The Best Pubs & Bars To Watch Ice Hockey
Published 3 May 2010
London might be an attractive destination for tourists and students from North America, but few of them are willing to quit their idiosyncrasies once setting foot on this island. For Canadians and Americans from the northern states, this means three words: ‘Hockey, Hockey, and Hockey’. And when they say hockey, they mean the one played on ice, with the grass version not even crossing their minds.
Despite the irrelevance of the sport in Britain, London hosts quite a few pubs and bars equipped with flat screen TVs showing the big NHL games. An obvious obstacle is the time difference, but that is only a trivial technicality for Canucks and Yankees craving for wild brawls and armored hunks chasing an object which – God knows why – has the Shakespearean name ‘Puck’. Besides, their passion is shared by quite a few Europeans, with Czechs, Swedish and Russians being the most prominent members of the hockey-crazy community on the continent.
Some of the cosiest places to watch ice hockey’s greatest games in London are:
The Maple Leaf
This renowned pub-bar in Covent Garden is an offbeat equivalent of the Canadian embassy in London, with a special wink of the eye for Canadians hailing from the province of Ontario. Of course, this doesn’t mean that French-Canadians from the rival Quebec province should consider the Maple Leaf an enemy territory, as the pub is one of the few places in London where they can taste the most famous spécialité québecoise, Poutine. For those not familiar with outlandish recipes, this is a delicious dish of French fries topped with cheese and gravy. To make things more Canadian, the menu includes some of the most renowned Canadian brews such as Molson’s, Moosehead and Sleeman’s. Besides, one of the few things that bring Canadians together from both sides of the country is hockey, and is rare to find anything else on the pub’s TVs. Unfortunately, the pub closes at 11 o’clock so some of the games are taped due to the time difference.
The Maple Leaf, 41 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7LJ 020 7240 2843
The Sports Cafe
The name is quite telling, as this hot-spot just off Piccadilly Square is a paradise on Earth, or more specifically in Europe, for dudes calling football ‘soccer’. All the important American sports leagues are screened live here, including NHL (hockey), NBA (basketball), MLB (baseball) and NFL (American football). The bar hosts 3 bars over 2 floors and has around 100 LCD TVs and projectors broadcasting all kinds of sports. The menu is typically American, including wings, nachos and burgers, which means that attending a Thursday ‘Wild Wing Night’ might offer you the ultimate All-American experience. An advantage of the Café is that it stays open past midnight until late, so you might have the chance to watch a NHL game live.
The Sports Café, New Zealand House, 80 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4TE, 020 7839 8300
Texas Embassy Cantina
Like an embassy, this Texan establishment does its best to make you feel like home. You can take a cowboy hat from the entrance and rest on the rustic wooden tables, as this is a restaurant-bar in Trafalgar Square with an impressive menu of Tex-Mex dishes and drinks. The food offered is more or less what you can expect from an All-American diner, including delicious BBQ, ribs and Mexican recipes such as tortillas and enchiladas. However, if hockey is the reason why you came here you will not be disappointed, as the Cantina airs many NHL games, with an understandable emphasis on the local team, Dallas Stars.
Texas Embassy Cantina, 1 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DL, 020 7925 0077
Famous Three Kings
Kensington could not be missing from the list, given that it is a favorite place for North-Americans expats. This is a classy retreat televising all kinds of sport matches on numerous TV screens, with thousands of worldwide channels available. Moreover, it is one of the few pubs in London equipped with individual small LCD screens in private booths suitable for any kind of taste; football, hockey, cricket or even water polo are all on the menu. The only problem here for hockey aficionados would be having to bear the ear-piercing howls when Chelsea scores a goal, as the pub is a favorite meeting point for local football fans.
Famous Three Kings, 171 North End Road, West Kensington, London, W14 9NL, 02076036071
The Harcourt Arms
For the Swedish fans of the game, there is this friendly watering hole at Marylebone, televising the Swedish hockey league on a plasma screen. As a bonus for fans of Swedish football, the pub serves glögg (Swedish mulled wine) in the winter and there is also a fantastic beer garden available in the summer.
The Harcourt Arms, 32 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HX, 020 7723 6634
Czech and Slovak Club
As the name implies, this bar-restaurant in West Hampstead is the place to be if you are a fan of Czech or Slovak ice hockey. The TV sets televise on a regular basis the Extralegal Hockey league. Of course, you can enjoy the games while drinking one of the famous local beers.
Czech and Slovak Club, 74 West End Lane, London NW6 2LX, 020 7328 0131
So there we have it! The top bars and pubs to watch the great game of Ice Hockey in London, the perfect cure for any homesickness. Have you been to any of these places? Do you have your own secret spot in London where you watch live ice hockey? Are you currently following the NHL Playoffs? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Article written by Alex Katsomitros.