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Bar Italia

Bar Italia
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Lou and Caterina Polledri opened Bar Italia in 1949 and then their Son Nino took over the reins in the 1970s and he in turn handed over to his son’s Antonio and Luigi and sister Veronica.

The three of them run Bar Italia, the restaurant Little Italy next door, and it’s sister restautrant Nolita, in Hertfordshire.

Undoubtedly one of the secrets of Bar Italia is the coffee

Why is it so good you ask? Because we don’t try and deviate too much. We have a coffee machine that doesn’t have a water filter on so it doesn’t have any salts running through it. The temperature on our Gaggia machine is set at less than boiling so it doesn’t burn the coffee going through it.

We use a very good coffee which is supplied to us by Signor Angelucci who was next door to us for many years.

He started in 1947 and we still use him. We have a loyalty to Signor Angelucci. He has a secret blend of coffee which we have always used.

We have been offered a lot of deals by big coffee manufacturers. They offer free machines and all the bits that go with it, but I have always declined because I have a basic product which everyone loves so why change? There is another element to this. When you come into Bar Italia you are not just a number.

With our coffee you can tell the barrista exactly how you want it. Tell him twice and you will never have to tell him again. He will know you and he will know how you want your coffee, and he will get it right every time. We think that the personal touch is very important. We keep it very simple.

We prefer a European route which is where we believe the best coffee is, especially Italy. Good cappuccino, good espressos, good espresso macchiatos, no gimmicks, no nonsense, it is the real deal.

One of the first things that will hit you when you walk into the Bar is the big picture of Rocky Marciano behind the counter. That picture was sent over to Nino and his wife Vera, by Barbara, Rocky Marciano’s wife.

Every picture in the Bar has an importance, every one tells a story. There are images going back to 1949. The photo’s of Soho back then, make it seem very open with not many people around which is a big contrast to this day.

Another important part of Bar Italia is the large screen television which shows all the Italian sports. Bar Italia is the home of Italian football.

When there is an important game on there is no better place to watch it than Bar Italia. Italians are fanatical about football. Before Sky and satellite TV in general was available, we used to get the Italian football results phoned through every Domenica (Sunday) from Italy and then shout them out to the crowd.

The nights when Italy won the World Cup in 1982 and 2006 will live long in the memory.

In the 1980s there was a major transition in Soho. The majority of the sex shops closed down and they were replaced by cafe and restaurants.

This is where the cafe culture of the 80′s began. Soho went through a huge renaissance in the 80s and music played an enormous part. Ray Petri of the Buffalo organisation, along with people such as Nick and Barry Kamen, all used to use Bar Italia as their office.

Ray Petri actually used to have his castings in the Bar. Adam Ant did his record cover Vive Le Rock at Bar Italia. A great guy.

Nino was actually in the video for Sade’s Smooth operator video along with Antonio.

Celebrities love Bar Italia because they can blend in and be left alone to have the best coffee in town. Regular faces include Suggs, Rupert Everett and Kylie Minouge and Boy George. Francis Ford Coppola drops by when he’s in town, as does David Bowie. We even had a song Bar Italia written about us by Pulp. Truth be told, there is not one pop star in London who has not been into the bar to have a coffee, either day or night.

You can go anywhere in the world and then you will come back into Soho and you will see that a road has changed direction, a shop has closed, a new one has opened. Soho is constantly changing but the one thing that remains the same is Bar Italia. I think by staying as we are, we maintain the attraction and the passion that so many people have for the Bar.

National Gallery

National Gallery
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The National Gallery, situated in the heart of London in Trafalgar Square, houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge. With over 2,300 paintings in the Collection, there are hundreds of reasons to visit the Gallery.

The Gallery aims to study and care for the collection, while encouraging the widest possible access to the pictures. From Leonardo da Vinci to Vincent van Gogh you will have the opportunity to see priceless and iconic works of art.

There are weekly concerts at the gallery; screenings, lectures, and paintings that inspired filmmakers; and family workshops to inspire your children.

The Gallery has two places two eat National Dining Rooms and National Cafe, grab a coffee, glass of wine, lunch or dinner.

The National Gallery shop has exclusive gifts, specialist books and prints of every painting.

Opening Times:

Monday: 10am – 6pm
Tuesday: 10am – 6pm
Wednesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday: 10am – 9pm
Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Insttitute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

Insttitute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
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The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is the UK’s original, not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary arts centre.

Established in 1947 by a collective of artists, poets and writers to explore contemporary culture across the broadest platforms, the ICA has been at the forefront of artistic experiment since its formation and has presented some of the most radical exhibitions, artists, films, music and thought to have shaped our world. It continues today as a dedicated space for new, experimental and independent arts practice and ideas.

Housing two galleries, two cinemas, a theatre, reading room, bookshop and café/bar, the ICA presents an international and contextualised programme of work across a variety of art forms.

Free entry to galleries and bar events before 11pm and free entrance to exhibitions is available.

Opening Times:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 12pm – 11pm
Thursday: 12pm – 1am
Friday: 12pm – 1am
Saturday: 12pm – 1am
Sunday: 12pm – 9pm

Starbucks (Regent Street)

Starbucks (Regent Street)
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Founded in Seattle in 1971 Starbucks has become the world’s leading retailer, roster and brand of speciality coffee. We’re passionate about coffee and only use the finest Arabica beans, carefully roasting them so you can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee.

But Starbucks isn’t just about coffee. Our baristas can make you delicious drinks like the Starbucks Frappuccino Ice Blended Beverage, or treat yourself to one of our freshly baked cakes and pastries.

Tazo teas, juices a selection of handmade sandwiches and heated Panini are available too.

National Geographic / National Geographic Cafe

National Geographic / National Geographic Cafe
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National Geographic has opened its first global retail store on Regent Street.

More than a traditional retail environment, the National Geographic stores features compelling interactive visual displays and state-of-the-art design dedicated to stimulating, educating and inspiring visitors to celebrate global cultures. In addition to its retail marketplace, the store features an exhibition area, auditorium, tapas café, travel desk and photography studio.

Visitors can stop by the café to sample a selection of tapas, comprised of slow food, organic, fair trade and other specialty items. They can also peruse National Geographic’s travel and cartographic library, book National Geographic Expeditions and local tours, and try out apparel and accessories for their upcoming adventures.

The marketplace features a wide selection of National Geographic products featuring its award-winning magazines, books, and DVDs, as well as newly created products and unique, hand-crafted items, sourced from global artisans.

The store also offers items designed for the rigors of adventures and exploration, from casual travel gear to expedition-quality apparel, including hi-tech waterproof bags and innovative, multi-layered apparel suitable for diverse climates and activities.

What’s more, all eclectic furniture and home décor items displayed are available to buy, as well as a variety of furniture pieces reclaimed from old furniture, buildings, bridges and railways.

All proceeds from the National Geographic store support the Society’s exploration, conservation, research and education programmes.

The National Greographic Cafe

National Geographic Cafe The cafe at the National Geographic Store is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, anytime of the day.

With its mosaic floor, Moroccan style lamps and marble topped counters the atmosphere is stylish but laid-back, perfect for a quiet morning coffee or a relaxed glass of wine in the evening.

The cafe serves international cuisine with a particular focus on pinchos – small plate dishes from around the world. Dishes can be enjoyed alone as a snack, or order a selection for a delicious, healthy meal.

The menu is overseen by award winning pinchos chef Miguel Espinosa, who brings a modern, innovative touch to the finest organic ingredients.

Alongside the creative food menu the National Geographic Cafe has an extensive wine list, a range of sustainable bottled waters and a great selection of quality teas and coffees from around the world.

For something that little bit different, why not try a luxurious hot chocolate or one of the unique all fruit Vitafresh drinks made to order? More than enough to revive the most weary of shoppers.

Vida e Caffe

Vida e Caffe
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“vida e caffè” is portuguese for “life and coffee”. The concept was born out of the heritage of a truly european espresso bar, a reaction to the insipid coffee shop culture that is prevalent in our daily lives. vida e caffè is a simple, focused concept that delivers an authentically european experience in espresso and coffee drinking.

vida e caffè as a concept has existed, in one form or another, for centuries. walk down any street in lisboa, porto, rome, paris or barcelona, and you will see the sidewalk cafés that have been our inspiration. a shrine for the wonderful bean and the drinking of it in its purest form; the espresso.

The simplicity of the interior, the focused menu, and the nature of the service, have all been designed with european street culture as the foundation. the vida e caffè espresso bars aim to deliver the highest quality coffee and pastries, prepared to european standards. our menu is based on the fare typical of a street café in lisboa, a slice of europe on african streets.

vida’s mission is a simple one, strive to serve the best espresso, or espresso based caffe, as well as offer the best atmosphere and food on the planet.

Starbucks (Oxford Street)

Starbucks (Oxford Street)
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Starbucks coffeehouses have become a beacon for coffee lovers everywhere.

Starbucks aim to provide a genuine service, an inviting atmosphere and a superb cup of expertly roasted and richly brewed coffee every time.

Starbucks are not just passionate purveyors of coffee, but everything else that goes with a full and rewarding coffeehouse experience. We also offer a selection of premium teas, fine pastries and other treats to please the taste buds. The music you hear in store is chosen for its artistry and appeal.

It’s not unusual to see people coming to Starbucks to chat, meet up or even work as the company aims to provide a neighborhood gathering place, a part of the daily routine.

Pop in to Starbucks on Oxford Street and enjoy a break from shopping.