best seats

Which are the best seats in the theatre? | Theatre seating explained

Theatre tickets cost a pretty penny, so make sure you're getting the best ones. Here's our handy guide to the best seats in the theatre.

So, you’ve found a show on the West End, booked your train six months in advance, and are all set for a culturally enriching night at the theatre. But which are the best seats to pick? All this talk of Stalls and a half-dozen different Circles can be a tad overwhelming for folks new to the theatre scene, so here’s our handy guide to the different seats available on the West End.

The Stalls

Though the area right in front of the stage (originally known as ‘the pit’) used to provide cheap standing-room-only seating for the masses, these days, seeing the whites of an actor’s eyes will often cost you a pretty penny.

The Stalls are usually the best seats in the house, and if you find cheap tickets here or don’t mind splashing the cash, they’re often worth the hefty price of admission. Just be careful if you end up too near the back. While a more conventionally staged drama will still be perfectly fine, the overhang of the higher seats in certain theatres means anything with multi-tiered staging (like a lot of big musicals) might give you a restricted view of certain scenes.

Still, nine times out of ten, if you’re after a good seat for a long-awaited play, or a ticket for a gift or special occasion, The Stalls is where you want to be.

Dress Circle

Also known as the Royal Circle in some theatres, this is the second tier of seating and, in some smaller venues, the highest. Unlike the Stalls, these seats are arranged in tiers, meaning you’ll usually get a pretty unobstructed view of the whole show.

This can be a boon for big musicals or anything with a lot of dancing involved, and often still for a fraction of the price of the best Stalls seats.

Upper Circle/Gallery

Also known as the Grand Circle, this is the third level of seating in the theatre. A bit on the distant side for some tastes, the view is typically pretty serviceable, though you’re likely to miss a few intricacies of the actors’ performances.

In almost all West End theatres, the Upper Circle is the highest level of seating; only the Gallery (the fourth tier with a much steeper view) is higher. Only book there if you absolutely have to see something or the tickets are dirt-cheap.


Fan of the theatre but less keen on the crowds? Box tickets give you and your party a private balcony booth to either side of the stage, providing an unencumbered view without having to awkwardly shimmy down the row to get to the loo. The side-on view can take a little getting used to, but the proximity to the stage (and the peace and quiet) are hard to pass up.

Restricted View

Restricted view seats are usually the cheapest in the theatre, and on the face of things, you might be tempted to steer clear. As you might have gathered by now, heading to the theatre isn’t exactly cheap, and there’s no sense in forking out your money and your evening to stare at a pillar for two hours.

In truth, most restricted view seats aren’t nearly as bad as all that. While you certainly can find your eyeline partially blocked by a lovely Georgian column, many of these seats are labelled as such because they’re behind a small handrail, which blocks your view of the stage much less than the head of a tall person in front of you. Some ticket sites will even tell you what’s blocking the view before buying a ticket anyway, so go ahead and try them.

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