Places I Wouldn’t Mind Living: Hanway Street, W1

4 Jul

The first in an occasional series

I have a lot of London conversations, and the question that recurs more than any other is the following: if you could live on any street in Central London, which one would you choose? Difficult, I know, but I decided long ago that for me at least, it came down to a toss-up between Brewer Street in Soho and Hanway Street, a surprisingly quiet curve that connects Eastern Oxford Street to Sainsbury’s at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road. All shortcut-savvy commuters know it as a secret passage through the West End’s most congested square metres that outflanks the perpetual people-jam around the entrance to the tube station and reduces the risk of an early-morning act of sociopathic violence by approximately 38 per cent.

Hanway Street is also a minor Mecca for both Japanese and Spanish cuisine- admittedly not the most logical union of global gourmandise, but as culinary cultures go, a pretty satisfactory pairing. There are two second-hand record shops, and at the Eastern End, the semi-legendary West End DJ, a tech-head heaven of which the merest mention sends my friend Fred into a rapture of material lust.

Best of all, though, it is also home to The Bar, an after-hours basement dive that specialises in esoteric ’60s and ’70s Soul. Stumble down its rickety staircase at 3am on a Thursday morning and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into the mise-en-scène of Antonioni’s Blowup. In terms of music Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, just over the gushing ravine of Oxford Street, has nothing on The Bar: embarrassing dancing is currently my principle occupation, and Hanway Street is where I like to do it.

I took these photos on Sunday night, as Spain geared up to win the Euro championship: as you can see, the expat community were out in full strength around Bradley’s (bottled beer, ace jukebox) and Costa Dorada (tapas, flamenco). Not to get sentimental or anything, but this is the kind of sight that makes me inexplicably glad I live in London.

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