In the heart of an unbelievably snowy January, it would take a madman to even consider London to be the new Mediterranean hotspot but, that said, Bradley’s Spanish Bar does its best to persuade even the most sane with its lively Hispanic vibe and Spanish lagers on tap… despite the fact that Bradley is more American personal trainer than Spanish bar owner.
So what makes this place so Spanish? Well it’s fine selection of Spanish lagers both bottled (Cruzcampo, Corona, Estrella…) and on tap (Estrella, San Miguel) certainly added to the Mediterranean vibe, as do the various paintings that grace the walls, seemingly inspired by the great Spanish painters such as Velázquez and Picasso. Objectively, however, I’d say there is very little beyond that that marks this place out as Spanish. On the other hand, what it does have (much more noticeably on Friday and Saturday evenings) is a joi de vivre (yes – I’m using French to describe a Spanish bar), a fiesta atmosphere that can’t be found in other pubs. Particularly on match days – it televises all Spanish league games – it gets rather rowdy and is a lot of fun to be a part of…
But is it really that great a pub? The decor is certainly different to your traditional British public houses, with postcards smothering the walls and the odd wall hanging too, whilst it also has two floors, the basement one contributing in particular to an underground, secret feel. Aesthetically pleasing wooden bars on both floors also mean its never too hard to get a drink, even on the busiest evenings.
Yet, there is something about Bradley’s that makes it horrendously inappropriate for a chilled out, pleasant drink. I visited with a friend in the hope of enjoying a pint and conversation in ambient surroundings… a dream that was quickly dashed upon entry. What the website claims as the “centrepiece of the bar” – a vintage vinyl jukebox – was actually at the heart of my issue with Bradley’s; nothing halts conversation as quickly as heavy rock or metal “music”, genres that seem to have got their inspiration from hysterical screaming.
But one must consider whether Bradley’s was really going for that kind of vibe. The rather minimalist approach to seating (particularly upstairs) suggests that Bradley’s isn’t going for that “chatty pint” approach but a more lively, dancey (is that a word?) mood that 90s rock junkies will certainly buy into.
It may not be a haven of Spanish culture – you won’t be getting any tapas here, in fact it seems a bit of a travesty it’s called “Spanish” – and certainly not appropriate for a casual pint, but Bradley’s Spanish Bar is still a lot fun, creating that fiesta atmosphere through a mix of reasonably priced drinks and dubious tunes. I’d suggest visiting particularly on the day of El Clasico [Barcelona vs Real Madrid] where the atmosphere is guaranteed to be cracking, and starting off the night with their (according to their website) legendary Tequila Sangrita: “a shot of Cuervo Gold followed by a homemade chaser based on tomato juice with lots of spices”… packing a kick more powerful than Don Quixote’s mule, it’s sure to be the start of a memorable night!
Location: 42-44 Hanway Street, W1T 1UT [Tottenham Court Road]
Suitable For: Drinks with Mates, Drinks and Dancing
Price: Happily Affordable
Tips: Bring earplugs, perhaps?
Wow Factor: Owns one of the last few Vinyl Jukeboxes around
Overall: %% [I’d give it a bonus half if I could]