As the home, hub or inspiration for many of the best music artists in the world, London has made quite a name for itself over the centuries.
From the Victorian music halls of Hyde Park to the pub gigs of up-and-coming stars, London is one of the best places to discover and remember the best music in the country. If you’re a music aficionado looking to find your own Waterloo Sunset, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best venues, clubs, museums and shops to soothe the ears and broaden your horizons.
Best record stores in London
With its wide range of music education programmes and districts teeming with musicians, London has become a hub for great record shops. Whatever genre you’re into, there’ll be a record shop specialising in your taste. What’s more, these shops are often perched in some of London’s most unique districts, making it all the more worthwhile to get out there and have a browse.
Having moved to Portobello Road in the ’80s, this record shop focuses on jazz, reggae and blues, perpetuating an inclusive and community atmosphere which comes down to its founder John Clare. The former sociology lecturer decided to start the record shop after researching gang membership, finding music and community spirit to be the most potent method of keeping youngsters from falling down the wrong path. With Damon Albarn of Blur linking up with the shop to create its own record label, Honest John’s is one of the most progressive and positive minded music institutions in the country.
Honest Jon’s is based in West London, making it easily reachable for Park Grand Hotel Paddington guests.
Based in the heart of Soho, Phonica Records is dedicated to the best in dance music. Aiming for a broad rostrum, this shop focuses on vintage classics and cutting edge fringe artists, making it one of the best record shops for big beats in the city.
Rough Trade East
Based in the buzzing Truman’s Brewery district of Brick Lane, Rough Trade East is the shop branch of Rough Trade Records, who focus on new alternative acts and indie bands. Keep an eye on their website for free gigs and record signings from some of the most exciting acts in the country.
With a broad spectrum of genres, Sister Ray has two branches, based in Soho and Shoreditch. This eclectic record store truly has something for everyone and often opens up its doors to stellar record days and live events.
Rye Wax in Peckham is based in the iconic Bussey Building. Teeming with creativity, this record store is another dance music haven, bringing in the best of new and old records. Acting as a platform for local musicians and artists, the Bussey Building venue is also a popular bar and nightclub. This makes Bussey Building, and by extension Rye Wax, the perfect spot for night owls and urban explorers.
Best music venues in London
If it’s live music you’re after during your visit to London, then there are countless options to take advantage of. From arena venues to sweaty underground gigs, London’s played host to some of the best venues in the city.
KOKO is one of the most iconic music venues in the city. Formerly known as the Camden Palace, KOKO has hosted everyone from Angel Olsen to Prince, the showy facade of the venue’s exterior is matched only by its beautiful, atmospheric interior. With several bars and a capacity of 2400, KOKO is a medium-sized music venue but highly sought after as a stage for even the most popular artists.
Kentish Town Forum
Another North London gem, Kentish Town Forum was a Bingo Hall in a previous life. Having hosted the likes of David Bowie and Radiohead, the 2300 capacity Forum is a true pioneer of forward-thinking artists.
Based at number 100 Oxford Street, the 100 Club is a historic music venue in the heart of the city. Hosting Northern Soul all-nighters and a historic collection of hardcore punk bands, this raucous club and venue knows how to throw a rock and roll party.
Royal Albert Hall
Named in memory of Queen Victoria’s late husband, the Royal Albert Hall has become the home of the classical music festival “The Proms” alongside some of the most legendary concerts in London history. The spiritual home of British classical music and ballet, the Royal Albert Hall has been open since 1871, and seats over 5500 people. Throughout the years it has seen as diverse a group of musicians as George Harrison and Shirley Bassey.
Located in close proximity to some of our best hotels, why not pair your trip to the Royal Albert Hall with lunch at one of our Park Grand Restaurants? Our mouthwatering menu promises a gift for your tastebuds before the Royal Albert Hall gifts your ears.
Museums and attractions
Looking to educate yourself on the history of music in London? There is a wide range of stellar institutions, museums and exhibits littered throughout the city.
Based in Forest Hill, the Horniman Museum has one of the most unique collections of musical instruments in the entire city. Among its collection of cultural artefacts, collated by founder Frederick Horniman during his travels across the world, the Horniman Museum houses a wide range of musical instruments from throughout history. Aside from the expansive collection, this museum is housed in a quirky, purpose-built manor house, and also holds a beautiful botanical garden.
Abbey Road Studios
The home of The Beatles legendary recordings, this still running recording studio in Abbey Road is often opened to the public to explore. Originally a nine bedroom townhouse dating back to the 19th century, the studio holds a great many works of art and beautiful collectors edition musical instruments. With the likes of Pink Floyd and The Beatles having recorded there, this museum is famous for its unique and groundbreaking approach to music recording.