Cutting across Shaftesbury Avenue from Chinatown up into Soho, Rupert Street was named in 1676 after Prince Rupert of the Rhine: the nephew of King Charles I, and a handsome devil who used to ride into battle with his pet poodle. His namesake remains handsome too: despite countless redevelopments there’s a distinctive architectural splendour to the place, and bags of history. The White Horse pub on the corner of Archer Street has existed under that name since 1739, which is worth paying tribute to with a half-pint.
Even though plenty has changed, the flamboyant Prince Rupert would have felt right at home here today, what with the street’s smattering of excellent restaurants and cosy LGBT+ venues (although the nearby BarCode was expunged by rent hikes in 2012). The best time to see the place is during Pride every July, when it’s decked out in rainbow regalia. But it’s a culinary hotspot all year round, with more options than you could fit into a year of lunch breaks. As well as the sit-down restaurants, Street Food Union’s 15 stalls dish up everything from gluten-free Venezuelan to po’ boy sarnies six days a week. Go ahead and gorge on the delights of this Soho stalwart: it’s what Rupert and his poodle would have wanted.
Ceremonial-grade matcha at Tsujiri Soho, a Japanese shrine to green tea in all its forms. Or go off-piste with a matcha soft-serve float (mochi balls optional).
A Guinness under the boughs of the famous indoor tree at Waxy O’Connor’s. Planted in the Irish Midlands 250 years ago, it was shipped in after a natural death in 1994, and it’s now the centrepiece of this nook and cranny-filled Irish pub. Fyi, St Patrick’s Day at Waxy’s lasts a full week.
A daiquiri during happy hour at The Yard: a bucolic, foliage-adorned courtyard bar popular with Soho’s gay crowd, and thankfully saved from closure in 2016.
As many dishes as your budget will allow at boundary-pushing Israeli food hotspot The Palomar. Sit at the counter for a proper slice of the cheffing action.
Singapore prawn laksa from the wallet-friendly C&R Café. A fave with Malaysian expats, you’ll find it down secret alleyway Rupert Court.
Arrive before the box office opens and queue for day-return tickets to whatever’s playing at the superb Gielgud Theatre. £10 for a seat at a sellout show? The thrill is worth the frostbite.
Blag your way into The Box, tucked down Walker’s Court: a sleb-friendly club renowned for its ‘anything goes’ attitude and tough door staff.
Poppers, sex toys, fetishwear, novelty undies… you name it, they’ll have it at Prowler, the UK’s largest gay lifestyle superstore. Get the helpful staff to talk you through the locally produced LGBT+ zines.
Korean ingredients and highly Instagrammable cookware at Mee Market, a cute two-storey deli and shop just down Archer Street. Do stop for a spicy pork bowl while you’re there.