If ever a girl knew London, it’s Alice Mayor, who set up shop on Carnaby Street in 2014 to champion the talents of London based artists under the banner ‘We Built This City’. Alice’s mission is to revolutionise London Souvenirs - it’s a no to tacky t-shirts and fridge magnets - instead take back an absolutely unique gift from the makers, designers and creatives that make London a world class city. We asked Alice how she would spend 24 hours in Soho.
Wake up at the Ham Yard Hotel and order breakfast in the courtyard, a serene spot in the heart of the West End.
Spend the morning roaming the streets full of independent stores. I recommend Lina Stores if you want to pick up beautifully packaged Italian goods, Algerian Coffee Stores on Old Compton Street if you’re a coffee nut and Alex Monroe for one of the most beautifully curated lifestyle stores in London.
After that it would definitely be time for a pitstop. Head to Said Cafe on Broadwick Street and order the liquid hazelnut hot chocolate. This could be the highlight of your trip! Book lovers: head to Foyles on Charing Cross Road for food, conversations and of course, books.
For lunch, head to Berwick Street Market, where you can choose from an array of street food, or dive into the bustle of China Town. I have to throw in Trattoria Da Aldo on Greek Street, too; the booths, waiters and low lighting make you feel like you’re in The Godfather.
House of Minalima
Spend the afternoon soaking up art and culture. Start at The House of Minalima on Greek Street: set up by two former graphic designers who worked on Harry Potter. Unit London on Wardour is a very cool gallery, and for some street art, don’t miss Julian Opie’s Shaida Walking which is just off Carnaby Street.
For the evening, if you want to something extra special head to Yauatcha on Broadwick Street for Chinese food, where you can start with cocktails and end up with a macaron to take-away on the way out. Nopi is fabulous for beautiful food and is one of the quietest restaurants in London. (I read somewhere that they hired noise experts when they were setting up!)
If you are working to a budget, there is a little known vegetarian restaurant at the top of the Coach and Horses pub on Greek Street, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded with a Cockney singalong. End the night at The Phoenix Bar on Charing Cross Road. It’s a real hoot, and sums up everything that’s wonderful about Soho.
We Built This City, Carnaby Street.