Looking for a casual venue in London to meet up with a bunch of friends
May 4, 2019 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to London with my family in late July and am looking for a place to park ourselves for an afternoon so we can see friends. Of course, we have more criteria inside:

We used to live in London so have a lot of friends that we'd like to see and catch up with. But, we have two young kids and our friends are scattered around so we're trying to maximize being able to see people by hanging out somewhere for a few hours and inviting everyone to drop by for a drink and catch up if they can. It's been years since either of us lived there so I'm scouting for venue ideas!

Ideally, we would find a place that is:
1) Family-friendly, with a bit of space where my toddler can wander around. There might be 3 or 4 kids/babies at one point, but mostly adults.
2) Large enough to spread out a little bit and have, maybe 10 or 15 people standing or sitting in the same area and chatting.
3) Will serve us alcohol and ideally food.
4) In central London or an accessible part of North London. We'd be happy to go as far north as say, Finsbury Park? If it's near a tube or overground train. Doesn't need to be confined to that area, just giving an idea of how far out we consider travel-able.

This would be for a weekend afternoon in late July. I'm thinking something like a beer garden or a pub with a large-ish outdoor space (or an indoor space if it's not likely to be crowded on a weekend). I just honestly don't know what's around these days!

Thanks in advance.
posted by cpatterson to Travel & Transportation around London, England (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In July? Get a picnic hamper or three and go to a park.
posted by at at 11:33 AM on May 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

the Royal Festival Hall is PERFECT for this, I have spent many happy days there just chilling with people. They will serve you food but you don't have to keep buying shit constantly.
posted by Acheman at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I too came to suggest RFH. Also the Barbican, where you can sit inside or outside by the water depending on the weather.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Second the Barbican!
posted by caoimhe at 3:29 PM on May 4, 2019

I was going to say RFH or the Barbican too. The best. Space to hang out, no pressure to buy things like in a pub/restaurant, but there’s food/drink if you want it, plenty of toilets...

But it’s worth checking what events they have on: they both occasionally have free bands or other events in their main spaces which will take up room and might attract more of a crowd (and noise). Also, (though less of an issue on an afternoon) both will be much busier immediately before and after a concert/play.
posted by fabius at 2:04 AM on May 6, 2019

The VandA Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green might be a good option if there are lots of potentially bored kids involved? It has a Benugo cafe which are usually licensed, though I’m not sure about this one.

Otherwise the VandA proper might also fit the bill, especially the courtyard if it’s sunny. Again with a very good cafe attached it has a very cool shallow pool which is a big hit with paddling kids. It’s a bit of a pain to get to from the north though.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:19 AM on May 6, 2019

I just remembered that I never replied to this! These are some good ideas and I'm going to check out what's on at the Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican that weekend so we can figure out if it's viable. Middlemarch I used to work at the V&A, so it'll probably be a stop on another day to see old colleagues!
posted by cpatterson at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2019

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