Let’s put it simply, London wouldn’t be London without all of its old-school rickety pubs; it’s part of the history and heritage of this buzzing city. The capital is home to thousands of them, from pubs older than the UK to edgy hipster hot spots. Most of them are worth a visit, but we’ve shortlisted a few we think are extra special. Here are our recommendations for gorgeous London pubs to visit.
(WA = Wheelchair Accessible)
Images Courtesy of The Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms
First on our list of gorgeous London pubs to visit is The Churchill Arms, which is a top contender on many lists of London’s most beautiful pubs, and it’s not hard to see why. It was built in 1750 and was visited by Churchill’s grandparents throughout the 1800s, hence the name change after World War II. The facade is covered in beautiful, bright flower displays, which once earned them a spot as a winner of the Chelsea Flower Show. During the Christmas period, the outside is decorated with around 80 Christmas trees and 22,000 lights, turning it into one of the most Christmassy pubs in the city. Inside, you’ll find plenty of Churchill memorabilia adorning the walls and a menu serving delicious Thai fare in a butterfly-themed conservatory.
The Churchill Arms | Kensington | WA (partially- see link for more details)
Image Courtesy of The Holly Bush
The Holly Bush
This charming London local is as quintessentially British as it gets. It’s tucked down a cobbled lane in Hampstead and set inside a grade II listed building (which means it’s historically protected); it’s a local favourite. Inside it’s small but cosy, with a dark wooden interior, leather sofas and scattered tables. They have plenty of beers on tap and serve a menu of traditional seasonal fare, including a roast dinner that features on many ‘Best Roast Dinners in London’ lists. It’s well worth exploring the local area after; Hampstead is known for being one of the most picturesque London neighbourhoods, home to boutique shops, quaint cafés and pretty parks. For more ideas for what to do in this part of the city, grab The Casual Tourist Guide to North London.
The Holly Bush | Hampstead
Images Courtesy of The Dickens Inn
The Dickens Inn
The Dickens Inn is a traditional 18th-century pub based in the hustle and bustle of St. Katherine’s Docks, London’s only marina. The ground floor houses the Tavern Bar, a traditional pub pulling classic pints and serving typical pub grub food. The Grill, also housed inside The Dickens Inn, serves classic British and seasonal dishes in a more upmarket space, perfect for a casual lunch, dinner, or something a little fancier. It’s believed that the pub was built as a tea factory or local brewery in the early 1700s and was later converted into a tavern with sawdust floors. If it’s a warm day, pick a seat on one of the upstairs balconies, you’ll be surrounded by flowers and can enjoy views of the docks below.
The Dickens Inn | Tower Hill | WA
Image Courtesy of The Albion
The Albion is definitely deserving of a spot on this list of gorgeous London pubs to visit. It’s got a blanket of wisteria coating the outside, and inside, a handful of log fires keep the wood-panelled interior nice and toasty. It’s known as a Georgian gem, situated in the heart of Islington and first opened when the area was made up of just fields. Inside you’ll find rickety floorboards, mismatched chairs and tables, and French windows leading into one of the prettiest beer gardens in London, complete with more wisteria and plenty of seating. It’s great for bigger groups.
The Albion | Islington
Image Courtesy of The Blackfriar
The Blackfriar pub is a traditional London drinking hole that’s been around since 1875 and is definitely deserving of a spot on our list of gorgeous London pubs to visit. It’s set in a Grade II building on Queen Victoria Street, built in an art Nouveau style. The architecture is pretty spectacular, adorned with mosaics, marble sculptures, paintings and ornamental balconies; it resembles a classic church. They’ve made a name for themselves for the delicious food served here, which focuses on fresh, seasonal dishes and a variety of pies; they’re proud to call themselves pie connoisseurs.
The Blackfriar | Blackfriars
Images Courtesy of Old Bank of England
Old Bank of England
Take a glimpse back at a slice of London history at this historic city pub on Fleet Street right around the corner from Temple Station and moments from the Thames. It’s set inside the old Law Court’s branch of the previous Bank of England, which was around from 1888 to 1975 and features giant artworks and impressive decor. Chandeliers, high sculptured ceilings and a creaky wooden staircase make up the interior, decorated in a Neoclassical style. The food is traditional pub grub but feels a little more upmarket, expect things like torched rosary goat’s cheese with focaccia croutons, duck croquettes and tempura Padron peppers, as well as a selection of handcrafted pies served with creamy mash and red wine gravy.
Old Bank of England | Temple
Image Courtesy of Ye Olde Mitre
Ye Olde Mitre
This traditional London boozer dates back to 1547 and has seen many of the happenings of 16th-century London life. It’s tucked away down a small alleyway on Ely Street in Holborn, and if you’re looking for a quintessential British pub experience, this is where it’s at. The inside comprises nooks and crannies, with small rooms with a handful of tables and chairs in each. If you’re an ale drinker, you’re in luck; they have an excellent selection of ales on tap that perfectly complement the homemade bar snacks. It’s well worth swinging by if you want to visit a pub that’s totally steeped in history.
Ye Olde Mitre | Farringdon
Images Courtesy of The Spaniards Inn
The Spaniards Inn
Last up on our list of gorgeous London pubs to visit is The Spaniards Inn. Originally built in 1585 as a tollgate, the pub is steeped in history, and rumour has it that Dick Turpin’s father was the landlord in the 1700s, and Dick Turpin was also actually born there. There’s an intimate feel to the pub inside; it’s got an open fire, dark wooden floorboards and walls and plenty of cosy corners. There’s a spacious walled garden area which is perfect for al fresco drinks or food from their menu of seasonal dishes. The pub is also only a five-minute walk from the lush Hampstead Heath.
The Spaniards Inn | Hampstead
Want to hit some historic London pubs with a fun group and a knowledge Londoner leading the way? We’d recommend booking Tastes, Tales & Traditional Ales: Food Tour of London’s Historic Pubs.
Make sure you tag us if you decide to visit any of these gorgeous London pubs @loveandlondon!