Endell Street runs between the back of Tottenham Court Road station, through to Covent Garden and it’s on this convenient little street that we discovered the Cross Keys, one of London’s best spots for horded bric-a-brac.
The Cross Keys was built in the 1840s, when Endell Street was constructed, as a relief road. Small inside, it has grand façade that is easily missed with the large number of office workers standing outside, either smoking or basking in the rare London sunshine.
The front of the pub (pictured below) is marked by the hanging baskets, around two large marble columns. You can also see two cherubs holding the keys of St Peter, keeper of the gates to Heaven, which gave name to the pub.
Brian, the owner, is an antiques enthusiast and boy does it show inside the pub! We were astonished by the amount of brass paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling. There’s everything from old school divers’ helmets through to old kettles.
Aside from the brass hanging off the ceiling, the walls are covered with cultural prints, photos and paintings, including a small collection of Beatles memorabilia, portraits of Prime Ministers’ been and gone as well and a napkin used and signed by Elvis.
The staff are absolutely fantastic, lively and banterous, with a fantastic knowledge of the food and drink that they serve as well.
Not really a gastropub, but pies, burgers and so on are all served at a reasonable price. If it’s food you’re after though, it’s probably worth heading off elsewhere…. There are better options in Covent Garden and St Giles. The Cross Keys is certainly a traditional drinker’s pub.
Sadly, during the colder months, it can get busy inside and due to the size it gets a bit busy but we’d definitely recommend popping your head in and seeing if you can get a spot. Don’t bother calling to reserve a table. When we tried it we were told, ‘It’s a pub, not a restaurant, just turn up’.
And, we’ve saved the best hint for the end… House Vodka, Gin and Scotch all retail at £2.40 for a double. Where else in Central London do you get that?!