Whether it’s a performance from The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and The Royal Orchestra, you’re guaranteed a regally spectacular show. And, at one of the most prominent establishments across the world, it would be silly to expect anything less. With its distinctive Roman inspired pillared frontage that looks out onto Covent Garden’s famous piazza, it has been home to ballet productions ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Fairy Queen’ and operas ‘Arabella’ and ‘Salome’ to name but a few.
Having undergone many reconstructions over the decades, the beautiful Royal Opera House as iconic looking as ever, despite being the third theatre to be built on the same spot! Burnt down by fires twice between 1808 and 1843, during this time and due to a patent law, it meant that there could be only be two theatres in London performing drama. So the Royal Albert Hall we know today was in fierce rivalry with Theatre Royal Drury Lane down the road.
Some of the most prominent dates in the Royal Albert Hall’s history include composer Handel’s first set of operas in 1735 and come 1834, the theatre became an opera house, officially. In 1892, ballets became an integral part of the line up during the winter and summer months and by 1946, after a gala performance of The Sleeping Beauty, a new ballet company was formed - The Royal Ballet.
Taking centre stage in the heart of London’s Covent Garden, getting to the Royal Opera House, wherever you’re coming from, is a walk in the park.
Bus and coach
There are a number of buses that can drop you just a few metres away from the Royal Opera House.
A stone’s throw from Covent Garden underground station on the Piccadilly Line, there will be signposts at the station for the opera house.
Driving and parking
There are no parking spaces at the Royal Opera House venue, but car parking facilities are available just five minutes away at Drury Lane and Shelton Street NCP car parks.
If you’re going to the opera or ballet and want to show your appreciation for their amazing performances by participating in the ‘chorus of praise’, remember to get the cheers just right! For cheering women it’s ‘brava!’, for men it’s ‘bravo!’ and for everyone involved it’s ‘bravi!’
This is the beautiful glass and iron building next to the entrance to the ROH. Pulling out all the ‘wow’ stoppers from the inside to the out, it’s often used for exhibitions, private functions and workshops. Inside, you’ll find the sparkling champagne bar for the perfect place to sip on something chilled and bubbly before or after a show. And look above to the glass-vaulted roof to see the Paul Hamlyn Balconies Restaurant - a stunning place to enjoy a meal with incredible views and a delicious modern European menu to boot.
Linbury Studio Theatre
Made during one of the redevelopment programmes during the 90s, this secondary theatre space is renowned for showing experimental and independent dance and music shows.
Sitting under the main auditorium below ground level, it has a retractable floor and seating, orchestra pit and stage that has seen community events, exhibitions and traditional theatre shows entertain an audience.
Didn’t get a ticket to see The Nutcracker? All's not lost as you might get lucky and get to see the tiptoeing ballet dancers in training during a backstage tour.
Learn all about the preparations before the doors open and find out about the opera house’s colourful history over the years. Alternatively, why not a buy ticket for the ‘Velvet, Gilt and Glamour Tour’ that hones in on the architecture and design of the theatre before visiting the Royal Retiring Room made fit for royalty - even today’s!
There are a number of unisex accessible toilets around the venue, next to the main entrance and in the Linbury Studio, for example.
Lifts are available to take you to all levels except the orchestra stalls and there are 19 spaces for wheelchair users in the main auditorium.
Surrounded by stunning images of The Royal Ballet, take your pick from the a la carte menu of British and European dishes, with views out onto Covent Garden’s piazza at the Amphitheatre Restaurant and Terrace.
Alternatively, peruse the bar menu at the Paul Hamlyn Hall Champagne Bar and try the Severn and Wye smoked salmon with a glass of bubbles.
With Covent Garden in your eye line, your eating and drinking options are endless. Try Maxwell’s Bar & Grill for some American style burgers and ribs. Fine dining Indian food more your cup of tea? Head to Dishoom for a twist on your average Indian curry. The Black Daal as a side dish is the real winner. Not just content with creating a super tasty food menu, the cocktail list will put a jig in your step especially the Chilli Martini and the Bombay Pimms.