31 Endell Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9EB
The ‘cross keys’ of the name – as held above the doorway by two plump naked cherubs – actually belong to the gates of heaven. Despite the flowers and pretty greenery that festoon the frontage, however, what lies beyond is not so much Paradise as simply a damn good old-school London pub. Set on a relatively quiet central London street, its permanently dark interior – where red bulbs lend a rich glow to the red-leather upholstery and dangling brass antiques – offers an inviting escape from the urban hubbub outside. Look out for quirky memorabilia, relating to British national treasures from the Beatles to David Beckham. The fine range of real ales always includes four or five choices from burgeoning east London brewery Brodie’s; at lunchtimes they serve sandwiches and home-made pies, and there’s a roast on Sundays; but it’s the beer that keeps the regulars coming back for more. The pavement tables fill up fast on summer evenings.