The most beautiful branches of popular high street chains revealed

Dining in style! The most beautiful branches of popular high street chains – including a Wetherspoons in a Grade I listed corn exchange, so is there one in your town?

  • These branches of popular high street eateries are the most beautiful in the UK 
  • READ MORE: The changing face of the High Street: Famous old names disappear from Britain’s favourite shopping thoroughfares

Whether you fancy sipping a pint in Wetherspoons, buying a well-priced pastry in Greggs, or picking up a latte in Pret A Manger, you’re probably choosing these chains for their convenience factor.

But not all outlets are created equally, as some high street favourites are housed in slightly unusual buildings – from elaborate and impressive listed buildings to those with interesting histories.

So if you fancy enjoying a drink or bite to eat in impressive surroundings, without splashing out too much money, you could do worse than to check out any of these eateries. 

From Pret A Manager in a 14th century structure in Oxford to an All Bar One housed in a 1933 neo-Georgian building created by a famous forgotten architect, these outlets show that chains need not always be characterless.

Here, FEMAIL rounds up the most beautiful high street chain branches across the UK.

Wetherspoons, the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Based in the former Corn Exchange building in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, this is widely considered to be the poshest Wetherspoons around

It’s not just the impressive exterior – the interior of this Wetherspoons branch is also beautiful, with an enormous glass domed ceiling

Value pub chain Wetherspoons is known for its branches houses in historical buildings.

The chain often buys historical buildings like former halls, or banks, and transforms them into pubs. 

Take, for example, its Canary Wharf pub, situated in the Ledger Building, a Grade I listed, single storey construction built around 1803.

Or there is its Royal Tunbridge Wells option, in the area’s former opera house. Built in 1902, it still boasts some original features.

However, its most impressive branch is widely considered to be in the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The Grade I listed structure, which was opened in 1862, cost around £7,000 to build – around £1 million in today’s money.

Its exterior boasts a grand Grecian-style columns, and the interior is no less impressive.

One of the pub’s most aesthetically pleasing features is its enormous glass-domed ceiling. 

All Bar One, 2-3 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton

This Brighton branch of All Bar One occupies a building of historical significance, being built by architect John Leopold Denman

Inside the building, the neo-Georgian style continues with the sage green colour palette and decorate chairs

Brighton’s branch of All Bar One is another recognisable high street chain to house itself in an historical building.

The bar, which is moments away from the city’s Pavillion building, is located in an almost century-old building which boasts a rich history.

Built in 1933, in neo-Georgian style, the structure was created by Brighton architect John Leopold Denman.

His career, which spanned both World Wars, was an illustrious one: he built more than 200 buildings.

These include the Masonic Temple in Brighton, the cathedral archive in Canterbury, and the SW Surrey Crematorium in Feltham.

Now home to All Bar One, 2-3 Pavilion Buildings was once the office of the Brighton and Hove Herald Newspaper.

Perhaps in a nod to the building’s neo-Georgian exterior, the interior decor also references that epoch. 

It boasts a sage green colour scheme and chairs decked out with decorative panels evocative of the Chinoiserie wallpaper which characterises the Mid-Georgian period.

Pizza Express, Gloucester Road branch, London

Pizza Express’ Gloucester Road branch, which is housed in a ‘beautiful’ Georgian building on Cromwell Road, offers diners reasonably-priced food in a period location

Previously believed to be a bank, the chain describes the property as a ‘beautiful Georgian building’, which boasts period features 

Another chain eatery housed in an historical building, Pizza Express’ Gloucester Road branch is considered to be one of its poshest thanks to its location and the architecture of the building it is housed in.

Previously believed to be a bank, the chain describes the property as a ‘beautiful Georgian building’.

It boasts attractive period features, as well as being surrounded by some equally impressive structures. 

And the eatery’s location, on Cromwell Road in South Kensington also boasts an interesting history.

Built in the 1800s, the road is thought to be named after Richard Cromwell – son of Oliver – as he once owned a house locally. 

Zizzi, the Corn Exchange, Manchester city centre

Those looking for beautiful architecture will find just that at this central branch of pizza chain Zizzi (pictured)

Buildings don’t come much grander than the Corn Exchange in Manchester city centre’s Medieval Quarter.

Built in 1837, the imposing structure boasts a host of impressive Edwardian features, alongside some modern touches.

The building has a rich history. Originally called the Corn & Produce Exchange, traders from around the globe would come to exchange their wares.

After a brief stint as the Royal ExchangeTheatre Company in the mid-70s, it became home to a marketplace and secondhand record store in the 1990s.

Despite being damaged in 1996, when the city centre was bombed by the IRA, the Exchange was restored to its former glory.

It is now home to a number of eateries and retailers, among them a branch of high street chain Zizzi, whose grand Grade II exterior belies its somewhat casual dining menu.  

Greggs on Abbeygate Street, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Greggs’ poshest branch is thought to be this one on Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, thanks to it being located in a Grade II 17th century building

Greggs has become increasingly popular in recent years, with diners flocking to the high street bakery to pick up reasonably-priced pastries.

But one of its branches is a little different to the others, boasting a far more illustrious facade.

The Abbeygate Street, branch – again in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – is situated in a 17th century Grade II listed building.

Unlike other Greggs branches, which have a similar look (normally large windows and the chain’s famous blue sign), this outlet has an old time look.

The exterior of the shopfront is decked out in ornate wooden panelling, and even the sign has been created in a wood-style material to match.

However, the inside does not match its interior, and is closer in style to an average Greggs outlet. 

Pret A Manger, Cornmarket Street, Oxford 

This Pret A Manger (left) is housed in a building in Oxford that is thought to date back to the 14th century 

The impressive building that houses this Oxford branch of Pret A Manger is believed to date back as far as the 14th century.

However, it is thought that the building, which belongs to Jesus College, probably underwent some construction changes in the 17th and 19th centuries.

The three-storey building, which boasts a timber-framed front and Welsh slate roof, is Grade II listed.

Inside, while the outlet boasts some rustic touches like wooden panelling, the eatery has a similar appearance to other Pret A Manger outlets.

Starbucks on Great Portland Street in London 

This London Starbucks branch is situated in the ornate 1920s Tennyson House on Great Portland Street

Another unlikely high street gem can be found on central London’s Great Portland Street. 

Known for being a very long road boasting a mix of architecture, Starbucks is housed in one the street’s most recognisable buildings – Tennyson House.

The large corner building, which features six floors, was built around 1920.

According to the coffee chain: ‘Nestled in London’s West End, the design of the Great Portland Street Starbucks takes its cues from the building’s original architecture. 

‘It includes dark panels to complement the cornicing of the building, the restoration of original hardwood floors and a range of seating for the local community.’

Cafe Rouge, Samuel Ryder building, St Albans 

Although it has now closed, Cafe Rouge once had a branch inside the art deco Samuel Ryder building in St Albans

While now sadly closed, Cafe Rouge’s St Albans branch on Holywell Hill is worthy of an honourable mention thanks to being located in a stylish art deco-style building with a fascinating history.

The Samuel Ryder building, at 27 – 29 Holywell Hill, was once home to to seed entrepreneur Samuel Ryder’s product exhibition hall.

His seed business was inspired by his realisation that the working class was being priced out of gardening, so he started selling penny packets of seeds.

And this wasn’t his only achievement: as well as being the Mayor of St Albans, he was also the founder of the Ryder Cup. 

During the eatery’s tenure in the location, while it served the same menu as in its other branches, diners regularly praised the historical location in reviews.

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