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Neighbourhood Guide: Soho

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Other articles in "Living in the UK - Housing" Section


Roughly just one square mile, this small corner of London is so fully packed you could easily spend a whole day here and never be bored. Part of the West End and famous for theatres this area has never had formal boundaries, and is not a separate administrative unit, like for example Holborn. Instead it is an area shrouded in fame, mystery and ridiculously popular with a lot of different people. There is also a little park (Soho Square) where A LOT of people eat their lunch whenever it is sunny outside. Look out for the Seven Noses while you’re wandering around! Book lovers should check out the Second Shelf in Smiths court, a newly renovated quirky courtyard.


Theatres


The Windmill theatre began here in 1932, and in many ways set the expectations for the area still famous for its theatres, musicals and the film industry. The theatre's first owner was Laura Henderson (look! a woman in charge of something in the 1930’s!), she employed Vivian Van Damm who installed a popular programme of tableaux vivants (living pictures). The theatre reached some notoriety and fame, and a movie and a musical have recently been made about it. The site is no longer a theatre, and has been renamed the Windmill International. Raymond Revuebar operated here between 1958 and 2004. Soho Theatre in the heart of the district presents new theatre, comedy and cabaret and is collaborators include DryWrite and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Boulevard Theatre built on the site of Raymond Revuebar is due to open in autumn 2019, and has a two level revolving auditorium. I can't wait to check it out! These are just some of your options for entertainment in the area. 


Food


The Gay Hussar, a favourite haunt of London’s journalists and politicians (especially from the left) has now unfortunately closed, therefore you will not be able to dine at this legendary and historic venue. However, Soho still has plenty to offer in terms of food options. From your major chains such as Wahaca, to elegant restaurants and small independents establishments, you will no doubt find something interesting to eat. You can also head to Carnaby street or Covent Garden nearby if you're really picky. My favourite in Soho is Yorica! which serves allergy free (meaning free from the 14 major allergens) ice cream. Even though dairy is nowhere in sight the ice cream is delicious, and you can get it served on a crepe or a waffle or sprinkled with cookies of your choice. Yes, I did just say a gluten free, vegan waffle which is sure to make some of us incredibly happy! 

There are a lot of other food options here, and you will not have to look hard to find a hipster coffee shop, and edgy bakery or your new favourite drinking spot. A good rule of thumb is wherever theatres are to be found so are restaurants! 


Carnaby Street 


Carnaby Street is just fun. Full of independent shops and boutique fashion, the street is picturesque even if you do not intend to do any shopping. Those with a bit more money, or fans of interesting architecture, should head over to Liberty, one of the oldest department stores in the city housed in a beautiful building. Like many similar sites in London, Carnaby street has featured heavily in all of the guides and the tourist trade has somewhat destroyed its spirit with many trinket shops constantly popping up. However, gems are still to be found and if you really hate it just head to Kingly court. This three storied alfresco food court features over twenty dining establishments, describe by the official Carnaby website (yes, such a thing exists) as “best international concept restaurants”. Indeed, with Calcutta, America and Peru forming some of the food inspirations here, your cravings are sure to be satisfied here, so give it a go! 


Live Music


One of the world’s oldest jazz establishments has its home in Soho. Ronnie Scott’s jazz club has existed since 1959. According to their website “In 1959, saxophonist Ronnie Scott opened the door to a small basement club in London’s west end where local musicians could jam.” It is ridiculously popular, with main shows, 'late late shows' and 'upstairs @Ronnie’s' all differing in price and vibe. Main shows are usually sold out two weeks in advance so make sure to plan ahead. Ronnie Scott's is just one of the many music venues in this tightly packed spot of London, so explore to your heart's content.



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