Tourist Information Guide

Covent Garden Royal Opera House, London

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Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is a world leader for ballet and opera. As you walk towards the building you will get the sense that it is home to something special. The modern part of the building juxtaposes perfectly with the Paul Hamlyn Hall - what was once Covent Garden's flower market is like a large ornate greenhouse, an art deco style structure with a domed front made from wrought iron and glass. As you step into the 3000-seat auditorium you will be immersed in a romantic world red velvet seating, golden balconies and an ornately adorned dome ceiling. This is a place where magic happens - home to both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet who showcase their work here, alongside some of the best dance and music companies from around the world.

This page will provide you with: contact details, how to book tickets, how to get to the venue, eating and drinking options and what to expect when you are there.

What to expect at the opera house and what makes it special

Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House
Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House is home to both the Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet. One of the main beliefs of the venue management is that ballet and opera should be for everybody, not just the upper classes. This is why they offer a wide range of ticket prices depending on where you are sitting in the theatre (ticket prices can range from £10 to hundreds of pounds - see below for more details on tickets). There are also initiatives like the cinemas project, where live shows can be watched at cinemas around the country - for more details see the Official Royal Opera House Cinemas page. Plus, it plays host to ballets and operas that you will have heard of even if you aren't a regular audience member, like Alice in Wonderland and Romeo and Juliet.

It is called the Royal Opera House as it houses the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet. They are both companies who have had accolades bestowed upon them by Queen Elizabeth due to their standards of excellence in their field.

The current theatre is the third theatre on the site, following two fires. It was first opened in 1732. Many of Handel's operas and oratorios were written specifically for the Royal Opera House. The Paul Hamlyn Hall is a large glass and wrought iron structure that was once Covent Garden's flower market - it is now home to a bar and restaurant that make up a large part of the building.

The fact that the space is dedicated entirely to opera and ballet makes for a special experience. The sets and costumes are made on site. This adds an air of authenticity to every production. The set and costume creators communicate directly with the production staff, ensuring that changes can be made to the costume and set designs to closely meet the exact needs of the production director. You can watch the production in the knowledge that the opera/ballet has been practised, the sets have been created, and the costumes have been sewn under the same roof where you are watching the production.

It is also worth noting that if you cannot afford to see a show at the Royal Opera House, you could come for a guided tour instead. Tour options include a backstage tour and other themed tours that vary depending on what show is on at the opera house at that time. For details of the tours, including details on how long they last, how to book and price, see the Official Royal Opera House Website tours page.

Tube Closest Tube: Covent Garden (Red Line / Central Line)

When you arrive at Covent Garden tube station you will need to take a lift to reach street level. As you exit the tube station you will find yourself on James Street. Head down the sloping street towards the Covent Garden piazza. When you reach the piazza, turn left. You will find the Royal Opera House in the left hand corner of the Covent Garden piazza.

Opening times

As the Royal Opera House is a live venue, the Operating hours vary depending on what is taking place in the amphitheatre. However, the building is open throughout the day as there is a box office there. There are also a number of bars and restaurants in the Royal Opera House building that you can visit at various times throughout the week (see below for more details).

Box office opening times: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 - 19:30

Bars and restaurants in the building

Inside the Royal Opera House you will find a wealth of eating and drinking opportunities. Depending on how much time you have and how formal you would like your dinner to be, there should be something here to suit all tastes and budgets. There is the Al fresco restaurant -a laid back eatery in the terrace of the Amphitheatre. For something more formal you could head to the Paul Hamlyn or amphitheatre restaurants. In these restaurants you can impress friends or business associates.

If you just fancy a drink before or during the interval of the show, you can head to the Amphitheatre or Paul Hamlyn bar.

For details of the eating and drinking options at the Royal Opera House, plus advice on how to book, opening times and menus, see the Royal Opera House Official Website Food and Drink section.

Royal Opera House Restaurant Reservations:
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7212 9254

How to get tickets

If you would like to buy tickets to see a play at the Royal Opera House, you have three options for how you can get booked. Have a look at the options and if you have any queries, call the official number for the Royal Opera House that is provided below.

Telephone: call the box office on the number provided below and book your tickets over the phone.

Online: Head to the official Royal Opera House website and click on 'Book Now'. Here you will be able to look at a calendar of events - click on the event that you are interested in attending, then choose where you would like to sit by clicking on the seating plan. You will need your credit or debit card to book online.

At the venue - there is a box office.

Box Office
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 - 19:30.

Contact details

Royal Opera House
Bow Street
Covent Garden

Tel Switchboard: +44 (0) 20 7240 1200
Tel Box Office: +44 (0) 20 7304 4000

Website: Official Website for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden

The Royal It offers a magical place to see a ballet or an opera whilst you are in town. To avoid disappointment try to book your tickets as far in advance as possible and keep an eye on the website for any special offers of new shows that might be coming up. This is your opportunity to see some world-class ballet or opera.

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