This Is Soho
This vibrant, distinctive and ever-buzzing part of London’s West End has a fascinating history, deep rooted in entertainment. The area has gone through a process of gentrification of late and while it has outgrown the somewhat seedier elements of its past, it still possesses a unique sex appeal and an edgy personality.
Soho is an eclectic neighbourhood – and it’s got a distinctive feel about it. Duck your head in off the shopping highways that are Oxford Street and Regent Street and you’ll recognise instantly that you’re in Soho.
The bustling narrow streets are awash with a thriving mix of the best independent and cult menswear stores, coffee shops and restaurants and there’s a sense of community you may not expect to find in a neighbourhood nestled in the centre of the nation’s capital.
Next time you’re in Central London, take an afternoon to explore Soho. When you do, here are some spots worth checking out.
Timberyard is the creatives dream. Designed as a cafe and open workspace for freelancers, students, artists and whoever else needs a strong coffee, reliable wifi and a table. Not a coffee drinker? No need to worry – Timberyard also boast a superb range of freshly baked goods, sandwiches and teas. It’s a space for everyone.
If you’re visiting from outside of London, Timberyard’s abundance of electrical outlets (free to use) will be perfect for getting your phone, laptop or camera back to full capacity before you head out onto Berwick street.
Timberyard : Located at 4 Noel Street, London, W1F 8GB
The L’Estrange apartment is one part shop, one part office and 100% interior & wardrobe inspiration. Located on Soho’s Berwick street, the apartment is kitted out with furniture & lighting from Copenhagen based design studio Menu. Stepping through the door you instantly get the impression that these guys see their clothing pieces not just as apparel but an extension of one’s lifestyle.
The clothing collection itself started with the re-imagination of the humble hoody. The idea was to create a hood that would allow the wearer to seamlessly transition between any environment and it’s an idea that the brand have carried through to their other pieces too.
“To simplify and elevate your wardrobe all at the same time. So you can achieve more each and everyday” – L’Estrange
The 24 Trouser is a perfect example, constructed using a fine cotton blend that stretches with movement whilst retaining maximum structure. It’s tailored cut and stretch fabric make it the perfect all day trouser – hence the name.
L’Estrange Apartment Store : Located at 32 Berwick Street
The Australian skincare are probably as well known for their beautiful shop fits as they are for their outstanding product range. For their Soho store design they enlisted the help of Paris based architecture studio Ciguë – the same team behind the succesfull Aesop Le Marais and Aesop Merci stores.
Filled enamel shelves create a minimalistic monochromatic space for Aesop’s skincare products take the lead and act as a focal point. Contrasting exposed wooden floors, greenery and large porcelain sink create a workshop aesthetic that is warm and inviting.
The Aesop product itself doesn’t require any introduction but the new fragrance Hwyl is definitely worth checking out.
Aesop : Located at 41 Lexington Street, W1F 9AJ
We’ve been watching Axel Arigato for a while now – you may remember their Clean 90 sneaker made it onto our Essentials Wishlist earlier in the year.
Axel Arigato very much made their name online. With a new sneaker launched on a weekly basis, their disruptive agenda ignored seasonal norms and catapulted the brand to cult fame. The opening of the Soho based flagship store was a progression from the digital world the to physical and was an indicator of their continued success.
Of the store’s design, co-owner Max Svardh had this to say – “We needed a minimalist palette because the products we offer are so diverse and individualized. I wanted to create a space that is inviting and open, the same feeling you get when you walk into a gallery.”
Axel Arigato Store : Located at 19-23 Broadwick Street
These days, there are no shortage of coffee shops serving up great flat whites. However, it is the diminutive and dimly lit Soho based cafe of the same name is credited by many as signalling the increasing popularity of Antipodean coffee culture in London.
Flat white is a small cafe with a huge reputation. In a city that boasts incredible coffee shops such as Takk, Origin and All Press, Flat White continues to hold its own. If you’re spending an afternoon in Soho, we highly recommend getting your afternoon caffeine fix here.
Flat White : Located at 60-61 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SU
Founded in 2002, Oliver Spencer was born out of the desire to create a range of clothing with all the quality and craft of premium tailoring, but with a relaxed modern style. The philosophy? Quality needn’t mean formality; casual needn’t mean careless. Oliver Spencer speak our language!
The Soho store has seen recently been refitted in a move that saw the brand collaborate heavily with British furniture company Another Country. Inspired by quintessential British style, the partnership has seen the store furnished with oak shelves and beautifully finished long, wooden tables.
To help deepen the collaboration, the two brands have combined to create the “Stool Two, Round” – a 3 legged stool featuring a signature red dowel.
Oliver Spencer : Located at 81 Berwick Street
The Gothenburg based denim brand is all about longevity so it’s fitting that they should have a ‘jeans repair shop’. Rather than discarding old jeans, Nudie encourage their customers to breathe new life into them with a free in-shop repair. Still set on replacing your jeans? That’s fine too – Nudie will take your old jeans off your hands and in return, give you 20% off a new pair. The repossessed pair are repaired and then sold as vintage.
The Nudie Jeans Repair Shop’s reclaimed wooden floors and distressed concrete walls give it a workshop feel that has an air of Scandi simplicity about it. On your visit you’ll likely happen upon a staff member busily restoring denim on one of two sewing machines that greet you on entry.
Nudie Jeans : Located at 29 D’Arblay Street
Somewhere between where the buzz of Soho and Chinatown meet the lights of Piccadilly and Leicester Square you’ll find Rupert Street, and nestled on on Rupert Street you’ll find this wonderfully rustic Spanish tapas restaurant. Inspired by the asadors (a wood-fired oven and the person operating it) of Castillian-Leonese cuisine, Tapas Brindisa champion the stunning meats, fish and vegetables of Spain.
The setting is beautiful, the service faultless and the food, particularly the iberico pork, is exquisite. If you ask us to select a few plates for you we’d point you towards the Pimientos de Padrón, Gambas al Ajillo (prawns served in chilli, garlic and olive oil), Cochnillo de Segovia (suckling pig with apple compote) and the Tarta Santiago de la Casa (almond tart with vanilla ice cream) for dessert.
An authentic Spanish experience in the heart of London’s West End, Tapas Brindisa live up to their self proclamation as the home of Spanish food in London.
Tapas Brindisa : Located at 18-20 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DF
This guide is just the tip of what Soho has to offer. Other honourable mentions go to Yumchaa who serve up some delicious teas, Universal works who as well as producing quality garms also have some of the friendliest staff in the business, Sister Ray record store and the world famous Berwick Street market.
Perhaps more than just one afternoon in Soho is required.
This post has been written in collaboration with ThisIsSoho but all views are those of MANimalist.co.uk