A stylish, relaxed bar just minutes from hectic Tottenham Court Road, The College Arms lends a touch of class to busy Bloomsbury.
The College Arms is just a five-minute walk from Tottenham Court Road station but it feels a world away. The leafy Store Street is full of far more stylish, bohemian shops than you’d expect to find on the main shopping streets, just a short stroll away. In fact, this stretch of road has its own website highlighting the rather upmarket shops and cafes with names like ‘Decadence’, ‘Café Deco’, ‘Caffe Paradiso’ and ‘The Life Goddess’. No, this isn’t Mayfair, it really is just down the road from Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, and The College Arms fits right in with its surroundings.
A cross between a wine bar and a gastro pub, The College Arms is super stylish, clean and bright. Though they call themselves ‘traditional’, this place is totally modern, with little to remind you of the classic London boozers nearby. It definitely feels as though it was designed with the local UCL students in mind. The pub is split-level, with an open, spacious area by the bar with just a couple of tables and then more seating in the second half of the room, both on ground level and up on a separated raised platform at the back. While the front half of the pub is very minimal and fresh, the back feels more like a living room, with a fireplace, chesterfield sofas and arty wallpaper.
Despite its proximity to the university, The College Arms doesn’t get very busy during the day, which means it retains the peaceful, civilised air you’d expect from the upmarket Store Street. It does get busier come the evenings and weekends, and there are events - Halloween and Christmas parties, comedy nights - put on to attract the local students.
There’s a decent menu of classic pub grub and a few dishes with a twist, like the salt marsh lamb burger with tzatziki and chips (£10.25) and the hot pulled royal Windsor pork sandwich with apple coleslaw (£10). If you just want something to pick at, you can order three sharers for £12, including honey and mustard glazed cocktail sausages, cheese nachos with salsa and slow cooked sesame pork belly bites.
There’s a good selection of beers on tap, including Kingston Press, Grasshopper, Warsteiner, Palm, London Pride, Amstell, Kronenbourg and Heineken. A glass of house white (Borsao Macabeo) or red (Garnacha) will set you back £3.90.
The Last Word
This is lovely bar and gastro pub with friendly staff and lots of space to mill about, even if you can’t get a seat. Expect to see a slightly different type of punter to those you’d find in more traditional Bloomsbury boozers.