The ultimate guide to the best pubs in Soho London. Whether you’re into craft beers, live music, or historic spots, we’ve got you covered.
People love Soho for its theater, fashion, and movies, but there’s another great thing about this area that should be praised: its famous pub culture. Pubs are like coffee shops in Seattle: they’re an important part of the culture of the city. They’re the spots where people tell stories, laugh, and the smell of traditional British food fills the air.
Whether you’re looking for the best pubs in Soho for food, interested in exploring famous Soho pubs, seeking out cool pubs or craving a visit to the best gastropubs in Soho, you’re in for a treat. This guide is your passport to the traditional, the trendy, the musical, and the delicious.
Cheers to the spirit of Soho and its legendary pubs!
Soho is not only known for its vibrant nightlife but also for its rich history. If you’re looking to experience the past while sipping on a pint, these historical pubs are a must-visit.
The French House
The French House, nestled on Dean Street, is a slice of history. During World War II, it was a refuge for the French Resistance and an intelligence hub. Today, it’s a living testament to the enduring friendship between France and the UK. The pub has retained its historic ambiance and is adorned with war memorabilia.
This charming pub has been visited by countless famous people. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was known to enjoy a drink here, as was the celebrated artist Francis Bacon, who had a regular table. It’s the place where great minds have found inspiration and their spirits still seem to linger in the air.
An essential French apéritif, a Pernod is the perfect way to feel like you’re in France. They also offer an extensive wine list, featuring both French and international options.
The Coach & Horses
The Coach & Horses, with its distinctive green façade on Greek Street, is a living piece of London’s history. Established in 1744, it has witnessed centuries of change. It gained notoriety as the favored watering hole of Jeffrey Bernard, a well-known writer whose life and adventures were famously documented in his “Low Life” column for The Spectator.
This pub stands defiantly in the face of modernity. It’s one of the last strongholds that actively bans the use of mobile phones, preserving a bygone era where conversations happened over pints instead of screens. Step inside, and you’ll feel like you’ve time-traveled to the past.
To complement the vintage atmosphere, order a cask ale. The Coach & Horses takes pride in serving a variety of real ales, with a selection that changes regularly.
Soho isn’t just about history; it’s also home to some of London’s trendiest pubs. If you’re in search of contemporary vibes, check out these modern hotspots.
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Bar Termini, a stylish Italian-inspired bar on Old Compton Street, is an intimate escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s designed like a 1950s Italian train station waiting room, complete with vintage luggage and period-appropriate music, making it feel like a journey back in time.
The real star here is the cocktails. Bar Termini is famous for its classic Italian concoctions, such as Negroni and Americano. Try the Negroni – it’s a symphony of gin, Campari, and vermouth, served in exquisite glassware.
The Blind Pig
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The Blind Pig, tucked away above Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House on Poland Street, boasts a playful and stylish decor. The interior is adorned with quirky illustrations and a vintage feel that transports you to a Prohibition-era speakeasy.
Here, it’s all about the signature cocktails. The menu is an adventure in itself. Try the “Four Roses,” a bourbon-based concoction, or the “Lavender Lady,” a gin and lavender-infused delight. The drinks are as creative as the decor.
The Blind Pig often hosts live music nights and themed events. It’s a fantastic place for those who enjoy some entertainment with their drinks. Keep an eye on their schedule for a night of jazz or a themed cocktail party.
Traditional British Pubs
If you’re yearning for an authentic British pub experience in the heart of Soho, you’re in the right place. These traditional British pubs are quintessential London watering holes.
The Toucan, located on Carlisle Street, is an iconic pub with a strong connection to Guinness. It’s often referred to as the “Guinness pub” because of its historical link to the famous Irish stout. This is the place to savor a perfect pint of Guinness, which they pour to perfection.
The Toucan’s interior is cozy and charming. Dark wood, stained glass, and vintage memorabilia create an old-world atmosphere. The pub transports you to a time when conversation and community were at the forefront of any pub visit.
Expect a diverse crowd that includes Guinness aficionados, locals, and tourists. It’s an ideal place to strike up conversations with fellow patrons over a pint of the black stuff. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, making it a great spot to unwind.
The John Snow
The John Snow, named after the famous physician who traced the source of a cholera outbreak to a nearby water pump, is a piece of London history. Located on Broadwick Street, the pub pays homage to Dr. John Snow’s contributions to public health.
This traditional pub offers a fantastic selection of ales. They rotate their cask ales frequently, so you’ll always have something new to try. If you’re a fan of real ales, this is a pub where you can indulge in the traditional British beer scene.
The John Snow has a mix of regulars and newcomers. The atmosphere is classic and unpretentious. It’s a place where you can enjoy a quiet pint, read the newspaper, or engage in conversations with friendly locals. You won’t find flashy cocktails here, just good old-fashioned British beers.
Pubs with Live Music
If you’re looking for a night filled with live music in Soho, you’re in for a treat. These pubs are known for their outstanding performances and vibrant atmosphere.
Ain’t Nothin’ But…
Ain’t Nothin’ But…, nestled on Kingly Street, is a blues lover’s paradise. Blues music has a rich history, and this pub pays homage to its roots. It’s the oldest blues club in London, with live performances that capture the essence of this soulful genre.
While here, sip on classic drinks like bourbon or a cold beer. The focus is more on the music than the extensive cocktail menu, so you can enjoy your favorite beverages while tapping your feet to the live tunes.
To experience the heart and soul of blues, visit on Fridays and Saturdays. These nights are when you can catch some of the finest blues acts in London. It’s an intimate venue, so arriving early is a good idea to secure a spot.
The Spice of Life
The Spice of Life, on Moor Street, is an iconic music pub with a history dating back to the 18th century. It has been a hub for musicians and artists for centuries. Many famous artists have graced its stage, making it an integral part of London’s music scene.
The Spice of Life is renowned for hosting a wide range of musical acts, from emerging artists to well-known bands. You can expect a diverse range of music genres here, from jazz to indie rock. Check their events calendar to see who’s performing during your visit.
The pub offers a selection of traditional and craft beers, along with a variety of spirits. This pub occasionally hosts themed nights, and the drinks often tie into the theme. Keep an eye on their event calendar to catch special nights with unique drink specials. Enjoy your drink while being serenaded by the talented performers on the stage.
Pubs with Great Food
Soho isn’t just about drinks and music; it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy some delectable pub food. These pubs are known for their delicious offerings.
The Queen’s Head
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The Queen’s Head, situated on Denman Street, is a charming traditional British pub with a history dating back to the 19th century. The ambiance is cozy, featuring classic wooden interiors and a welcoming fireplace that provides a quintessential British pub atmosphere.
What sets The Queen’s Head apart is its excellent food menu. They serve classic British pub fare, including hearty pies, bangers and mash, and fish and chips. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available for those with dietary preferences.
When it comes to pairing your meal, you can’t go wrong with a real ale. The Queen’s Head offers a selection of local and regional ales that complement their food menu perfectly. Don’t forget to ask the staff for their recommended drink pairings with your meal.
De Hems Dutch Café Bar
De Hems Dutch Café Bar, on Macclesfield Street, carries a fascinating history. It’s a nod to the Dutch influence in London, particularly around the time of the Huguenots. The pub pays homage to this heritage with its Dutch-inspired decor and menu.
Here, you can relish Dutch specialties like bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs), kibbeling (fried fish), and Dutch-style pancakes. If you’re in the mood for something unique and hearty, De Hems has you covered.
As you’d expect, the beer selection at De Hems is exceptional. They offer a variety of Dutch and Belgian beers, including many renowned and lesser-known brews. Try a pint of Heineken, one of the world’s most famous Dutch beers, or explore their diverse Belgian beer options.
As you explore these venues, remember to engage in conversations, enjoy the atmosphere, and indulge in local drinks and cuisine. Soho is more than a neighborhood; it’s a journey through the heart and soul of London’s pub culture.
Remember, the magic of Soho is in its diversity, its history, and its ability to surprise and delight. So go out and experience it for yourself, and don’t forget to share your Soho pub adventures with your fellow travelers! For more things to do in London, make sure to read our blog on Street Art Tours in London!