London has more than its fair share of super cool locations- in fact it can be hard to choose which ones you’d most like to visit.
But one place that should be on everyone’s list is the famous Carnaby Street.
This 200 metre stretch of pedestrianised London would probably take you 5 minutes to walk through- if you had your eyes closed that is.
For those of us who like to explore with our eyes open, this little stretch of London can consume hours and hours of time with all the awesome and wonderful things to see and eat.
It’s a street that is incredibly famous in the world of music, but also had a massive cultural impact on the UK’s youth culture- and now it is a mecca for shoppers, foodies, fashionistas and pretty much anyone else looking to explore an awesome area.
Take advantage of the best hotel packages London has to offer at The Montcalm Royal London House; not only is it one of the best hotels near Old Street Station, it’s also perfectly located for you to enjoy the city’s best spots, like Carnaby Street.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this fantastic street.
A Quick History Lesson
Carnaby Street was actually a very poor area when it appeared- and this was worsened when the plague swept through the city.
Carnaby Street was actually used as a ‘Plague Pit’, where people dying of the black death were treated and eventually laid to rest.
In these troubling times people would completely avoid the area for fear of contracting the plague- which is probably fair enough.
Thankfully, by the 19th century, Carnaby was starting to attract bohemian and creative groups thanks to the low prices and the steady flow of foot traffic that used the area to reach the city centre; and its proximity to local theatres and galleries.
But it was not until the arrival of John Stephen in the 50s that the street started to resemble the coolest area in the country.
Stephen, known as ‘the King of Carnaby Street’, was actually the entrepreneur who popularised the sharp suit amongst mods- thus helping to kick off the cultural revolution amongst Britain’s Youth.
His clothing was worn by members of the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and many more bands that were taking the nation by storm.
All these famous artists began to hang out and even perform in the grungy and small bars found on Carnaby Street, and out of nowhere it became one of the best spots in the world for music.
If you were knocking around on Carnaby Street in the 60s you may have bumped into the likes of Jimi Hendricks, The Beatles and The Jam- just to name a few.
This theme continued well into the 70s and 80s with the likes of punk icons The Sex Pistols, the Clash and The Damned.
With its name cemented in English music history, Carnaby Street continued to become cooler and cooler, and now it is one of the city’s premier destinations for music, boutique shops, pubs, bars and food.
The nearest Tube Station to Carnaby Street is Oxford Circus, which is serviced by the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines.
Its connection to the rest of the city is pretty amazing, and makes it a very easy location to explore.
Things To See
There is plenty to see and do on this stunning street, so just head out for a walk and you’ll find something incredible.
For now though, here are a few of the unmissable bits.
The Newburgh Quarter
The Newburgh Quarter can be found one street to the east of Carnaby, and is home to many of the oldest and most iconic shops in the area.
There are over 30 independent shops that embody the spirit of the swinging 60s, and they are squeezed in between some of the most iconic brands in the world.
The Famous Carnaby Arch is the perfect place to grab a quick picture for the gram.
It’s an iconic London sight and the sign with the street in the background is a pretty cool thing to see.
It will pretty much be the first thing you come across when you arrive in the area.
Kingly Court is a must visit for any first timers to the area.
It’s a three story, open air courtyard that hosts an incredible amount of concept stores, pop-up restaurants and other miraculous wonders.
It has become a bit of a mecca for foodies and those looking to discover the latest ‘thing’.
Places To Eat
One thing you will notice when you arrive on Carnaby Street, is the sheer amount of places you can grab a delicious bite to eat, sit in an amazing restaurant, or pick up a stunning treat from a bakery or street food vendor.
Check out the stunning Senor Ceviche for the best Peruvian meal you’ve ever had; try Flat Iron for some of the best steak sandwiches in the world, and Myung Ga for a Korean taste explosion.
Pubs & Bars
Another thing you may notice when you arrive is the sheer abundance of pubs and bars on this glorious street.
Did you know that some of William Shakespear’s relatives actually owned and operated a pub on Carnaby Street for many years?
That’s the kind legacy we are dealing with here.
Check out the Shakespeare’s Head (unfortunately nothing to do with the actual Shakespeares) for a gorgeous and quirky traditional pub.
If you want some proper London history then hit up Cahoots for a ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of bar. It’s actually located in an old tube station and is one of the most unique and cool bars in London, serving up fantastic drinks.
Carnaby Street Dreams
So there you have it, just a small insight into the wonder that is Carnaby Street.
No amount of words can truly capture the vibe and history that this place holds, so you’ll have to get out there and experience it for yourself!
Make the most of your time in one of the best hotels City of London has to offer; The Montcalm Royal London House, and enjoy one of the very best streets in the entire country.