London is one of those cities where you’ll never, ever be done exploring. Ever. We could fill a hundred blogs over with recommendations – and believe me, we’ll certainly try. For visitors to the capital for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we do have some places up our sleeve that will make your stay for the rugger more than memorable.
From the first kick on 18th September, the hallowed ground of Twickenham will be the epicentre of all the sporting action, hosting some of the Pool A matches, the quarter and semi-final ties, and, of course, the final on 31st October. There will be matches played at both the ultra-modern Wembley Stadium in north London and the Olympic Stadium in the East End throughout the tournament.
London – like any capital city – can be expensive at times but fear not. We have some inspired tips and recommendations on where to get a bite to eat and a shandy or two across the city regardless of your budget.
1. Honest Burgers
Starting off in humble beginnings in Brixton Village in 2011, Tom and Phil – the dynamic duo that are the brains behind Honest Burgers – are taking London by storm one restaurant at a time. Their mantra? To do a few things and do them well. It’s certainly worked wonders for them, with Londoners lapping up their quality burgers at nine city locations. If not for a burger, drop by their Clapham joint for the breakfast of kings to set you up for the big match day.
2. Walkabout Temple
For neutral ground to enjoy the match day buzz and and cheap food and drink, Jamie Duncan, a winger on the Kings College London rugby team, thinks there’s fewer places in the city better for rugby fans than Aussie sportsbar Walkabout Temple. It’s also a stone’s throw from the Victoria Embankment, where you’ll be able to enjoy a sweeping view of the Thames and such famous landmarks as Big Ben and the London Eye.
For inspiration on what to do when you’re not at the rugby, click the image below to read our top 10 things to do in London.
3. King Edward VII
This Victorian pub – one of the best in Stratford – is a bit like stepping inside a timecapsule. With its wooden-panelled walls, ox-blood leather chairs, wooden benches and tungsten light bulbs, you get a sense of the East End of old. Formerly known as the King of Prussia, the pub’s name was changed at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 to something a little more patriotic. Nowadays, King Eddie’s is a grand old watering hole and just a 12-minute walk from the Olympic Stadium.
4. Turk’s Head
A second home to England fans, the Turk’s Head in Twickenham is the place to be before an international to soak up the pre-match atmosphere and enjoy some banter with the visiting fans. It also had a starring role in the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night as the pub in which Ringo Starr can be seen downing a pint. To continue the music theme, head back to the Turk’s Head post-match for live music from local talent and a few more scoops.
5. The Duck and Waffle
Definitely towards the high end of your budget, The Duck and Waffle at the Heron Tower is nevertheless not to be missed – even if it is just for a coffee. Make sure your dining companion is fully prepared for a lapse in your conversational skills as you tuck into their eponymous waffle topped with confit duck and a fried duck egg. There’s also the jaw-dropping panoramic views of the capital from the 40th floor. They’re not too shabby either.
6. The Cabbage Patch
Perhaps needing no further introduction, The Cabbage Patch, a dropkick from the turnstiles of Twickenham Stadium, is perhaps the most famous rugby pub in London. With walls adorned with rugby memorabilia and the odd sporting legend supping a pint, you’ll be in good company for pre or post-match drinks. Being so close to Twickenham Station and the stadium, it’s always heaving on match days, but you’ll surely not go thirsty with their six bars in and outside the pub in full flow.
7. Flat Iron Steak
Bohemian Soho is the beating heart of London’s entertainment scene and has been since the swinging sixties. Whether it’s to meet folk for post-work cocktails or grabbing a bite to eat, there’s so much choice in the Soho quarter people are often left stratching their head. To make it easier, why not try Flat Iron Steak on Denmark Street for a steak as lean and meaty as Sébastian Chabal’s biceps? You get individual meat cleavers instead of steak knives. I think that says it all.
Serving up lip-smacking noodles filled with the promise of “porky goodness”, Tonkotsu is the latest London success story with a rapid expansion around the city. Offering ramen dishes inspired by the typical fare of Kyushu in Japan which don’t break the bank, it’s little wonder that it was named ‘Best Cheap Eats’ in 2013 by The Observer Food Monthly. The noodles in your bowl are even made on site. So what are you waiting for? Chop, chop.
9. The Water Poet
Tucked down the backstreets of Spitalfields, The Water Poet is by far one of the best East End boozers. With good hearty pub grub and fine craft ales on offer, as well as one of the best beer gardens around, it’s easy to appreciate why so many have settled on this as one of their prefered watering holes.
10. Prawn on the Lawn
Dualling as a fishmonger and a basement seafood restaurant, Prawn on the Lawn’s speciality is tapas-style fish dishes. Forget throwing it on the barbie; eating oysters and langoustines beneath the pavements of Islington is where its at for the seafood-savvy Londoner, like Jen McClure who says this is one of her favourite places for Fruits de Mer north of the Thames.
How to get there
Twickenham, Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium are well-served by London’s tube system, bus network and rail links. To work out the best way of getting to the venue, use the Transport for London journey planner.
Where to stay
Need somewhere to rest your head during the Rugby World Cup? Find a hotel in London.
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