London

The Ultimate Guide to visiting Soho

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Standing at the center of Piccadilly Circus and staring at the dazzling Piccadilly Lights, one can’t help but feel as if they’re standing in the heart of London – and they pretty much are.

Stretching from Charing Cross Road to the east, Oxford Street to the north, and Regent Street to the west, the area now known as Soho was once used as a hunting ground by the Tudor kings, and has been a stomping ground for the rich and famous since as far back as the mid-19th century.

In recent years, Soho has become one of the most fashionable and famous districts in London, and no visit to the city would be complete without wandering through its many winding streets. With massive shopping streets that seem to stretch on for miles, top-rated restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world, and some of the trendiest nightclubs in the city; (not to mention more theatres than you can count), when it comes to the most popular area in London, Soho wins by a long shot.

 

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Soho The conversion of St. Paul Staute
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Soho Highlights

If it’s your first time visiting Soho, there are a wealth of different activities to do and things to see that shouldn’t be left out of any London travel itinerary:

  • Snap a photo of yourself underneath the Piccadilly Lights, and do some people-watching near The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.
  • Watch a theatre performance at some of the best theatres in London’s West End. (The Prince Edward Theatre and the Queen’s Theatre always have a heavy roster of performances, but the Lyric Theatre, the Apollo Theatre and the Prince of Wales theatre are worth checking out as well).
  • Take a stroll from Piccadilly Circus along Shaftesbury Avenue towards Covent Garden.
  • Marvel over some fascinating and jaw-dropping artefacts from all over the world at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
  • Get some hardcore shopping done at Oxford Street and Regent Street (the biggest shopping streets in Soho), and do some window shopping at the high-end boutiques along Berwick Street, Carnaby Street and Kingly Court.
  • Check out some live music at some of the trendiest music venues in London, some of which include Ain’t Nothing But The Blues, Mama JoJo’s, Ronnie Scott’s, the 100 Club and Ray’s Jazz At Foyles.
  • Party it up at one of the many LGBT bars and clubs in Soho during a night out in the town. (Check out G-A-Y-, Candy Bar, The Friendly Society and She Soho, or any place along Old Compton Street).

Special Tips

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Once you're in Soho, you could easily walk to nearby landmarks without having to pay for transportation. Buckingham Palace is a 35-minute walk away, Green Park is a 22-minute walk away, and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are a 22-minute walk away.

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If you plan on dining at a restaurant in Soho on a Friday or Saturday night (or even on a Thursday night) be sure to book a table beforehand as restaurants can get incredibly busy.

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If you want to save some money on nightclub costs, try to enter a bar or club before 9 p.m. to avoid cover charges.

Getting There

getting there

Address

St James, London W1D 7DH, United Kingdom (See map).

getting there

By Tube

Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are all located at the approximate four corners of Soho.

getting there

By Train

The nearest station to Soho is Charing Cross, which is a ten to 15-minute walk away.

getting there

By Bus

There are a ton of different bus routes that travel through Soho anytime of the day and late into the night. Just go to the bus stop closest to where you are to see which routes travel through Soho.

Visiting Soho

One could easily walk from one end of Soho to the other in as little as 30 minutes, but if you really want to explore Soho in its entirety, try to reserve at least four to five hours to stroll around its many streets.

There are also public toilets located at all London department stores, and you can use them free of charge, even if you’re not a customer. You could always use a toilet at a restaurant or cafe, however bear in mind you will need to pay for something beforehand.

Always keep an eye on your belongings as Soho is prone to pick-pockets, especially around Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden, or if you’re watching a street performance.

 

Hotels in Soho

Luckily there are a ton of hotels to choose from in Soho, and although they tend to be on the pricey side, it’s well worth the money when you factor in how much you save on transportation costs.

If you’re looking for accommodation close to a famous Soho landmark, there’s a Holiday Inn near Oxford Circus, a Premier Inn near Leicester Square, and Le Méridien Piccadilly, Hotel Café Royal and Every Hotel Piccadilly are all a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. There are also a handful of hotels located in the heart of Soho’s theatre district (like The Soho Hotel, The Nadler Soho Hotel, the Waldorf Hilton and the Ham Yard Hotel).

The majority of hotels in Soho consist of luxury and boutique hotels like the Courthouse Hotel, Hazlitt’s and The Nadler Soho, while others offer a more edgy, rock ‘n roll vibe (like the Sanctum Soho Hotel and The Z Hotel Soho).

If you’re on a budget, Dean Street Townhouse offers great value for Soho standards, and you’ll be happy to know there are a few hostels scattered around Soho as well like YHA London Oxford Street and SoHostel.

When to Visit

Whether you’re a morning bird or a night owl, there’s always bound to be a flurry of activity happening in and around Soho.

Generally speaking, bars and clubs stay open until 12 a.m. during the week, or until 2 a.m. on weekends; however opening and closing times vary so if you have a particular place in mind, check the official website beforehand.

You can expect the party-goers to start trickling out into the streets from about 6 p.m. onwards on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and pubs tend to be at their busiest between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on any day of the week.

Remember that Soho is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in London, and it has some of the most expensive bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants in the city. However, there are a ton of budget eateries and takeaways in the area, not to mention a string of fast-food chains along its major streets.

If you want to go out for a fun night out in Soho, be prepared to spend at least a minimum of £6 to £8 for an alcoholic drink during the later hours. However, you could always take advantage of the happy hours which are usually before 9 p.m. at some some selected bars, and there are a ton of deals to take advantage of during the week as well.

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