Around the World in 8 London Pubs & Bars
With British summer time officially just around the corner, chances are you and your fellow Joes and Janes will be indulging in the plethora of London boozers on offer in the capital. But while we don’t think a traditional English pub can ever really be beaten, it’s great to change it up now and then and sample the tastes from around of the world.
Being the cosmopolitan metropolis it is, London has numerous drinking haunts inspired by the tastes and sights of different countries from Europe and beyond. With that in mind, here’s our guide to travelling around the world in 8 London pubs and bars. Prost!
The French House (France)
Location: 49 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 5BG.
Nearest Station: Leicester Square
The French House in Soho is a favourite among local workers and expats from France, as well as celebrities. The pub dates back to 1891 and was first opened by a German named Schmitt, initially trading as the ‘York Minster’ until it was changed to ‘The French House’ in 1984. The reason for this is General Charles de Gaulle frequented the pub regularly and is even said to have written his rallying speech ‘À tous les Français’ for the Free French Forces here. The pub sells more Ricard than anywhere else in the UK and only serves beer in half-pints, except on 1st April when rather incredibly none-other than Suggs from Madness serves the first pint of the day.
The Italian Job (Italy)
Location: 45 All Saints Road, W11 1HE.
Nearest Station: Westbourne Park
If you’re looking for a traditional pub vibe which comes with some crafts of the world thrown in then The Italian Job ticks every box going. The UK’s first Italian craft beer pub offers a choice of 12 rotating beers on draught – 10 on tap and 2 on hand-pumps – alongside a diverse range of bottled beers, as well as a great selection of Italian wine and spirits. Their beer range draws from Italy’s eclectic craft beer scene, showcasing a variety of styles and provenances, and is complemented by some excellent Italian street-food to burgers.
Beer & Buns (Japan)
Location: K10, 3 Appold Street, EC2A 2AF.
Nearest Station: Liverpool Street
For our first trip outside Europe, Liverpool Street’s Beer & Buns offers the UK’s largest range of Japanese craft beer. With Tokyo’s Hitachino Brewery and Asahi well represented on the drinks menu, this take on the Japanese ‘Izakaya’ not only offers some of the best beers we’ve ever sampled, it also serves up some of the best soft, pillow-like steamed ‘Hirata’ buns we’ve had in the capital too. Oh, and they also make incredibly crispy Korean style jumbo chicken wings!
Maple Leaf (Canada)
Location: 41 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LJ.
Nearest Station: Covent Garden
While we probably all know an American bar or three in London, not many of us would have sampled a taste of Canada in the UK. Well, the Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden as good as any of the US bars we know. The Canadian traditional pub is renowned for its welcoming, laidback charm and live showings of North American’s favourite sports, including NFL and NHL matches, as well as British and European sporting events. The Maple Leaf serves up a number of North American beers, including Canadian brews such as Moose Head, Sleeman’s, Molson Canadian and Molson Canadian Ice. As well as the maple leaf flag being proudly dotted throughout the bar, there’s Canadian sporting jerseys, hockey sticks, and even a moose head just to emphasise the heritage.
Bradley’s Spanish Bar (Spain)
Location: 44 Hanway Street, W1T 1UT.
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road
It may well be called a ‘bar’ but this red and yellow boozer just off Oxford Street is most definitely a pub. You won’t find a sherry or a plate of tapas, but what you will find is two floors of jumble sale decor and tattered furniture, as well as a great atmosphere and, of course, great beer. Bradley’s is low-key and unpretentious, serving a fine selection of Spanish lagers, including Estrella Damm, Alhambra Especial, Mahou, and San Miguel. It also features one of the last standing vinyl jukeboxes left in London’s pubs with an always eclectic mix of tunes dating back to the 50s, making it the perfect break from a hard days shopping.
Nordic Bar (Scandinavia)
Location: 25 Newman Street, W1T 1PN.
Nearest Station: Goodge Street
If you’re looking to travel the globe in boozy style in London then Fitzrovia’s Nordic Bar is a must – mainly as it ticks off a load of countries at once! This Scandinavian basement bar offers up a whole host of bespoke Scandi spirits, beers and bespoke cocktails, as well as traditional smorgasbord grub with the likes of pickled herring and gravadlax on the menu. But if you’re not into your fish, fear not – they do serve Swedish meatballs too! Nordic also holds weekly parties, alongside annual celebrations for Danish, Swedish and Icelandic national days.
Location: The Jolly Gardeners, 49-51 Black Prince Road, SE11 6AB.
Nearest Station: Kennington
Zeitgeist is a firm favourite for the South London German community thanks to its great German beer, food and live Bundesliga games. Located at the former Jolly Gardeners, which has a history as a pub for 120 years and boasts Charlie Chaplin as one of its famous locals, Zeitgeist is London’s first German gastropub offering 18 German beers on tap and more than 30 bottled beers, as well as several German Schnapps. The menu is also authentic with a selection of specialties from all over Germany like schnitzel, schweinebraten and, our favourite, currywurst.
Belgo Holborn (Belgium)
Location: 67 Kingsway, WC2B 6TD.
Nearest Station: Holborn
But if beer is your calling, then Belgo is really the place to be. The world’s favourite Belgian beer and food emporium specialises in mussels, frites and over 62 Belgian beers. There are a few bars dotted around London but our favourite is Belgo Holborn. Situated in what was once a Lloyd’s Bank, it has a contemporary and open feel, but memories of the building’s former use can be seen in the basement, where the bank’s safe has been converted into a beer cellar. Seating 130 diners, Belgo feels like a real continental beer hall experience.