Updated: Increased to 14 London pubs
London pubs are a great example of that very British institution: the public house (or, pub, for short).
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What Makes London Pubs Great?
Most countries have their watering holes, bars and the like, but none are quite like the traditional English pub. Part bar, part home from home and part communal meeting place, they are a must do on any trip to the UK.
Part of their charm is their conviviality.
A good pub is likely to have the atmosphere like the social club or even a gathering in someone’s house, than the more drinking den feel of most liquor serving places.
The other part is the large range of ales they have on offer. You can get most types of American style beer (or lager as it is called here) but for the real pub experience try the ‘real ale’ (usually also called ‘bitter’).
This has less gas than normal beer – it is not artificially carbonated – is darker and is served properly at just below room temperature rather than cold.
It is served directly from hand pumps on the bar and is delicious (although it is an acquired taste perhaps).
And you can get yourself a ‘normal’ beer if you don’t like it.
In recent years pubs have also got their act together with food and so you can now make an evening of a visit.
Great London Pubs
London has many of the best city centered pubs (although other cities such as Manchester, Bristol and York may beg to differ).
Here we present 14 great examples near the normal tourist hideouts – make sure you visit at least one on your next England trip.
No 1: The Old Ship, Hammersmith
Located in the Hammersmith district of West London this classic pub dates from 1722.
It has a fantastic view from its terrace right next to the river and is a traditional vantage point for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race held every April.
Hammersmith is a transportation hub, so access is easy via the Underground or by bus.
No 2: The Royal Oak, Southwark
Featuring Harvey’s traditional cask ales, this restored Victorian corner pub is the classic ‘local’ pub.
Located in Southwark, in central London.
No 3: The Dog and Bell, Deptford
A friendly staff will help you choose from a wide array of traditional English ales and Belgian beers.
You may even find a fortified cider on tap if that is your thing.
The whimsical signboard out front will welcome you to this retreat in Deptford.
No 4: The White Swan, Twickenham
A Twickenham Tusk Pale Ale will pair nicely with the fried squid appetizer at this riverside pub.
Once known more as a drinking establishment, new owners have perked up the menu offerings and The White Swan is gaining a reputation as a foodie’s favorite.
Located by the river in Twickenham.
No 5: The Flask, Highgate
The northern suburb of Highgate is home to The Flask.
Claims have been made that a pub known as The Flask has stood on this site for several centuries.
Fuller’s London Pride is the favored pale ale on tap. The ploughman’s sandwich justifies the journey.
No 6: The Harp, Central London
Around the corner from Trafalgar Square, The Harp also serves Fuller’s beers.
Try a rich, dark London Porter. The Harp concentrates on the beer experience, but pub fare is available.
Try the pork pie before you venture back out to see Trafalgar Square by night.
No 7: The Bricklayer’s Arms, Putney
This pub prides itself on presenting a variety of high quality real ale, and the selection varies from week to week.
They claim to be ‘London’s permanent beer festival’. Beers are mostly sourced from small breweries all around the UK.
No 8: The Door Hinge, Welling
This traditional ale house located in Welling also features a rotating selection of local ales.
Make your selection from the day’s list on the chalkboard and enjoy an ale in this nicely appointed place with a genuine pub feel.
No 9. The Black Friar, Blackfriars
Famous for being saved from demolition by the poet John Betjeman, this city watering hole was built in 1875.
It, and the surrounding area, are named after the Dominican order of monks, nicknamed Blackfriars due to their black cloaks, who had a monastery on the site in medieval times.
No 10. The Nags Head, Belgravia
This is an early 19th-century pub in a charming mews street with an unusual split-level interior. Much of the fittings are said to be imported but the pub retains an olde worlde feel.
No 11. Cittie of Yorke
The Cittie of Yorke is a grade II listed public house on London’s High Holborn, and is listed in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The pub is owned and operated by Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery from Tadcaster near York.
The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas penned an impromptu ode to the pub when it was called Henneky’s Long Bar.
No 12. Palm Tree in Bow
Despite its exotic name, this is a traditional East End ‘boozer’.
It’s a great example of how the local pub is a focal point of the community in a way bars are not in other countries.
No 13. The White Horse in Parsons Green
This Fulham ale house is nicknamed the ‘Sloaney Pony’ given its posh West London location.
But don’t let that put you off. This is a great place to have a well made hearty meal washed down with a pint of locally brewed London Pride ale.
No 14. The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
A great pub with a great view of the river from its back terrace.
One of the oldest pubs in London – it dates from 1620 – it is close to the mooring point of the Mayflower ship which set off from here in the same year.