Piccadilly, London

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Piccadilly, SW1

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    Piccadilly Circus

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 15, 2004

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    Piccadilly Circus is one of those famous London landmarks that you always see pictures of.

    It is at the junction of 5 busy roads and is lit by large electric advertisements at night.

    The statue of Eros is at the heart of the junction. Eros was the pagan god of love, and the statue rises above a bronze fountain.

    I just read that Piccadilly takes it name from a 17th century frilly collar called a 'piccadil'. Apparently a dressmaker grew very rich making them and then built a house near Piccadilly Circus.

    Piccadilly Circus is always bustling and crowded - keep and eye on your valuables!

    famous signs Picadilly Circus early evening early evening
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    At the heart of the West End

    by toonsarah Written May 10, 2008

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    I doubt there is any London tourist who doesn’t pass this spot at least once during their visit. For locals too, it is one of the most popular meeting places in the West End, as everyone knows it and transport links are so good.

    At the centre of the “circus” is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, with the statue of an archer which everyone calls known as Eros, or the Angel of Christian Charity, but which should more properly be known as Anteros, the twin brother of Eros and the God of Selfless Love. Following some re-routing a few years ago of the various roads that meet here, the paved area surrounding the fountain can be reached without risking life and limb crossing the busy traffic, so the base of the fountain has become an even more popular meeting and resting place.

    Piccadilly Circus is particularly lively at night, when the neon lights shine out in a blaze of colour. Incidentally, this is no modern phenomenon - the first electric advertisements appeared here in 1910. I took the following information (abbreviated) about the neon signs from Wikipedia, as it was new and fascinating reading for me, a Londoner from birth!

    Piccadilly Circus used to be surrounded by illuminated advertising hoardings on buildings, starting in the early 1900s, but only one building now carries them, namely the one in the north-western corner. The earliest signs used incandescent light bulbs, these were replaced with neon lamps, as well as moving signs (there was a large Guinness clock at one time). From December 1998 digital projectors were briefly used for the Coke sign, while the early 2000s have seen a gradual move to LED displays. The number of signs has reduced over the years as the rental costs have increased. As of 2008, the site has six illuminated advertising screens above three large retail units, facing Piccadilly Circus on the north side.

    Piccadilly Circus at night Piccadilly Circus by day

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    Piccadilly Circus and the Eros statue!

    by Regina1965 Updated Dec 13, 2012

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    Piccadilly Circus in West-End is the very heart of the center of London. I love sitting there and watching the myriad of people walking by. When staying in London I used to stay at Regent Palace Hotel which is right by Piccadilly Circus, but it has unfortunately been closed due to them finding asbestos while repairing the hotel. What a shame, even though the hotel was a bit run down then you could get the best value and location for money while staying there.

    The giant ads with amazing neon Coke ads and more is the "trade-mark" of Piccadilly Circus. Piccadilly Circus is amongst the most famous meeting places in the world. And I believe that almost every tourist has his photo taken here.

    Piccadilly Circus was created in 1819 to link Regent Street and Piccadilly. Connected to Piccadilly Circus is the famous Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue with all its teatres. Coventry Street connects Piccadilly Circus with the famous Leicesters Square and its cinemas. It also connects to Glasshouse Street where the closed down Regent Palace hotel is situated.

    There is a statue of Eros on the fountain on Piccadilly Circus. It is said that if you kiss by the statue your love will last forever. Strangely enough the statue is made of aluminium. The statue was meant to represent the Angel of Christian Charity, but it didn´t look like an angel (I would say that it is too masculine and sexy looking for that) - obviously more people thought the same so he was dubbed Eros ;)

    The statue was made by Alfred Gilbert and is a memorial to Lord Shaftesbury, after which Shaftesbury avenue is named. He also made the very beautiful memorial to Queen Alexandria next to St. James´s Palace (I am going to add a tip on that later on).

    An absolutely faboulous part of London and I always look forward to going there.

    Piccadilly Circus in 2006. Piccadilly Circus in 2010. In 2012. Piccadilly Circus in 2012. The Coca Cola ad - it changes every year.

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    Piccadilly Circus

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jul 6, 2007

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    Visiting London without stopping at Piccadilly Circus is like going to New York City and not seeing Times Square - it just is not done! This old photo from 1979 shows that it was a happening place then, especially in the middle of a summer day. Those famous old neon signs have now been replaced by different ones using LED technology, but you still get the idea!

    Piccadilly Circus is actually a major meeting point of various streets in England and, in fact, a 'circus' is a circular open space where streets come together. This one was built in 1819 and its name originates from this old area of London where men's collars called 'piccadills' were sold in the mid-1600s. The Circus is also famous for the nude winged 'Eros' statue to Lord Shaftsbury that was installed here in 1892-93, something very risque in Queen Victoria's time!

    These signs are long gone!
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    Ancient / Modern Together: Piccadilly & Eros

    by deecat Updated May 11, 2005

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    Piccadilly Circus is like no other area in London. With its giant electric-neon signs along the complete circle of Regent Street, and its famous fountain called Eros, it marks the beginning of London's entertainment district.

    At one time, it was upscale with its colorful cafes, theatres, shops, & flower sellers. The southern edge is still somewhat that way; however, the rest has steadily slipped to "down scale".

    The name comes from an early 17th Century tailor named Robert Blake who designed a stiff collar called "a picadil" that became the "height of fashion". After making his fortune, Blake built a huge house just north of what is now Piccadilly Circus. People who were jealous of his success called it "Piccadilly House". Soon, the area was known as Piccadilly.

    A great London oddity is the statue in the middle of Piccadilly Circus called Eros. The Seventh Earl of Shaftresbury was a kind man who helped many people, & when he died, the public donated money toward a memorial statue. It was suppose to be a statue of the Christian Spirit of Charity with a large fountain at its base.

    However, it turned out to be the mythological God of Love, Eros, who was placed in a base so small that the water splashed anyone who passed by!

    During the 1920s, while Piccadilly tube station was excavated & built, Eros was moved to Embankment Gardens. During WWII, Eros was taken to Egham & Surry. Unfortunately, Eros spent the years after the War lying on a mattress in a small room in County Hall. Finally, Eros was replaced to the midddle of Piccadilly Circus but facing the wrong way.

    Night view of Eros in Piccadilly Circus Circle
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    Piccadilly Circus

    by smschley Updated Mar 15, 2005

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    The best part about Piccadilly Circus is that it’s not really a circus with animals and there are no mimes there. Piccadilly takes it name from a 17th century frilly collar called a picadil. A dressmaker grew rich making them and built a house in the vicinity. Circus is another name for an arena or square.

    For many years, Piccadilly Circus has been a famous London Landmark. It’s a busy plaza in the heart of London at the junction of five major streets: Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly and Covent Street. It was created by John Nash as part of King George IV's plan to connect Carlton House with Regent's Park. At the center of the area is the statue of Eros which was unveiled in 1893. It was intended by the sculptor, Sir Albert Gilbert, to be the Angel of Christian Charity, but Eros has persisted as the name. This famous statue is one of the great symbols of London. The actual figure rises above a fountain, which is made in bronze, but Eros is made out of aluminum, at that time a rare and novel material.

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    Piccadilly Circus and the Neon Signs

    by easyoar Written Nov 14, 2004

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    Piccadilly Circus is the home of Eros (see separate tip), but it is also the home of some very loud neon signs advertising all sorts of things from Coke, to beer and electrical goods. Although these signs are very bright and are highly visible in the daytime, they are better viewed at night. A lot of the signs are moving neon, so you may need a very slow exposure on your camera to capture all of the detail in the sign.

    This isn't one of my favourite places in London, but it does seem very popular with foreign tourists.

    Piccadilly Circus in the Heart of London
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    Now only a circus because of the people!

    by Marpessa Updated Jan 11, 2006

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    Okay, so technically it's just a roundabout (or was a roundabout), but it's still cool, it is an icon, a landmark. The statue of Eros was smaller than I thought, but it definitely drew people in, can you feel the love? :)

    Piccadilly is in the middle of a great shopping area, and you are not too far away from Carnaby Street or Oxford Street either.

    Statue of Eros (2005) Piccadilly Circus (2005) The famous signs at the circus (2007) Close up of the Statue of Eros (2007) Close up of the base of the monument (2007)
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  • London Trocadero

    by CoAir13 Written Apr 22, 2004

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    After a long day of walking and sightseeing, I promised Ethan some time for kids stuff. This complex houses restaurants, shops, cinemas and bars. It also has "Funland" - a bowling alley, pool hall, simulator rides, and video games. Not the greatest fun for me, but worth it to keep him happy!

    Picadilly Circus
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    Meeting place for people from around the world

    by csordila Updated May 12, 2009

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    An important part of the London-mood is Piccadilly Circus with its huge video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side.
    People often try to compare to New York’s Times Square, but it is not quite correct, it is something else. What can I say, it is almost magical the first time you visit Picadilly Circus. You hear so much about it, yet not really knowing why !
    This huge trafic intersection where five major roads converge is the hub of London's West End in the City of Westminster.
    On the southern side you can see the famous Criterion Theater, which has been in operation since 1874, while in the north-eastern side the old London Pavilion used as shopping center can be found.
    The Shaftesbury memorial fountain with the statue of the popular archer Eros is one of the top places in London, just hanging and watching the people, the red painted double deckers and the big black cabs go by.
    The everywhere usual local superstition you may face here too, which says, within 15 minutes, you meet with somebody you know.

    Warning: In gay slang, Piccadilly Circus is also called "pick-a-willy" because it is a popular location for finding gay prostitutes.

    .....just hanging and watching people.... Piccadilly Circus tube Criterion Theater Theater entrance Horses of Helios
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  • kris-t's Profile Photo

    Piccadilly Street

    by kris-t Updated Feb 9, 2006

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    The names of the streets and districts are often connected with the history of the city and the country. But very often the names of the streets are so old and so changed that only few people know how this or that street got its name.
    Piccadilly. - It is a fine street which has seen much history over the centuries. For generations Piccadilly has been the heart of London. Nowardays it is such a focal point that on special occasions, such as a Coronation or on New Year's Eve, as many as 50,000 people gather there. Actually it immortalised a man who is now forgotten. The man was a tailor who grew rich by making high collars called "piccadillies". He built a grand house which he called Piccadilla Hall, and the name, slightly changed, has lived on.

    Piccadilly Street
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    Piccadilly Circus

    by kris-t Updated Feb 12, 2011

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    The centre-point of the West End of London, Piccadilly Circus features prominently on any tourist guide of England's capital.
    It should be noted that 'circus' in this case has nothing to do with animals and shows. What you'll find at Piccadilly Circus is a traffic intersection, albeit one surrounded by colourful, flashing neon advertising signs and featuring an aluminium statue officially called the Shaftesbury monument (though often incorrectly referred to simply as 'the Eros statue' due to the figure's resemblance to Eros, the Greek god of sexual love).

    The Eros statue Piccadilly Circus Piccadilly Circus The Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus
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    Piccadilly Circus

    by gugi66 Written Dec 23, 2008

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    Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly.

    It was a special feeling to come to Piccadilly Circus, to see the famous Neon signs and the busy road junction and all the people.

    Wow.

    Piccadilly Circus by night Piccadilly Circus by night Piccadilly Circus by night Piccadilly Circus by night Piccadilly Circus by day
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    The Horses of Helios

    by ginte Updated Oct 23, 2006

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    The lovely statue situated in Piccadilly Circus is "The Horses of Helios".

    As the story tells, Helios was the Greek god of the sun. Each day he drove his golden chariot across the sky, east to west. At night, he would rest before crossing the sky the next day. His chariot was made of gold and pulled by 4 golden horses: Pyrois, Eos, Aethon, and Phleyon.

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    Eros - The God of Love

    by easyoar Written Nov 14, 2004

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    Eros is the Greek God of Love. He looks a little bland during daylight, but really comes alive at night when he is illuminated. The legend of Eros is that he fires an arrow representing love into his "victim" who then is smitten by his intended lover. Curiously Eros has a bow, but he does not have an arrow. I believe this is more to do with the fact that someone has nicked the arrow rather than an error in design.

    Originally this statue was supposed to be a Christian angel, not sure quite how it changed. Eros is a popular meeting point for people, and it is normal to see someone sitting on the steps underneath him reading a book or just sitting there waiting.

    Eros - The Greek God of Love
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