The London Grill: Jonno Riley

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.


[J]ONNO IS a co-founder of the London Pub Crawl Company and has lived in London for most of his life. From being abolished by Margaret Thatcher when working at the Greater London Council, to working in the private sector in an office under the Waterloo – London Bridge railway line, to starting a pub crawl company with his partner’s cousin from Australia. Jonno and his partner Troy bring a different view to London and are passionate in providing locals and tourists alike with the best London pub experience. Jonno and Troy have also developed an iPhone app in Australia – Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars and are working on Best UK Pubs and other app ideas.

London-PubWhat’s your secret London tip?
The Mayflower in Rotherhithe. This is a fascinating pub right on the river and is where Christopher Jones set sail in the Mayflower to pick up the Pilgrim Fathers on their trip to America. We took some American friends on our Old London Docks pub crawl, which includes this pub and they were almost speechless. So much history packed into such a small area. One of my favourite walks on a Sunday afternoon.

What’s your secret London place?
St Brides church crypt. Another beautiful monument built by Wren on the site of a former church destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. Latter restoration works uncovered 6 foundations of former churches on the site and a roman road.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Peak hour on the tube – I tend to walk now. London is a very walkable city and it’s worth the effort, particularly when you know a few good coffee shops on the way!

What’s your favourite building?
The Zurich Building on Great Tower Street. I love the look of this building nestled in between Billingsgate and the Gherkin. It’s pretty unique looking and to me is reminiscent of the gothic cathedrals in Europe.

What’s your most hated building?
I don’t actually hate any building in London. There are some very ordinary looking buildings, but they are a reflection of the era in which they were built. Architecture is a very personal thing and what someone hates someone else will love. It’s what makes the world work.

What’s the best view in London?
My favourite view of London is sitting outside the Horniman pub in Hays Galleria (London Bridge). Overlooking the river Thames, HMS Belfast, Billingsgate Market, Zurich building and the Gherkin. It’s a great view of London’s past and present.

What’s your personal London landmark?
County Hall. I was a trainee engineer here and was lucky enough to be working under Ken Livingstone. I have never met a politician that I have more respect for, even though I do not agree with many of his views.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Harry Brown with Michael Caine – Returning to his roots, this is a film that portrays the hard side of London. Filmed in the social housing estate of Silvertown, the film is grim and somehow too realistic and captures the grit that Hollywood just cannot match.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
My favourite pub is the Jerusalem tucked behind Farringdon station. This is a wonderful old pub behind the museum of the Order of St John (as in ambulances). The history of St John is amazing and I half expect Crusaders to walk into the Jerusalem for a swift pint. It is run by St Peter’s Brewery too, so a rather nice drop of beer.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
London is way too big for one day! I would have to start early and grab a hearty breakfast in one of the local cafes with a good coffee before getting the Oyster card out and travelling to Colindale to visit the RAF museum. Back on the Tube and a short drop down to Hampstead for a nice lunch in the Holly Bush, a great pub tucked away behind the High Street. There is a narrow stone set of stairs that will take you there. The afternoon would be walking around Piccadilly and has to include tea at Fortnum and Masons, everyone should do this at least once. Back down the Tube and up to Goodge Street and a wander through the Building Centre. Not everyone’s bag, but if you like planning and architecture, this is a very interesting place. Afterwards, I would wander down Store Street to Store Street Espresso for a pick-me-up coffee (another great London café). In the evening I would catch up with friends in one of London’s many great pubs. Undoubtedly we would do our favourite pub crawl around Notting Hill starting at the Uxbridge and ending at the Churchill Arms for a feed of pub Thai. This lovely pub walk is in our London Pub Crawls app (iPhone and Android). But then our passion is pubs, so we may just wander under the pretext of “research”!

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