire or Odeon, the destination spots of movie premières.
4 THE GRAND
The Grand is excellently located for leisure and business travellers. With iconic attractions like Nelson’s Column and The National Gallery just moments away, this is an ideal spot to suit all at the very heart of London’s Theatreland.
5 THE RADISSON BLU EDWARDIAN
The Radisson Blu Edwardian is an imposing five star hotel with the accent on contemporary elegance, luxe fabrics and muted shades, making the individually designed rooms calming and comfortable. The hotel’s warmth and geniality belies the red carpet glamour of its location. The Scoff & Banter restaurant buzzes and is perfect for al fresco dining on the Square.
6 HOTEL CAFÉ ROYAL
offers 160 contemporary guestrooms which include 49 suites and 6 signature suites. A vast selection of bars and restaurants are on offer to guests whether it is to enjoy champagne in the Oscar Wilde Bar or unwind and relax in the Green Bar.
From high-end restaurants, such as Gauthier Soho, to everyday eateries, such as Benugo, Leicester Square has something on offer for all tastes and budgets.
is open all day, seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, as well as an amazing weekend brunch. Great French bistro food, good wine and friendly service are the order of the day. Balthazar’s Boulangerie next door serves homemade artisan breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches to eat in, takeaway or have delivered.
is a premium hamburger chain that source good beef from Scotland. They mince it fresh and cook it medium so it’s pink, juicy and succulent. They place it in a soft, squishy bun with minimum fuss and fanfare and serve it with a smile in a comfortable environment.
3 BOCCA DI LUPO
has received various awards and accolades for its stripped-down, honest regional Italian cuisine. Despite the buzzy feel and glamorous surroundings, they are a family business, a small and humble trattoria at heart.
cafés sell handmade sandwiches, wraps, salads and desserts. What makes them stand out from the over crowded coffee shop market is the quality of ingredients used. Their eco friendly attitude – replacing plastic boxes with paper ones and reducing their water usage – only adds to the appeal of this well thought out deli cafe chain.
First opened by Auguste Kettner, chef to Napoleon III, Kettner’s hosted some of London’s most risqué parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Famously popular with Oscar Wilde, it was also frequented by Edward VII and his mistress Lillie Langtry. Today it has an all day brasserie, a champagne bar and eight private dining rooms.
6 J SHEEKEY
“Without question, I’d have to say Sheekey…” said Kevin Spacey when asked what his favourite late night restaurant was. “It’s fish, it’s after-theatre and it’s before-theatre...”