Although it's visually rather disappointing, this crowded square is a magnet for tourists day and night. In summer you will be hard pressed to find an unoccupied patch of grass let alone a seat. It was originally laid out by the 2nd Earl of Leicester with a mansion on the north side, Leicester House, and a grassy area known as Leicester Fields in the centre. The major attraction these days is the concentration of cinemas and film premières though the accent is very much on Hollywood blockbusters. Being something of a tourist hub, the fast food cafés, pubs and restaurants around the square are probably best avoided.
This short and perpetually busy street connecting Piccadilly Circus with Leicester Square was named after Henry Coventry, Charles II's Secretary of State. It's nearly always thronged with tourists visiting entertainment attractions such as the Trocadero (originally a music hall), Planet Hollywood and The Hard Rock Store. The Café de Paris, which opened in 1924 and was one of London's first nightclubs, is also here.
Beginning at Hyde Park Corner and ending at Piccadilly Circus, this grand mile-long street is a pleasure to wander up and down. The right hand side is bounded for half its length by Green Park. For art lovers there is the Royal Academy of Arts in Burlington House, founded in 1768 by George III and the newer Hauser & Wirth Gallery opposite.
St. James's Church, designed by Wren and consecrated in 1864, hosts a number of interesting markets in its churchyard: antiques and collectables on Tuesdays, arts and crafts from Wednesday to Saturday. The church is also home to the William Blake Society who was baptised here. The Ritz Hotel, Fortnum & Mason's food emporium and the Burlington Arcade shops all contribute to the old-fashioned air of luxury here.
St. James Church
Royal Academy of Arts