Soho, only a 20-minute walk or 15-minute tube journey from Presidential Marylebone Mayfair (which unlike other some 4 star serviced apartments London is extremely well located), has an illustrious and often outrageous history. As far back as the mid-19th century it had become known for its disreputable nature, its streets filled with music halls, prostitutes and theatre. From then on, drunkards, writers, intellectuals and artists took over the area, giving it the bohemian and liberal attitude that can still be glimpsed today. Now though it has become one of London’s most vibrant areas, still the heart of the capital’s gay scene, with music and theatre venues galore, and with enough to do to keep even most eager of culture vultures happy.
Neighbouring Covent Garden has a (slightly) less salacious history, being known mainly for the fruit and vegetable market that stood from the 1600s until 1974. Today the beautiful square has crowds flocking for the shopping, eating and famous street performers.
Anybody hoping to flash the cash or simply indulge in some window shopping will find Covent Garden and Soho more than accommodating. Soho’s main shopping areas include the unique Carnaby Street famous for old retro style boutique shopping, and neighbouring Berwick Street and Kingly Court. This cluster of pretty streets is a short walk to Regent Street – full of designer brands as well as Hamley’s – London’s oldest toy shop, with seven floors packed with latest computer games, teddies, and special collector areas; Liberty – its magnificent Tudor façade encasing five floors of luxury beauty, fashion, accessories, homeware and antique furniture, as well as displays of the world’s most cutting-edge print, craft and design; and the Apple store. From there it’s mere minutes to the shopping mecca of Oxford Street.
Covent Garden itself has the bustling Market Piazza, which sells a huge variety of goods, from fashion to furniture – a great place to pick up something a little different. Open air shopping can also be enjoyed at St Martin's Courtyard, a home to increasing number of international design brands, flagship stores, and independent designer boutiques, as well as a great place to go for a relaxing beauty treatment, massage, or spa.
For more fashion focused shopping, neighbouring Seven Dials has a great range.
Museums and galleries
Culturally speaking, this area of London has it all. First stop – the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which delights kids and adults alike with its celebration of all things vehicular. The museum, which looks after more than 450,000 items, gives visitors a fascinating insight into London and its transport system over the last 200 years. It also hosts late night openings and regular exhibitions.
Ripley’s Believe it or not! is guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the young and young-at-heart with its collections of the weird and wonderful. Meanwhile art lovers are catered for to thanks to the world-class exhibitions found at The Royal Academy of Arts, a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, as well – of course – as the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery.
Favourites among Londoners and tourists alike, these neighbouring buildings border Trafalgar Square. Both allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the greatest masterpieces every created. Trafalgar Square – home of the famous Nelson’s Column - is also something of a cultural hub, with seasonal and special events hosted throughout the year.
Theatres and cinema
Theatrically-speaking, the famous West End theatre district contains more performances than anyone could see in a single trip. Soho’s theatres include Her Majesty’s Theatre and Soho Theatre which specialises in new theatre, comedy and cabaret.
Somerset House hosts a spectacular open air cinema for a movie experience to remember (and is also worth visiting for its winter ice rink and the Courtauld Gallery, an exhibition of the most famous paintings and masterpieces from world-renowned artists). Cinemas can also be found in abundance at Leicester Square, which is the place to go to catch premiers and celebrity spotting on the red carpet.
In the heart of Covent Garden stands the famous Royal Opera House, one of the world’s leading opera companies. Its mix of traditional opera and contemporary works means taking in a performance here is a must-do for any opera fan, and it is also the home of the Royal Ballet, Britain’s largest ballet company, which stages breath-taking performances all year round.
Nightlife and entertainment
Soho is jam-packed full of bars and clubs – cocktail bars, cabarets, traditional pubs, wine bars: it really has it all. Some of its stand-out venues include Ronnie Scott’s – world famous for its jazz nights; Kettner Champagne Bar, and Hawksmoore 7 Dials for cocktails. There is no excuse not to enjoy the nightlife on offer when staying at one of the 4 star Central London Aparthotels. Try your luck in one of the area’s casinos: The Hippodrome Casino, Casino at the Empire and G Casino are all worthy of the central positions they hold. Or take in some music: as well as the live music bars that can easily be found throughout Soho, St Martin-in-the-field Church & Café hosts a weekly jazz night on Wednesdays which takes place in the suitably atmospheric (former) crypt.
Parks and outdoors
Soho and Covent Garden aren’t the leafiest of areas, but when staying at one of the Central London serviced apartments, particularly Presidential Apartments Marylebone which is positioned well for walk to any of the places within Central London, in addition to the tube and bus to rest of the London, it would be remiss not to see such iconic spaces as Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, to name a few. All are well equipped with places to eat, drink, rest and shop.
Food and drink
No one has ever unwittingly gone hungry in Soho and Covent Garden. Chinatown is a bustling mecca of Chinese and Asian feasting – usually for reasonable prices. But Soho is also home to some of the newest and best restaurants in the city, many with queues snaking out of the door. Some of the most notable include Peruvian eatery Ceviche, seafood specialist The Wright Brothers and Venetian restaurant Polpo. Covent Garden itself isn’t short of restaurants ranging from fine dining experiences to fast food.
What to explore next
The beauty of staying at Presidential Apartments Marylebone is that every area of London is easily accessible. From Soho, why not head to Kings Cross or Camden to experience the best of London's nightlife; to Marylebone for experiencing the London's shopping district; Kensington & Chelsea to visit the museums or Westminster and Waterloo for the capital’s iconic attractions?