Covent Garden is one of my favourite places to hang out in London, but I must admit I am a bit set in my ways. I’ve been visiting the area for over 30 years and nearly always go to the same places.
So when one of my Facebook friends from the USA asked me for advice I was not sure what to recommend. She had booked her Covent Garden Hotel for herself and her teenage daughter, but wanted my recommendations for what to do, what to eat and where to shop on a two-day visit.
I didn’t want to let her down and I wanted to show her the best of what’s there now, and not just send her my hackneyed old suggestions. So I turned my own teenage daughter loose on the area with a friend in early January, to see what she could come up with. It’s amazing what a fresh pair of young eyes can find that I didn’t even know was there. Over to her…
Ah, Covent Garden, one of London’s hubs of fancy shopping, interesting restaurants and entertainment. Up until this point I had only been here a few times in my life, so when I was given the mission of going and discovering the sort of things you can get up to in this part of London obviously I saw it as an excellent opportunity to explore (and potentially also as an excellent excuse to put off other work that I had lined up!)
I brought a close friend with me, and together we decided we would go in completely blind: no pre-Googling, no asking for recommendations, we would simply wander around until we found things that caught our attention.
Did this result in a lot of ambling around aimlessly, with no real concept of where we were? Absolutely. But it also allowed us to see and experience things that we likely would not have considered otherwise – although of course, I’m about to give you my own recommendations, I would firmly suggest that you try this approach out for yourself.
I’ll start with shopping, because it’s probably the most obvious one. Of course, Covent Garden is the site of the famous Covent Garden Market, which also includes the Apple and Jubilee Markets. Here you can find all kinds of interesting and unique stalls, selling anything from vintage-looking leather notebooks, to jewellery made from old watch parts, to art made of old vinyl records.
There are also shops of all kinds and descriptions – I was particularly excited by the Deciem store, the brand famous for selling high quality skincare at very affordable prices, which up until now I had believed only sold online.
If you venture out a little further into the surrounding area, you’ll find an even wider selection of shops, including the Glossier pop-up which is the only store that the brand currently has in the UK. You’ll find a large number of vintage stores, such as Pop Boutique and Picknweight, as well as those catering to more alternative interests, like The Astrology Shop.
I also absolutely have to talk about the wide variety of food available. Any cuisine or dish that you could even fathom can be found somewhere in or around the market. Whether you are looking for gourmet sushi at a place like Sushisamba, or naughty treats from Italian chocolatier Venchi, you’ll find a wide range of both chains and independent restaurants and food vendors to cater to any appetite.
I also have to give a special mention to one of my favourite tea shops, Teatulia, which I reviewed a couple of months ago with mum, and is now one of my favourite hang out places in London. A cute little café/bookshop, they serve speciality teas and cakes (including some infused with tea!), as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic tea cocktails.
On my visit this time around, my friend and I discovered that there is a post box inside the café, next to some cute Teatulia-branded postcards; they encourage you to write to someone that you care about and will then send your card anywhere in the world for free. We both agreed that this was a lovely idea – if the delicious tea wasn’t already enough to draw you in, the shop has a very welcoming atmosphere and you sense that the staff really care about making your day a little better.
In terms of entertainment, you will constantly be surrounded by buskers and street performers as you walk around Covent Garden; we saw a magician, a clown, many buskers and a man playing a kind of wind instrument that neither of us had ever seen before. Your walk around will never be silent!
We also stumbled upon the London Transport Museum and decided that, as it’s free to enter for under-18s, we would have a little look around. On entry, we discovered that it is definitely catered more towards families with younger children, and so were quite surprised at the amount of fun we had.
We may have had some strange looks as two sixteen-year-olds doing a stamp trail and pretending to drive trains, but we can both verifiably say that it’s a very enjoyable trip out!
So there you have it – a whistle-stop teenager’s guide to Covent Garden. If you find yourself there I hope you enjoy it too!