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Male-dominant Soho institution
Cruisy, non-precious two-floor pub attracting non-perfumed guys, including leathermen in day wear, bikers, skinheads and bears. Consistently busy, with men often spilling out onto the pavement [US = sidewalk], though purists pine for the look and feel of the bar as it was in the 1980s. Now a bit like the now-defunct and glorious Coleherne, but not quite as convincingly sleazy. In short, vanilla in the rough. Upstairs bar is decidedly more decorative and sit-down/relaxed, though the ground-floor pub does have a touch of the Phantom of the Opera about it. All drinks £2.50 on the normally packed Monday evenings, from 5pm — one of Soho's better deals (sadly suspended on bank holiday Mondays). Great for standing with a drink outside, watching the catwalk in action (like a parade going in two directions simultaneously). Managed on and off since 1998 with old-fashioned care and enthusiasm by guv'nor Neil Hodgson, whose attention to detail includes a carpet woven for Comptons from a pattern used aboard the Titanic and sister ship the Olympic. Another feather in uniform-afficionado Hodgson's cap is that he is the great nephew of the great playwright (and songwriter) Noël Coward, who apparently frequented the bar during the Second World War. Opened 1986; previously known as The Swiss Hotel and The Swiss Tavern. Nearby compatible watering holes include the King's Arms and the less cruisy Duke of Wellington [see entries].