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27 London alleyways the heart-eyes emoji was created for

Thanks to a historic street grid that cocks a snook at so-called 'urban planning', London is riddled with irresistibly squirrelly alleys, passages, courts and shortcuts.

Not only do they provide locals with a safe space for frantic post-club make-outs, public urination and Dickensian fisticuffs, many of them even have a brilliant pub at the end. Join us as we take a glimpse down these pretty paths less travelled.

1) Faulkner's Alley, Farringdon

 

A photo posted by Lungi (@lungi_86) on

 

A strong start. Great gate, even better sign.


2) Lamb's Conduit Passage, Holborn

 

A photo posted by @stesabelle on

 

Told you there'd be pubs. That's the Dolphin Tavern.


3) Ely Court, Farringdon

 

A photo posted by [♥️] (@principessamy) on

 

And that's the Ye Olde Mitre Tavern, celebrating its 470th birthday this year!


4) Meard Street, Soho

 

A photo posted by Dean Whatmuff (@dinowhatmuffski) on

 

It sounds like shit to the French, but there's no secret fecal past to this Soho street. There's no pub either, but there is a branch of Honest Burgers.


5) Brydge's Place

 

A photo posted by Andy Kirby (@akirbs) on

 

This is London's skinniest alleyway, apparently just eighteen inches wide at its narrowest point. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. 


6) Royal Opera Arcade, St. James

 

A photo posted by Terence Jou (@terjou) on

 

A fancy little arcade of shops off Pall Mall.


7) Wine Office Court, City of London

 

A photo posted by @lorraine.lesley on

 

Ah, and here's Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, another centuries-old boozer that's all higgledy-piggledy inside.


8) Passing Alley, Clerkenwell

 

A photo posted by Maitane Torca (@maitane_torca) on

 

Yep, EXPLORE is really written on the walls, using some kind of occult perspective trickery. It's from Clerkenwell Design Week.


9) Artillery Lane, Spitalfields

 

A photo posted by @p0kip0ks on

 

Home of The Breakfast Club


10) St. Chad's Place, King's Cross

 

Just a quiet spot for a bit of old-fashioned Friday night murderin'.


11) Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

 

A photo posted by 오이양 (@silverrain52) on

 

Such pretty colours! Try popping into Native at the end.


12) Newman Passage, Fitzrovia

 

A photo posted by T2theN_Go (@t2then_go) on

 

This cute shortcut will lead you to the Newman Arms.


13) Bull Inn Court, Covent Garden

 

A photo posted by Sophie Mitchell (@smitchio) on

 

Just off the Strand, head down this passage to the Nell Gwynne.


14) Cecil Court, Covent Garden

 

Sitting between Charing Cross Road and St. Martin's Lane, it might just be the inspiration for Harry Potter's Diagon Alley.


15) St. Martin's Court, Covent Garden

 

A photo posted by @neebop on

 

This alley obviously makes a special effort at Christmas.


16) Denman Place, Soho

 

A photo posted by Steve LLamb (@lluxoperon) on

 

The lesser-seen twenty-first century alley, complete with LED lighting underfoot.


17) Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell

 

A photo posted by Neil Avey (@neilinbengeo) on

 

A little shortcut near Farringdon station.


18) Dansey Place, Chinatown

 

A photo posted by @sooze_e on

 

You can pick up some amazing ingredients down here, for one million authenticity points. 


19) Goodwin's Court, Covent Garden

 

A photo posted by Linn (@linn_stolan) on

 

Just a fine alley. So fine.


20) St. Christopher's Place, Bond Street

 

Prone to outbreaks of decoration, which is what you get in the posh bit of town.


21) Cloth Court, Farringdon

 

A photo posted by @carolynelw on

 

Ah, another hidden pub! Here's the Rising Sun


22) Lazenby Court, Covent Garden

 

A photo posted by Anne (@version3point1) on

 

Beyond that figure lies the Lamb and Flag, 'just about as perfect a pub as you’ll find in the West End.'


23) Steelyard Passage, City of London 

 

Would you believe us if we told you at the end of this alley... was a riverside pub?


24) Crown Passage, St. James's

 

A photo posted by niamhbrownlee (@niamhbrownlee) on

 

You've spotted it, right? That's the unashamedly old-fashioned Red Lion pub.


25) Shepherd Market, Mayfair

 

A photo posted by Denise Medrano (@thewinesleuth) on

 

A great alley. A pub called Ye Grapes. We could be very happy here.


26) Ropewalk, Bermondsey

 

A photo posted by @jwhoran on

 

Home to the much-loved Maltby St. Market.


27) French Ordinary Court, Fenchurch St.

 

A photo posted by Tessie (@tessieosteel) on

 

No ornamentation here. Just fine, fine brickwork. Those curves. Oh boy.

Essential further reading for alley fans: Londonist's Back Passage series (ho ho) and this exhaustive guide to the city's narrowest thoroughfares. 

😍  In pictures: London at its village-y best
😍  Awesome photos of cherry blossom all over London
😍  London's top ten rudest street names

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Comments

1 comments
Martin K

I was exploring that really narrow one in Covent Garden, Brydge's Place a few years ago and I had to step over a crouching prostitute taking a sly slash. Not my finest moment.