If like most of us you can’t make it to Japan for the Rugby World Cup then worry not. There are plenty of places to immerse yourself in the action that are a lot closer to home. Here are some of the best London spots in which to post up and spend the duration.
Skylight Rooftop, Wapping
The time difference means hardcore rugbyists are in for some early starts in the coming weeks. Bracing morning air, and with any luck some late-summer sun, could be just the thing to get you going. Skylight Rooftop at Tobacco Dock will be opening early throughout the world cup and offering outdoor and indoor viewing screens in case the weather tries to get in the way of things. This is one of those street-food-and-gallery-and-lawn-games type venues that are being slotted in on top of car parks all over London right now so you know there’ll be plenty of activities to justify making a day of it. Tickets are only £3 and if their recent Wimbledon showings are anything to go by the atmosphere should be great even early in the AM.
Skylight regulars YIRO – at time writing London’s premier suppliers of Asian/Greek fusion wraps – will be on hand to keep you full of brunch and energy. The burgers obligatory to this kind of thing will be supplied by Flipside, which offers a four-patty-tall double double burger in case your team loses and you need to consume some feelings. Sharing drinks for groups include Bloody Mary’s and Pimms by the pitcher and buckets of beer and cider – that’s cans and bottles in an ice bucket, not a bucket filled with a mixture of different beers and cider… probably.
Bar Kick, Shoreditch
The original Café Kick on Exmouth market has been one of London’s best loved sports bars for over 20 years – with its wide-ranging backbar, international clientele, and viciously competitive table football. Sister venue Bar Kick brings the atmosphere of the original to Shoreditch High Street complete with flags of many nations on the walls and solid renditions of classic cocktails. Spread over two floors, with 80 inch screens, this is the perfect East London venue to settle in to and follow the action. A centrally located sports bar that manages to maintain a bit of character is a rare thing and well worth a look.
Bar Kick runs a strong coffee game to get you going for those pre-9am kick offs. But anyone wanting a sharpener will find plenty of nationally apposite options whoever you happen to be cheering for – particularly if you’re a beer drinker. Think Harviestoun lagers for Scotland and hoppy American pale ales for the US.
Ham Yard Hotel, Soho
For those wanting to watch the action in plush surroundings, Ham Yard Hotel is offering ticketed Rugby World Cup breakfasts in its ‘organgery’ from September 22nd to October 12th. If you’re wondering what a hotel in W1 is doing having an ‘orangery’ that isn’t the half of it; Ham Yard also boasts a cinema, that nice courtyard, a bowling alley, and (probably) a bit of moorland out the back where you can do some grouse shooting. So any non-rugby fans press-ganged into attendance can always sneak off and find other entertainment if they get bored.
Places can be booked at £50 a head, so a little north of what you’re paying down your local, but the cost of admission includes such brunchtime eats as smoked salmon sliders and Spanish omelette as well as a Bloody Mary or Bellini. The bar also offers a number of reliable, lower-alcohol options for morning refreshment; the aptly named Bold Breakfast –sweet vermouth, jam, and tonic water – being a particular favourite. Although no trip to this Soho stalwart would be complete without a Ham (Yard) Negroni made with Serrano ham washed Tanqueray. Not suitable for vegetarians.
The Gun, Spitalfields
This old market pub recently re-opened under the same people who own the ever-popular Ten Bells up the road. It’s been given a refurb of the banquette, dark wood, and marble variety and the new owners have put a big tree in the middle of it for good measure. Luckily for anyone in the area at loose end or okay with bunking off work for sports related reasons they’re showing all matches that kick off after 11.15 – making this a great place to take in early matches. It’s big enough to spread out in so also worth considering if you’re bringing a crowd.
The usual established-but-still-probably-craft beer suspects like Brixton Brewery and Beavertown are all on tap and brunch-y cocktails are available, including breakfast martinis and a spritz or two. Non-traditional but quality pub fare on offer includes tuna tataki and corn and avocado tempura. Although maybe they are traditional East London rugby match watching snacks by now – times, like the Gun, have changed.
The Gallery, West Hampstead
This NW favourite has you covered right through to the finals if you need a place to watch the rugby in that Swiss Cottage-y bit of town south of the heath. This place is beloved of the locals for its record collection, rotating beer selection, and top drawer drinking food, so probably best to book a table for match day. It’s a relaxed atmosphere but will be able to bring enough energy to get you in the mood for those morning matches.
The Gallery has great breakfast options, including waffles and pancakes, as well as bottomless brunch options at the weekends to take the sting out of those early matches. Those looking to get a little more acquainted with the bar will want to take advantage of their extensive whisky list to celebrate or commiserate. You can say say ‘kanpai’ to the world cup hosts with a Japanese whisky but there’s options for Welsh, South African, American, and of course Scottish fans who want to raise a toast.