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I bet you’ve been looking forward to visiting some pubs in London ever since you booked your trip. But I know what you’re wondering…

“Do I tip the bartender?”
“How do I order a drink?”

Not to worry. Here are some important things to know before you visit any pubs in London.

Place your order at the bar

For most pubs in London, you’re going to order your drinks at the bar, pay there, and take your drinks to your seat or wherever you’re standing. The same thing goes for when you order pub food too, unless there is a separate restaurant section, then you’ll have table service. When in doubt, just ask.

Don’t tip the bartenders

Americans, you’ll love this. Tipping in London is different than in the States. There’s no need to tip bartenders in pubs, or really any bars, in the UK. In fact, it would be a tad odd if you did.

Order beer and cider by the pint

It’s customary to order your beer or cider by the pint. Just say “can I get a pint of [drink]”? To give you an idea of how big that is, a pint of beer is 20 oz, or the size of a bottle of Coke for one person. You can also ask for a half-pint if you want something smaller. Most bars will also have bottled beer available too.

You can stand outside with your pint

When pubs in London start to get crowded, people just stand around with their drinks. When it’s a decent day outside, the crowds spill out to the streets and pavement surrounding the pub. You know it’s quittin’ time when you see lots of people outside with a pint in their hand.

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What to know before visiting pubs in London.

Pubs in London are family affairs

Almost all pubs in London are family-friendly during the day. In fact it’s very common for parents to take their kids (and dogs!) to the pub for a Saturday or Sunday lunch. It feels more like a casual restaurant than a pub. If you really want to feel like a local, head to a pub with the whole family on the weekend!

Order drinks in rounds

When Londoners go to the pub together, they typically buy drinks in rounds, instead of everyone having to go up to the bar individually. If you’ve got a big group, you can see how it’d be easy to get drunk fairly quickly! You don’t have to do it this way, but it definitely makes it easier to get your drinks.

You can dress casually

Most pubs in London, especially during the day, are pretty casual in terms of what you wear. The only exception is when it starts to get later in the evening. You might see people dressed up for a night out, as they’ve planned to head to a club after the pub.

Seat yourself (in the bar area)

Pubs in London are generally a seat yourself thing, if you can find one. Some do let you call ahead and reserve a table, so you might see signs that say “reserved”. If you have a big group, call up to reserve a table if you can think that far ahead! Otherwise, just find yourself a spot when you get there.

Not all pubs in London are equal

There are all different types of pubs in London, from nicer Gastro pubs, to cheaper ones like Weatherspoons. The quality of pub food will vary greatly, but you can’t really go wrong when it comes to ordering beer, wine and cider. Don’t stress too much about finding the perfect London pub to visit – just pop into one, have a drink, and you can always move on if you’re not into it. For some suggestions of pubs to visit in London, grab The Local Guide to London.

If you plan to eat and drink a lot when you’re in London, here are more tips about Food and Drink in London.

More smart London tips:
How to experience Afternoon Tea
How to experience Sunday Roast
What to eat at Borough Market

Jessica Dante

Jess is the founder of Love and London, an online travel guide that helps London tourists to visit London like they live there. She's been featured in Refinery29, Forbes, BBC Radio 2, HuffPost, and more. Jess is also a sustainable and ethical travel advocate.

3 Comments

  • Tammy Chrzan says:

    I always wonder to myself “Do I leave a tip?” I mean we tip everyone here in the States! I have just learned to not tip in England.
    This post has made me want a half a lager shandy!
    London is by far, my most favorite city in the world, I love that you post all about it!
    Forgive me if I lurke often 🙂

  • Deborah says:

    Jess, This is going to be a random question, but have you ever gone out to a resturant for Thanksgiving dinner there in London? I know this has nothing to do with bars in London, but I couldn’t find a place to email you on your website.
    My hubby and I will be in London durning the holiday, I kind of don’t want to worry about having a thanksgiving dinner, but my. hub does … :-/ I did google a few places, but really can’t decide which one to pick, to make a reservation at. Any thoughts?

    Deborah.

    • Jess says:

      Hi Deborah, yup there are lots of places that do Thanksgiving dinners. I’ve gone to the Big Easy which was pretty good (very loud live music though).

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