*AD|GIFTED: I was gifted spending money by Hotels.com but all opinions, great recommendations and questionable humour are my own*
When I lived in London, Soho was always one of my favourite areas to visit and hang out in. Famed for its seedier history, Soho is now a vibrant and bustling area of the capital home to shops, bars, restaurants, great hotels and an incredible nightlife. Visit mid-week during the day and you’ll see fashionistas running from shop to shop, young entrepreneurs frequenting cafes and restaurants, and always, always a queue outside the Supreme store. Visit in the evening however, and that is when you’ll really see the area come alive. Home to London’s biggest and best LGBTQ+ clubs, boutique bars, theatres and sex shops galore, the atmosphere is electric.
I headed down for the day last weekend to re-acquaint myself with the area and bring you guys my top tips on how to spend 24 hours in Soho!
How to get there
Soho is very easy to get to – so easy in fact, that I’ve often found myself wandering round there quite by accident! The two easiest points of entry would be via Argylle Street off Oxford Street and near the Liberty department store, or via Brewer Street just off Shaftesbury Avenue and close to Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
The area backs right onto the heart of the theatre district, and actually boasts a few theatres of its own – currently showing Aladdin and Mousetrap. It’s also super close to the theatre currently showing Harry Potter & the Cursed Child for any fellow Potter fans reading this!
Where to eat
Ok, so probably one of the most important things of all to consider: where to eat! Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite on the go, fancy sitting with a coffee and a book, or are after a fancier sit down meal, Soho has it all! From popular chain restaurants to those hidden gems you find tucked away in the corner, there is always something delicious to discover among the winding streets of Soho. Rather than list every single cafe, bar or restaurant however, I thought I’d give you my top recommendations including their websites and other handy info:
- Dishoom – my absolute 100% favourite restaurant ever is Dishoom. I first ate in their Shoreditch branch and have since dined in their newly opened Manchester restaurant too. They have quite a few in London now as well including one in Soho’s very own Carnaby Street! Dishoom serves their take on authentic Indian street food and it’s an experience from start to finish! Quite rightly, their restaurants are very popular and therefore always very busy. I believe you can book now (you couldn’t in the past) however you may want to book your table in advance to make sure they can fit you in! You can always turn up on the day too, however I’d recommend trying to pick a time outside of popular eating hours or you’re likely to find yourself queuing with lots of other hungry guests!
- The Diner – also located off Carnaby Street, this popular chain offers delicious American inspired cuisine including burgers, hot dogs, salads and more! They also offer a good range of vegetarian and vegan options, and I believe they’re very accommodating to gluten free requirements too.
- Carnaby Burger Co – now I’ve not eaten here in years, but last time I did it was incredible! Definitely one for the meat eaters however as unfortunately their vegan & veggie range can be a bit thin on the ground
- Veggie Pret – ok, ok I know Pret is hardly imaginative, but Soho was home to the first Veggie Pret in London and I won’t lie to you, I’m a little obsessed. While the veggie branch of the popular sandwich chain is now more widespread across the country, I still think this one has the best range of morsels on offer and it also has loads of places to sit making it quite the people watching spot!
- Bills – another chain here, and this one is perfect for grabbing a quick brunch or an evening meal! You can find Bills on Brewer Street, and I actually ate here for my birthday a couple of years ago with my parents! You may already be familiar with the menu at Bills but for those who aren’t, expect a good variety of dishes from burgers to salads with great veggie options thrown in too!
Where to shop
Hi, fashion blogger over here! Shopping obviously comes high on my agenda pretty much wherever I visit (literally, I went to Southport last week and still ended up shopping) and luckily for me (or you if you’re also a self-confessed shopaholic) Soho is packed to the rafters with the cool and quirky as well as the mainstream shops.
I started my day in Topshop – arguably this is actually on Oxford Street and not in Soho but I was waiting for my friend who was running a bit behind schedule so obviously I nipped in for a browse and then lol whoops I’d bought a pair of jeans and two t-shirts – before heading over to Carnaby Street. Carnaby is where you will find a lot of your more mainstream fashion and beauty stores – there are places like Office, Levis, Ray Ban, Too Faced, and Urban Decay, as well as more spendy/alternative stores like The Kooples, and Dr Martens. There also used to be a Cheap Monday but sadly no more. Ordinarily I’d have run straight into The Kooples and lusted over half the store but considering I did that in Paris just a few weeks ago and know that right now their current collection is a little out of my price range, I behaved myself and spent some time browsing round Monki and Ray Ban before wandering over to The Ragged Priest and Lazy Oaf.
I actually didn’t manage to find any clothes that took my fancy, but I could have spent a small fortune in The Great Frog which is arguably my favourite jewellery store in the whole world. I’m lucky enough to own one of their Mickey Mouse skull rings but I’m desperate to add the small Kudu skull to my collection too.
After Carnaby, I headed over to Wardour Street and on the way, stumbled across a comic book & graphic novel shop called Gosh Comics. I’ve got really into graphic novels over the past few months after reading V for Vendetta at the end of last year and have had three on my list for quite some time. I’ve been looking for them in Waterstones for months to no avail but managed to pick two of them up in Gosh which was a success! (I also went to Foyles later in the afternoon which is located outside Soho on Charing Cross Road and managed to find the third!).
Wardour Street used to be home to one of my favourite news agents which stocked the most incredible range of weird and wonderful magazines, but sadly they shut down a year or so ago. I did manage to pick up a Mother’s Day card in Scribbler and then decided to take the weight off my feet with an ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s store (I went for a single scoop of Chocolate Fudge Brownie, if you’re interested, and let me tell you the single scoops are huge).
Next on the agenda was a visit to Minalima on Greek Street. This store is located close to the Harry Potter theatre and is a must visit for any fan of the books, films or play. Minilima were the creative masterminds behind most of the books, stationery and packaging that you will see in the films. All the text book covers, newspaper covers, Quidditch World Cup programs and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes packaging were created by them, and this store sells replica prints, cards and so much more! I adore having a nosey around every time I come to Soho and I swear I could buy the entire shop!
Finally on the agenda for the day was Brewer Street. Once home to LFW in their infamous NCP car park (literally the worst venue ever and a nightmare for street style) it is still one of my favourite places in all of London to visit. Why, you may ask? Fiorucci. Fiorucci is why. I remember when they first opened about a year ago because suddenly the vintage shop on the corner was gone and in it’s place was a mecca of stunning denim, slogan t-shirts, and super quirky designs. I go into Fiorucci every single time I visit Soho without fail, only the price point is pretty steep so I’ve never actually bought anything from there…until now! This time round I went in intending to splurge and left with a brand new (and super comfortable) underwear set and a beautiful graphic tee that I’m going to get so much wear out of this spring and summer! I’m already making a mental wish list of items to purchase next time I go in so watch this space…
So there we have it, my long-winded but not exhaustive tips on how to spend 24 hours in Soho! Let me know if you’re planning on visiting soon, and whether or not you pay a visit to any of the places I’ve mentioned! Also don’t forget to let me know your top Soho recommendations in the comments below!
Until next time xo