A music lovers guide to London


London and great music go hand in hand, with so many incredible venues to discover – each telling an integral part of the city’s musical history.

Here’re all the key venues to look for when planning your own music loving trip…

Rough Trade East

Music fans may already be familiar with Rough Trade Records, a popular indie label based in London. This outpost of the brand is part of the Rough Trade label, and places particular emphasis on alternative acts.

Some of the biggest names from the independent music world have played here, and there’s also a regular roster of special events to look forward to. Whether you’re hoping for a signing or a live performance, you can be sure there’s always something special happening at this venue.

Kentish Town Forum

Based in North London, the Kentish Town Forum was once a bingo hall, before being transformed into a world-class music venue. In its lengthy history it has hosted everyone from Radiohead to David Bowie, ensuring that genre is far less important to the venue than talent.

With the ability to hold more than 2000 guests, the Kentish Town Forum is one of the most popular places for both artists and their fans, and a trip here is the perfect way to spend your evening after dining at Finsbury Square restaurants.

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road is the infamous location where The Beatles recorded much of their creative output, but its also a working studio and a popular London attraction for music fans.

The space was once a large town house in the heart of London, but now includes information and memorabilia relating to all the legendary artists who have recorded here, as well as the famed zebra crossing right outside (where you can try your hand at recreating that Beatles album cover).

Whether you’re a dedicated Beatles fan or simply want to discover one of the major music locations in the city, a trip to Abbey Road is unmissable.

Berwick Street

One of the best places in London for finding fantastic vinyl, Berwick Street has been particularly popular since the 1980s, due in large part to the vast number of vinyl and independent record stores in the area.

Key destinations include Reckless and Sister Ray. The street is also famous for having appeared on the cover of the second album by Oasis, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ in the mid-90s. Today you’ll regularly find fans of the band eagerly trying to recreate this image, but if you’d rather just go shopping for music then you’ll also be in great company.

Phonica Records

This Soho favourite is one of the best dance music labels around. The brand has been synonymous with dance since its founding, and yet it has a pretty broad definition which allows for plenty of creativity and the full support of new and emerging acts within the genre.

Phonica Records’ store is mostly centred around vintage finds and a few new artists, ensuring that for fans of dance there’s no better place to find your new favourite tracks.

Royal Albert Hall

This unique venue was named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. It hosts a wide selection of music performances throughout the year, including the annual celebration of classics, ‘The Proms’.

The Royal Albert Hall first opened in 1871 and includes room for more than 5500 guests. With this huge capacity and the stunning surroundings, it’s no wonder its developed such a fantastic reputation amongst music fans of all ages. It should be noted that it isn’t just classical composers and musicians who perform here, but a diverse selection of artists spanning many different genres.

For guests staying at the Montcalm Hotel London, there are few places which can rival the ambiance and talent on show at the Royal Albert Hall.

Honest Jons Records London

A label which is strongly focused on jazz acts, reggae and blues artists, Honest Jons has been a London mainstay for decades. Much of the appeal of the space is centred around its founding figure, John Clare.

Once a sociology lecturer, John started Honest Jons as a way to help foster creativity in young people and keep them from going down a dangerous path or becoming involved in gang membership and violence. The shop has now added a new strong to its bow, with Damon Albarn of Blur fame helping the store develop its own record label.

It’s a rare and special place, where the founding principles are still important to this day. To help support positive musical acts and some of the performers on the label, be sure to head here during your visit to London.

Denmark Street

Located in Soho, Denmark Street is forever linked with great music. Its the space where two of the biggest music magazines – NME and Melody Maker – first launched their offices, and at some time or another it has also hosted some of the biggest names in the music world.

Top managers and publishers were once based here, with acts such as David Bowie, Elton John and the Rolling Stones all creating some of their recordings at studios on this street. One of the most famous legends about the location is that Bob Marley purchased his first guitar here, giving you even more reasons to visit during your stay at the Montcalm Hotel London.

Horniman Museum

This unique museum is home to a vast selection of musical instruments and artefacts, sourced by founder Frederick Horniman as he journeyed around the globe.

Items on display here span centuries and continents, helping to make this perhaps the most comprehensive musical instrument collection in the UK. The museum is located in Forest Hill, and held within a custom-built house which also includes a stunning botanical garden – perfect for exploring after indulging your love of music.

The Good Mixer

This Camden pub is an integral part of the UK’s musical history. It was one of the most popular venues for the Britpop scene during the 1990s, and the site where some of its top acts signed record deals, met and mingled.

Legend states this is also the place where the infamous feud between Oasis and Blur began.