Explore London’s best restaurants, bars, music venues and more with this unique insider’s guide

 

If ever a district exemplifies London’s ability to reinvent itself, it must be Soho, in the capital’s West End. It was a park during Henry VIII’s time, a wealthy quarter from 1700s until the 1850s, and a district with a touch of sleaze for most of the 20th Century. But Soho wanted more, and it has swept away its past in a flurry of bars, clubs, theatres, restaurants, boutique shops and more.



Soho’s adventurous reputation inspired Dickens to include it as a location in both A Tale of Two Cities and Nicholas Nickelby, and Robert Louis Stevenson gives Hyde a home there in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Restaurants

From the quirky to the Michelin Starred, you’ll find a restaurant in Soho to suit any taste and budget. Here are some of the best kept secrets.


Duck Soup

This is peak Soho – a tiny bar-style eatery that has you sliding into a corridor to take a seat and choose wines, snacks or full meals from the menu. It’s refreshingly quirky and fun, but they take food seriously. Try the £10 lunch, which comes with a glass of wine.


Yauatcha

Michelin-Starred dim sum, you say? Count us in. Graze your way through some exquisite small Chinese dishes at Yauatcha then hit the bars and theatres feeling thoroughly satisfied. 


Bob Bob Ricard

For decades restaurant-goers have been complaining about one thing: the lack of champagne buzzers at the table. Well, Bob Bob Ricard has finally addressed the issue – and thrown in some food that’ll have your tastebuds buzzing, too.


Bubblewrap

It’s not all about gourmet dining in Soho – although fans of Bubblewrap’s waffle cones filled with ice cream and other delights don’t much care. They’re too busy wiping the smiles (and maybe some toffee sauce) off their faces.


Bars and clubs

Soho’s hubbub never really stops, so whether you’re after a lunchtime cocktail or dancing till dawn, head to these places for some Soho hospitality.

Swift

Who doesn’t love a cocktail? It doesn’t matter what your tastes are – there’s sure to be one just right for you. Over at Swift they go the extra mile, because they understand that cocktails are as much about the experience as the flavour. Sip yours in a relaxed environment all day long.


Admiral Duncan

This isn’t just a gay bar; it a piece of history right in the heart of Soho. Feel the welcoming, open glow from the rainbow-festooned bar, and settle in for drinks and maybe a spot of entertainment.


Cahoots

Shhh. We didn’t mention this, right? There’s a little bar in Soho that’ll transport you Gary Sparrow-style to the 1940s. It’s fun; it’s swinging; and it’s called Cahoots. See you there. Bring nylons.


Two floors

Enough of the fancypants bars. You want a bar whose name perfectly sums it up. How does “Two Floors” sound? You walk in. You order your beer, wine or cocktail. You sit down, on one of two floors. Sounds simple? It is. The atmosphere comes courtesy of the friendly local crowd.


G-A-Y Late

This world-famous club is not only a draw for some proper dancing in Soho; it also hosts live acts who are on their way to the A-list, and sometimes those who are there already.

Ronnie Scott’s

Ronnie Scott opened his jazz club in 1959, and it became the template for the genre all around the nation. Take a seat, grab some hearty food and prepare to be entertained by phenomenal musicianship.


Theatres and galleries

Soho’s always been about culture, so don’t miss the chance to visit one of these thoughtful attractions. 

The Photographers’ Gallery

Tracking through history to the present day in photography, you can lose yourself in the Photographers’ Gallery. There’s always something fascinating going on, from talks and exhibitions to the camera obscura (literally, “dark room”) on the third floor.


Soho Theatre

Getting first dibs on the name has helped, but the Soho Theatre is the real deal, with its avante garde players, big names, cabaret and all manner of fun and educational performances.


Gielgud Theatre

Named after one of the UK’s best loved theatrical actors, the Gielgud Theatre plays host to contemporary and classic plays, often featuring some very famous faces.

Shopping

Soho’s Carnaby Street might have drawn fashionistas from all over the world in the 1960s, but Soho doesn’t rest on those laurels. You’ll still find some amazing boutique fashion stores here – and much more besides.

Irregular Choice

Never underestimate the importance of a fabulous pair of shoes. Irregular Choice certainly doesn’t. As the name suggests, you’ll find a unique pair here, guaranteed you won’t show up at your party shod like anyone else.

Machine-A

Pushing the boundaries in designer wear, Machine-A stocks fashion and footwear for the street and the club. Some names you’ll have heard of, while others are about to become your next go-to label.



MinaLima

If wizarding’s your thing, you’re going to love MinaLima. It’s a trove of spell-binding treasures, from books, gifts, games and artifacts to some of the most incredible wallpapers you’ll ever see. 


Your Soho awaits! 

If you’ve never experienced Soho, you’re in for a real treat, whatever your indulgence. From out of town, travel to London Euston and get the Tube to Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road and you’re perfectly placed to start your exploration.


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