Royal Opera House
In the heart of theatreland is the seat of both the Royal Ballet Company and the Royal Opera. The Royal Opera House (Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2; 020 7304 4000, www.royaloperahouse.org.uk; open: 10am-3.30pm (telesales till 8pm) Mon-Sat) is actually in its third incarnation after the first (built 1732) and second (built 1809) both burnt down. Backstage tours (often filled with obnoxious stage school kids; booking recommended) cover much of the 2.5-acre site and 10 floors, including the Grade I listed auditorium in splendid 24ct gilt and red velvet, the Fame-style dance studios that are maintained at 80°C so that dancers’ muscles stay warm, and the bewitching prop-making room. If your take on opera and ballet is more sedentary, be sure to snap up one of the 67 tickets made available each day for that evening’s performance, or take tea in the gorgeous Floral Hall, a Victorian crystal arcade where monthly tea dances and weekly jazz sessions are held.