Whether you’re looking for a cosy place with a quiet corner, you’re interested in buzzing spots for a group session on the ales, or you’re after family times complete with the finest Sunday lunch, these London pubs cater to all appetites. We’ve rounded up our favourite pubs across the capital, so you can cut out the faff and concentrate on getting a round in. Bottoms up!
The Old Bank of England, Fleet Street
One of the most incredible interiors of any pub in the city can be found at the Old Bank of England , a stunning spot with ornate ceilings and grand chandeliers. Behind the lovely island bar they pour McMullens cask ales, with Rivertown on draught, while the kitchen turns out decent pub grub. As the name suggests, the pub is housed in the old Law Courts’ branch of the Bank of England, which operated from 1888 to 1975.
The Dublin Castle, Camden
Camden’s best pub is the Dublin Castle. It seems to both have inspired and absorbed the epitome of Camden culture, right down to the lashings of military red on the walls — remember the Libertines’ jackets? From the outside, it looks almost grand; inside it’s a place to drink cheap lager and have your head blown off by boys and girls with guitars.
Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
A pub has stood on the Prospect of Whitby’s spot since the 16th century. Back then it was known as the Devil’s Tavern, named for the nefarious activities of the sailors that used to frequent it. The pub is far more than just a historic novelty though, blessed with a spacious downstairs drinking area, a great beer garden and unparalleled views of the Thames. Parts of this loveable boozer might be over 400 years old, but the pub still has so much to offer visitors in 2020.
The Lyceum Tavern, the Strand
Like all the best Sam Smith’s in London, the Lyceum feels like it’s not been changed in decades. The boozer, found right on the Strand, has the charm of an old spit and sawdust ale house; the booths are some of the cosiest spaces to sip a pint of Taddy lager and escape the crowds.
The Cross Keys, the city
The Cross Keys pub is a great mix of affordability and quality, matching tasteful decor including marble columns, vaulted ceilings and a curved island bar with the reasonable prices punters expect from Spoons. The fact that rounds don’t cost the earth here makes it perfect for an outing after work, while Spoons’ usual solid selection of beers and spirits is on offer.
The Ship & Shovell, Charing Cross
Cleaved either side of Craven Passage, just behind Charing Cross, it is two pubs for the price of one: both are cosy Victorian boltholes with plenty of original features, while at the bars they’ve Badger beers on draft (the Best Bitter and Tanglefoot are favourites), a couple of decent lagers and a carefully chosen spirits selection.
The Spread Eagle, Homerton
The Spread eagle is a place where absolutely everything from the bar snacks to the sofas is 100 percent vegan, has single-handedly been dispelling myths about veganism since opening in 2017, proving that it’s a whole lot of fun to go meat and dairy-free. Go for fantastic cocktails from the beautiful central bar – their very boozy Bloody Mary is perfect with brunch – and excellent food from Club Mexicana.
The Westminster Arms, Westminster
The Westminster Arms is an old-school boozer is the politicians’ pub of choice and the political journalists who report on them. Run by Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame, the pub is famous for its division bell, which alerts politicians when they need to dash back to the Commons to vote. Today you can find plenty of lovely old period features, like the beautiful illustrated signwork above and around the bar, which adds to the appeal of the place.
The Harp, the Strand
The Harp has held on at number one, and London’s loveliest drinking spot is as reliable as ever. It draws in all sorts the city’s account managers, street sweepers, artists and piss artists all gather here. Even the Opera house orchestra can be spotted ducking in during intermissions.The space, with endearingly-awful old paintings and countless beer tap badges hung around the bar, has seen it all. It’s no secret how good this place is if you can get a seat here you’re doing incredibly well and it is nearly always full to capacity on weekday evenings, with drinkers spilling out onto the pavement, nursing pints of something delicious here’s a mix of strong, well-kept stables and intriguing oddities squeezed in behind the compact bar.
The Guinea Grill, Mayfair
Some pubs are the sum of their parts, their beer list and location, their gardens and fireplaces. Not the Guinea, which makes much more sense in person than on paper.At its busiest, it does not hum but rumble with laughter and chatter, pint glasses tapping on table tops. It is somewhere to be, somewhere everyone wants to be.
The Coach & Horses, Soho
The Coach & Horses is more than a pub it’s a deeply loved London institution with a rich history and a bright future. Homely, humble and a little rough around the edges, it’s a welcoming retreat for a pint and a chit-chat in London's bustling area of Soho.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street
Though one of the city’s most famous pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese somehow still has the feel of a hidden gem, thanks in part to its location you could walk Fleet Street for years and never notice it. The pub’s black front gives nothing away, and guests make their way in down a narrow side street off the main road, adding an irresistible clandestine air. The historic pub, rebuilt following the Great Fire of London in 1667, is full of surprises.
Southampton Arms, Kentish Town
Southampton Arms is stocked with a huge variety of craft beers, around 20 in fact, but only two varieties of wine, a lavish gastropub, this ain’t. Despite the extensive ale selection, which specialises in beers from London’s smaller breweries, the place still has the feel of a proper boozer, with a relaxed, unfussy atmosphere. The pub’s dog-friendly policy and a lovely open fire make it a really cosy option in NW5 with a refreshingly down to earth feel.
The Harwood Arms, Fulham
Hidden away in the back streets of Fulham, the Harwood offers award-winning food and wine in a casual and relaxed setting. We champion the very best British produce with a focus on game and wild food. We are also currently the only Michelin-starred pub in London.
The Sekforde, Clerkenwell
The Sekforde smartened up beautifully with gorgeous handmade Scandi furniture, serves a terrific Sunday roast, and has particularly good staff, the kind who know their stuff but manage to fill customers in without being overbearing.