The smell of earthy wood burning in the stove, exposed brick along the walls, low ceilings, old saloon signage and real ales on tap. The unpretentious welcome in a seemingly familiar place, with friendly staff and the calming sounds of chitchat, banter and boisterous laughter drowning out the silence. You go here for fun, community, beer and food.
Pub culture in the UK is real and without doubt, they do it well. There’s nothing quite like it! Settling into a cosy pub on a dreary day, enjoying a creamy pint of Guinness, while you patiently wait for a hearty meal of your choice – usually a roast with potatoes, root vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and gravy on the side. Warm, wholesome and delicious!
Granted, country pubs usually offer more charm than the city pubs, but London still has plenty of good options. I’ve been living here for 2.5 years now, so I have a few pubs under my belt.
Here is a list of my favourites by area, in no particular order.
Angel / Islington
Untreated wooden tables, checker table clothes, and quality meats from trusted farmers. This pub is always buzzing, always warm (in colder months) and will make you feel a bit like you’re walking into your Grandparents farmhouse, especially in the private dining room upstairs. The Roasts are cooked to perfection, the craft beers are cold and the wine list is extensive. Perfect spot for a Sunday roast!
Classic, old Victorian pub on a quiet side street in Angel. This is actually our local, about 200 metres from our house. It’s also a community favourite, where a hand full of older gents gather up, sitting on the chunky wooden bar stools for a pint and a yarn, on any given evening.
Modern British comfort food at an elegant family-friendly Georgian pub, with a nice garden out back. The food is quite good and the vibe is easy-going. Another goodie for Sunday Roast. There is also a charming little park across the road, so you can relax there afterwards on a bench.
Tucked away along the cannel, this pub is a great stop going to or from Broadway Market or Victoria Park. This pub has cask ales (most pubs do), which some would argue is the real deal and the way beer should be. Cask Ales, they are brewed and matured the traditional way, with secondary fermentation in the barrel. It has quite a different taste to keg ales and usually served room temperature, with no added gas (fizz). I still prefer kegs, but not all would agree. Try it!
Some pubs are known for its football fans and The Barn is one of them, particularly Arsenal. With two large screens in the bar area and one in the dining room area, watching sport is a big incentive for people here. However, the pub itself is great too, with a log fire, really yum food (especially Fish & Chips) and a good beer selection. Highly recommend!
Cool pub with a young crowd and great outdoor beer garden. This place is every beer lover’s dream with 20 + craft beers on tap. It’s a buzzing, lively place that get’s very busy – perfect for small social gathering amongst pals.
Cute open-plan pub, in the leafy suburb of Canonbury, with quirky images of 1960’s icons around the walls. This is a family friendly pub, with a casual unpretentious feel.
Small hidden gem with low ceilings and revealed timber beams that you nearly need to duck under. Great food, awesome beer selection, friendly staff, and superb roast chicken on Sundays.
Modern gastro pub in Granary square, with a gorgeous roof top patio. It’s the perfect place to lounge and eat on a sunny afternoon. Rose on ice? Yes please! In addition, the food is really yum with plenty of heathy options. Afterwards, you can go for a lovely stroll along the cannel. Delightful!
Another Victoria pub, more grungy than some, but traditional nonetheless. This pub is better for drinking sessions, rather than the quality food and service. My favourite part about this place is the Irish music sessions that happen on weekends. Musicians come in with their instruments and play for the crowd periodically. Nothing like a little Irish jig to perk you up!
Calling all history buffs! This is definitely the oldest pub I have ever been in – originally built it 1585. With the wood paneled walls, old fire stove, and low ceilings, it feels like you’ve gone back in time. You can imagine it being a pit stop for a traveling merchant, or a safe haven for a thirsty farmer, with his horse and buggy parked outside. It’s an excellent place to stop for dinner, after a stroll through Hampstead Heath.
After Dinner at the Spaniards Inn, you can head to another pub in Hampstead, which has a Jazz club in the basement. They have some excellent young talent for those who appreciate Jazz. Something different!
Stylish and cute Gastro Pub, with different style rooms. Quirky, but nice décor with great food and a more mature crowd due to the location. There is an amazing little beer garden in the back as well.
Best place to go on a nice summer day. There’s a big beer garden, great Sunday roasts and events throughout the year. Perfect spot to set up shop after strolling through Regents Park or Camden market.
One of the best pubs for food, drinks, vibes and views. They have heaters outdoors all year round, overlooking the river and skyline. Perfect mix of commuters, city slickers and tourists + art people from Tate Modern.
Another oldie, this pub was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666, the pub is known for its literary associations, with its regulars including Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain. It will take you back a century or so… Try the Fish & Chips!
Feel like being a hobbit for a night? Check out Waxy’s, it’s like stepping into the Shire from Lord of the Rings. With live music most evenings, and nooks and crannies to get lost in. On top of that, it’s smack bang in the middle of Chinatown, perfect set up for late night dumplings.
Elegant refined gastropub, with great food and very cosy. In the summer, the beer garden is always full of laughing North Londoners, dogs and sports fans in the corner.
A bit of a tourist pub, as it’s one of the oldest pubs in London, but beautiful on the inside. It’s old and dark, and with a terrace and large area outdoors section along the Thames. Great for a beer in the sun (when is it comes out).
Excellent pub to stop at before or after wandering through Richmond Park. The Plough offers a mix of fine British ales, delicate wines and contemporary food with regularly changing special dishes. There’s also a lovely spacious beer garden out front if it’s a nice day.
Quaint and charming pub, built in 1787, the White Swan maintains a friendly, warm atmosphere within a beautiful location. It’s relaxed, bright, cute with delicious food– really everything you could want in a pub.
A pub with a BBQ area? Sign me up! This is a great pub to settle into after a long walk in Richmond Park. Inside has cool chesterfield sofas and the back garden is massive. I highly recommend the hearty meat pies – Yum!
While there are definitely more pubs to check out, these are some of the best ones in London, no doubt. So settle in, grab a pint and enjoy the charm that is UK’s Pub culture.
Thanks for reading!