Exploring the Pubs of London
The pubs for the British are the quintessential meeting place to relax, debate, and get together with friends. The definition of a pub is: A drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Canada and Australia. And London has its fair share of them. In fact, over 2,500 with many boasting an illustrious history, hosting characters ranging from Charles Dickens to Jack the Ripper.
You may notice that some pubs will be notated as a free house. Before you get too excited, the term “free house” is not to be taken literally. Basically it means the establishments are not tied to a specific brewery, and thus are free to stock whatever beers or ales they choose.
Pub food: It can run the gamut from traditional English favorites; meat pies, “toad in the hole”, potato jackets plus fillings, but now you're finding more gastro-pubs that have a more expansive menu, and will offer more exotic cuisine, like Indian and Thai.
As a tourist, it's a great place to share a pint, unwind, and relive your day's activities. And you don't have to be a beer drinker. They will all offer several wines by the glass, as well a nice cup of tea for those that don't imbibe. And save room for that sticky toffee.
Here's a few of our favorites, but just like exploring new venues, half the fun is stumbling onto a new one on your own.
Ye Old Mitre-Ely Court, Ely Place, this historic pub has been around since the 1700's, it’s tucked away and a little hard to find, but well worth it. Just off High Holburn. A very good beer list, and….no tv’s. Tube: St Paul
Newman Arms, 23 Rathbone St, George Orwell was a frequent visitor here, famous for their homemade pies, Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Goodge St.
Princess Louise, If you’re near the British Museum, this would be a nice stop. Etched glass, beautiful lamps, cozy booths, the consummate traditional Victorian pub. Tube: Holborn
The Drayton Arms, 153 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, very friendly pub with great ambiance, usually at least a couple of American beers on tap, and…no tv's! Tube: Earls Court or South Kensington
Churchill Arms, 119 Kensington High St. Loaded with memorabilia of…yes, Winston Churchill. Pretty good food that leans toward Thai cuisine. Hard to miss as it’s bedecked with flowers around the building. Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Windsor Castle, 114 Campden Hill Rd, fireplace, great outdoor garden; exudes charm, both outside and in. Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Star Tavern, Belgrave Mews, known as the site where “The Great Train Robbery” was planned. Excellent food, fireplace, and congenial service. My wife actually gets credit for finding this gem. Now it’s my favorite. Tube: Knightsbridge
Prospect of Whitby, dating from the 16th century, this historic pub claim to be the oldest riverside pub. Charles Dickens was known to pop in here, as well as Richard Burton. A nice raised addition with views of the Thames. Just west of London Bridge. Tube: Shadwell, DLR Rail
Old Bell Tavern, I love this place! Built by Sir Christopher Wren, this 17th century pub has colorful stained glass windows and a stone floor, giving it a medieval flair. Their food is a notch above normal pub cuisine. Tube: Blackfriars
Compton Arms, 4 Compton Ave, Islington, Rather unpretentious flavor. As it's not far from Emirates Stadium, there are Arsenal fans, but not really a boisterous crowd. Wearing a Manchester United jersey probably not a good idea. Nice wine list as well as their beers on tap. Tube: Holloway or Angel