These days, going on an actual holiday requires a second mortgage, a third job or a fourth credit card. Luckily, you can find nearly every kind of great getaway right here in London. Let us take you on a trip without leaving the city.
Venice has sights, Rome has sun, but Soho has sleaze all wrapped up – in a brown paper bag. And there was a more important reason to pick the West End for an amorous mini-break: smugness. Surely making naughty while everyone around was hard at work would make my partner and I a tight, antisocial love unit – like Bonnie and Clyde without the guns?
Being a caring, romantic fellow, I wanted to get my end away as soon as possible. But my pesky buzzkill editor insisted that my adventure had to last a full 24 hours. Not even Sting could go that long, so we hit the streets before getting horizontal.
First stop: the Society Club – a quirky café-cum-bookshop with clean lines and a filthy supply of vintage erotica. Live erotica is also available in Soho, of course, but we decided to keep things tongue-in-cheek rather than tongue-in- somewhere-that-gives-you-abacterial-infection.
Instead, my plan was to get ready to rumble by getting kitted up: lingerie emporium Coco de Mer was the first port of call. Did it turn my feminist other half into an Italian chat show host? Of course not. Boldly – some would say desperately – I promised to dress sexy for her instead.
Dressing overtly sexy is much, much harder for men. The only erotic gentlemen’s outfitters we could find was Old Compton Street’s Clone Zone – a kind of gay John Lewis. After trying every conceivable brief, pouch, thong, jock and sculpted low-rise underwired wonderpant, the consensus was to stick to the dayglo mankini I was already wearing.
Anyway, who needs sexy clothes when you have chocolate? The pots of truffle spread we found at Choccywoccydoodah on Foubert’s Place (£7) were far more seductive than any wonderpant. As night fell, dinner choices proved hard. We could have had total seclusion at the always-empty Aberdeen Steak Houses (still the number-one choice for colleagues having affairs). In the end, the small yet delicious plates at Italian trattoria Bocca di Lupo won – mainly because passion and indigestion are not happy bedfellows.
Ah yes, finally, the bed… Dean Street Townhouse (appropriately located at 69 Dean Street) is a romantic haven. A stay comes with a suitcase-bursting amount of free Cowshed toiletries, meaning you’ll smell like a million dollars even if you only have about £30 left on your overdraft. Best of all, our room came with not only a wet room but a bathtub right next to the bed. History doesn’t record what happened next… Oliver Keens
A Dirty 24 Hours in Soho: The Cost
Dinner for two at Bocca di Lupo £50.
Stay at Dean Street Townhouse £270.
Not having to wash chocolate truffle spread out of bedsheets Priceless.
Want more sleaze? Go to Las Vegas in London instead.