London sex shops: reviewed from best to worst

Beyond the Prets, Soho’s red-lit underbelly still lives and breathes amongst its storied streets. But which store sells the best pornos, butt plugs or, er, weapons of ass destruction? THE FACE finds out.

These days, going to Soho looking for sexcapades is like going to a house party when they’re sweeping the floor. It’s no longer the den of debauchery that it was in decades past. In fact, it’s now a dull pastiche of its red-lit history; a gentrification-fuelled theme park where chain restaurants use its bohemian past to lubricate a trade in £23.99 steaks and overpriced coffee.

You still get bursts of horniness in the area, though – a smattering of full-service sex workers operating out of walk-ups” trading sex acts for cash, the odd fetish-friendly bar, a bunch of lap dancing venues, a huge 24/​7 gay sauna and a fair few sex shops – some old, some new – sat amongst the 9 – 5 lunch spots.

Armed with a saucy agenda, I headed down to rank some of Soho’s sex shops in terms of sex toy selection, customer service and overall vibe.

  • Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation   Regulation  

Regulation
13A Bateman St, London W1D 3AF

Regulation only stocks really high-end fetish gear. The ground floor looks like Berghain opened its doors halfway through Snax and spewed out what clothes the inhabitants were wearing all over the black snake of people waiting outside only to be rejected.

In the basement, they’ve got a dazzling array of quality impact tools – heavy floggers, leather bull whips, paddles in all shapes and sizes. But they’ve also got the really niche stuff, too, like electrostimulation apparatus, the sounding tools, proper sex swings, needleplay equipment, canvas straightjackets and this, which can only be described as a weapon of ass destruction. This is a shop for the advanced kinkster.

The potent waft of leather hits you as soon as you walk in, like the unmistakable scent of poppers, sweat and sex of a dark room – which is probably what you’re into if you’re visiting Regulation.

Rating: 5/​5

  • Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland   Eros Movieland  

Eros Movieland
28 Peter St, London W1F 0AL

Eros Movieland is a time capsule, like they didn’t get the memo about the new millennium. A sign at the entrance promises Original 60s, 70s and 80s movies” and KAMAGRA, KAMAGRA, KAMAGRA, KAMAGRA” and (in case you didn’t get the message the first four times) another sign next to it reads KAMAGRA and KAMAGRA Jellies”. This place has real character, plus the fact that it’s located in the same building as a walk-up serves to burnish its sleaze credentials.

It reminded me of Blockbuster, if they had specialised in gang bangs, fisting and watersports and you didn’t need to produce a tiny laminated card and pay a £2 fine before you even make a purchase. A short man wearing a newsboy cap emerged from a little squat at the side of the entrance.

Can I help you?” he said, adjusting his expression to one of contempt after glancing at the small notebook clasped in my hand.

I’m just browsing,” I replied.

Silence.

You’re going to have to leave,” he said, finding it hard to disguise his irritation. We have shy customers.” I apologised and padded out, which is a shame because I really wanted to stay.

Rating: 4/​5

  • MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD   MOOD  

MOOD
5 Walker’s Ct, London W1F 0BT

Disheartened by my floundering attempts to infiltrate Eros Movieland and keen to redeem myself, I headed to Mood which is essentially the exact same thing – a space which time forgot. There was unfinished business – I had some burning questions that I didn’t get to ask before my swift ejection: who buys porn DVDs in 2022? Do the customers not know it’s… *leans in and whispers*… free online?

It is still a viable business,” the owner of the shop insisted. He’s been running it since 1994. Collectors buy them,” he added, with Smooth FM humming away in the background. Then there’s people who want to hide their porn consumption. They don’t want to go on the internet to watch it, especially on sites you have to put your card details into.”

Upstairs is a small space with a standard array of pretty meh sex toys, inflatable dolls, etc. But the basement is a dilapidated concrete box containing an Aladdin’s cave of erotic DVDs – DVDs on racks, DVDs stacked high in the corners, DVDs in boxes on top of DVDs in boxes. I picked one out (Love Wetting 65: Freestyle Pissing) and bought it as a memento of the day. It was handed to me in a discreet brown paper bag. I have no way of watching it, though.

Rating: 4/​5

  • Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”   Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”  

Adult Bookshop Original and Best Since 1983”
12 Brewer St, London W1F 0SF

Afternoon sir,” an elderly gentleman in a full suit beamed at the door. That was a nice touch. This is a unique place in that it straddles the concepts of bookshop and sex shop, offering in the basement a treasure trove of erotic reading material but also non-sex literature. Upstairs they have a range of lube, poppers and toys – from high-tech ones like mechanical fleshlights (they never quite work properly FYI), dildos and sleek steel butt plugs. But they also have a bunch of tacky, cheap and gimmicky stuff: Anne Summers-style bullet vibes, fluffy handcuffs and pitifully small floggers. It also feels too bright and clinical for a sex shop. But, to be fair, they did have an uber-realistic sex doll.

Rating: 3/​5

  • Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure   Simply Pleasure  

Simply Pleasure
29 – 31 Brewer St, London W1F 0RT

Simply Pleasure has a selection of fetish gear, but most of it is overpriced harnesses made from cheap materials that would out you as a newbie when faced with a strict door picker at a fetish party. The shop itself is what you’d expect from one with the full URL above the door: a basic one blasting cheesy pop music, but probably a good starting point for beginners who are looking to buy something like a BDSM starter kit rather than sophisticated asphyxiation devices or chastity cages. But there is a peppering of specialised pieces – like an auto-blow” contraption which costs £175, so (sex) swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Rating: 2/​5


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