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West is best. So say us as previous residents of Shepherd’s Bush, who spent many a day shopping, supping or strolling the streets of She Bu (or ‘chez boo’ as most locals don’t call it).
In days gone by, it could be said Shepherd’s Bush was primarily known as the home to the BBC TV centre, the much missed Walkabout pub (now sadly gone) and Goldhawk Road.
Now largely thanks to Westfield White City shopping centre, the rebirth of Television Centre as a social hub and nearby White City, Shepherds Bush is a thriving West London hot spot.
Having lived in Shepherd’s Bush (mainly on Goldhawk Road) and Brook Green for around four years, we look back on our time in Shepherd’s Bush very affectionately.
From live music and theatre performances to food and drink, here is our guide to the best things to do in Shepherd’s Bush, west London:
Things to do in Shepherd’s Bush
1. Shepherd’s Bush Market
One of London’s most historic street markets (over 100 years old), a walk through Shepherd’s Bush Market with all its stalls, traders and food kiosk is like stepping into an episode of Eastenders or Only Fools and Horses (and weirdly, it also featured in the London set episodes of ‘24’ with Kiefer Sutherland).
There are all manner of market traders at Shepherd’s Bush Market from children’s toys and fine fabrics to fresh fish and food stalls, plus about five or so falafel stalls – but none as good as Mr Falafel (more on this later).
It is nice to see some attempts at change here, particularly with the appealing new Italian coffee shop opening towards the Uxbridge Road end but is fair to say that Shepherds Bush market has seen better days (and it is fair to say Westfield hasn’t helped).
We hope the new owners of Shepherd’s Bush Market try to breathe some new life into one of London’s most loved street markets; encouraging a whole new generation of market traders and visitors – this’d be just the shot in the arm Shepherd’s Bush Market needs, now more than ever.
2. Westfield Shepherd’s Bush
Love or loathe retail therapy, there is no denying that the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush (the largest shopping centre in Europe) is a mecca for shopping and definitely one of the main catalysts for the transformation and gentrification that is underway in Shepherd’s Bush.
So much so that a 5* hotel, The Dorsett has now popped up on Shepherd’s Bush green, mainly to cater for domestic and international guests who have come to London.
All the usual chains can be found at Westfield White City mall, plus a luxury shopping village area for the likes of Gucci and Armani.
The food options here are also ample with a dedicated food court plus several bars and restaurants lining the outside perimeter.
Make a day of buying here if that is your (shopping) bag or just duck in to escape the rain or inclement weather. It can get mega busy at West London Westfield so if you want to avoid crowds, best to go early or late to avoid the peak retail rush.
2023 update – Sephora will be returning to Westfield White City this year!
You can visit London’s other Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London.
3. Shepherd’s Bush pubs and bars
There are so many good drinking places in Shepherd’s Bush that we used to feel spoiled for choice.
From regular live music at the Sindercombe Social to cosy lounge lagers at the Defectors Weld, we used to enjoy our Shepherd’s Bush sessions and had many ‘happy hours’ here.
So much so, that we wrote a dedicated guide to all our old hangouts – so here are the best pubs and bars in Shepherd’s Bush>
4. Television Centre / White City
Once home to the former BBC TV Centre where our childhood days were full of Saturday morning kids shows broadcast from here like Going Live or Live & Kicking (if you have to ask, you weren’t there).
This area of West London on the borders of Shepherd’s Bush and White City is fast becoming one of London’s property hotspots (if only we’d bought a flat here a few years ago).
Television Centre is still a TV studio so you can see some ‘Loose Women’ in Shepherd’s Bush (not a sentence we’ve ever written before!).
Recently, ITV have shifted a lot of their daytime TV programmes here whilst their South Bank studio is being refurbished – think This Morning, GMB, Lorraine (if you are reading this from outside the UK, these are all famous daytime TV shows).
You can even see them broadcasting from the courtyard outside in summer months.
We’ve also been to several BBC TV recordings here in recent years including The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You.
You can apply for free tickets in advance to TV recordings in Shepherd’s Bush – to find out more, visit our best free things to do in London guide >
Television Centre is also home to several bars and restaurants plus a swanky White City House private members club (it isn’t what you know but who you know)…
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5. Goldhawk Road
Primarily known as a place for fabrics and materials (one of the best things to SEW in Shepherd’s Bush!), there is so much more to explore along Goldhawk Road.
We lived towards the far end of Goldhawk Road for two years and always enjoyed either eating local in one of the numerous restaurants or side street pubs.
Alas, the famous Cookes pie and mash shop has now closed down (it has become some form of arts space), but new restaurants have moved in such as Hoja Taiwanese (very good) and Cho Sim Korean.
Head a little further along and you’ll come across Goldhawk Road Social Club, a live entertainment venue where many legends got their first break. There is even a blue plaque of sorts on the wall dedicated to when The Who performed there in their early days.
6. Mr Falafel, Shepherd’s Bush Market
Whilst in or near Shepherd’s Bush Market, make sure you find time to visit Mr Falafel, a Shepherd’s Bush institution and home to possibly the best falafel in London (we’ve ate loads of falafel wraps in our time and we still yearn for this one and head back every time we visit).
Located in a small stall (just enough seating room for several tables) and right across from Shepherd’s Bush Market tube station, Mr Falafel does legendary falafel wraps.
Order at the counter, grab a seat, eat and then pay at the end. Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, bling up for your wrap with aubergine for a delicious lunch (we’re getting hungry just thinking about it…).
7. Ichiba Japan Centre at Westfield London
As previous travellers to Japan and fans of Japanese cuisine, we enjoy our visits to the Japan Centre at Westfield.
Whilst not the cheapest for say ingredients and sweet treats compared to other Asian supermarkets (particularly when say compared to similar shops on Uxbridge Road), the Japan Centre is all about the experience and one of the best Japanese supermarkets in London.
Grab some takoyaki from the hot food centre, sink a pint of Asahi (happy hour prices sometimes apply) and then pick some ingredients and food stuffs to cook at home (or grab some takeaway sushi if you are feeling lazy). Joyful Japanese goodness in Shepherd’s Bush.
8. KidZania Shepherds Bush
Family fun comes to West London with this indoor city centre created and curated especially for children at Westfield White City in Shepherd’s Bush.
From flying an airplane to TV broadcasting, there are lots of awesome activities and ‘jobs’ that children can undertake and earn kidZos (a unique currency) that they buy rewards with in store.
Obviously this much fun comes at a cost (walk-up costs start from £38 per child and £18 for 4 hours!!!!) but it ain’t cheap to create a city for children so this could be a treat for tots to teens (ages 4 to 14 recommended).
Book your KidZania ticket online with Klook >
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9. Shepherd’s Bush Theatre
Named as the Theatre of the Year at this year’s Stage Awards (2023), Shepherd’s Bush Theatre is renowned for its groundbreaking productions, often focusing on new works and playwrights (many of which often to transfer to the West End).
In 2022, The Bush Theatre put on 10 self produced plays (a record year for Bush Theatre) and happily, The Bush Theatre also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year (2023).
If you don’t fancy (or have time) to see a play, the Bush Theatre also has a rather nice theatre bar open during the day with a big outdoor terrace.
10. Bush Hall
A live music and event venue particularly popular for performing arts and stand-up comedy gigs, Bush Hall is one of the most beautiful and intimate venues in the whole of London.
We’d often go to the Bush Hall cafe for brunch but on our most recent visit, it now looks to have become more of a record store with some tables for drinks (which is cool).
11. W12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush
OK, so whilst it not be as glitz and glam as nearby Westfield London, W12 has its certain charms and is much better if you want to do a quick in and out shop, or grab some cheap eats (or drinks) at either the Wetherspoons pub in there (with views of Shepherd’s Bush Green) or Island Buffet.
Budget stores galore abound in W12 Shopping Centre including Lidl, Poundland and Savers and there have been many attempts at pop-ups there.
A large new Sainsburys superstore is also planned to open in the W12 shopping centre in 2023, in the vacant Argos site overlooking Shepherd’s Bush Green.
12. O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Formerly the Empire theatre and also once a BBC TV theatre (where Terry Wogan used to present his nightly chat show), the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire is now one of London’s most legendary music venues and one of the best things to do in Shepherd’s Bush at night.
The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire has hosted concerts by world famous artists like Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, although normally, the beauty of this venue is that you get to see both well known and also up and coming bands.
In the past, we’ve seen bands here like Muse, Phantogram and Cold War Kids. The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire is such a good venue, given the theatre style architecture and acoustics.
13. Shikumen Dim Sum Restaurant
Housed inside the Dorsett hotel in Shepherd’s Bush, this beautiful restaurant with a Shanghai-style interior serves classic Chinese cuisine and creative cocktails.
The dim sum here is incredible with a range of reasonably priced steamed, baked, and fried dishes, plus highly recommended Peking duck.
14. The Hawk’s Nest
One of the newest things to do in Shepherd’s Bush is this hidden garden style al fresco restaurant and bar located in Shepherd’s Bush Market.
The bar is covered and heated so suitable to visit all year round, and specialises in wood fired sourdough pizzas and creative cocktails.
Exciting renovations are coming to The Hawk’s Nest in 2023. A fully retractable roof is being installed over the entire outdoor space which will mean more events and alfresco live music.
Weekly events at the Hawk’s Nest in Shepherd’s Bush include a weekly pub quiz on Tuesdays and live DJs every Friday and Saturday.
15. Askew Road
An awesome enclave of bakeries, cafes and independent beer and wine shops, Askew Road has a village feel and is a Saturday / Sunday morning hot-spot when sunny, with numerous outdoor terraces (plus one of London’s best beer gardens at The Eagle pub).
16. Uxbridge Road
A hotch-potch hubris of shops, bars and incredible ethnic restaurants, whilst Uxbridge Road still is quite noisy and chaotic and a traffic rat-run, it is still a nice walk to check out the produce shops and supermarkets or watch life go by from the numerous cafes and hookah bars.
17. Sherlock: The Official Live Game
Unlike most Sherlock Holmes immersive London experiences, this Shepherd’s Bush escape room is actually an official set-up, licensed by the makers of the latest BBC TV reincarnation.
This means it features genuine and exclusive new clips of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson – now that is worth detecting!
Play London’s leading detective Sherlock Holmes as you journey through locations and recreations from the BBC TV show including 221B Baker Street (although we can’t guarantee Mrs Hudson will have cleaned up beforehand…)
Help to catch the killer through sets from the show – can you crack the case as easily as Sherlock, in the heart of Shepherd’s Bush?
After your detective work, reward yourself afterwards with a drink or two in the Sherlock Mind Palace speakeasy bar – you can sneakily enter this cocktail bar through the hidden entrance of Doyle’s Opticians.
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18. Brook Green
Shhh. We’ll say it quietly but we think Brook Green is one of London’s hidden gems and one of our favourite spots to go for a pint or morning fry-up (we lived in Lena Gardens for a couple of years). Brook Green is just a short 10 minute walk from Shepherd’s Bush Green.
Based around the gorgeous green itself, there are some really nice pubs in Brook Green (the Queen’s Head and Brook Green Hotel in particular) plus it is a prime picnic spot as you can get takeaway food from the nearby cafes or fish and chippy (Bears ice-cream now run the kiosk on Brook Green).
19. The Upside Down House, Shepherd’s Bush
If you are leaving Westfield White City one day and stumble across an upside down house, don’t worry (unless you’ve been to the pub for a long session)… the upside house is meant to be inverted.
Already popular in Asia and with another one on Brighton seafront, this is London’s very first upside down house, located very near to Wood Lane Tube.
With interior furnishings by John Lewis & Partners (how West London!), this is a unique photo opportunity spot and a fun thing to do in Shepherds Bush. Prices start from £5 per person as at February 2023.
20. All Star Lanes, Shepherd’s Bush
Strike out in Shepherd’s Bush. Westfield White City is home to All Star Lanes Bowling, an American style bowlerama and diner – and what is better than ten pin bowling? Bowling followed by karaoke!
Prices start from as a little as £5 a bowling game (Sunday evening walk-ins) as at February 2023.
There are special All Star Bowling offers in the week, like Groundhog Mondays (2 games of bowling for £10). Or Groundhog Mondays (2 games for … sorry, hat was our little Groundhog Day joke).
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21. Stay at the Hoxton Hotel
Shepherd’s Bush has been through a LOT of changes through the years but no more so than Shepherd’s Bush Green.
A few years ago, the Dorsett Hotel opened in Shepherd’s Bush mainly to accommodate overseas visitors going to Westfield. Now, Shepherd Bush’s swishest new hotel is The Hoxton, which opened in late December 2022.
The brand’s fourth luxury hotel in London, Hoxton Hotel Shepherd’s Bush has over 230 retro, rooms, a Thai American diner restaurant with a lobby looking directly over Shepherd’s Bush Green.
Check rates and availability at The Hoxton Hotel >
The last thing to do in Shepherd’s Bush, London…
22. The Ministry of Sound – coming to Shepherd’s Bush in 2024
Legendary London nightclub the Ministry of Sound will soon be taking over the old House of Fraser store at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush.
Plans include a massive new gym for fitness raves, a member’s bar plus rooftop bar and restaurant with co-working spaces also available – the MInistry of Sound gym is set to be the ‘hottest’ new opening (literally) in Shepherd’s Bush in 2024.
The original Ministry of Sound, an iconic Londom night club, can still be found in Elephant and Castle, South London.
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