The phrase ‘restricted view’ is a major red flag for many theatregoers when booking West End theatre tickets. Without any supplementary information about the extent of the restriction or how much of the show will be affected by the restriction, most people are left imagining the worst and avoiding these seats altogether.
The average price of a theatre ticket has risen by 21% since before the pandemic to an eye-watering £140 for a musical and £114 for a play, according to the latest research by industry newspaper The Stage. With additional costs of travel (£7.70 per day), accommodation (£130 average per room per night) and food (£59pp) for many people coming to London to see a show, the total cost of a family theatre trip can easily exceed £500 – pricing out some theatregoers out entirely.
Therefore finding the best seat, whatever your budget has never been more important. You don’t need to pay top price to enjoy a 5 star view and experience in the West End. There are over 5,900 restricted view seats throughout London’s West End theatres with more than 9,200 photos and reviews on SeatPlan. We’ve analysed all of them to highlight the very best to help you save money on your next theatre visit.
See Hamilton without the premium price tag
Best restricted view seat: Stalls, G41 from £70 to £90
Looking to get a great view inside the room where it happens without paying the premium price tag that is attached to most of the stall’s seats for Hamilton? All the end aisle seats are sold at a reduced price due to a restricted view, however many of these seats are consistently rated 5 stars by SeatPlan users.
From these seats you won’t be able to see the characters when they stand on the part of the balcony on the same side that you’re sat. However, as Hamilton is primarily performed at the centre of the stage, you won’t miss any key plot points or songs.
Cheapest: The Slip seats (seat 5) in the Royal Circle and the Grand Circle (A22) are amongst the cheapest in the auditorium and some compromise on comfort and legroom will be necessary. However, the view is brilliant for the price, with a similar restriction to those in the side Stalls.
5* view for The Lion King for less than £55
Best restricted view seat: Grand Circle, A31 from £54 to £87
There are 94 restricted view seats at the Lyceum Theatre – the majority of which have a side view or safety rail obstructing the stage. The safety rail obstructs the front row of the Grand Circle but this row offers a perfect vantage point to view the huge spectacle of The Lion King. A31 has received 5 star reviews for the view it offers, with one user claiming there are “absolutely no obstructions. Clear view of the entire stage and orchestra.” If A31 is unavailable, look out for A14 which has a comparable view.
Alternatively, 68 side stalls seats have a restricted view of some elements of the staging. However, they also provide an incredibly immersive experience with cast members walking down the aisles right next to your seat and being close enough to the stage to see every nuance of the performances. The best side stalls seats are E8 and K41.
Save money with these great seats for Six the Musical
Best restricted view seat: Dress Circle, G19 from £43 to £45
Priced at almost a third lower than its neighbours, this Dress Circle seat offers a perfect view of Six the Musical with the pillar in your eye line but not obstructing the stage itself. For the most optimum view some leaning may be required during the show.
Alternatively, the Boxes (Box C) in the Vaudeville Theatre can be the perfect vantage point to watch the show. With a very minor obstruction to the bottom corner of the stage (where no action takes place), you can enjoy moveable chairs and the luxury of your own private box.
Cheapest option: The cheapest restricted view seats are located on the aisles of the Grand Circle. These seats have a very restricted view due to a safety rail at the front of the section.
Save money on a 5* view under the overhang for Les Misérables
Best restricted view seat: Stalls R9 from £54 to £120 (this seat more than doubles in price at peak performances!)
The quality of the 373 restricted view seats in the Sondheim Theatre (34% of the total number of seats) can vary quite dramatically, with some seats obstructing over two thirds of the set and require patrons to constantly lean forward during the show. The circle overhang begins to obstruct the view in row R of the stalls (R9 receives 5 star view rating), this obstruction only affects any action that takes place on top of the barricade, which is a couple of scenes in act two – well worth the reduced price tag.
AA25 in the Dress Circle has a side view that obstructs the view occasionally but otherwise offers an amazing clear view of the show. Alternatively, in amongst a sea of top price tickets in the Stalls, there is a pair of seats in the centre of the front row that come with a reduced price tag – A15 and A16. These seats are located behind the conductor, who remains in view during the performance. However, this is a minimal obstruction for an otherwise entirely immersive experience.
Cheapest: Grand CircleF6 from £24
The cheapest options for Les Misérables can be found in the Grand Circle. Due to the curvature of the auditorium, many seats in this section have a restricted or side view of the show. But this only affects some parts of the show. F6 in the Grand Circle has received excellent ratings from SeatPlan users for the view it offers.
Wicked Stalls Row D for just £20
Best restricted view seat: Stalls, D38 from £20 to £42
Due to the complex, extravagant set of Wicked there are 162 restricted view seats in the venue. These include seats at the end of either side of the stalls, as well as some seats in the Circle due to safety rails in view. However, this amounts to missing a few entrances of certain characters and is more than compensated by the significantly reduced price compared to seats closer to the centre. What you still get from these seats is a great, intimate view of the show and perfect vantage point for the showstopping songs like ‘Defying Gravity’, ‘Popular’ and ‘No Good Deed’.
Alternatively, the front row of the Circle has a safety rail in view, but this has a very minimal impact on your view of the show. The best of these seats is A21, which is consistently rated 5 stars for its view.
Further back in the circle are seats at the side which have a safety rail slightly restricting the view. This doesn’t disturb the view and the distance from the stage allows you to take in the full spectacle of the show. Look out for the highly rated L49 priced from £35.
See Frozen with a picture perfect view for just £30
Best restricted view seat: Grand Circle, B17 from £30 to £108 (a whopping £75 difference between peak and off-peak performances!)
Following its magnificent £60m refurbishment, even the 384 restricted view seats at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane are rated highly for offering a great view of the stage. For our top pick in this venue, we’ve chosen B17 in the Grand Circle, which is one of the 61 seats in the auditorium that come with a warning about a safety rail in view – however, SeatPlan users have hailed this seat as great value with no restrictions on any of the action on stage.
Look out for other great value restricted view seats at the sides of the Royal Circle (A45), which have a minimal restriction from a safety rail. As well as Grand Circle A7, which offers an intimate view with a little leaning required.
Cheapest: The Stalls Slips, which run along the sides of the front area of the Stalls are amongst the cheapest in the theatre. Whilst you lose around a third of the stage due to the side view, you do also get a very close up view of the show. SeatPlan users’ favourite of the slip seats is seat 4.