Central London pubs with a local vibe are the rarest of things, which is hardly surprising when you consider price tags on Zone 1 property often sport more zeros than the binary version of ‘War and Peace’. But The Cross Keys is precisely that – with its canopy of copper implements, garish carpet and walls covered in vintage beeraphernalia, it feels like it hasn’t changed for 30 years. It’s a look which, these days, is uncommon enough to be endearing and, when paired with a line-up of mass-produced lager and real ale, evokes memories of a bygone era of boozing.
Best of all, though, despite the local competition, the Cross Keys makes zero effort to appeal to tourists. Sort of ironic really, as standing outside in the failing sunlight, sipping a pint, taking deep lungfuls of the aroma wafting down from the nearby chippie, is one of the most perfectly English experiences you’ll get in the West End.