In this detailed guide to Neal’s Yard London in Covent Garden, you’ll learn about the history of the square, where to find the best restaurants and shops, and more.
You’ll also find the best time to visit Neal’s Yard Covent Garden below to experience one of the most beautiful places in London.
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Neal’s Yard is one of London’s most colourful little corners, even on a grey day. It’s an oasis from the busy shopping hub.
Wander through the small alleyway to get to the courtyard, and you’ll be taken aback by the bright, quirky, picturesque multi-coloured buildings, windows and shops. The charming shops and restaurants in Neal’s Yard are sure to put a smile on your face.
If you’re looking for more on London or planning a trip to the Big Smoke, then read my London travel tips guide.
Neal’s Garden is such a hidden street in London that not many locals even know about it. So, I’ve put together a small travel guide to one of the most beautiful places in the city.
Based in the heart of Central London, Neal’s Yard is a hidden gem that’s certainly worth visiting. It’s one of the top things to do in Covent Garden, which has become the capital’s most iconic area.
Here you’ll come across many street performers, top restaurants and some of London’s best theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue fighting for your attention.
Most people forget to explore the smaller, relatively unknown side streets and areas around Covent Garden like Seven Dials and Neal’s Yard.
Hidden away down an alleyway, just off Neal Street, from the bustle on Shaftesbury Avenue, is this secret London location.
The alleyways of Neal’s Yard are so small that if you blink while passing, you might miss turning. The courtyard is enclosed by shops and not visible from the streets if you don’t know where you’re going.
Walking down the tall winding alleyways will carry you into the quirky and colourful Neal’s Yard Seven Dials.
If you’re spending a day in London while the sun is shining brightly, you’ll see the courtyard with the shop fronts painted bright yellow, red and green illuminated by its warm glow.
There are some open-air terraces from a few of the Neal’s Yard London shops that look onto the courtyard. The atmosphere in the garden is pretty relaxed, and it has a ‘stop and stay awhile vibe’.
Neal’s Yard is located in the middle of the Seven Dials District (known for its artisan coffee shops and independent boutiques).
The secluded garden in the eclectic neighbourhood is around a six-minute walk from Covent Garden underground station.
The colourful courtyard is accessible via two small alleyways at either end. One alleyway is via Short’s Gardens off Neal Street, and the other is via the alleyway on Monmouth Street in the middle of London’s Covent Garden.
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The Neal’s Yard that many people see and know today is a far cry from what the area was or looked like 40 years ago. Let’s take a look at some intriguing things to know about Neal’s Yard history.
The courtyard area was named after Thomas Neale, MP and businessman, in the early 1690s. Neale received a piece of land from William III in Central London and created the Seven Dials district in which Neal’s Yard is located.
Thomas Neale’s aim was to establish the district as one of the most fashionable addresses in London, following the successful Covent Garden Piazza.
But the area failed to establish itself as the businessman had hoped, and it deteriorated into a slum renowned for its gin shops.
The area was a notorious place during the London Gin craze. Up until 1976, the courtyard had been a rat-infested, derelict place where tramps used to use a toilet. There were also a few warehouses that supported the Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market.
The area was so run down that the colourful square didn’t even appear on the London A to Z.
The entrepreneur Nicholas Saunders was looking for a cheap place to live in Soho and Covent Garden. He found Neal’s Yard for sale at a bargain price due to it being scheduled for demolition.
Nicholas tried to live in the area to save it from demolition but was refused planning permission.
However, with a little persistence, Saunders was granted permission, and in 1976 he decided to start a whole food shop.
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Taking what he had learnt from his time living in Christiania in Copenhagen, Saunders started building his shop.
After a few months, the first shop in Neal’s Yard was born. The original small shop grew, and it developed into a social scene.
Regular customers loved the shop and Neal’s Yard so much that they asked to work there, bringing together Nicholas’ idea of a village community.
This has now transferred the courtyard into a thriving, colourful village-style community that many Londoners and tourists enjoy.
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In keeping with Neal’s Yard physiology for holistic and sustainable health and beauty, all the shops surrounding the courtyard are organic and focus on sustainable and ethical practices.
Whether you visit a Neal’s Yard restaurant during the week or over a weekend, you’ll undoubtedly find a cosy spot to enjoy refreshments. Here are the top cafes and restaurants Neal’s Yard has to offer.
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Neal’s Yard Remedies Covent Garden is well known in London and has a cult beauty following worldwide.
They specialise in beauty and skincare products, using only organic ingredients where possible.
If you’re not a fan of overly fragranced beauty products, then Neal’s Yard Remedies’ light scented products will be a treat for your senses.
Address | 15 Neal’s Yard, London, WC2H 9DP
Opening hours | Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00; Sunday: 11:00 – 18:00
Cheese lovers rejoice! The cheeses in Neal’s Yard Dairy are selected from the best creameries and farmers throughout Britain and Ireland. It’s one of the best Neal’s Yard shops to visit and offers a selection of cheeses for every occasion and taste buds.
Address | 17 Shorts Gardens, London WC2H 9AT, UK
Opening hours | Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00; closed on Sundays
St. John Bakery is located in a neighbourhood with several successful food enterprises near to lively Seven Dials.
Visitors can pick up Eccles cakes, doughnuts and sourdoughs from St. John Bakery Neal’s Yard, and Lancashire Cheese to accompany them from neighbour and long-time St. John’s friend Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Address | 3 Neal’s Yard, London
Opening hours | Monday to Saturday: 08:00 am – 18:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am – 17:00 pm
Casanova And Daughters
This Sicilian deli and wine bar serves up authentic Italian produce and some of the best antipasti you’ll find in London.
At the deli, you can even have your meal on the terrace and enjoy the view of the courtyard from above. In Neal’s Yard, food options are plentiful, but if you’re looking to enjoy a casual meal or drink in a relaxing atmosphere, be sure to check out Casanova and Daughters.
Address | 6 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP, UK
Opening hours | Tuesday to Thursday: 12:00 – 22:00; Friday to Saturday 12:00 – 23:00; closed on Sundays and Mondays
26 Grains is loved by Londoners for its posh porridges and avocado toast that are perfect on a chilly morning. It’s one of the best Neal’s Yard Covent Garden restaurants to visit for a flavourful experience.
The weekend specials are not to be missed either but get there early as the space is small and fills up fast. If you’re on the hunt for a new favourite brunch spot in Covent Garden that serves a mouth-watering menu, make your way to 26 Grains.
Address | 1 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9DP
Opening hours | Monday to Sunday: 9:00 – 16:00
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Neal’s Yards is a six minutes walk from Covent Garden station via Short’s Gardens off Neal Street. Neal’s Yard Covent Garden opening times are:
- Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 18:00
- Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00pm
Neal’s Yard Location: 15 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP
To really appreciate this vibrant area, it’s best to get there early to avoid other tourists and Londoners, as Neal’s Yard restaurants, shops, and outdoor spaces are small and get crowded quickly.
There are many reasons to visit Neal’s Yard in London, and I’d recommend this stop be added to every first-time London itinerary. Although, nothing is stopping you from going back on your 2nd, 3rd, and every visit after that.
Have you been to London’s Neal’s Yard? What did you think of it?