With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar now heading into its final stages, pubs and bars are filling up with fans keen to catch the last of the action.
This year, the vibe has been different in a great many ways. But for fans still desperate to get their football fix, a trip to a bustling, multi-screened pub is familiar at least – even if there’s a roaring fire in the corner.
It’s a good sign for the industry, too. According to analysis by Simply Business, the World Cup could provide a £155m boost to Britain’s pubs at a time when the hospitality sector is struggling.
Whichever team you’re rooting for, here are the best spots to watch the action.
The Hemingford Arms, Barnsbury
If you like your pubs with extensive wood panelling, bags of charm and a great pint of Guinness, then this old-school boozer in north London is the spot for you. It’s been serving locals since the 1850s and doesn’t appear to have changed much, although these days there’s a cracking Thai menu to enjoy during the games.
158 Hemingford Road, London N1 1DF; hemingfordarms.com
Hope & Anchor, Brixton
Young’s pubs are always a safe bet to watch football, but the Hope & Anchor is a particularly good choice for south of the river. I once watched an England match on a tiny, hastily erected screen above a door in a crowded pub – I didn’t see much of the action. But with a full 24 screens at the Hope & Anchor, you’re guaranteed a perfect view wherever you sit.
123 Acre Lane, London SW2 5UA; hopeandanchorbrixton.co.uk
This small-ish sports bar is the ideal spot for those looking for a comfortable view. You’re never far from one of the big screens at this bar, named after the legendary hirsute Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama. With chef James Cochran’s Caribbean-inspired fried chicken in the kitchen, Valderrama’s is great for grub, too.
163 Upper Street, London N1 1US; Valderramas.co.uk
The Cross Keys, Hammersmith
Cask-ale fans will be at home at the Cross Keys, where there’s always a decent range of traditional beers alongside lagers and craft ales. With 10 screens it’s a premium location for World Cup games without feeling like a sports bar.
57 Black Lion Lane, London W6 9BG; crosskeyshammersmith.co.uk
The Butcher’s Tap & Grill, Marlow
Tom Kerridge is perhaps most famous for his two-Michelin-starred pub, the Hand & Flowers, in Marlow. But he runs two other pubs in the town, the Butcher’s Tap and The Coach, and both will be showing all the action, with some stellar pub classics on the menu. Note that The Coach isn’t open on Mondays or Tuesdays.
15 Spitall St, Marlow SL7 3HJ; thebutcherstapandgrill.co.uk
The Potting Shed, Crudwell
The Potting Shed is a classic country gastropub, with pork chops and venison stews on the menu. But for the World Cup its dedicated match-day ‘shed’ is a prime Cotswolds location: with cosy fires, sofas and a wide array of beers.
The Street, Crudwell SN16 9EW; thepottingshedpub.com
The Gloucester, Weymouth
This seaside favourite has several indoor and outdoor screens and plenty of space so it’s not too hard to find a table. Although it’s not a summer World Cup, you can still (hopefully) enjoy England’s success by the sea.
85 The Esplanade, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7AT; thegloucesterweymouth.com
The Rose & Crown, Stratford-upon-Avon
There’s been a pub on site since 1596, and this Tudor inn has bags of charm and atmosphere. Not only that, but it has plenty of screens making it a top choice in Shakespeare’s home town.
15 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EF; greeneking-pubs.co.uk
Reopening after a brief hiatus, this city-centre pub has a number of screens over three floors, making it a convenient spot to catch the action where you’re likely to get a table.
321 Deansgate, Greater Manchester, M3 4LQ; greeneking-pubs.co.uk
If you’re after a pure sports-bar vibe, then there’s nowhere better than Hennesseys, which boasts 20 screens across five rooms. With a capacity of over 1,000 people, expect a raucous atmosphere when England are playing.
30-31 Allison Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TJ; hennesseysdigbeth.co.uk
The Long Shot
A large sports bar on the Royal Albert Dock, The Long Shot pairs a great match-watching experience with delicious food, including an array of brilliant sandwiches, from a roast beef French dip to Vietnamese banh mi.
Unit 3 Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AD; thelongshot.bar
Brudenell Social Club
This Leeds institution is famous for music – Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs have played here. But it’s also an ideal, atmospheric spot for the football, with quality local cask ales on tap, too.
33 Queens Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS6 1NY; brudenellsocialclub.co.uk
This popular sports bar in the historic Quayside area of Newcastle upon Tyne boasts several large screens, pool tables and excellent beer. What more could you want?
Dean St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1PQ; craft-social.co.uk/akenside-traders-newcastle
The Old Arcade
A proper sports pub, packed with memorabilia, this is the place to cheer on Wales in their first world cup since 1958. A menu featuring all the pub classics will keep you well fed, too.
14 Church St, Cardiff CF10 1BG; oldarcadecardiff.co.uk
The Pear Tree
Scotland may not have qualified but football lovers will still, no doubt, be searching for somewhere to catch the action. Housed in one of Edinburgh’s most historic buildings, the Pear Tree, which claims to have the biggest giant LED garden screen in Scotland, is just that place.
38 W Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DD; peartreeedinburgh.co.uk