London is one of the world's great music cities, with a rich musical history, thriving present, and promising future. From iconic music venues and record stores to live gigs and music-themed sights, this guide will lead you on an unforgettable journey through the heart and soul of London's vibrant music scene. Grab your headphones, turn up the volume, and prepare for an unforgettable weekend exploring the sounds of London's music!
Guide to a weekend in London for music fans
In this guide
- Music-themed accommodation
- Soundtrack your meals
- Where to go for a concert
Sights and sounds
- Abbey Road Studios – Iconic zebra crossing
- Battersea Power Station – Stunning brutalist landmark
- London Walks – Go on tour
- Camden Market – Famous music quarter
- David Bowie Memorial – Weeping wall
- Karaoke bars – Sing your heart out
- Open mic nights – Showtime!
- Handel Hendrix House – Museum for music fans
Chateau Denmark sprawls across 16 buildings on London's Denmark Street, a historic hub of musical creativity. The hotel's opulent decor mirrors its musical surroundings, providing lavishly adorned rooms and apartments representing punk, rock, psychedelic, and various other genres. Aiming for sensory overload, the hotel also offers contemporary amenities, high-end dining, a bar, and other attractive facilities tailored for the modern rockstar.
Ember Locke is a stylish aparthotel offering fully serviced apartments with all the contemporary amenities for a relaxing stay. Situated in Kensington, it boasts original Victorian-era features and encompasses a private garden, a conservatory with a cocktail bar, co-working facilities, a coffee shop, and even a live band stage.
A stepping stone to greatness
The Bedford in Balham is an independent and lively hotel offering a fun and affordable stay in London. With unique rooms full of character, modern amenities, and all-day dining at the bar and restaurant, it provides a comfortable retreat from the city. Moreover, guests can enjoy a diverse range of events, including comedy acts, club nights, quizzes, and live music – in fact, superstars such as Ed Sheeran, U2, and Sam Smith all played early gigs here.
Live music every day
Once known as the Hard Rock Hotel London, The Cumberland has preserved its melodic character, immersing guests in music with the help of the decor, ambience, and entertainment. Celebrities like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Wonder have graced its premises in the past, and it often organises music-themed offers such as “trade your guitar pick for a drink”. The contemporary rooms, restaurant, and bars are complemented by a stage that hosts live music daily.
Soundtrack your meals
The Blues Kitchens, inspired by South-eastern US eateries, emphasise live music as a vital element of the dining experience. The house band delivers soul, blues, funk, or rock 'n' roll jams nearly every night. The Blues Kitchen menu features authentic Cajun BBQ cuisine, with in-house curing and cooking of meats over American hickory wood, ensuring authenticity and flavour. Some of the venues also have a karaoke room.
Evolutionary Arts Hackney, aka EartH, is a multi-purpose cultural centre with a forward-thinking approach to curating its events programme and spaces. They host all sorts of concerts, from up-and-coming acts to established names such as Little Simz and Jarvis Cocker, along with club nights, comedy, and more. EartH also includes a kitchen that hosts pop-up residencies and is open on theatre show days.
Where it all comes together
Located beneath Covent Garden Market, Stereo is a stylish venue that seamlessly blends music, cocktails, and food. The restaurant's American-inspired menu, curated by the talented live-fire maestro Andrew Clarke from Acme Fire Cult, complements the chic Parisian ambience. The bar features house tipples from local breweries and distilleries, while live music, including performances by a house band and resident DJs, is on every night.
Build your live playlist
The Piano Works bars and restaurants in London offer a unique live music experience, allowing the audience to choose the songs played by the house band and create a custom playlist each night. Alongside the interactive music concept, guests can enjoy a diverse dinner menu and a wide selection of cocktails, making The Piano Works an all-around entertaining destination that also happens to be one of the largest employers of independent musicians in the country.
Nestled in Notting Hill, Bertie Blossoms is a warm, inviting restaurant and bar with a pub-like atmosphere. Its diverse blend of influences makes it an excellent option for different occasions, whether you seek a delightful meal, wine with tapas, or a casual pint with friends. The biggest draw for music fans of a certain kind, however, is that it's owned by none other than pop superstar Ed Sheeran.
Find the right tunes
Numerous other restaurants around the capital feature live music to liven up their setting, from fine dining establishments with a tinkling piano, Mexican eateries with a mariachi band or rocking burger joints. Find the right tunes for your meal with the help of our guide.
Where to go for a concert
Some of the best in the world
From small to large, old to new, DIY to state-of-the-art, London's live music venues are among the most famous ones in the world. Countless past, present, and future superstars have performed at iconic venues such as Eventim Apollo, The 100 Club, Windmill Brixton, and Scala. There's something going on somewhere every day of the week, so check our guide to find your next gig.
A pint and a song
When you want to enjoy some quality live music but don't want the rigid formality of a classic concert, heading down to the pub or a bar is always a good alternative. These venues provide the same sense of togetherness you get at a good gig but add a comfy, familiar setting and freshly poured pints. You can also often catch up-and-coming talent working their way towards their big break here, letting you feel all smug about your music taste once they start headlining arenas.
Calling all cool cats
Not only do legendary venues such as Ronnie Scott's or The Jazz Café regularly host some of the most well-known names in the genre, but there's also the buzzy new London jazz scene bubbling up all over the place. Our guide to the best jazz clubs pinpoints where to go for a classic jazz gig, an improvised session, or an impromptu jam.
For the biggest stars in the world
If you aren't a football fan, London's many stadiums are probably more familiar to you as the scene of massive singalongs, historical performances, and endless crowds enjoying concerts by some of the biggest names in music. When global superstars such as Taylor Swift or Beyoncé roll into town, this is where you'll find them, selling out multiple nights in a row, breaking records, and creating lasting memories. Wembley Stadium is the most iconic of the bunch.
A tad more traditional
Classical music fans are spoilt for choice in London, with venues all over the city hosting classical performances, including some that offer free admission. Our guide to classical music in the city shows you where you can listen to timeless masterpieces and brand-new compositions performed by established names and new talent alike.
A never-ending story
In London, the festival season never ends. It peaks during the warmer months, of course, when crowds flock to parks and open-air venues all over the capital to enjoy a day of music or two. However, there's no festival shortage even in colder weather, as organizers take advantage of the city's many venues to put on festivals across multiple locations. Our regularly updated music festival guide will help keep you up to date throughout the year.
Dance the night away
If spending your nights on the dancefloor, moving your body to pulsating electronic beats is more your kind of thing, you're in the right place. From iconic venues such as Fabric and Ministry of Sound to underground hotbeds of cutting-edge music, London's nightclubs offer something for everyone.
Music you can hold in your hands
Despite the prevalence of streaming, many stores uphold the timeless tradition of crate-digging to discover album gems. Whether you're after new releases, second-hand classics, CDs, cassette tapes, collectable rarities, or reissues, our guide to London's finest record stores will lead you to new tunes and have you jamming in no time.
Having the right gear is vital for musicians, whether professional or amateur. Fortunately, London's musical longevity is reflected in the abundance of musical instrument stores, from guitar shops to piano showrooms, all run by knowledgeable music experts who can assist in finding the perfect instrument for you.
Domicile on Carnaby Street
RS No. 9 Carnaby is a unique store – the first retail experience dedicated entirely to The Rolling Stones. Packed full of special releases and merch with the Hot Lips logo, this Carnaby Street shop is a must for any RS fan, but it's worth a visit even if your music tastes lie elsewhere. With walls adorned by album covers, band photos, and other iconography, it's a fascinating mix of music, history, and style.
The rockstar look
Discover one-of-a-kind jewellery with a rock 'n' roll twist at The Great Frog. This London boutique was launched in 1972 and has since seen its decorative pieces worn by the likes of Lemmy Kilmister, Harry Styles, and Jay-Z. The bold, eye-catching details are sure to stand out and can be worn by men and women alike, with eyewear and other accessories available as well.
Sights and sounds
Iconic zebra crossing
Probably one of the most famous recording studios in the whole world thanks to the Beatles working here in the 1960s, drivers can consider themselves lucky if they can make it past without getting stuck behind a queue of people looking to recreate the iconic “Abbey Road” album cover. The studio has a dedicated shop, offers occasional tours, and can even be hired for recording your own music.
Stunning brutalist landmark
Immortalised on the cover of the classic Pink Floyd album "Animals", this imposing structure – the biggest brick building in Europe – has since been redeveloped and turned into one of the city's top leisure destinations. Equally impressive when viewed from afar or up close, Battersea Power Station contains numerous shops and restaurantsand a lift that takes you to the very top of one of the chimneys.
Go on tour
With so many of the most famous musicians in history living and working in London over the decades, there are plenty of historical sights to check out. London Walks runs several guided walking tours where you can learn more about bands such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Kinks or dive into the fascinating musical history of areas such as Kensington or Covent Garden.
Famous music quarter
The Camden area is steeped in modern music history, dating all the way back to the 1930s. In more recent times, it has given birth to Britpop in the 1990s and UK indie rock in the 2000s. There are many venues to explore here, along with shops and stalls selling knock-off merch and kitted-out punks posing for pictures in exchange for beer money. Wander around the market, and you'll even bump into a statue of one of Camden's most famous and beloved residents, Amy Winehouse.
Originally painted in 2013 by street artist Jimmy C, this mural of David Bowie took on new significance after the iconic artist's death in 2016. Depicting the music and fashion star as he appears on the cover of his album “Aladdin Sane”, with his signature “lightning flash” make-up, the Brixton tribute has become a place of pilgrimage for fans from around the world.
Sing your heart out
There are lots of places around London where you can sing, shout, and wail to your heart's content, but karaoke bars are probably the only places where any musical shortcomings are categorically forgiven. Gather your crew and rock up to one of the bars in our guide, with everything form private rooms to live backing bands available to choose from.
If you're a professional musician looking for that elusive big break or simply someone who enjoys performing in public, try turning up at one of the open mic nights around London and seeing how it goes. Our guide to the best available mic nights in the city highlights the top spots for showcasing your talent.
Museum for music fans
Handel Hendrix House is a top destination for discovering musical history. This museum encompasses the former London homes of Handel and Jimi Hendrix, which sit next door to each other. Here you can learn more about these groundbreaking musicians and their time in London. The museum also puts on events each week ranging from talks to live music.