Soho & Chinatown: A Tale of Refugees, Radicals, Revolutionaries & Social Rebels

Duration: 1h and 45min
Languages: English
Guru: Justin
Quality Verified Registered on March 08, 2023

Want something a little deeper than the London popular culture tours? I'm a former teacher, economist, analyst and a lover of history, books and ideas. If you just want to take photos to put on social media and don’t really like walking, then PLEASE BOOK A DIFFERENT TOUR!!! If you are intellectually curious and like to think, then let me take you through the streets of London, from the City (the old Roman town of Londinium), to Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames and then to Covent Garden, Soho, Mayfair & St James’s (5 different walks in total). I'll explain how London came from being a European backwater in the 1500s to the largest city in the world in the 1800s. Today, London surpasses New York in diversity and has become a playground for the rich. From clean money to dirty money, I'll tell you the back story behind London's rise, not just the official version! The good, the bad and the ugly: you'll hear about it all.

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  • Free booking and cancellation
    Free payment tour, no set price, booking and cancellation are free
  • Accepts electronic payment
    This tour allows payment by electronic means or credit card

Tour description

Soho & China Town: A tale of refugees, radicals, revolutionaries and sexual rebels, from Karl Marx, to George Orwell, Oscar Wilde and beyond

Welcome, I'm Justin. But some friendly advice! If you just want to take pretty pictures to put on social media (and don't really like walking much), I am the wrong tour guide for you! My tours attract people who like ideas, history and books. If that is not what interests you, book another tour :)

I have 4 walking tours on GuruWalk: 1) The City, 2) Soho, 3) Covent Garden, and 4) the South Bank,, which together have a total of around 700 reviews averaging 5 stars (the highest on GuruWalk).

Highlights of the tour include: 

  • Site of the old Red Lion pub: Where Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels were instructed to write the Communist Manifesto, a document that changed the world
  • The John Snow Memorial Pump: The place where Dr Snow demonstrated the link between dirty water and cholera 
  • 22 Dean Street: The apartment where Marx started work on Das Capital and three of his children died in conditions of extreme  poverty
  • The Dog & Duck Pub: Where George Orwell celebrated the publication of Animal Farm
  • St Anne's Churchyard: Resting place of a Corsican king who died in poverty in London in exile 
  • Old Compton Street: Centre of Soho's gay community, underground until 1967, when homosexuality was legalized in the UK
  • Kettners: The famous restaurant where the author and playwright Oscar Wilde dined with his aristocratic lover Bosie and unfortunately became the target of Bosie's rapidly homophobic father 
  • 1 Greek Street: Home of Richard Beckford, one the wealthiest men in London, whose money was made from slave plantations in Jamaica  
  • Soho Square: Home to waves of immigrants and now the centre of London's creative industries 

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What will we visit on this tour?

  • Meeting point:
    218-223 Piccadilly, St. James's, Lond...
    218-223 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9HR, UK
    View on map

    I will meet you outside of the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly Circus Underground station on the Piccadilly or Bakerloo lines). I'll be carrying a yellow umbrella and wearing a black hat or cap.

  • 1
    Outside visit
    Great Windmill Street

    Site of the Red Lion: a pub that changed the world through being the birthplace of the Communist Manifesto

  • 2
    Outside visit
    Golden Square

    Centre of London's diplomats in the 18th century, who were are a target of the anti-Catholic Gordon riots

  • 3
    Outside visit
    Carnaby Street

    Centre of the London's swinging sixties

  • 4
    Outside visit
    The John Snow

    Site of the notorious water pump that allowed Dr John Snow to prove the link between dirty water and cholera

  • 5
    Outside visit
    Wardour Street

    Legendary music street, which now hosts a cluster of vinyl record shops

  • 6
    Outside visit
    22 Dean Street

    The residence of Karl Marx, where he lived and worked and 3 of his children died

  • 7
    Outside visit
    Old Compton Street

    Centre of London's gay community

  • 8
    Outside visit
    Gerrard Street

    Main street of London's Chinatown, but between WW1 and WW2 a hub of nightclubs including the exclusive "Great Gatsby" style "43 Club"

  • 9
    Outside visit
    Frith Street

    Home to England's most famous jazz club, Ronnie Scott's

  • 10
    Outside visit
    Romilly Street

    Abode of French revolutionaries and Kettner's, Oscar Wilde's favourite haunt

  • 11
    Outside visit
    1 Greek Street

    A house that has seen everything! Originally, the abode of slave plantation magnate Richard Beckford, but later of centre of the Victorian Board of Works that built London's sewerage system still used today, and then a charity for "fallen women" (ex prostitutes). Today a homeless charity.

  • 12
    Outside visit
    Soho Square Gardens

    One of London's first squares and now the heart of its creative industries

How much does this tour cost?

Free tours do not have a set price, instead, each person gives the guru at the end of the tour the amount that he or she considers appropriate (these usually range from €10 to $50 depending on satisfaction with the tour).

Tour opinions

160 ratings
By category
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
Mathew 26 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
This was a great tour! Justin was knowledgeable, friendly and fun and we had a great time learning the history of Soho. A perfect mix of the political, social, literary and cultural history with a very generous seasoning of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll - just like Soho itself this tour has it all!
James 25 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Feb 2024
Knowledgeable and friendly guide, and interesting walk. Highly recommend
Lee Barlow 19 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
This is the second Guru walk I’ve joined in the past month and both were excellent ! Our Guru guide was Justin . He is so enthusiastic and very knowledgeable . I can’t recommend him enough ! Just planning our next walk with Guru Justin .
Reinhard 06 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
Mit Justin durch London zu streifen ist ein Genuss. Witzig, informiert und die Tour ist sehr gut aufgebaut. Danach hat man den Eindruck, Soho zu kennen. Allerbeste Empfehlung.
Slava 05 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Feb 2024
Amazing and super interesting!
Show 160 reviews

Who is this tour for?

Non suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Does not accept large group reservations.
Not suitable for pets.

What should you know?

Minimum of attendees
A minimum of 4 people is required for the tour.
Additional costs:
The tour does not require the payment of entrance fees or additional expenses.
Free cancellation
If you will not be able to attend the tour, please cancel your booking, otherwise the guide will be waiting for you.
Payment methods
Electronic or credit card payment is accepted.
When do you want to go?
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