The right location for an interview is essential to putting your source at ease and getting the most out of them in the least time possible. Pick the wrong dining spot and you’ve blown it. But, choose the right site and they might just give you the lead you need to finally write a story that isn’t about cute cats.
Here’s our round-up of the best London locations for each type of source:
The first thing to make clear in this meeting is that you’re not here to report on any kind of expenses scandal, and you have no interest in judging what they spend tax payers’ money on. Once that’s been made clear, they can order whatever the hell they want. Of course, you’re still limited by expenses, so be prepared to stare jealously at their three-course meal while you sip that water and pretend to enjoy a salad.
We recommend: Byron, in The Strand. It’s near Parliament and sells posh burgers; a food man-of-the-people enough for them to be seen eating and expensive enough to sate the old Etonian in them. If Osborne can pop it on his expenses, so can they.
409 The Strand, London, WC2R 0NS
If you’re lucky enough to bag a face-to-face interview with a big celeb, you’re not going to be choosing the venue. The hotel-breakfast-meeting option is what’s often suggested, so make sure to order a couple of mimosas to loosen things up.
We recommend: Breakfast at Claridges isn’t cheap. But for a chance to interview Will Smith or Kanye you’ll just have to let your wallet take a hit and order that £6 bagel. And if you’re too nervous to eat, don’t worry. Claridges offer pots of tea… for £7.50
The academic expert
You need to get your head around what a Bitcoin is and how it works pronto, so you call in the academic expert. You’ll want a nice, quiet, coffee-and-cake backdrop for this interview – somewhere you can concentrate, and somewhere your dictaphone is going to get a clear recording. Of course, understanding anything they say is still down to you.
We recommend: Bea’s of Bloomsbury Cakes – a quiet café that is stuffed to the brim with cake. Which you can use to reassure yourself after the interview ends with you still understanding nothing.
44 Theobalds Road, London, WC1X 8NW
Obviously if this is a waiting-at-Moscow-airport kind of job, lunch will probably be the last thing on your mind. But for smaller-scale whistleblowers, you’ll need to find somewhere low-key where you can meet without fear – or eavesdroppers.
We recommend: Sam Smith’s pubs are known for their labyrinthine interiors. The Earl of Lonsdale in Notting Hill has plenty of private booths that will keep snoopers out.
277-281 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2QA
A valuable expert source, treat them to somewhere a bit more fancy. For all you know, they might be part of the £1,100 club.
We recommend: Burger & Lobster. Flashy food at a fixed price – so you won’t be screwed if you misjudged the situation and end up footing the bill.
30 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7HS is the nearest for lots of lawyers but 52 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AR is fancier.
The start-up founder
Trendy cafes, bars in railway arches and repurposed warehouse spaces are this interviewee’s natural habitat, and therefore the only options when organising this meetup. No, your dictaphone recording won’t come out well, but at least you’ll be putting them at ease.
We recommend: Timberyard – which runs two co-working cafes in Central London. Obviously, you should head to the Old Street outpost, not Covent Garden.
61-67 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HW
The local gossip
The most insufferable of all sources, and you will unfortunately have to keep them sweet if you want to keep getting the latest on local grumbles about the council’s new rubbish collection scheme. Go for somewhere cheap and cheerful to avoid turning them into a freeloader.
We recommend: E Pellicci’s in Bethnal Green, or an equivalent local greasy spoon. All the locals have been through the doors here – including the Kray twins – so it’s the perfect backdrop for extracting gossip.
332 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AG