Luton isn’t just an airport for cheap airlines. It’s also a town in its own right. And like all towns, it can be difficult to get around. Which is why Addison Lee are now offering a complete guide to the area for when a Luton taxi just won’t cut it. So for anyone looking for more than just a taxi to Luton airport, read on for our minicab driver’s guide to all the best restaurants, bars and must-sees of the town and surrounding areas. Home of the Hatters – or Luton Town FC to the rest of us – this humble spot in rural Bedfordshire was once a bucolic countryside retreat. And while the more industrial town centre may now leave something to be desired, a lot of what makes Luton great is only a short taxi ride away. Places like Hitchin, Knebworth and Hemel Hempsted (all no more than 20min taxi ride away) offer the area a richness that might not be so obviously abundant in the town centre. If you do spend a little time in Luton, you’ll probably notice that the town has something of an obsession with hats. The Hatters, The Hat Factory (actually a comedy club), there’s even a Luton Hat Trail (less fun than it sounds). So stick on your explorer’s cap – or go and buy one at one of Luton’s many hat shops – and get ready for our Luton taxi driver’s guide to the very best the town and surrounding area has to offer.
Where to drink
Few pubs can lay claim to having a more authentic local feel than the Bricklayers Arms. This rustic boozer is as much a part of the local landscape as football and hats. And once you’re inside you’ll see why. The walls are literally daubed with histories of the building (apparently it houses a ghost!), while the beer is plentiful and very varied. Warm, inviting and supremely local. A real treat for proper pub lovers.
16-18 High Town Rd, LU2 0DD
Frog & Rhubarb
Another cocktail bar because – do we need a reason? While the pubs in Cambridge are, generally speaking quite easy to find, places like the Hidden Rooms don’t come so easy. Tucked away on a quiet sidestreet is this speakeasy style bar that doubles up as an occasional Jazz club. The drinks are unsurprisingly delicious while the dark and moody interior makes it feel OK to to really let your hair down. Check the website for heading over to see what’s on that night.
Church Rd, Slip End, LU1 4BJ
The Bear Club
Like Jazz & Blues? The Bear Club is Luton’s iconic drinking den for the musically inclined. Earthy and unpolished like all proper jazz clubs should be, the Bear is wildly popular with locals for its proper approach to music and beers. A solid range of beers, wines and spirits are available to wash down those meaty twelve bar blues. Arguably the true cultural centre of Luton town. Not to be missed.
Mill Yard, 24a Guildford St, LU1 2NR
Where to eat
Another pub that treads that fine line between eatery and drinkery. The Fox is around a ten minute journey outside of Luton town centre but well worth the trip. It offers a warm oak interior, a long bar and a small garden at the front. The food is quintessentially British and the ales are plentiful. A popular spot with local families, you can get your fill without breaking the bank. A safe bet for anyone looking for a little rural calm.
469 Luton Rd, Harpenden AL5 3QE
Upping the ante a little is the more modern feeling Hermitage Road in nearby Hitchin. Again, you’ll have to travel but that’s kind of part and parcel of visiting Luton. As soon as you arrive at this modern kitchen and bar you’ll be aware of the effort that’s been put into making this place really stand out. Seasonal dishes match the French bistro-esque design of the open plan kitchen. Rendering it incredibly welcoming. Stop by for dinner or just a drink.
Hermitage Rd, Hitchin, SG5 1BY
The Alford Arms is picturesque rural dining at it’s absolute best. This cosy little pub/restaurant almost looks like a white cottage from the outside. Set on the edge of Frithsden village green, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere more inviting. The gastropub delights on offer are always seasonal and delicious, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating so you can really soak up that real English garden vibe.
Frithsden, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3DD
What to do
Stockwood Discovery Centre
Bordering the large and expansive Stockwell Park (worth a visit in its own right), is the Discovery Centre. A popular spot for visiting families, the centre is a hive of interesting things to do and see. Most popular of which is the Mossman Gallery, a shrine to every mode of transport that was ever horse-drawn. The gardens feature notable sculptures and are ideal for a lazy summer wander. Check the website to see what exciting events are being hosted at the centre this month.
London Road, LU1 4LX
The Hat Factory
Hold your horses. Before you disregard it, the Hat Factory isn’t what you might expect. Sharing its name with Luton’s historic hatmakers (but little else), this cultural hive is actually the home of the town’s comedy and theatre circuit. Hosting regular shows, classes and invitationals, it is used by all the local dancers, performers and artists to showcase their talents. Check the website to see what’s on right now.
65 - 67 Bute Street LU1 2EY
The theatre of dreams it ain’t. But if you are in search of a piece of true football heritage, you’ll struggle to find a football ground more authentic than Kenilworth Road. Home of Luton Town FC since 1905, this may be a far cry from the glamour of the Premier League but the Hatter’s large, faithful and rousing support will always make a fist of any game. Even if it is away from the big bucks of the Uniteds, Chelseas and Liverpools. Just make sure you’re in the home end.
Kenilworth Road Stadium, 1 Maple Rd E, LU4 8AW