The West End City Guide
The West End of London contains many of the city's major tourist attractions, and is also the entertainment centre of the UK with the largest shopping district in Europe, the home of the UK theatre and film industry as well as numerous upmarket bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs. Developed in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and located to the west of the City, close to the power of Westminster, it was originally built as a series of palaces, town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment.
Today the name "West End" can refer either to the entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden or to the shopping district centred around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. We have some very affordable accomodation in this central area, notably the apartments at St Christophers Place and nearby Janet Poole House . The serviced apartments at Crawford Street are very nice although slightly more expensive.
Famous streets in the West End include Baker Street, home to the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Harley Street is of course where one would go to seek expensive private medical advice! Old Compton Street is at the heart of London's thriving gay scene. Park Lane, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue, Tottenham Court Road and Carnaby Street are all names synonymous with shopping whether it be for a very expensive Rolls-Royce, a top-of-the-range music system or a trendy T-shirt and a traditional pint of beer.
The West End also has many notable public spaces such as Berkeley Square, Grosvenor Square, Hyde Park Corner, Leicester Square, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and last but not by any means least Trafalgar Square with it's famous column on which the hero of that battle, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson resides.
What to do in The West End
Listed below are some of the great places to visit in The West End. Click one to find out more.
Nelson's Column and Trafalgar Square, London
Trafalgar Square is one of the most famous places in London and is home to Nelson's Column & Admiralty Arch. Flanked by the River Thames to the South it is also the gateway to The Mall and Buckingham Palace to the north, Horseguards and Parliament to the west and Leicester Square and theatreland to the east. Today Trafalgar Square is used for a wide range of events and activities throughout the year, including rallies and demonstrations, filming and photographic shoots, and promotional and performance based events.
Nelson's Column was erected to honour Admiral Nelson (1758-1805), following his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The four bronze panels at the base of the column depict some of Nelson's battles and are cast from guns captured at battles.
For more information visit: www.london.gov.uk/trafalgarsquare
Piccadilly Circus & Eros
Piccadilly Circus is one of the most well known locations of the West End with it's big neon signs and the famous statue of Eros in the middle. The name 'Piccadilly' is said to have originated from a 17th century frilled collar named piccadil and is attributed to the area by a tailor who became rich making piccadils when he lived there. The creation of the Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885 turned the plaza into a busy traffic junction. This made Piccadilly Circus attractive for advertisers, who installed the first illuminated billboards in London in 1895. For some time the plaza was surrounded by billboards, creating London's version of Times Square, but now only one building carries the large electronic displays. This busy area in the heart of the West End is reached via Piccadilly underground station which bears it's name.
The statue of Eros, the centrepiece of the circus, is officially called the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and was built in the 1893 as a memorial to the philanthropic seventh Earl of Shaftesbury who died in 1885. The seminude statue on top of the fountain depicts the Angel of Christian Charity but was later renamed Eros after the Greek god of love and beauty.