Follow me as I walk in the footsteps of London's cultural and political elite for a stagger around Soho's legendary drinking shops and a visit to a history-making restaurant
London's Soho is right at the heart of the UK's cultural life. More bohemian than neighbouring Mayfair or Bloomsbury it's a magnet for politicians, artists, actors, writers and musicians. From Oxford Street to Chinatown, Soho's eclectic drinking shops and restaurants have welcomed everyone from Charles Dickens to Keith Moon and even Tony Blair! So, without further ado, let's go have a drink. (Budget for £3.50 to £5 per drink.)
According to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant this is his "favourite bar in the world". During WWII General de Gaulle and the Free French adopted the York Minster (as it was then known), prompting the acquisition of its present name. Officially renamed in 1985, it’s no surprise that it serves more Ricard than any other British outlet.
Wall space is crammed with former patron’s memorabilia, including original cartoons by the
On the borders of
Fruit flavoured pints like Fruli (strawberry) and Bellevue Kriek (cherry) are on tap along with more familiar Dutch and Belgian brews like Grolsch. There is a pretty extensive selection of the more exotic low country bottled beers, like Kwak while the menu features delicacies like bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) and frikandellan (deep fried sausage).
It gets pretty stuffed, but most casual visitors don’t know about the bar upstairs in the Oyster Room, where we found a table. The walls used to be plastered with oyster shells. Only a few patches survive thanks partly to the Who’s Keith Moon, who reputedly hammered them with an empty
Next stop is The Coach and Horses (
The Coach had its interior reproduced on the Old Vic stage for Keith Waterhouse’s play Jeffery Bernard is Unwell - about the infamous Spectator columnist who regularly imbibed here. On stage Bernard was played by Peter O’Toole, himself a regular along with former Dr Who Tom Baker and painter Lucien Freud. The satirical magazine Private Eye holds its fortnightly lunches in the upstairs restaurant.
Our final pint of Hobgoblin bitter is downed at The Pillars of Hercules (
Where to eat
The night ends at The Gay Hussar (
Whatever its political heritage, it is
Where to stay
As a Londoner I rarely need to stay in a hotel but the Premier Inn Euston is only a few stops on the tube from Tottenham Court Road. It offers a good standard of budget accommodation and is very handy for Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.