Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hanway Street - W1

I feel the need to blog about Hanway St because I have a fear that it is changing, particularly as there is some worrying demolition work at the Tottenham Court Rd end, which I understand is to do with Primark moving into the old Virgin Megastore site (read about it here).  Some may say Hanway St needs sprucing up, others may question why I feel a fondness for an often smelly "less a street, more an alley" that runs between TCR and Oxford St.  These days I like it most as a shortcut between our two offices (avoiding possibly the most horrible stretch of Oxford St) but I also love it for it's time-warp record shops, in particular On The Beat (pictured) that blares out (mostly) 60s pop and 70s funk and makes me smile every time I walk by.  Anyone who has been drunk late at night in Soho and wanted to keep the party going is bound to have visited some of the late night Spanish bars along Hanway St, or perhaps the intriguing "Troy 22" (which I first thought was a sex club - hey, that's the way my mind works).  In 2001, Hakkasan opened in Hanway Place, an even smaller alleyway that runs off Hanway St.  The very incongruity of walking down a dark alleyway smelling of piss, going through a door, down some stairs and emerging into a super glam, over the top eatery was part of the appeal and I have to admit, I loved it.  There was definitely a bit of a wank-factor and I do remember some friends Mark & Jaine who were departing London around that time to head home to Melbourne, desperately wanted to go to Hakkasan before they left - they rang to try and get a reservation weeks in advance and were told they could have a "midnight sitting".  Needless to say they politely declined.  But that was Hakkasan in the early Millennium, people were so desperate to go there that they would wait until midnight for a table (although given we waited 2 hours for a burger and chips at #Meateasy, perhaps not much has changed).  Anyway I digress - back to Hanway St.  It's the mixture of late-night drinking haunts, retro vinyl stores, DJ equipment shops and random eateries, all squeezed along this ancient laneway dating from the 1600s (although largely rebuilt in the 1800s - read about it here) that is a winning combination.  Long live Hanway St and it's seedy glamour - boo to High St chains and blandification. 


  1. I have walked through that little alley so many times, but was never aware of its name. Thanks for enlightening me!

  2. Happy to enlighten! Hope you are growing to love London - believe me once it gets you, it becomes an obsession!