Royal Opera House

Bow Street Covent Garden London WC2E 9DD

London’s glorious Royal Opera House has stood on this spot since 1858; earlier incarnations of the building, which began as a theatre in 1732, were destroyed by fire. If you’re here for a show (either opera or ballet) you can enter through enormous revolving doors from Covent Garden piazza, or through an entrance on Floral Street, where historic costumes from classic performances are on show behind glass. The jawdropper, though, is the main entrance on Bow Street, with its stunning glass and wrought iron facade, glittering and glamorous after dark. You could just come here for a drink at the wonderful champagne bar; but for the best experience, of course, you should come for a performance. All red velvet and gold, with elegantly tiered seating, the opera house is the very essence of old-school glamour. It needn’t be as expensive as you might expect, either – prices go for as little as a tenner for standing room in the slips (where eyelines are not at all bad and the acoustics are superb).

Daily auditorium tours are available, along with more detailed backstage tours that give you a bit of history and lots of good background on various aspects of current productions.

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