Designed by John Nash, the prolific Regency architect also responsible for buildings such as Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and The Brighton Pavillion, The Royal Opera Arcade was built on the west side of The Royal Opera House, now the site of Her Majesty's Theatre.
The Burlington Arcade was completed in 1819, a year after The Royal Opera Arcade, following Nash’s original concept. The Royal Opera Arcade was ahead of its time, dramatically increasing retail frontage and making best use of space it remains the forerunner of modern day shopping centres.
The Arcade consists of a covered walk some twelve feet wide, parallel with the Haymarket and extending between Pall Mall and Charles II Street. On its west side are eighteen (originally nineteen) small shops, each with a basement and a mezzanine room.
Pall Mall takes its name from the game ‘paille-maille’, a cross between croquet and golf, that was played here in the early-17th century. For over 150 years this dignified street has been at the heart of London’s clubland. Gentlemans' clubs evolved from the 17th century coffee houses as meeting places where men could find refuge from their womenfolk. However, most of the exclusive gentlemens’ clubs there today date from the 19th century.