Exploring London is one of my all-time favourite things to do. Honestly, it’s even written on my Tinder profile as one of my interests (along with brunch and dates that involve crazy golf…!) I just love wandering around the streets, visiting different areas and trying out the newest spots or hunting for hidden gems that are off the beaten track. One of the funny things about actually living in London is you find that you go to the classic “London” places less and less, and end up staying in your own neighbourhood (or even just your own postcode) every weekend and avoiding the crowds. It’s a bit sad really, because there are so many great areas that I end up missing out on so much of the time! But they’re the places that always make me fall back in love with London whenever I end up in them and leave me feeling grateful for how lucky I am to live in such an amazing city, whether that’s crossing Waterloo bridge at night and seeing the skyline all lit up, standing at the fountains in Trafalgar Square, walking around a beautiful park or soaking up the buzz of Soho at night. It’s these times when I get those moments of “Wow, I live in one of the best cities in the world”!
Get that London feeling
One of the best places to get that London feeling has got to be Covent Garden – I mean, it’s got it all! The buzz, the classic London buildings, amazing food, cute bars, and killer shops. It’s definitely way up there on the list of must-dos if you’re coming to London for the first time or want to see the sights! It’s got so much in one small place, it’s easy to spend a whole day there! And its closeness to the rest of central London makes it the perfect place to stay too – you can easily walk to Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, or the Southbank, and hop on the tube even more easily! There are plenty of great hotels near Covent Garden that make it the perfect base if you’re coming to stay in the city. For one of my favourite luxury London stays nearby, check out my review of One Aldwych. I just got back from travelling after three months away so exploring around London is even more of a treat than usual so when Hotels.com challenged me to share my favourite spots and things to do around Covent I couldn’t wait for a proper London day out! Here’s my top picks of what to do around Covent Garden, I hope you enjoy! Let me know your favourite spots to eat/drink/shop/play around Covent Garden in the comments – I’m sure there’s lots of other places I need to try!
Where to Eat
First stop, food! Finding the yummiest places to eat, the newest foodie spots and the most instagrammable cafes is always top of my list whenever I go to a new place. I can’t resist visiting whatever the “just opened” cafes and restaurants are – especially in London where there’s always so many new (and amazing!) places popping up every week. I also can’t resist anything that has avocado on it, so Covent Garden’s newest foodie addition is right up my street – it’s called Avobar, and everything on the menu is centred around avocado. Yup, it’s basically my dream come true! It’s also super instagrammable – think light and airy, pastel colours and cute plants galore. I could have easily tried everything on the menu – there’s a lot more to this place than just your usual avo toast! Read my full review here.
I can’t say no to anything Avocado, so Avobar is my dream come true!
If avocado’s not your thing, there are plenty more incredible foodie spots to try in Covent Garden. I’m not a fan of big chains, I always prefer to find more unusual spots, but there are plenty of hidden gems around Covent Garden as well as the usual suspects. For breakfast or brunch I love 26 Grains in Neals Yard, who serve amazing Scandi-inspired porridge with inspired toppings. For great coffee (and a cafe you can happily sit in for hours on end – one of my favourite remote-working hangs!) head to Timberyard. For later in the day, Barrafina is one of my favourite London restaurants – the Drury Lane branch could seriously have been plucked straight from the streets of Barcelona, and the beautiful tapas is to die for! Flat Iron is a regular haunt (I mean who can resist a £10 steak this delicious?!) and for Mexican I love hidden Mexican cantina La Perla. Honestly, there are so many fab foodie spots in Covent Garden I could spend all day there just eating!
Where to shop
Covent Garden is pretty killer when it comes to shopping. Less hectic than Oxford Circus, with most of your favourite high-street and luxury shops in close proximity, it’s a one-stop shop for whatever you need! I’m always telling people that I think the Zara on Long Acre in Covent Garden is one of the best in London to find key pieces that are sold out in the other stores – it just doesn’t seem to have as many people flocking to it for the same things as the ones on Oxford Street! There’s also a newly refurbished giant H&M, plus it’s sister stores & Other Stories and Arket. So my High Street favourites are covered, plus there’s tons more whatever your shopping tastes may be.
Covent Garden Market
But the real beauty of shopping in Covent Garden is the places that are off the beaten track. The one-off flagship stores, the luxury designers and cute boutiques hidden in the maze of market streets. Mulberry, Burberry and Chanel all have boutiques here, plus more niche brands that are usually stocked in other stores or online like Olivia Burton, Aesop, Daniel Wellington and Jo Malone. There’s also the only London branch of my all-time favourite stationary store – Kikki K. And then there’s the actual iconic Covent Garden market itself where you can find all sorts of unusual art, craft and accessory pieces! There always seems to be new shops to try in the market streets too which keeps it interesting each time you visit. My latest find that has just popped up is skincare brand The Ordinary in the Deciem store – amazingly affordable but high quality skincare unlike any other brands I’ve tried! Plus the staff will consult you on the spot and recommend you all the best products for your needs – perfect!
Covent Garden is also amazing when it comes to beauty. My favourite makeup brands have some of their only brick-and-mortar stores there so it’s the perfect place to come if you’re looking for a bit of a makeover! Charlotte Tilbury have their only store here just opposite the station, plus Nars, Rituals, and ESPA. Bobbi Brown also have a studio store here where you can have proper makeovers and how-to lessons with their experts! Perfect if you want a touch up before your evening out on the town! For hair, there’s Blow LTD blow-dry bar who will touch-up your locks in no time!
To me, Covent Garden feels like one of the ultimate London places. If you were a tourist coming to the city, it would feel just so British. So what better place to indulge in some classic British treats for the afternoon? There’s nothing more British than tea and cake in the afternoon, so even though it’s Parisian, Laduree is one of my favourite stops in Covent Garden for an afternoon treat of tea and macarons! Their tea-list really is amazing and there are so many varieties to choose from. I love to end an afternoon in Covent Garden sitting on their balcony and catching the last of the sun. For full Afternoon Tea, I love Balthazaar nearby or B Bakery – perfect places for the ultimate London treat! Whether we like it or not, London is also known for its pubs, so it wouldn’t be a proper day out in Covent Garden without a visit to a proper British boozer. My favourite is the Punch and Judy which sits above the market square in Covent Garden. Inside, it’s just your average grimy London pub, but outside on the balcony you get a panoramic view of Covent Garden and the best seats in the house for whatever busking is going on down below! If drinking a pint and watching a street performer doing crazy tricks in the square isn’t a Covent Garden rite of passage, then I don’t know what is! For something a bit fancier, head to The Ivy Market Grill for cocktails. I ended my Covent Garden day out in one of my favourite quiet spots for a tipple with girlfriends – Vini Italiani, the perfect chilled-out wine bar to sit, gossip and try out their ma-hoo-ssive wine list!
So there you have it, my top recommendations for a day well-spent in Covent Garden! I spent the day there with one of my best girlfriends and we couldn’t believe how quickly the time went by – it just goes to show it’s the perfect spot to stay if you want to experience a whole lot of London all in one day without having to walk too far! Brunch, shopping, makeovers, afternoon tea and wine bars all in one place – what more could you need for the perfect London afternoon?!
This post was in collaboration with Hotels.com. They provided the spending money for our trip, but as always all words and opinions are my own! If you know a great spot in Covent Garden, please leave recommendations in the comments for next time I visit!