Soho in London’s fashionable West End is a great neighborhood to spend an afternoon exploring, eating, shopping and unwinding. Generally agreed to fall within the borders of Regent Street, Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho is home to intriguing restaurants, intimate bars, vibrant venues and world-class shopping around every corner. Here to guide you are some of our favorite ways to spend time in Soho.
Regent Street 75, which forms the western border of Soho, is a world-renowned shopping district home to dozens of international designers and British brands. Picturesque Georgian architecture makes for an all-around elegant shopping experience.
Dive into Soho’s quaint warren of streets, where you’ll find vintage, consignment and eclectic boutiques that make for a unique chance to window shop, hunt for gifts or treat yourself. Beyond Retro’s colorful, subterranean Soho location — one of several around the city — is the perfect place to find true treasures. A few blocks away, Reign Vintage offers a trove of high-quality, designer vintage sourced from around Europe.
Soho is a foodie’s dream — completely packed with creative and diverse cuisine. With new restaurants popping up all the time, you’re sure to stumble across something delicious. A personal favorite (and, judging by the wait most nights, many other people’s as well) is Hoppers 77 on Frith Street for flavorful Sri Lankan cuisine in an intimate, colorful setting. Highlights include the Black Pork Kari (curry) and Lamb Kothu Roti (chopped bread). Right next door is another gem: KOYA Bar 78 Japanese noodle bar. Counter seating and a simple wood-finished interior gives the place an intimate but casual feel. Udon with smoked mackerel and greens is a must-try for any lovers of smoky flavor. They’re also open for breakfast, when you’ll find creative fusion dishes (think bacon and egg udon) in addition to more traditional Japanese options. In the mood for exotic cocktails and lighter fare instead? Make your way across the street to Ceviche Soho 82 Peruvian kitchen and pisco bar. The sea bass Don Ceviche is a highlight, but you really can’t go wrong.
Grab a pastry and a breather in the cool interior of Nordic Bakery 74, where you can enjoy scandinavian treats amid tasteful minimalist decor. Indulge in one of their famous Scandinavian cinnamon buns — cooked on their sides so the filling doesn’t leak out. For something entirely different, make your way to Tsujiri, where you can enjoy all things matcha. This green tea institution, founded in Japan in 1860, has expanded to London and into the wonderful world of matcha-flavored desserts. Choose from matcha sundaes, soft serve, cake and other delights; or indulge in a range of other Japanese sweets, like mochi skewers and red bean milkshakes.
While more compact than New York or San Francisco’s, London’s buzzing Chinatown 75 offers a nice change of scene. By some measures, it may technically fall outside Soho’s borders, but it’s worth crossing Shaftesbury Ave to check out the neighborhood’s gift shops, markets and restaurants. Grab something for the walk at one of the bakeries, like a sweet and deliciously doughy red bean bun from Golden Gate Cake Shop. Don’t miss the striking, Ching Dynasty-style Wardour Street Gate — Chinatown’s newest and largest gate, completed this past year.
Soho’s well-known comedy scene is a great way to kick back and unwind. The Comedy Store, a local institution and key player in London’s alternative comedy scene, is one of the busiest comedy venues in the area and offers a range of world-class stand-up and improv. Soho Theatre’s main focus may be fringe theater, but their comedy shows bring world-famous names and cutting-edge acts to several stages.
While you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth checking out some of Soho’s renowned music venues. Ronnie Scott’s iconic jazz club, opened in the 1950s, is known for being the first UK club to host American jazz musicians. Today, they host some of the biggest names in jazz, as well as branching out into soul, blues and other genres. For something completely different, head to Pizza Express Jazz Club — an intimate venue in the basement of a pizza shop, serving up local bands, international stars and hot pizza pies.
Soho’s hip bar scene is the perfect way to end the night. Head to Milroy’s whisky shop where, down in The Vault, you can grab a drink in the wood-panelled, speakeasy-style cellar. Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour is a (literal) hidden gem in Chinatown — up a narrow staircase behind a nondescript door — serving up a brilliant combination of creative cocktails and dumplings in a colorful, intimate space. Reserve in advance or risk a wait. If you’re in the mood for more of a party atmosphere, Bar Soho offers cocktails and a DJ in a vibrant, quirky venue (think fairground elements, neon graffiti and contemporary Victorian touches, among many other things).