Pubs, clubs and everything in between
London boasts a great many “good places” ― coffee shops, cafes, sandwich bars, libraries, coworking spaces and, of course, pubs. Some great good places are great because they have storied pasts, like Gordon’s Wine Bar right off the embankment, south of Covent Garden. The interior includes fantastic exposed brick from the 18th century, complete with beautiful repurposed oak tables and lit only by candle. Other’s are great because they are off the beaten track or downright hidden; Bam-Bou’s Red Bar, right off of Charlotte Street, is a personal favorite of mine for this reason ― not to mention it has one of London’s better Japanese whiskey menus. Sometimes great good places are just a function of convenience, like most favorite coffee shops of mine.
My goto local coffee shop, Tutti’s, offers a great selection of flatbread sandwiches, premium roasted coffee beans and a friendly waiting staff. On weekdays, the shop is filled to capacity around lunchtime with healthcare professionals from a nearby children’s hospital. On those days, I usually arrive a little bit before 10am and have my breakfast by the window overlooking the historic Lambs Conduit Street. It’s in Tutti’s that I’ve grown accustomed to doing most of my work. There’s something about having constant stimulus, within a structured environment, that allows keystrokes to become effortless and even enjoyable.
If you follow Lamb’s Conduit Street south from Tutti’s all the way to Theobald’s road, you’ll stumble across another one of London’s great good places called The Fryer’s Delight, located in Holborn. The Fryer’s Delight is one of London’s oldest and best fish and chips spots. Dating back to the 60’s, the restaurant isn’t much more than a storefront, and looks more like a cabbies’ fish and chips spots than anything else. The fryers, seating and even most of the staff look to be originals. Even the ordering process feels authentically English. Cod or Haddock? With chips or without? After about five minutes, you’ll get a freshly fried fish and thick-cut chips rolled into the previous days Evening Standard or Metro newspaper.
Of primary concern to London university students in general, but more specifically to American university students studying in London, is cost. Enter student union pubs which are the budget watering hole of choice for the vast majority of London college students. On select days, pints are under two pounds, which is unheard of for central London. In addition to acting as a post-class drink spot, student union pubs like the University of London “Library” and University College London Union Bar are known for drawing big crowds between the hours of 8pm and 11pm between Wednesday and Saturday. This, of course, is because the only thing more expensive than your run-of-the-mill London pub, is London clubs. Anywhere from 9 to 12 pounds for a mixed drink usually motivates most students to get sufficiently buzzed at the budget bars.
London, like any good city, has its fair share of great good spots, whether coffee shops, pubs or otherwise and I’ve been lucky enough to visit a great many of them.