Explore Carnaby Street, once synonymous with the Swinging London of the 1960s and now a unique shopping and dining destination in the heart of the capital’s West End.
• View the world-famous arch that marks the entrance to the Carnaby district – the perfect location for a selfie.
• Explore a diverse range of restaurants from around the world at Kingly Court, the al fresco dining hub whose three storeys surround an open-air courtyard. A must for all foodies!
• Browse over thirty independent shops in Newburgh Quarter: from jeans to ties, from sportswear to vinyl records, there’s something for everyone. And when you need refreshment, savour a pint of real ale in the Shakespeare’s Head, a traditional pub once owned by relatives of the famous playwright.
What to See and Do
Just behind the famous entrance arch of Carnaby Street lies a unique shopping and dining experience.
Like much of the capital, the Carnaby district has altered greatly over the centuries but some original architecture remains, adding to the charm and atmosphere of the area. The best places to view some of the listed buildings that once made up the Carnaby district are at 7-8 Kingly Street, 10-12 Ganton Street and 17 Newburgh Street.
Creativity is in the DNA of Carnaby’s Newburgh Quarter, home to a vast array of shops, including renowned high street names, designer brands and independent boutiques. Indulge in a little retail therapy as you wander the cobbles of Newburgh Street, Ganton Street, Marshall Street, Lowndes Court, Foubert’s Place and Marlborough Court.
For authentic denim, check out Levi’s Vintage Clothing while for a signature tailored look, explore sought after brands such as Barbour, Fred Perry and RÆBURN. Newburgh Quarter also showcases some of London’s most distinctive independents, including Drop Dead and Billionaire Boys’ Club.
Enjoy a vast range of international cuisines at Kingly Court. This unique dining experience offers some of London’s finest bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as many budget-friendly options. Emerging concept eateries include Acai Berry, Chai by Mira and, inspired by Israeli street food, the Good Egg. Greek cuisine is represented by The Life Goddess, Dirty Bones brings you US comfort food and you can sample an Asian feast at Darjeeling Express.
Bars and pubs
Two Floors is the ideal venue for a leisurely evening drink with friends while Disrepute offers the experience of a 1960s underground cocktail bar. The Rum Kitchen Carnaby brings you the vibrant charm of the Caribbean while Shampers offers fine wines and traditional British cuisine.
While strolling around the Carnaby district, don’t forget to turn off the main street and explore the numerous side alleys, where you’ll discover high-end fashion shops and boutiques tucked away from the hustle and bustle.
Did you know: (5 interesting facts!)
1. In the 17th century, Carnaby Street was the site of pesthouses for patients during the Great Plague. Many victims of the disease were buried nearby in mass graves known as plague pits.
2. At one time the area was rural and records show that in 1682, there was a windmill and a well where Carnaby Street is now.
3. Carnaby Street was once home to an abattoir that supplied fresh meat to Carnaby Market. It was renowned for its female butchers, the first in London.
4. The visionary artist and poet was born in Broad Street – now Broadwick Street – in 1757. He lived in the area most of his life.
5. Jimi Hendrix bought the antique military jacket he wore at Woodstock in 1969 at the famous boutique “I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet”. The shop sold vintage military clothing and accessories and was also a favourite of the Beatles.
• In 1665, “pesthouses” or isolation hospitals were built here, on the outskirts of London, for victims of the plague.
• Carnaby Street was first developed by builder Richard Tyler in 1682. The name comes from Karnaby House, one of the earliest properties to be built here. A later redevelopment in the 1720s included a market for fresh produce.
• The Shakespeare’s Head pub was built in 1735 and still stands today at the corner of Foubert’s Place and Carnaby Street.
• In 1823, the building of Regent Street separated Carnaby Street from Mayfair.
Victorian physician John Snow first identified the source of a cholera outbreak as contaminated water from a pump in Broadwick Street. A pub named after him stands on the former site of the pump.
• In 1953, John Stephen began selling Italian-inspired menswear in his shop in Beak Street. Throughout the 1960s, Carnaby Street was the epicentre of the new teenage culture with a plethora of whimsically named boutiques. For artists, actors and musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks and the Beatles, it was the place to be.
• During the 1970s, Carnaby Street saw the emergence of punk music and fashion and during the 1980s the area was home to a rebellious new wave of British designers including Vivienne Westwood.
• In 2002, Deal Real became the centre of London’s hip hop scene, with performers such as Kanye West and Amy Winehouse. In 2015, new life was breathed into the iconic record store with a pop-up store in Newburgh Street.
• Carnaby Street was chosen by the Rolling Stones to host their 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2012.
• 2018 saw the launch of the film Bohemian Rhapsody with a magnificent light installation switched on by Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen plus Rami Malek, the Oscar-winning star of the movie.