Our favourite new haunt is Smith’s Court – a calm oasis courtyard tucked amongst the Soho bustle. It’s how we imagine Neal’s Yard might have felt years ago before all the tourists found it; there’s a new William Curley for top hot chocolate, a walk-in Back Rub shop, the independent Hideaway Coffee shop and Bibi’s Kitchen, where delicious salads and sourdough with toppings make a good value lunch that’s far superior to Pret. Tables spill out onto the cobbles around potted olive trees, making us long for warmer days when we can sit outside for lunch.
The greatest treat of all is The Second Shelf, a bookshop tucked in the corner of the courtyard that’s dedicated to books by women. We have Alex Peake-Tomkinson to thank for introducing it to us when she hosted a talk there last week with author, Scarlett Thomas. On marble-papered shelves find all sorts of rare books from first editions to new writing, zines, poetry and more. It would be a great place to find a special present. This Saturday, 8th February from 11am-1pm there’ll be a book signing event in store with Francesca Wade, author of the newly-published Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars. During the event there’ll also be 10% off all book purchases at the shop. It makes a good excuse to visit now and see their Valentine’s window display (left).