20 seriously cool places to watch the rugby in London (that aren’t your local pub)
While the excitement builds towards an action-packed autumn of rugby, sadly not all of us have snagged tickets to the games in France. Fear not, because we’ve lined up the next best thing – a handpicked selection of the finest destination pubs, rooftops and outdoor spaces in London where you can soak up the atmosphere and follow the season’s most hotly anticipated matches
1. The Cabbage Patch, Twickenham
If you’re going to catch a game, then why not do it in Twickenham, the home of England Rugby. The Cabbage Patch is a drop-kick from the stadium itself and has been hosting loyal supporters for years. It even has private rooms for hire if you want an exclusive space for you and your friends.
2. Boxpark, Wembley, Shoreditch and Croydon
Each of the three Boxpark venues excels in showcasing live sports in big, open spaces – so much so, the atmosphere is often more like a nightclub. Expect mass singalongs, DJs playing thumping tunes and a fun time for all.
3. Flat Iron Square, Southwark
Lying in the shadow of The Shard, this corker of an outdoor space has a bit of everything: a large beer garden, seating in repurposed railway arches, food trucks and an on-site micro-brewery. It’s also very welcoming to non-sports fans, in case there are some in your group who care more about scrummy food than scrums.
4. The Ship, Wandsworth
When a pub says it has the “best beer garden in London”, you know it’s one to visit. Located right on the Thames, this venue has character to burn. Riverside terraces, private pergolas and cabins to hire – take your pick of some of the most stylish spots to watch the rugby.
5. Pub on the Park, London Fields
As outdoor spaces go, few beat Pub on the Park for its stunning views across London Fields. It’s also a mecca for watching big sporting events, boasting seven huge screens and – this being England – the outdoor ones are covered and heated just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. (If it gets truly torrential there are plenty of screens inside, too.)
6. Skylight, Tobacco Dock and Peckham
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more glamorous to catch the games, make a beeline for these Skylight spots. Both rooftop venues have views to die for, great food and drinks and those all-important big screens for the big matches.
7. Bar&co, Temple Pier
This floating bar boasts five screens below deck, but it’s the upper deck’s outside screen – with views of Big Ben – that you need to stake a claim at. The boat also prides itself on being a party hot spot, so whether you need to celebrate a big win or drown your sorrows you can do so without stepping ashore.
8. White Hart, Barnes
On the banks of the Thames, this barnstormer of a bar has charm – and outside space – to spare. With several screens dotted around, you’re guaranteed a good view, but it’s the offer of a free round of Guinness for parties of four or more booking a table that will have the crowds heading over.
9. Hackney Bridge, Hackney Wick
Catch all the action on this hub’s huge screen while relaxing canal side in the heart of happening Hackney. All possible food cravings are catered for, as the kitchens offer everything from Japanese, Filipino and Indian to classic pizza and burgers. The bars will keep you well-watered, too.
10. The Star, Shoreditch
With its huge, front terrace lined with screens – or the two large projectors that appear for bigger games – this bar has plenty to recommend it for a spot to watch the rugby. Factor in great music, food, cocktails and a late licence and this venue becomes a no brainer.
11. The Princess of Wales, Blackheath
If you want your day out to come with a slice of rugby history, then The Princess of Wales (above) is the pub for you. Not only is this the headquarters of the oldest established Rugby Union team in the world (Blackheath RFU formed in 1858), but it’s also the place where – in 1871 – England players met before the first ever international rugby union match.
12. The Three Compasses, Dalston
With a brand-new covered terrace this destination pub has a well-deserved reputation for showcasing live sports. If, on arrival, it looks familiar, that’s because the spot is famous. It featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics and has long been a location for magazine shoots.
13. The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
This pub is full of character and has been welcoming rugby fans for years. When it’s full (which is pretty much every day there’s a match on), there are few better places to be in terms of atmosphere. Added bonus: it also serves great Thai food.
14. Peckham Levels, Peckham
If you are looking for somewhere a little out of the ordinary, then how about a venue that occupies a former multistorey carpark? It’s now a space for great food, exciting bars, live music, art shows and – importantly – huge screens dotted around to catch the action.
15. The Lamb & Flag, Covent Garden
Tucked away down a side street in bustling Covent Garden, this destination pub might be easy to miss. But that would be a huge mistake. It’s been serving thirsty punters since 1772 (Charles Dickens was a former patron) and its large downstairs screen is a great spot to cheer on your team.
16. The Eel Pie, Twickenham
This pub is steeped in rugby tradition, with walls lined with signed shirts and old ticket stubs. If that isn’t enough history, then its location should do – a mere stroll away from the River Thames and Eel Pie Island, which hosted early gigs by the likes of the Rolling Stones, The Who and Pink Floyd.
17. Greenwood, Victoria
Greenwood is so stylish it’s hard to believe it’s a sports bar. It showcases elegant interior design, classy cocktails and an inventive menu. A spacious ground floor offers both inside and al fresco screens, but head upstairs for the best atmosphere, come game days.
18. The Prince, West Brompton
The beer garden here is so big, it’s arguably more of a secluded forest drinking den. It houses three bars on three levels as well as four restaurants all nestled under a whimsically decorated pergola. If you can tear your attention away from the flora and fauna, huge drop-down projector screens will ensure you miss none of the action.
19. Brigadiers, The City
If food is just as important as the game, head to Brigadiers. It’s owned by the same team behind the excellent Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna. For something extra-special, book one of its private rooms, accessed by your own secluded entrance, which comes with a serve-yourself beer station.
20. Redwood, London Bridge
Nestled next to London Bridge, Redwood specialises in showcasing live sports. From football to tennis to the NFL, it does it all, but it has a soft spot for rugby. So much so it that will be showing every competitive and warm-up game this autumn. If the sun shines, head for the beautiful outdoor terrace, with its state-of-the-art high-definition screens and surround sound.
London’s hidden world of water
We round up the best water-based activities to enjoy in the capital this summer
Scotland: something for everyone
Whisky, lochs and golf greens galore – the UK’s northernmost tip has all you can ask for
A love letter to London
Vogue columnist Raven Smith pens a paean to the “grubby metropolis on the Thames” that he loves to call home