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27 London alleyways the heart-eyes emoji was created for

Written by
Guy Parsons

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


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A strong start. Great gate, even better sign.

2) Lamb's Conduit Passage, Holborn


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

3) Ely Court, Farringdon


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

4) Meard Street, Soho


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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


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

6) Royal Opera Arcade, St. James


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A fancy little arcade of shops off Pall Mall.

7) Wine Office Court, City of London


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

8) Passing Alley, Clerkenwell


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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


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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


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

12) Newman Passage, Fitzrovia


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This cute shortcut will lead you to the Newman Arms.

13) Bull Inn Court, Covent Garden


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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


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This alley obviously makes a special effort at Christmas.

16) Denman Place, Soho


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

17) Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell


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A little shortcut near Farringdon station.

18) Dansey Place, Chinatown


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

19) Goodwin's Court, Covent Garden


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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


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

22) Lazenby Court, Covent Garden


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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


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

25) Shepherd Market, Mayfair


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

26) Ropewalk, Bermondsey


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Home to the much-loved Maltby St. Market.

27) French Ordinary Court, Fenchurch St.


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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. 

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