Bar Italia: "A Soho institution" Top 5 Page for this destination London Nightlife Tip by toonsarah

London Nightlife: 1,243 reviews and 1,315 photos

  Bar Italia at Christmas
by toonsarah

Well before the days of Starbucks a coffee bar was a favourite destination for many Londoners, but on those days they looked to Italy for their inspiration, not to Seattle. And the grandfather of all Italian coffee bars in Soho is this one, Bar Italia. It dates back to 1923 and has been serving frothy cappuccinos all through the night ever since (yes, all through the night – Bar Italia is a 24 hour place).

I love it here, though there are downsides, the main one being that it’s tiny and it can be hard to get in, never mind find somewhere to sit. But persevere, squeeze past the crowds near the bar, and like us on a recent chilly evening you may find somewhere to perch and observe the goings-on. Of course the coffee is great, but on that after dinner visit I opted for a glass of one of my favourite drinks, grappa – Bar Italia is also licensed and has a good range of beers, wines and spirits. You can also get food here – we’ve never had more than a tasty pastry, but there are panini, simple pasta dishes and pizzas too if you’re hungry.

When the Italian football team is playing Bar Italia becomes a magnet for every Italian in the city. The atmosphere is reputedly fantastic, but although my part-Italian husband is a keen supporter we’ve never yet managed to get here early enough before a game to get in – I reckon four hours might just do it LOL. But we were in the vicinity when Italy won the World Cup in 2006 and joined the celebrations in the street outside.

By the way, if you do visit have a look above the entrance where you’ll see one of the famous Blue Plaques denoting a building associated with a famous historical figure, in this case John Logie Baird. It was in a laboratory above this bar that he first demonstrated television in 1926.

Dress Code: Anything goes!

Address: 22 Frith Street, London W1D 4RF
Directions: Nearest tube stations: Leicester Square (Piccadilly and Northern lines), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) or Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines)
Phone: %s3%cb 020 7437 4520
Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Apr 27, 2014
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse


toonsarah Lives Here!


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 0 7
Forum Rank:
0 0 0 3 0

Have you been to London?

  Share Your Travels