Covent Garden Piazza
Covent Garden London WC2E 8RF
OK, it’s packed with tourists, studded with high street chains, and the pubs and restaurants are overpriced, but Covent Garden piazza still has something – if you know what to look for. The building, for a start, which was designed by Inigo Jones in the 17th century and is a stunner, with vaulted glass ceiling and walkways and lanes that twinkle with fairy lights after dark. The boutiques include a number of well-loved upscale chains, but best for shopping are the Apple Market stalls – a crafts and antiques market that yields some great stuff. It’s open every day but Monday is best for antiques, while the weekend sees handmade craft stalls rule the roost. Just off the piazza, the Jubilee Hall, 1 Tavistock Street, has more crafts and bric-a-brac and antique stalls and is also open daily. Of course, many people come here not to shop at all but to see the piazza’s buskers, who are a cut above – think opera singers, classical Chinese musicians and chamber groups, rather than ‘Streets of London’ and panpipes – while street entertainers keep the crowds happy in the open space by St Paul’s Church (known in these parts as the ‘Actors’ Church’).