* updated December 2016
Whether you’re on the prowl for a cask ale, an atmospheric pub, or an original cocktail bar, it can be hard to choose from the best pubs in London as the city has no shortage of watering holes. After living in London — see my London bucket list and other pertinent London posts — as an expat for a year and visiting half a dozen times since, I guess I’ve seen my fair share of pubs (read: drank monstrous amounts of ciders and spent hundreds of pounds on booze).
It wasn’t easy to pick only a few, considering there are over 7000 pubs in London; I am well on my way to sampling them all but until I am finished, here are my favourite places to grab a drink with friends in various areas of the city.
Cheers, you guys!
My Favourite & Best Pubs in London
77 Borough High Street
Welcome to London’s oldest and last remaining galleried coaching inn! Said to be Shakespeare’s favourite watering hole on the south bank.
For over 200 years, this pub, nestled in one of Hampstead’s quiet cobbled streets, has been drawing locals in search of a good time and a good pint. Features a fireplace, a lived-in feel, and beautiful wooden floors—like all proper pubs should.
Lamb & Flag
33 Rose Street
What was once the watering hole of none other than Charles Dickens is definitely a staple of the London pub scene. After all, only a handful of pubs can boast having been opened for such a long time — 335 years, in this case — and served such famous clients. What The Lamb & Flag lacks in space — it is ridiculously tiny — it makes for in atmosphere and history. Frequently dubbed the best historical pub in London (it dates back from 1772), this Dickens favourite retains an irresistible old-world charm.
The Churchill Arms
119 Kensington Church Street
A pub that exclusively serves Thai food? Such a thing exists in London. The Churchill Arms, just a stone throw’s from Kensington Gardens, is one of the best pubs in London, for many reasons: its uncommon menu, its beautiful hanging flowers baskets that tumble out onto the street, its fantastic collection of Churchill memorabilia and the many modern day celebrities that frequently visit — this pub simply doesn’t disappoint. Once the local of Churchill’s grandparents, this quirky and leafy pub is filled with Copperknob (Winston’s nickname; he was a redhead) memorabilia. This is also London’s only pub to exclusively serve Thaï food. No chippies here!
The Nag’s Head
53 Kinnerton Street
This unassuming Belgravia boozer is located on a quiet and narrow mews, away from the hustle. With its numerous trinkets and uneven floors, I suspect it hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years; that’s precisely why I like it so much.
This is a perfectly maintained (it dates back from 1770) locals-only pub located on a tranquil street bordering a leafy park in upscale Richmond; in a way, it’s almost buccolic as you could blink and be transported to the English countryside. There are only a handful of seats and if you’re lucky, you’ll grab one outside.
Best Pubs in London: Additional Suggestions
- Best garden: The Albion in Islington and Edinboro Castle in Camden
- Best waterfront pub: The Dove in Hammersmith, The Founders Arms in Southwark, the Dickens Inn in Tower Hill and Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich
- Best pub quiz: The Old Queen’s Head in Islington
- Best historic, old-timey feel: The Counting House in Bank, Ye Olde Cock Tavern in The City, Ye Olde Mitre in Farringdon, Cittie of Yorke in Holborn and the Viaduct Tavern in Farringdon
- Best people-watching: The Camden Eye in Camden, the Warwick Castle in Maida Vale and the Ladbroke Arms in Holland Park
Even More Suggestions In The Book!
Like what you just read? Some of it are excerpts from my London city guide eBook, which I just published. You’ll find 200 more suggestions of things to see, do, eat, and drink in London in there, as well as photography pointers and loads of helpful tips.