As quintessentially British as the Queen or the red double-decker bus, ordering a pint at one of London’s historic drinking dens is a right of passage for all visitors to the big smoke, so to get you started, here are 10 of the best pubs in the capital.
1. The Artillery Arms, the City
With its stately dark wood and stone interiors, this traditional British pub checks off all the boxes with a cozy, open-wood fire for the winter months, a menu packed with perfectly assembled pub fare and a prime location right on the edge of the city.
2. George Inn, Southwark
Named after King George and housed in a National Trust Property, this regal drinking hole is London’s last remaining galleried coaching inn dating back to 1676, with its balconies offering fine views over the Thames River.
3. Old Bank of England, Fleet Street
Fans of Victorian architecture will plenty to marvel in the Old Bank of England, designed by architect Sir Arthur Bromfield in 1888. Fans of Sweeney Todd folklore will delight in the pubs gruesome connections with the barbershop murderer, too – the bodies of his victims were said to be butchered in the tunnels beneath the pub before being baked into Mrs Lovett’s infamous pies.
4. The Roebuck, Chiswick
A relative newbie on London’s pub scene, this luxe gastro pub opened back in 2006 and quickly gained popularity for its delicious seasonal cuisine and faultless cocktail menu. It’s set in one of Western London’s most chic districts and has a delightful beer garden out the back.
5. Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
One of London’s most famous pubs, dating back to 1543 when it earned its stripes as a meeting place for villains and smugglers. Rebuilt in the 18th Century, it became a popular drinking den for the notorious ‘hanging Judge’ and its connections to the Tower of London are still visible in the hangman’s noose swinging over the Thames.
6. Ye Old Mitre Tavern, Holborn
This pub is built from the gatehouse of the Palace of Cambridgeshire and legend has it that Elizabeth I danced the maypole around the cherry tree stump, now preserved at the foot of the bar.
7. The Gunmakers, Clerkenwell
This is a traditional timber-fronted boozer, with a selection of on-tap brews and a great bangers and mash (that’s sausages and mashed potato, with gravy, for those uninitiated with London slang!)
8. The Fox, Twickenham
Twickenham’s oldest pub, dating back to medieval times, has been revamped for the 21st century, with a hearty gastro-pub menu and a sizable beer garden out the back – the perfect detour for those spending the day at the nearby Richmond Park.
9. Blind Beggar, Whitechapel
The Blind Beggar has links to East London’s notorious Krays brothers, although the atmosphere today is decidedly less criminal. Retaining much of its original Victorian décor and a barrel load of character, it remains a popular stopping point on the famous Jack the Ripper tours.
10. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street
A favorite haunt of Dickens and a classic example of England’s wacky pub-naming tradition, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese retains the feel of a 17th-century drinking tavern with its narrow stairwells, wooden benches and maze of small rooms to get lost in.
- Zoe Smith