There’s always something going on in Carnaby Street. The area is the centre of London’s shopping scene and is lined with an array of boutiques. It’s also home to a number of bars, including a blues lounge where jam sessions are king and an underground Hawaiian tiki hangout.
Ain't Nothin’ But
Bar, Cocktail Bar, British, $$$
With local and American acts taking the stage nightly, Ain’t Nothin’ But is the place to go in London for blues, bluegrass and jazz. The club is especially popular on Mondays and Sundays, when musicians are invited to share the stage for public jam sessions. While cocktails are a bit pricey, the menu is extensive and entry is free before 8.30pm every night of the week. Arrive before 7.30pm though, or be prepared to queue outside.
Tucked away from Carnaby Street, Antidote is a rustic-feeling wine bar and restaurant comprising two floors and an outdoor terrace. Specialising in natural wines, cheese, charcuterie, steaks and classic French dishes, it’s a relaxing spot to grab lunch or dinner. Make your way there on Monday, when Antidote offers a list of wines you can drink at shop prices without a corkage fee.
A 1940s-themed bar in Kingly Court, Cahoots offers cocktails and late-night parties set in a recreated London Tube station. Inspired by the era that saw Londoners take refuge in the city’s underground, Cahoots replicates the wartime British spirit with live entertainment in the form of piano singalongs and “masters of discs” spinning vintage records (from inside a converted piano). While there’s no strictly enforced dress code, 1940s garbs and smart dress are encouraged.
Shampers is an independent restaurant and bar that has been under the same ownership for over 25 years. The majority of the menu’s 200-strong wines are made by small growers, most of whom follow the rules of organic and/or biodynamic practices. Usually around 40 of these wines can be enjoyed by the glass. The menu features plenty of daily specials, many of which are similar to a tapas style, and can be enjoyed in the chilled-out bar area upstairs to be paired with your wine. Snack on the cheese plate, which goes well with a glass of the house port.
With a separate entrance at either end of the building and a few scattered outdoor tables on Kingly Court, Two Floors feels bigger than it actually is. Inside, the first floor has an intimate but laid-back vibe, while the basement houses Handy Joe’s Tiki Bar, a quirky Hawaiian-themed affair complete with bamboo panelling and illuminated tiki masks. Sip a cocktail and sit back as your cares float away.
Caribbean restaurant the Rum Kitchen is renowned for its first-class beach-shack food and extensive cocktail menu. Its Kingly Court location is a great spot for a late-night tipple, with signature cocktails including the Island Bird, a blend of rum, pineapple juice and sugar, and the Rumbustion, a mix of cooling coconut, spices and rum.
A members’ bar and cocktail den that’s open to the public until 11pm (or capacity) every night, Disrepute – DRP for those in the know – is a hideaway for luxury libations. Make your way down the gilded stairs into an intimate setting of wood-panelled walls and vaulted ceilings that’ll transport you to the hedonistic nights of the 1960s. Disrepute offers an expertly curated drinks menu of “narrative cocktails”, where a few lines about fictional characters serve as shorthand for drinks that will keep you guessing.
Our debut short film, The Soul of Soho, explores neighborhoods separated by oceans, history and culture but united by craft community and change. Neighborhoods bound by one name: Soho. Intimate portraits of city living in the Sohos of London, New York and Hong Kong reveal rich stories of the people who bring life to these iconic neighborhoods. Explore Soho here.
These recommendations were updated on June 25, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.