Walking down a busy street in London's West End, you can't help but be drawn in by the stunning display of flowers adorning the entrance to Mr Fogg's Tavern.

Once you go inside, you are transported back to the Victorian era. The warm oak panelled interior is filled with 18th-century artefacts which adorn every inch of the walls and hang from the ceiling, while the bill of fare boasts the finest roasts, ales and peculiar punches.

Staff in traditional overalls will serve up real ales, batch brews, "mother's ruin" gin cocktails and grog in traditional tankards and pewter cups.

It's a character pub which draws in all sorts of crowds, whether for an after work pint or a pre-theatre cocktail.

The pub also hosts events, including gin masterclasses and a cockney singalong every Thursday. There's bottomless brunch on Saturdays and roasts on Sundays.

So what is it about Mr Fogg's Tavern that draws in so many punters?

Jay Sebode is the manager of the pub. "There's a lot of competition," he says. "There are beautiful places and there are other Victorian pubs. But what I think makes us different is that we completely embrace the Victorian theme. We make it a statement.

"When you walk in you have that feeling like you are stepping back in time. The decor is really what takes you away from central London.

 

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"It has a steampunk vibe to it. It's immersing the guests in our world.

"People are wowed – it's an experience. Even if you come for a pint of lager as you can anywhere else in London, you get an experience."

The pub is one of six pubs owned by Inception Group.

Mr Fogg's Tavern is named after Jules Verne's fictional explorer, Phileas Fogg, who went Around the World in 80 Days. It has an "upstairs, downstairs" theatrical theme with a Victorian tavern on the ground floor and a refined gin parlour and salon upstairs. "When you walk in, it's like walking into the book. That's what we are trying to achieve and promote to the guest," Jay adds.

"The way we dress is part of the theme and the decor and the experience. It helps the staff to be in character. We encourage the staff to be outgoing and over the top to create the experience and wow the guests."

 

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Food is sold at lunchtime and throughout the day, with lots of sharing boards and platters on offer. But the pub's main focus is on its drinks.

"It's so busy at night that we push the tables to the side. We are less of a restaurant and more of a bar," says Jay.

 

Flowered up

The pub's biggest stand-out feature for people passing-by is its stunning display of flowers, which change with the seasons. People stop to have their photograph taken, and share it on social media.

"Every single person that walks past at least has a glance at the pub. We must be one of the pubs that has the most pictures on Instagram. It definitely draws people in, says Jay.

"I look at the comments and people say "I would love to go there next time I'm in London".

"The footfall is so high here. We run
surveys on social media and a high percentage of the attraction is the flowers.

"We change the flowers twice a year. We want to be a bit different. We want to create something that's going to turn heads. It's a challenge because every year we have more to compete with.

"It's one of the best streets in the world in terms of footfall. Our crowd is really mixed. We have the after-work drinkers and we really like that.

"If people just want an easy pint they will go to a traditional or a chain pub. But some of the others, they want to come here for something special."

The pub also does also have its regulars. One 82-year-old chap makes a special journey to the pub from Battersea. "He says it's his local," Jay adds."He comes all the way here[ about 3.7 miles] because he loves the atmosphere and he loves the staff.

 

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  • The inspiration - Mr Fogg's Tavern (the fictional version)

Whilst travelling Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg receives the news that his beloved aunt, celebrated actress, Gertrude Fogg, has passed away and made Mr Fogg the sole beneficiary of her estate, including her enchanting pied-à-terre on St Martin's Lane. Duty bound to honour his aunt's dying wish, Mr Fogg permits her housekeeper Fanny McGee, to create a 'tavern' for her friends and theatrical acquaintances downstairs, whilst keeping the upstairs parlour as a much needed refuge for himself and his friends.