Although the John, Paul, George and Ringo hailed from Liverpool, there are plenty of London landmarks for Beatles-lovers to get their fix. From recording studios to concert venues, shops to roof-top performances, London is filled with hot-spots for fans of the Fab Four. For those who are desperate to walk in the footsteps of their favourite fellows, here’s our self-guided tour to the Beatles’ London.
We recommend doing this tour during daylight hours, although it’s not necessary. Overall, it should take around half a day depending on how much time you’d like to spend and how you wish to travel. There will be at least one trip on the Underground, as well as potential bus journeys if you’d prefer not to walk between some of the locations that are spread out from one another.
START: Kings Cross Station
EXIT King’s Cross Station and follow signs for The British Library.
STOP 1 – The British Library [96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB]
When thinking of the Beatles, the British Library isn’t a naturally linked location! However, the British Library houses some exceptionally rare Beatles artefacts that are on display and that can be viewed. This includes six manuscripts penned by John Lennon including lyric sheets in his own hand for In My Life, Strawberry Fields Forever and She Said She Said. There is also a letter to Lennon’s friend, former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, and an original Beatles Fan Club membership card. Best of all, this collection is FREE to enjoy!
Next go BACK to King’s Cross Station and take the VICTORIA LINE going SOUTH. Alight at Victoria Station and follow the directions toward Buckingham Palace.
STOP 2 – Buckingham Palace – [Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA]
An unexpected stop on a Beatles tour of London is Buckingham Palace! It was here in June 1965 that Queen Elizabeth II appointed all four members of the Beatles Members of the Orders of the British Empire (MBEs). The Fab Four had been nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the ceremony took place inside the Palace, sparking a bit of controversy by those who felt that MBE recipients should be limited to civic leaders and military veterans. Many MBE recipients actually returned their insignia in protest!
Facing Buckingham Palace, take the road to the RIGHT known as Constitution Hill. Walk all the way to the top, which will take you to Hyde Park Corner. Just across the road on your RIGHT is the Hard Rock Café, London.
STOP 3 – Hard Rock Café – [150 Old Park Lane, London W1K 1QZ]
For Beatles fans a visit to the Hard Rock Café doesn’t necessarily need to involve any food or drink! Underneath the shop is a vault which contains musical memorabilia including John Lennon’s original handwritten lyrics for songs like ‘Imagine’ as well as a pair of his glasses. Also of note is the gold record which was gifted to the group when their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band reached $1million in the United States. Tours of the vault are available.
With your back to the Hard Rock Café, turn RIGHT back toward Hyde Park Corner. Once there, take a RIGHT onto Park Lane and walk up toward The Dorchester.
STOP 4 – The Dorchester – [45 Park Lane, London W1A 2HJ]
A well-known posh hotel on London’s luxury Park Lane, the Dorchester can be visited by members of the public who wish to come in for afternoon tea, or a drink at the bar. As for the Fab Four, it was here at the Dorchester that the Beatles celebrated the premieres of both A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Facing the Dorchester, follow the road that runs in front of it (Deanery Street) going RIGHT. Follow the road as it curves right, straightens, then curves left and turns into Hill Street. Hill Street dead ends at Berkeley Square Gardens. Go directly through the gardens onto Bruton Street. Continue straight until the street turns into Conduit Street. Here take a RIGHT onto Saville Row.
STOP 5 – Site of the Beatle’s Last Live Performance – [3 Savile Row, London W1S 2ER]
During their career, the Apple Record Headquarters were here and I the basement the second half of Let It Be was filmed.
Perhaps more famously, in January 1969, it was on top of this building where the Beatles gave their last ever live performance. The Fab Four performed their latest recordings from their Let It Be album on the rooftop of the building in until their impromptu concert was stopped by police. Lasting only 45 minutes, the final member of the band to speak before the police cleared them away was John Lennon who said, “I hope we passed the audition.”
Continue DOWN Saville Row until it dead-ends on Vigo Street. Turn LEFT then make a RIGHT onto Sackville Street. When you get to Piccadilly, turn RIGHT and cross the street to Fortnum & Mason. Facing the store, turn RIGHT and take the first LEFT. Mason’s Yard will be down on your LEFT.
STOP 6 – 9 Mason’s Yard, The Art Gallery Where John Lennon met Yoko Ono – [6 Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y 6BU]
Formerly the site of the Indica Gallery, 6 Mason’s Yard was the location of an exhibition that began on the 9th of November in 1966 by Yoko Ono. John Lennon had been told that the exhibition was worth visiting and when he arrived to this location, he met his future wife! John was reportedly, “expecting an orgy, you know…” but arrived instead to find a quiet room where Yoko was drifting around, rearranging objects as part of her art piece. One of the pieces was a wooden board with a hammer and nails nearby – John asked if he could hammer in one of the nails and was told no by Yoko herself. The gallery manager, panicked that Ono may have offended John, convinced her to allow him to do it. According to Lennon himself, Yoko said he could do it if he paid five shillings. His response? “Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.”
John stated that this was the moment he and Yoko really “met,” changing the course of both their lives’ forever.
From Mason’s Yard, walk BACK up to Piccadilly and turn RIGHT. Walk to Piccadilly Circus and continue going straight onto Coventry Street. Your next stop is on the RIGHT.
STOP 7 – The Prince of Wales Theatre – [Coventry Street, London W1D 6AS]
At the 1963 Royal Variety Show – with both Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in the audience – the Beatles performed a number of their recent hits. But, more famous than the concert, was the introduction of their final number (Twist and Shout by John Lennon who took to the stage and announced, “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. For the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery.” After giving a cheeky grin and a thumbs up sign, cameras swiftly moved to the Queen Mother who, on her feet, was seen laughing and waving – highlighting the Beatle’s ability to transcend politics, finance, and international barriers in their rise to the top of musical history.
With your back to the Theatre, go back on yourself LEFT onto Coventry Street. At Piccadilly Circus, look to the RIGHT for your next destination.
STOP 8 – The London Pavillion – [1 Piccadilly Circus, London W1J 0DA]
Today an entertainment venue, the London Pavilion saw the premieres of four of five Beatles films: A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, and Let it Be.
Behind the Pavillion runs Shaftesbury Avenue. At the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, turn RIGHT and head up the Avenue. Walk until you get to Wardour Street then make a LEFT. Then make a RIGHT onto Old Compton Street.
STOP 9 – Dougie Millings & Son – [63 Old Compton Street, London W1D 6HT]
Millings & Son, master tailors, no longer operates but were once know the world over as “The Beatles’ Tailor.” It was at this shop here in Old Compton street that John Lennon asked the tailor for “something different.” This something different turned out to be the distinctive collarless suits the Beatles became known for. The link between the tailor at the Fab Four was so strong that crowds would often gather outside, hoping to a get a glimpse of the Beatles coming in to collect their clothes. It is possible to spot Dougie Millings in A Hard Day’s Night where he has a small part, appropriately, as a frustrated tailor!
Continue walking down Old Compton Street and turn LEFT onto Frith Street.
STOP 10 – Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
[47 Frith Street, London W1D 4HT]
A legend on the London music scene, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club sits in the heart of Soho. The Beatles not only performed here but Ronnie Scott himself plays the saxophone on the album version of Lady Madonna.
Continue UP Frith Street until you get to Soho Square. Take the slight turn to the LEFT and continue along, passing Carlisle Street on the LEFT. Number 1 will be on your LEFT shortly after this.
STOP 11 – MPL Communications – [1 Soho Square, London W1D 6BQ]
MPL Communications is the name of Paul McCartney’s music publishing company. Their headquarters are here at Number 1 Soho Square. Founded in 1970 by McCartney himself, MPL Communications not only manages work by Paul but also owns copyrights for dozens of artists, including huge names like Buddy Holly.
Facing the building, go to the LEFT then take the first RIGHT onto Carlisle Street. Turn LEFT onto Dean Street and walk down until you see St. Anne’s Court on your RIGHT. Head down there.
STOP 12 – Former Blue Gardenia Club and Recording Studios
Number 20 – Blue Gardenia
Tucked away in a small Soho alley is the location of the former Blue Gardenia Club. Although no longer standing, this is where the Beatles held their first ever London performance. The concert was impromptu (Their van driver that evening knew the club would still be open late into the night and might have an empty stage that needed filling) and not all four Beatles were present – George Harrison was at home with the flu! Although this performance was the first in London for the Fab Four, they earned absolutely no money that evening since in December of 1961 they were still completely unknown.
Number 17 – Trident Recording Studios
In this unassuming building sits recording studios where numerous hits were officially put onto record. The Beatles recoded various songs here including Hey Jude, Martha My Dear, Dear Prudence, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle, I Want You (She’s so Heavy). Separately, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney all recorded music here in their respective solo careers.
Exit St. Anne’s Court onto Wardour Street and turn LEFT. Take your first RIGHT onto Broadwick Street. Take the slight curve left and stay on Broadwick until it dead ends onto Carnaby Street. Ahead of you is a small pathway between shops into Kingley Court. Walk straight ahead through the courtyard and out the next alleyway to your next destination on Kingley Street.
STOP 13 – Bag O’Nails – [9 Kingley Street, London W1B 5PH]
Here at Number 9 Kingly Street is a private member’s club known as The Bag O’Nails. Opened originally in 1965, this was a hot-spot for musicians to meet and play until the club closed it’s doors to the public in 1968. Paul McCartney was a frequent visitor of The Bag O’Nails (he actually had his own private table!) and on the 15th of May in 1967 it was here that he met his future wife, Linda.
Turn LEFT onto Kingley Street until it dead-ends on Great Marlborough Street. Turn RIGHT then make an immediate LEFT onto Argyll Street.
STOP 14 – The London Palladium Theatre and NEMS Offices – [Argyll Street, London W1F 7TF]
Standing for North End Music Stores, the NEMS organisation was run by Brian Epstein – sometimes referred to as the “fifth Beatle.” Epstein was the Beatles’ manager and his headquarters at the building here (Sutherland House) is where all of the behind-the-scenes work going into the success of the Beatles took place. Notably, it was at this location that John Lennon, in an interview with the Evening Standard in 1966, commented that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.”
Just a few doors down…
In 1963, the Beatles gave a concert here that coined the term “Beatlemania.” The theatre was swamped by thousands of fans and it’s estimated that 15 million people tuned in to watch the performance, which showcased From Me to You, I’ll Get You, She Loves You, and Twist and Shout. The crowds quickly swarmed to the back stage door of the theatre, hoping to see the group as they left but the Beatles were one step ahead…and left through the front!
Facing the theatre, turn to the LEFT and walk until you reach Oxford Street. Turn LEFT then make the first RIGHT onto Upper Regent Street. Turn LEFT onto Wigmore Street. Walk a ways and then make a RIGHT onto Duke Street which dead ends at Manchester Square. Follow the road around to the LEFT for your next stop.
STOP 15 – Former EMI Headquarters – [20 Manchester Square, London W1U]
From 1960 – 1995 20 Manchester Square was the address of EMI, a multinational music recording and publishing company. This was the company that introduced the Beatles on an international level and also provided promotional materials of the group. The stairwell which is featured on the cover of the Please Please Me album was located inside this building and photographs of the group taken inside the offices here were used in The Red Album and The Blue Album. Inside the building the Beatles received several awards from EMI owing to their record breaking sales which means the doorways here have seen the footsteps of the Beatles dozens of times.
Facing Number 20, turn LEFT and walk up Manchester Street. Continue walking up until the street curves RIGHT and turns into Dorset Street. Continue on until Dorset Street turns into Montagu Place [Small side note here: 34 Montagu Square was owned by Ringo Starr and John and Yoko lived in the basement flat.]. Continue going and make a RIGHT onto Seymour Place. Keep waking up – crossing the huge Marylebone Road – and head straight onto Lisson Grove. Then turn RIGHT onto Harewood Row and walk until you get to the rail station.
STOP 16 – Marylebone Station – Where the Beatles First Arrived in London…A Filming Location for A Hard Day’s Night – [Marylebone Rail Station, Great Central House, Melcombe Place, London NW1 6JJ]
True fans of the Fab Four will recognise Marylebone Train Station as the setting for the opening scenes of A Hard Day’s Night. If you want to truly walk in the footsteps of John, George and Ringo, head to nearby Boston Place (running along the right side of the Station), the road the three are running down at the beginning of the film.
Facing the station, you can go RIGHT which will take you over Gloucester Place and then straight to Baker Street. Turn LEFT for your next stop.
STOP 17 – The Beatles Store – [231 – 233 Baker Street, London NW1 6XE]
The absolute top-notch Beatles memorabilia store in London. From regular trinkets like keychains, shot glasses and clothing to serious collectors items like rare records and out-of-print magazines – this shop has it all!
Next you have a choice… Go back on yourself down to Baker Street Station. Take the Jubilee Line to St. John’s Wood. Or go back on yourself and turn RIGHT onto Melcombe Street back onto Gloucester Place near Dorset Square. From here you can pick up a bus – Either the 13, 82, or 113 to St. John’s Wood.
STOP 18 – Beatles Coffee Shop – [St. John’s Wood Station, Finchley, London NW8 6EB]
Located at St. John’s Wood Underground Station is the Beatles Coffee shop, a great place to grab a drink or a small bite to eat. The shop also boasts a variety of Beatles merchandise to pick up and bring back home for your fab-four-loving-friends.
With your back to the coffee shop, head STRAIGHT, across the main road and onto Grove End Road. Walk down until you get to Abbey Road, then turn RIGHT.
STOP 19 – Abbey Road Studios and Crossing – [3 Abbey Road, London NW8 9AY]
Located at 3 Abbey Road is Abbey Road Studios, a recording venue that has seen some of the biggest names in music come through the doors. Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard, Kylie Minogue and – of course – the Beatles all recorded here. During the time of The Beatles, the Studios here were owned by EMI and is today a property of Universal Music. The Beatles didn’t just record their Abbey Road album here, but nearly all of their albums and singles dating from 1962 to 1970 here.
The building itself is still used for recordings but it is also a protected building, holding English Heritage Grade II Listed status which means the building will now always be preserved from major alterations and changed in recognition of its’ musical historical impact.
FINISH: Abbey Road Crossing
Here your tour comes to an end. You can return to St. John’s Wood Station to take the Underground, or you can pick up the 139 and 189 buses here to take you back to Oxford Street, Aldwych and Waterloo.