I love London.
There’s always something to see and do, no matter how many times you visit an area you’re bound to find something new.
One area that is constantly evolving and full of excitement and hidden gems is Soho. The bustling area has a rich history, links with the music, films and photography industries, and is a hub for restaurant, shops, hotels and street art. It is also home to some of the best Christmas lights in London!
22 Frith Street
London’s oldest Italian coffee bar, entering Bar Italia is like stepping back in time to old school Rome. It’s busy, it’s loud, and it smells INCREDIBLE!
Nabbing a seat at the counter we were quickly bought over two deliciously strong cappuccinos as we goggled at the cannoli, tiramisu and various pastries and panini on sale.
Italian flags and artefacts line the walls and hang from the ceiling and the effect is authentic not tacky, added to by the loud chatter of the staff in Italian, and the Italian news playing on the tv at the back.
Check out the incredible old fashioned till which is still in working order too.
4 Broadwick Street
You can never go wrong with a good doughnut can you? Crosstown are renown for creating delicious hand made delights all marked with their signature cross, and I couldn’t resist FINALLY trying them.
As we were eating with friends later that day, we just wanted a little treat, and our simple glazed ring and cinnamon swirl doughnuts hit the spot nicely.
A great snack for grabbing on the go as you explore.
26 Greek Street
We all know I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I love seeing how the wizarding world is bought to life in the films. Did you know there’s a magical exhibition in the centre of London which houses 3 floors of HP artwork and graphic designs from the movies by Mina Lima? And it’s completely FREE?!
It’s an amazing find and a Must Do for any aspiring witch or wizard. Housed in a rickety old building, each floor holds different displays and there’s even a (not too expensive) gift shop too. It’s also totally #InstaGoals.
The graphic art department is my favourite section of the Warner Bros Studio Tour and the display is much wider at Mina Lima. You also get to get up close and personal to it all in a much quieter setting.
There’s also amazingly friendly staff who really know their stuff and are happy to chat and impart their wizarding knowledge on you. For example they have the original Marauders Map on display, which couldn’t be used in the films as there was an H missing in Whomping Willow, so they had to start the whole HAND DRAWING again! Merlin’s beard.
Carnaby Street is one of the most famous shopping streets in London. It’s also one of the most wonderfully quirky and fun. Home to some big beauty brands including Too Faced, Spectrum and Benefit, all of whom have over the top decoration.
It’s a great place to while away an afternoon, and the shop fronts and buildings are just as fun to look at as the products themselves. You’re also just a few steps away from Regent Street and Oxford Street where you’ll find all your major retailers.
Talking of Carnaby Street, it’s also home to some of the most fabulous Christmas lights and decorations each year. It’s definitely worth a special trip to Soho just to see these.
This year it’s paying homage to the new Bohemian Rhapsody film with the lyrics of Queen lit up above the street – Mamma oohhhhhhh – it looks EPIC (sorry, couldn’t help myself!)
Soho is famous for its bright neon signs, and there are all sorts of light installations up, both for Christmas and otherwise. Check out the bulb lights which hang over Ganton Street all year round, and the Giant Plug on the other side of Ganton Street which was first installed in 2005. Both of these change colours constantly and are pretty mesmorising to watch.
16-18 Ramillies Street
There was an incredible exhibit of photos of India (Vasantha Yogananthan: A Myth of Two Souls) which was great for us having just come back and longing to go and discover more. There’s also a cosy little cafe and a wonderful gift shop selling all sorts of prints, films, cameras and lenses. I was in heaven!
Soho is famous for its links with the film and photography industries and there are plenty of camera shops around the area too.
Like it’s abundance of bright lights, Soho is also known for its cool street art. We stumbled across this awesome John Lennon and Paul McCartney piece (sadly ruined by Ben and Rachael) in D’Arblay Street. There’s also a huge painted wall mural on Little Marlborough Street which is fab for taking Instagram pics by.
There’s also the famous Spirit of Soho Mural which pays homage to the area and its many streets, landmarks and associated famous figures.
The buildings themselves are often works of art, with decorative signs, multicoloured walls and doors. As always with London – remember to look up!
Kingly Court, Kingly Street
If you’re after some more substantial food than delicious doughnut snacks, there are lots of places to check out in Soho. A mix of well known chains and quirky independent restaurants, there’s something for everyone.
Check out Kingly Court (just off Kingly Street) for a concentrated area of feasting places with everything from Caribbean to Greek food on offer, all set in an adorable little courtyard which is always prettily decorated. There’s even an underground 1940s cocktail bar, Cahoots.
One of my favourite restaurants in London (which I’ve mentioned several times) is Aqua Kyoto – a high end Japanese restaurant with a sister Spanish restaurant and amazing roof terrace bar on the same site.
58-59 Great Marlborough Street
If vintage clothing is more your thing, trendy Soho has several boutiques to check out.
The biggest of them all is Beyond Retro which has a huge range of menswear, women’s wear and accessories. They’ve got an awesome selection of natty Christmas jumpers at the moment and we also loved this David Attenborough t-shirt!
Opened in 1875, Liberty London is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. Famously posted on Instagram grids around the world due to its iconic Tudor revival exterior, wonderful window displays and floral displays, head inside for a uniquely ornate store.
With wooden staircases and balconies it feels cosy and friendly, despite selling some rather high end products. The beauty hall and food hall are my favourites and everything is always displayed beautifully.
Let me know if you’d like me to spotlight more of London’s neighbourhoods too!
*This post was in collaboration with Hotels.com. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views – and doughnut eating enthusiasm – are my own.
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.