Soho is a hard place to pin down. The district – and its southern subsection Chinatown – teems with tourists going to West End shows, media professionals marching to work, hungry patrons sampling some of London's best restaurants and people looking to have a long night out at one (or several) of the area's clubs, bars and pubs. But Soho was also home to many historical figures, including Mozart, Karl Marx and The Sex Pistols. Many Londoners still think it’s all about sex, but the fact is, Soho should be as notable for its history and culture as it is for the sleaze.
VIDEO: Here's what Soho looked like in the 1980s
The best bits of Soho
18 great things to do on Berwick Street, Soho
Linking the bustle of Oxford Street to the seductive scuzz of Soho’s ex-red light district, Berwick Street is one of central London’s most varied thoroughfares. Its place in history has been guaranteed since it appeared on the cover of Oasis’s mega-selling ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ album. Back in the Britpop era, Berwick Street was home to so many record shops it was known as the ‘Vinyl Mile’. But the rise of iTunes and Spotify have ravaged it: now there are only a few remaining, though they’re well worth a rummage. What it’s lost in record retailers, however, Berwick Street has gained in a lively variety of coffee shops, restaurants and quirky clothes stores, all nestling next to the same fabric outlets who’ve been trading here for decades. At the Soho end, you’ll find the historic Berwick Street Market, a mainstay since the eighteenth century. Marc Bolan worked there as a teen, and it’s been smartened up but not sanitised (it recently saw off a privatisation bid). Shadowing it on one side, major renovation works are taking place: soon Berwick Street will have a boutique hotel, swanky flats and a row of smart retail units. In the meantime, there’s plenty to do here. If Berwick Street were a person, she’d be your favourite rock chick auntie: a little fancier than she once was, but still up for a good time. Eat this A post shared by Certified Nosh (@certifiednosh) on Nov 3, 2016 at 4:36pm PDT Delicious manaeesh (Levantine pizzas) from Tab
Seven late night pudding pit-stops in Soho
Most restaurants treat dessert as an afterthought, but with so many sweet treats to be found on the streets of Soho, it's worth looking beyond the pudding menu. So, the next time you're in the mood for a post-dinner pud or desperately need an emergency sugar fix in between pubs, check out these late night locations. A photo posted by 🍦chewie (@chewiefoods) on May 7, 2016 at 2:44am PDT Yauatcha When you think about it, patisserie is just one small step from dim sum: beautiful, brightly coloured and fiddly as hell to make. It comes as no surprise, then, that Yauatcha, undisputed doyen of dim sum, has a patisserie counter. And yeah, it’s awesome. For the ultimate indulgence, get the Chocolate Pebble, a smooth round of velvety chocolate with a fudgey brownie centre. 15-17 Broadwick St, W1F 0DL, takeaway available until 11pm. A photo posted by Date Night LDN (@_datenight_ldn) on Mar 17, 2016 at 11:41am PDT Basement Sate Earn some brownie points on date night with a post-dinner trip to Basement Sate, a hidden underground bar serving decadent desserts and matching cocktails. 8 Broadwick St, W1F 8HN. Open until 11pm Sunday and Monday, and 1.30am Tue-Sat. A photo posted by Carly G (@carly1276) on May 8, 2016 at 12:39pm PDT The Café at Hotel Café Royal Make pudding a formal affair at The Café at Hotel Café Royal, whose multi-course after-dinner menus include a selection of wildly creative tasting experiences from executive
Restaurants in Soho
Bars and pubs in Soho
Hotels in Soho
It’s not all high-end hotels here though. Sohostel is perfect for those not fussed about frills. You’ll find dormitory rooms, twins and doubles (starting at £55), a roof terrace and guest-only bar and roof garden, free wifi, and breakfast (£5). But really it’s the location that’s the star of the show: in the thick of the action, meaning that you could spend a week exploring central London from your base here on Dean Street and never have to set foot on – or have to pay for – public transport.
The perfect weekend in Soho
Love London Awards: last year's winners
Blue Tit Brixton
The hip boutique hairdressers, which first opened its doors in 2011 in Dalston, welcomes a sixth member to the family. Blue Tit Brixton cut the ribbon in early 2016, revealing an eminently stylish salon swathed in industrial materials, such as polished concrete, exposed copper piping and huge metal beams. There's also a blue tit on the wall made out of dyed pieces of hair, created especially by local contemporary artist Anastasya Martynova. Here you can get a simple cut from £51 for women (from £40 for men), or go for a bit of colour, dip dye or bleaching. Customers can also have restorative treatments, such as Olaplex and moisturising.
Venue says: “Hair salon located near Brixton Village. The team of stylists are some of the best in London. Using Davines and Olaplex products.”