Once notorious for its sleazy undercurrent, Soho now offers a wider, less obvious range of attractions which attract swarms of tourists daily.
Its outposts are marked by the four circuses: Oxford, St Giles, Cambridge and Piccadilly, with the district within formed of a heady mix of residential, touristy, intellectual and historical characteristics. Heavily associated with the sex industry, Soho was up until relatively recently a breeding ground for prostitutes and drunks, as well as being popular with arty and intellectual types.
Whilst some of these side streets have still not entirely shed their seedy roots, the majority of Soho is now considerably more family-friendly, attracting a diverse cross-section of people. Carnaby Street is a thriving shopping centre with welcome echoes of its former ‘Swinging Sixties’ culture, whilst Old Compton Street has become a lively focal point for Soho’s gay community, offering an array of bars, cafes and gay-friendly businesses. The much-loved Meard Street contains picture-perfect Queen Anne houses, whilst Great Windmill Street boasts a range of institutions such as the historic and notoriously risqué, Windmill Theatre.
Soho lies at the heart of London’s theatre and restaurant revolution, offering a diverse range of cuisines and a host of celebrity chefs’ signature restaurants, including L’Escargot Marco Pierre White and Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House. A West End show is a must-see experience for any visiting tourist and some excellent dinner and theatre packages can be found if you look hard enough. Also worth a visit is Chinatown, easily recognisable for its colourful street decorations and plethora of oriental eateries specialising in dim sum, regional cuisine and authentic Cantonese.
Being so central, property is inevitably in high demand. Just a stone’s throw away from the frenzy of Oxford Street is the lush, sprawling expanse of Regents Park, as well as the sought-after Marylebone Village, with its chic market town atmosphere. As well as an enviably short commute, residents benefit from a free Westminster ‘ResCard’, offering great discounts on various arts and entertainment activities.
The nearest underground stations are Oxford and Piccadilly Circus, with Leicester Square and Covent Garden also nearby.