Travel 5 minutes 14 June 2024

Soho: The Perfect Neighbourhood for a Lively Night Out in London

From an every day visit to a special occasion, Soho has something for everyone and every type of celebration. Read on to discover which of our itineraries you'd like to follow...

One of London’s most iconic neighbourhoods, Soho is vibrant and fun-loving, buoyant and bohemian. Covering just one square mile, it’s perfect for exploring on foot, and a great place to meander – no matter what you’re searching for, you’re sure to find it here. Offering something for everyone, it attracts those from all walks of life, Londoners and visitors alike. It’s come a long way in recent decades too, shaking off its once risqué image to become something altogether cooler and more fashionable. And yet the old spirit lingers here and there, making this the perfect spot for a Big Night Out on any budget.

So what will it be? Read on for two very different itineraries…

Soho for a Special Occasion

If you’re ready to splash out, start by checking into Dean Street Townhouse. At the heart of Soho, this charming hotel is a recent addition to the Soho House family. It offers 39 comfortable rooms ranging from the diminutive 'Broom Cupboard' featuring a spiral staircase and Georgian floral wallpaper, to luxurious 'Bigger' rooms with four-poster beds, vintage marble cladding and views of Dean Street. Downstairs, the restaurant serves an all-day menu along with afternoon tea, as well as one of the best breakfasts in the West End – perfect for the morning after!

Alternatively, The Soho Hotel offers classic luxury at its finest with an idiosyncratic décor and spacious rooms that belie the hotel’s prime location in the heart of Soho. Downstairs, guests are spoilt with two cinemas, drawing rooms, a restaurant and gym.

Dean Street Townhouse, Soho, London
Dean Street Townhouse, Soho, London

Once you’re checked in, make the most of the location to hit the stores on the 14 streets of Carnaby where flagship brands sit shoulder to shoulder with unique independent stores. And no lavish Soho trip is complete without a visit to Liberty’s. A London institution, this mock-Tudor building houses a department store famed for its floral fabrics and luxury womenswear, menswear and home furnishings. Just the place to put a dent in your wallet before the evening even begins – and perhaps pick out your look?

After a siesta and a shower, the fun really begins at The French House, a historic Soho watering hole once frequented by writers and artists from Dylan Thomas to Francis Bacon. Unusually for a pub, it has a ban on music, television and mobile phones, keeping the bohemian spirit of yesteryear firmly intact – and meaning no shouting to be heard.

Carnaby Street at Christmas, Soho (© Alphotographic/iStock)
Carnaby Street at Christmas, Soho (© Alphotographic/iStock)

After a drink or two, it’s on to Mountain, a fun Michelin-Starred restaurant from the people behind Brat. Headed up by Chef Tomos Parry, it specialises in live-fire Basque cuisine with an extensive menu listing small snacks like fresh cheese and anchovies alongside a whole lobster caldereta which serves up to five people. Choose between an intimate basement booth or watch the chefs in action around the theatre kitchen. We recommend an early dinner from 5pm to leave plenty of time for the evening ahead.

After you've eaten, get ready for a West End show in one of the world’s most vibrant theatre districts. Centred around Shaftsbury Avenue, Theatreland is just a short walk away and home to around 40 different venues. Here, you’ll truly find something for every taste, be it the latest musical, a play, an intimate fringe show or an opera. For all the latest, visit the London Theatre website – and don’t forget to book! As far as recommendations go, there’s Hamilton for rousing entertainment or Parts 1 and 2 of the spellbinding Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for Potter fans young and old.

Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho (© Paolo Paradiso/iStock)
Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho (© Paolo Paradiso/iStock)

Exhilarated by your show, you’re going to want to experience more of what Soho has to offer. Whatever you do, don’t miss Three Sheets Soho, an outpost of the original Dalston cocktail bar which is regularly acclaimed as one of the world’s best. Their award-winning concoctions are served in a plush dark green interior with the brand’s signature marble-topped bar and minimalist aesthetic. On the menu, you’ll find classics like the Dirty Martini and White Russian, alongside the innovative Cherry Americano and intriguing Sazzaquack.

After a cocktail – or two – in Three Sheets, it’s time for round two of the entertainment. If jazz is your thing, pay a visit to Ronnie Scott’s world-famous club. A London landmark since 1959, Ronnie’s stage has hosted some of the industry’s most illustrious names from Miles Davis to Ella Fitzgerald. If you’re in the mood, book in for a late show, otherwise we recommend Upstairs@Ronnie’s bar for live music in a more low-key setting. Or if you’d rather grab the mic yourself, head over to Karaoke Box and put your vocals through their paces in the privacy of your own room. It’s open till 5am, so you can sing your heart out until the early hours!

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Soho (© track5/iStock)
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Soho (© track5/iStock)

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Soho for the Every Day

Soho has its share of glamour but don’t let that deter you from having fun if you're also saving up for something big. The district’s enduring appeal is rooted in its eclectic offering and wide array of restaurants, cafés and bars – and the streets are perennially packed for a reason. This is a neighbourhood for everyone, no matter your budget. So if you’re dreaming of a big night out but without a big price tag attached, look no further.

To make the most of your evening, aim to arrive in the late afternoon for pre-dinner drinks. Start at one of the area's hotspots, The Devonshire. This ‘proper’ London pub has recently been taken over by a new team and has been refurbished with a classic, cosy décor that radiates warmth. There's traditional pub fare on offer in the upstairs restaurant and bites from the in-house butcher and bakery served in the downstairs bar. If you’re feeling peckish before the main event, a little taster won’t do any harm…

The Devonshire, Soho (© Ashley Palmer-Watts)
The Devonshire, Soho (© Ashley Palmer-Watts)

After drinks, make your way to the lively Kricket Soho for an early dinner. Starting life as a pop-up in a 20-seater shipping container, this fashionable restaurant now holds a Bib Gourmand for its good value cuisine. Here, you'll experience a whole new take on the classic Indian restaurant; watch the chefs at work from your seat at the trendy bar or share long tables with large groups of friends or friends-to-be. The restaurant’s contemporary seasonal sharing menu is a great way to sample all of the classics, alongside an Indian cocktail or a craft beer or wine.

Alternatively, head to Nopi, the perfect spot for vegetarians. Overseen by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, it serves up a wide selection of sharing plates with Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian influences in a bright and airy space that's open all day.

Kricket Soho (© Rebecca Hope)
Kricket Soho (© Rebecca Hope)

That early dinner leaves you with time to catch a show. Comedy lovers have plenty of budget-friendly options to choose from, with the Top Secret Comedy Club, just a short walk from Soho in Covent Garden, voted the funniest in the capital. Movie buffs, on the other hand, will want to catch a showing at the Curzon Soho, a legendary cinema beloved by filmgoers and a great place to tap into Soho’s film heritage. Curzon’s three screens show a mix of independent and arthouse releases and documentaries, some of which were produced just feet away. Screen One even has a stage for introductions by the filmmakers themselves. Why not check the schedule and time your visit to coincide with a Curzon event? And make sure you mingle with your fellow cinephiles in the street level bar or underground lounge-bar before the performance.

Curzon Cinema, Soho
Curzon Cinema, Soho

You’re going to want to discuss the film afterwards so it’s off to Bar Italia. Open into the wee hours, this late-night coffeehouse inspired the song of the same name by Pulp. Mythical stories are said to have unfolded within its four walls so be sure to enjoy a spot of people-watching too.

After that hit of espresso, you should be ready to bar hop your way through Soho’s maze of streets. If so, don’t miss Thirst Bar Soho, or Bar Soho and its funky, off-kilter décor with nods to the fairground and even a pair of bathtub seats. LGBTQ+ visitors are spoilt for choice too, with everything from the world-famous G-A-Y Bar to The Friendly Society, a fun and inclusive hangout with quirky touches such as Barbie dolls dangling from the ceiling and old films projected onto the wall.

Bar Italia, Soho (© Alla Tsyganova/iStock)
Bar Italia, Soho (© Alla Tsyganova/iStock)

And there you have it, two very different takes on a colourful neighbourhood with something to satisfy even the most discerning of visitors. Don’t be afraid to take a diversion or two though, as this is a place where you can hardly go a few paces without finding a cool new spot.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, it’s time we called it a night…

Address Book

Bar Italia: 21 Frith Street, London, W1D 4RN
Bar Soho: 23-25 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 5JL
Curzon Soho: 99 Shaftesbury Ave, London, W1D 5DY
G-A-Y Bar: 30 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4UR
Karaoke Box: 18 Frith St, London, W1D 4RF
Liberty London: Regent St., Carnaby, London, W1B 5AH
Ronnie Scott’s: 47 Frith Street, London, W1D 4HT
The Friendly Society: 79 Wardour St, London, W1D 6QA
The Top Secret Comedy Club: 170a Drury Ln, London, WC2B 5PD
Thirst Bar Soho: 53 Greek St, London, W1D 3DR
Three Sheets Soho: 13 Manette St, London, W1D 4AP


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