“The West End” or “Up West” are phrases that are commonly heard around London, but there are no official geographical boundaries to determine exactly where it is, and so there will be many different interpretations as to what actually constitutes the area known as the West End – and this is mine.
Historically speaking, anywhere west of the City of London was the West End, but these days the area is somewhat more defined. Wikipedia suggests that it covers an area from Temple, Holborn and Bloomsbury in the east, Regent’s Park to the north, Paddington, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge to the west and Victoria and Westminster to the south.
From a visitor’s point of view though I would argue that the area is even more compact than that. I would include the entertainment areas of Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Chinatown and Soho, the shopping areas around Oxford St, Regent St and Bond St and also the focal points of Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square – in other words the favourite spots for eating, drinking, shopping, and going to the theatre or cinema.
This list of course is subjective, but hopefully will give first time visitors to London an idea on what the West End is all about, and if there are any Londoners out there (or anyone else for that matter) who would like to add to the debate on what the West End means to them then please feel free to add your comments. I look forward to reading them.