How To Get Pissed Like A Banker In London

By Hannah Seaton Last edited 78 months ago
How To Get Pissed Like A Banker In London
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Map illustration: Tom Woolley

The City of London: home to bankers and architecturally fascinating pubs — many of which used to be banks. These days, they're where the bankers go to get pissed.

Put on your whistle, pick up your briefcase — we're going on a bankers' pub crawl of London.

The Knights Templar

Catch the tube (or if you want to be properly banker-like, a cab) to Chancery Lane for our first stop, The Knights Templar.

Now part of the Wetherspoon chain, this grandiloquent building used to be owned by Union Bank.

The Knights Templar.

Although a former banking house, it's named after a medieval order established in the nearby Inner and Middle Temples.

With a vast bar and tables scattered everywhere, you're pretty much guaranteed a seat downstairs. For something cosier, go upstairs, which is full of niches, smaller rooms and a balcony. The selection of beers is as wide-ranging as at any Wetherspoon and updated constantly. You won't need a banker's salary to afford one, either.

Inside the Knights Templar.

After having your fill, take a short walk south down to The Old Bank of England — housed in the Bank of England's former law courts.

The Old Bank of England

The interior of this place could easily win some prize for most elaborate decor in a pub. Its incredibly high, extravagantly-decorated ceilings are adorned with massive chandeliers hanging above the huge wooden bar in the centre of the hall.

The Bank of England. Photo by Adam Leach.

Comfy leather sofas are dotted around but if you fancy a bird's-eye view of the hall, head up the twisting staircase to the mezzanine. It's a Fuller's pub, so it'd be rude not to have a London Pride.

After our first couple of drinks in two cavernous watering holes, let's turn right along Fleet Street to the very different Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

This mazy pub is across four floors and although not a former bank, has been a favourite for bankers and City workers for decades.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Photo by Tere Sue Gidlof.

In 1962, the pub gave the Museum of London a number of erotic plaster of Paris tiles found in the upstairs room, suggesting the higher levels used to be used as a brothel. It's now a Samuel Smith's pub; the beer selection is cheap though not particularly inspiring. A good spot for an affordable G&T, we reckon.

Next, stagger up Ludgate Hill, past St Paul's Cathedral and take a left at Bow Lane to Williamson's Tavern.

Williamson's Tavern

A former residence of the Lord Mayor of London, the intricate gates at the entrance of this pub were gifted by William III, who dined there whilst it was still the mayor's home. It became a hotel when the mayor decided it wasn't a grand enough residence, and then a pub in the early 20th century.

There's a good selection of traditional ales on the bar, as well as craft beers and they have a fondness for good gin too. Or you might decide it's time for a sensible soft drink.

Next, turn left up Bow Lane and then take a right along Cheapside to 1 Lombard Street.

1 Lombard Street

This former bank has been turned into a high class brasserie and bar. The neo-classical interior is striking, with an oval-shaped bar under a huge glass domed skylight. It's rather modern compared to the other stops, and fancier too.

1 Lombard Street. Photo by Andrea Liu.

Splash out on one of their espresso martinis for a little pick-me-up.

When you're ready to go back to the pints, cross the road along Lombard Street then turn left at Gracechurch Street, and to our penultimate stop, The Crosse Keys.

The Crosse Keys

Another Wetherspoon and former banking hall, the huge marble pillars and grand circular bar make this pub yet another stunner (just excuse the menus offering beer and burger deals).

It's so big you won't have trouble finding a seat, but again it's quieter upstairs: go to the balcony where there are plenty of nooks and crannies (and you can pretend to chat about secretive banker stuff).

Just two minutes north along Cornhill Road is out final stop and another Fuller's pub, The Counting House.

The Counting House

This former banking house was built in 1893 and still has plenty of its original fixtures and fittings. The dark wood panelled walls and bar combined with the slightly ostentatious skylight and mezzanine floor make it quite a spot for a pint.

The Counting House. Photo by Matt Brown.

The clientele is, unsurprisingly, mostly bankers and their clients — making this the most banker-like stop on the crawl and the ideal place to while the rest of the night away, assuming you haven't seen enough ales. Or suits, for that matter.

Last Updated 13 April 2017