London's West End: Which Theatres to Visit, What to See

When choosing which theatres to visit you need to first consider the purpose of your visit.  Is it to appreciate the beautiful architecture on some of these old buildings or is it the more obvious reason, to take in one of London’s amazing shows?

If it’s the former then don’t worry, you’re not alone!  Some of London’s theatres have been putting on shows for decades and many of them have fascinating histories and classic architectural designs.

What to See in London West End

The oldest theatre in London which is still operating in its original site is the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane which first opened its doors in 1663.

Theatre Royal in Drury Lane

It isn’t in its original form, more than one theatre has burnt down over the centuries, but the replacements were built in exactly the same spot.  The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane was also the first place the UK national anthem was heard, as well as Rule Britannia.

One of the most beautiful old theatres is the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

A Grade I listed building that is impossible to miss with its ornate pillared entrance, right in the middle of the West End.

Of course if it’s a show you’re after then the theatres can provide that too!  If you’re looking for a traditional play then The Mousetrap should be a consideration.

The Mousetrap is an Agatha Christie play that started in London in 1952.  In 1957 it broke the record for the longest running play in the West End and in 2012 it had its 25,000th performance.  Believe it or not it is still going and now is the longest running play in history!

Check it out at St Martin’s Theatre in West Street.

St Martin’s Theatre in West Street

If spectacular musicals are more your scene then the West End certainly has plenty of those to offer too.

One of the most popular musicals in London is Matilda, based on a Road Dahl story about a gifted young girl it debuted at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011 and has been there ever since.

It is a firm favourite for families and has spawned performances across the world.  The Lion King is another show that is fantastic for families and children.

London also caters for well known classic musicals too.  Les Miserables is the second longest running show in the West End and can bee seen at the Queen’s Theatre in Soho.

The Phantom of the Opera could probably claim to be the most famous musical of all time, it is certainly one of the most successful.

The show is still over the top and retains all of the chintz associated with the 1980s when it made its debut, but the current offering at Her Majesty’s Theatre has been updated in a way that ensures the show still gives you goosebumps, especially when the eponymous song is sung.

If you’re looking for strictly adult entertainment then it will definitely be worthwhile heading over to the Prince of Wales Theatre for The Book of Mormon.  Brought to you by the writing team that gave you South Park and Team America this is certainly not one to bring the kids to!

If you want to see them all then you should consider looking for short term lets in London. offers luxury extended stay apartments in London which are handily located just minutes from any West End show.

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