Sweet Soho, London, England January 2013

by Emma Bumpus on January 25, 2013

Sugar and style kickstart the careertraveller winter wanderlust with a shot of legendary culture in London’s fashionable Soho district.

Geographically situated within the borders of Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Charing Cross Road we become entrenched in a sensory haven brimming with aesthetic colour, texture and entertainment that unleash the travel junkie.

Carnaby Street reveals it’s bonbon of a boudoir Choccywoccydoodah, a chocolate oasis bursting with delectable handmade cakes, melt pots, popcorn and bespoke chocolate art and craft that define culinary intelligence and pure cocoa imagination.

Trendy boutique views of the Newburgh Quarter from this chic Parisian – like café leave us hungrily hankering for a peek of The Secret Room, a fantasy Charlie and The Chocolate Factory celebratory space designed for heavenly creamy feasts of the highest order! The careertraveller favourite – chocolate salted popcorn!

Bursting with 70% cocoa solid serotonin and endorphins galore, our winter wonderland adventure becomes honey coated with a wander through Berwick Street, an eclectic upbeat community in the heart of London’s Soho. This chirpy urban locality delivers an atmospheric shower of “hotchpotch” independent shops covering associated with textiles and fashion to street food and music – the “Golden Mile of Vinyl!”

From Biddle Sawyer Silks to Gosh Comics we become cocooned in the most vibrant quarter of the capital, synonymous with one of the city’s oldest markets since the 18th century. Enveloped in this fragrant hub of first class coffee shops Flat White, Foxcroft and Ginger and tea specialist Yumchaa, we are seduced by bountiful street eateries including the Dark Knights of Cholesterol who delight street dwellers with their artisan cheese.

Dean Street is our creative cue to replenish with a flavour of London’s International Mime Festival at the contemporary Soho Theatre. Welcomed by neon blue lights and hip front of house café and bar, we extend our sensory quest with a 60 minute Blind Summit show of The Heads – puppetry at it’s best! Intimate visual art set within three dark frames exposes an array of innovative scenes depicting portraiture and cardboard cubism that defines this visionary home of new writing, cabaret and comedy.

A 3-minute walk across Wardour Street awaits our winter treat in the form of The Soho Hotel, a relaxed and glamorous, mood enhancing “peach” that invigorates and inspires the soul. Colour, rhythm and warmth induce the most amazing welcoming sensation that radiates fun and intrigue.

Soho comes to light as we embark on a bespoke tour of this treasure house adorned with stimulating and contrasting fabrics, emitting rainbow infused hues that evoke images of travel and art. Informal yet distinct we unravel the meaning of texture and space through artistic and emotional intelligence within a collection of rooms, designed to please, entertain and relax.

The careertraveller favourite is a mix of the Crimson Bar that induces a rich sense of the exotic with vivacious colours and Moroccan interiors to the Black and White Room, oozing flamboyant “movie star” appeal with bold stripy furnishings, flower paper back wall paper and vintage film spotlights. Marvellous!

Two Movie Rooms later and a wander round the Refuel Bar with oil can artefacts and engaging wall mural reveal the hotel’s previous multi car park foundations! Soho Winter Tea calling in the Drawing Room is our introduction to a chic and decorative playground, radiating smooth textural warmth that transcends any contemporary mood board.

Mouth-watering delights emerge in the form of brie and cranberry wraps, bursting with fresh rocket, which with accompanying sausage rolls and apple sauce offer winter a new literary meaning!

Thawed and charmed we indulge perfumed gems in the form of sherry trifle, tiffin cake and careertraveller favourite, spiced date and orange cake, with it’s impeccable consistency. The speciality Jasmine Silver Tip tea with hand mixed needles and fresh jasmine flowers provides a bouquet of a memory that crystallises the whole sweet Soho experience.

Chinatown adds a further dimension to Soho with her vibrant assortment of shops, cafes and eateries, including Kowloon Bakery, whose patisseries attract flocks of tourists and Londoners.The Opium Dim Sum Parlour‘s jade door is our clandestine 3 storey ticket past the Chinese Apothecary Bar to the Academy where alchemy awaits in the form of an effervescent “bartenders table”. Mysteriously unique and theatre -like, we are welcomed into a luxurious cave that energises and thrills with the magic of oriental essence. Clever!

Orange blossom water, liquor and citrus fruit electrify the palate in the form of the Signature Opium Cocktail No 1, transforming ice, ginseng capsule et al into a smoky salubrious affair of the senses! A visit to the powder room with surround sound Chinese poetry is an innovative celebration of the arts and makes this parlour an ingenious landmark in Chinatown Soho.

After a day of sensory sightseeing we uncover sound in the eminently famous Ronnie Scotts, a sophisticated den that smacks of class, flair and talent. Dim lighting and slinky seating offset a dazzling performance by Deodato who delivers his unique adaption of “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001: A Space Odyssey) theme.

Clearly a day in Soho proves you can have your cake and eat it!

Very Special thanks to Choccywoccydoodah, Firmdale Hotels, Opium Cocktail Dim Sum Parlour, Ronnie Scotts and the Soho Theatre for their exclusive hospitality.

Further details of Soho can be found on websites Carnaby Street and Berwick street with details of Chinese New Year on the chinatownlondon and VisitLondon websites.

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