A Story of Home Soho Area Guide
Few destinations in London, or elsewhere for that matter, roll off the tongue quite like Soho. It’s a salaciously whisper of a word. There is another Soho of course in New York, named because of its location in Manhattan, south of Houston Street.
The origins of the original and Soho are not entirely clear. A commonly held theory is that ‘Soho’ is an old hunting cry from the 16th Century, when the now famous streets were hunting ground for the King and the landed gentry.
This colourful neighbourhood has been described as a messy grid of streets and narrow alleyways which are buzzy, grubby, swanky and sexy in equal parts. We couldn’t agree more. Other than the coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, late night clubs and even later night clubs, there is a thriving community of Soho residents that are just as colourful as the streets.
Here are the SoH. top tips for Soho.
SEX DRUGS & ROCK AND ROLL
Since the 70s and 80s, Soho has seen some dramatic investment and regeneration, but this hasn’t detracted from its old charm. The best way to experience and enjoy Soho is to simply wander the streets, where you can find more than a handful of sex shops, strip clubs and dive bars remaining. Then, we would suggest settling down for some unbeatable people-watching, perhaps at a café on Dean Street.
COCKTAILS FOR A FIVER?
Blacklock serves up great chops on Great Windmill Street in the basement of an old brothel. They describe their ethos as “great quality meat for unbeatable value alongside cocktails for a fiver and wine on tap.” Need we say anymore?
“The most famous and decadent thing about Bob Bob Ricard is the ‘press for champagne’ button. That’s right, PRESS FOR CHAMPAGNE!”
PING PONG ALFRESCO
Every Londoner will swarm to the nearest green space as soon as the sun comes out. In Soho Square there are a few open-air table tennis tables that are always popular with young professionals working nearby. Jump in line, and challenge the reigning champion.
Soho Square, W1D 3QN
SHAKE YOUR MARACCAS
If you are walking down Old Compton Street looking for a sign to the Mexican restaurant, La Bodega Negra you may be looking for some time. The neon sign outside the restaurant’s entrance reads ‘sex shop’ and in the window are dressed mannequins in full gimp suits. Once through the doors, the fun really starts. This dark and moody restaurant-come-nightclub serves up Mexican classics and some very potent cocktails.
“A commonly held theory is that ‘Soho’ is an old hunting cry from the 16th Century”
FINGER ON THE BUTTON
Bob Bob Ricard located on Upper James Street, serves up decadent Anglo-Russian cuisine. Walking through the doors it feels like a scene from The Great Gatsby, the space is next-level glitzy. Gold, brass, and marble adorn every surface. The most famous and decadent thing about Bob Bob Ricard is the ‘press for champagne’ button. That’s right, PRESS FOR CHAMPAGNE! whenever your heart desires.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
You are seriously spoilt for choice shopping in Soho. Carnaby Street and Liberty are great places to start, but we recommend getting lost in Soho’s warren of back streets that sell everything from the weird and wonderful, to chic and expensive.
ONE FOR A RAINY DAY
If the heavens open, we suggest seeking shelter in the Curzon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue or Picturehouse Central right next to Piccadilly Circus. Soho was once at the centre of the British film industry, and these venues have been here since the start. As well as showing the latest blockbusters, you can catch live screenings of plays, cult favourites, and vintage classics.
Another venue with a slightly cryptic entrance – look for an opticians sign and a doorknocker shaped like a blindfolded hog (!) on Poland Street and you’ll find The Blind Pig. Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House can be found on the ground floor, and The Blind Pig occupies the entire first floor, arguably serving some of the best cocktails in London.
ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH?
The Soho Theatre on Dean Street hosts at least six different shows every night. You can expect to find unknown talent, alongside some of the biggest names in comedy, spoken word, and cabaret. Grab a drink or coffee at the front of house bar before or after the show.