View Full Version : Recommendations please - London

09-24-2004, 10:27 AM
Hi all,

My wife and I will be in London for the weekend in a couple of weeks, staying with friends in Kilburn. I'm a novice when it comes to real ale (living in Ireland, choices are a little limited) and was looking for suggestions of both pubs and beers to try.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.


p.s. just leaving work now, off to Cork for the weekend for my monthly quota of Beamish. Slainte.

Herb Ninja
09-24-2004, 09:24 PM

Highly Recommended. Peace, HN-

09-25-2004, 01:42 PM
Check out this older thread:


09-25-2004, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by Herb Ninja

Highly Recommended. Peace, HN-

Wenlock Arms is good. a neighborhood pub a little off the beaten track but they really care about the beer there. I recommend it too

09-25-2004, 08:14 PM
If you don't mind high prices and are not going to be turning up on a Friday or Saturday evening/night, you might want to try the White Horse on Parson's Green. It has a very respectable beer collection (many beers on tap, in kegs and in bottles; imported and British) and good food.

The restauranty bit is at the bottom right-hand corner of the bar. You can still have food in the rest, but the comfy sofas aren't really designed for graceful eating.

There are many more pubs, but they have all slipped my mind at the moment. If you're driving around, you should be able to just bump into some good pubs if you stay away from busy, trafficy places.

09-30-2004, 11:11 AM
Thanks for the suggestions.

We'll actually be in Paddington for the first night, so I'm hoping to head to the Bayswater direction for food, and hopefully to the Victoria, as it seems to have Richard's seal of approval :)

At least now I have some names to go by.


09-30-2004, 11:45 AM
I've been to the Victoria as well. (Thank's again Richard and group.) I like Fullers beers and the Bar tendress was actually from Washington DC. Small world.

09-30-2004, 02:41 PM
There's actually a quite decent pub in the Paddincton Station itself if I recall: The Mad Bishop and Bear on the 1st floor (that'll be the second floor for us yanks).
There's some good pubs over on Crawford street - Marylebone way - a nice area for a bit of a pub crawl.

09-30-2004, 02:42 PM
Originally posted by Theakston
There's some good pubs over on Crawford street - Marylebone way - a nice area for a bit of a pub crawl.

but watch out for american women ---- that's where I met the wife!

10-01-2004, 09:57 AM
I am going to jump on this thread as well. I will be in London from Oct 26th to Nov 4th, have never been to London before and donít know the area. I took a quick look at the previous thread and canít make heads or tails out of it (because I donít know London). I am staying in the Canary Whorf area and would love any ideas as to where to go for a good pint and some company.

10-01-2004, 10:37 AM

Through the suggestions, and some other sites, I have gotten a good idea of where to go.

If someone suggests a pub and gives the street, tap it into streetmap (http://www.streetmap.co.uk) for the location.
Or trythis website (http://www.pubs.com) , where you can search by postal district.
Some of the real ale pubs on that website have been mentioned here, and it will show you the location on a map.


10-01-2004, 11:36 AM
Thanks noby! Being able to search by postal code is awesome! Found a pub close by already :)

10-01-2004, 01:52 PM
I don't know the area, but here's some good general advice:

Stay away from any place which doesn't have hand-pumped beer. I can't think of a single pub in my life's experience which served any good beer without serving something cask-conditioned as well. The only exceptions to this rule are that many pubs without handpumps will have hoegaarden and every pub will have guinness (but I can tell you: you'll get bored of these before long).

Try to find pubs which are 'freehouses'. These aren't tied to any one pub and tend to have a very varied selection of cask ales as a result. In London, you'll probably be hit by a profusion of Fullers and Youngs pubs. Their beers aren't bad, but the pubs will usually only have their standard beers on tap (eg: London Pride, Youngs Bitter, Youngs Special, possibly Chiswick Bitter).

10-01-2004, 02:15 PM
I know this is definitely a case of the grass is always greener, but if I could get cask Young's Special on a regular basis I'd think the world was an ok place.

FWIW I didn't have that hard of time finding free house or other associated pubs, then again I was usuing the Good Beer Guide and the CAMRA London Guide like the Bible.

10-01-2004, 06:18 PM
Ah ha! I knew I'd forgotten something: buy a good beer or pub guide that is specific to London or has a large London section and you can't go wrong. Good call, Meridian.

10-01-2004, 08:46 PM
Thanks guys! I heard this from some other people as well..guess I'll be picking up the CAMRA book :)

10-01-2004, 09:27 PM
When I was in London several years ago, the CAMRA Good Beer Guide was the most useful tool I brought with me. I never had a bad beer in any of the pubs that were listed in that publication, and I always got a proper pint. Truly an invaluable book.

Richard English
10-03-2004, 05:10 AM
I have been away for a while and am catching up.

There are between 5 and 6 thousand pubs in London and probably 95% of them serve cask-conditioned beer. Don't even think of going into one that does not. If you go in and find that there are no handpumps or that the pump clips are all turned around (meaning that the beer is off) just walk right out. There will be another pub nearby.

A few other points. Buy a copy of the London A-Z map. Don't even think of getting any alternative. It is the finest streetmap in the world and you can get in in the USA. Travel around London by bus or tube (subway). Buy a travelcard to cover the areas you wish to negotiate (one for zone 1 will usually be sufficent) and, after 0930 (any time at weekends) this will allow you unlimited travel on buses and tubes all day. Don't buy single tickets or you'll end up paying a fortune. Even though London is the biggest city in Europe (bigger than, say, Chicago) it is very easy to get around.

If you are drinking until very late you might find that you'll miss the last tube and in which case take a taxi. All official London taxis (you will easily recognise them - largish, highish, usually black and with a prominent illuminated sign on their roof) are licensed by the Metropolitan Police and all cabbies will know exactly where you want to go. DO NOT consider taking any other kind or you'll be ripped off.

Paddington and Bayswater are good areas to eat and there are some fine pubs. The ones just across the road from the station are a bit grotty - the Victoria is fine. I will be there from 1900 on 07 October, 21 October, 01 November and 15 November if anyone fancies buying me a pint. I will be in the Library bar and will be with a public speaking group called the Simpletons. Visitors are welcome and don't have to speak (though they can if they want to!).

One point about freehouses. Many of them (Nicholsons for instance) have a good range of beers but charge top price. Tied houses are usually cheaper although you'll be limited in choice by UK standards. The Victoria, for example, only has four cask-conditioned beers - all Fuller's. There is one exception and that is Wetherspoons. Although some people criticise them as being "mock" (which they usually are) all will have a good range of cask-conditioned beers, always well kept, and always reasonably priced. Most beers weigh in at under £2 per pint (Imperial), which compares with a typical £2.60 in a Nicholsons.

If you aren't sure about a beer, most pubs will allow you a free taster (all Wetherspoons do this) - just ask. If you are served a pint and it doesn't taste right - send it back. That's perfectly in order.

British pubs are not like American bars. Don't go to the door and expect to be met and escorted to a table; that does not happen. If you go to a table, don't expect to have a waiter come and take your order - that doesn't happen either. Go to the bar (that's the serving counter - not the place in which you drink) and wait your turn. The bartender will serve customers in order so make sure you've caught his or her eye as soon as possible if the bar is busy. I you want to eat then you'll probably need to order your food at the bar as well.

Incidentally, all drinks and meals are paid for at the time of order unless you set up a special tab, so make sure you have your money ready. Some pubs will take credit cards but don't rely on it.

Once you have become used to English pubs (and, if you get the chance, hop on the train and go to visit some country pubs as well - quite different from London pubs, but just as nice in their own way) you'll appreciate why British pubs and British beer are legendary throughout the world.

10-14-2004, 06:21 AM
Just want to say thanks for all the suggestions and help. We got back on Sunday night, and I had a great time. We did pop into the Victoria on thursday night. It seems like a lovely pub, and I'd love to spend more time there. I had a couple of pints of Chiswick bitter, which went down very well. While London Pride became my main stay for the weekend (I didn't want to try a pint of everything, and not remember any of them), I particularly enjoyed the Caledonian 80/.

I also had several pints of Paulaner in camden friday night. Granted, it's not real ale, but being Irish, wheat beer on draft is as much a novelty as real ale!

It really did turn into a case of 'so many beers, so little time', so I will have to try to get back soon.


Richard English
10-14-2004, 06:31 AM
Quote "...We did pop into the Victoria on thursday night. It seems like a lovely pub, and I'd love to spend more time there. I had a couple of pints of Chiswick bitter, which went down very well..."

You must have been downstairs while I was in the Library, listening to a great speech from a great speaker!

10-14-2004, 06:44 AM
Originally posted by Richard English
You must have been downstairs while I was in the Library, listening to a great speech from a great speaker!

Yes. We only got in late (about 10.15), so I didn't even venture upstairs. We just found a table by the fireplace, and enjoyed our drinks.

The biggest difference I noticed was the closing time/drinking up time. At home, last orders are called at 12.20, bar closes at 12.30 (11.30 sun - thur), then you have a half hour drinking up time.

Richard English
10-14-2004, 06:57 AM
The 2300 closing is a hangover from the British Defence of the Realm Act of 1917. It never applied to Ireland since, by that time, Ireland had become the Irish Free State - an idependent country. As thing stand all pubs in England must, by Law, close at 2300. The wishes of the publican and the customers don't matter.

Fortunately this is all changing (not before time) and, by next year, pubs will be able to choose their own hours, subject to the agreement of the local authorities.

10-14-2004, 07:19 AM
The later closing time is a relatively recent thing in Ireland. Up to about 10 years ago it was 11 o'clock in winter, 11.30 in summer. There was also the 'holy hour', on a sunday between 2pm and 4pm, where pubs had to close. One remaining law is that a pub cannot open until half an hour after last mass on a sunday morning, in case we may be tempted, I guess. Obviously this varies from parish to parish.

What was stranger was the way people just finished their drinks and left the pub by 11.10
In my own local, which would not be known for serving late drinks, although the bar stops serving on time, you could still be there 30-45 minutes later. For smaller pubs, and away from the city, the times aren't quite as strict.(possibly the case in England too)

There are certain politicians who are calling for a return to the earlier closing times. They've already changed thursday night back from 12.30 to 11.30.
A step backwards if you ask me.

Richard English
10-14-2004, 07:38 AM
Quote "...There was also the 'holy hour', on a sunday between 2pm and 4pm, where pubs had to close..."

Yes. I'd heard of this. Mind you, I understand that some publicans would let you wait inside the pub for it to open - and you could always have a drink while you were waiting!

10-14-2004, 07:51 AM
I'm glad this thread has gotten some legs. I'll be in London with my wife during the first weekend in Dec. I've also tried to determine where to go from the other thread but found it confusing as well. My wife and I like to see the sights in the morning, have lunch in a pub, continue until nature calls, go to a pub for that purpose and continue on. Late afternoon invariably turns into a pub crawl. This worked wonderfully in Edinburgh!

I'll pick up a copy of the A-Z and also typing "London Pub Crawl" into Google I have found some very good "routes".
A very cheap ticket and a free place to stay (near Bermondsey/Canada Water) along with my wife's new found enjoyment of real ale made the weekend a no brainer.

I'd like to hear again from "mmmBeer" or anyone else that can give me some more first hand accounts.

Richard English
10-14-2004, 08:03 AM
See my posting of 03 October for some hints. Although we all have our favourites, most pubs in London are at least acceptable. And if you go in and find they have no Real Ale, (look for the handpumps) just walk out again.

Near to where you're staying is the George in Southwark. That's one of the last galleried inns in England and it was built around the same time as the original Globe theatre (it's just a few minutes walk away). It's a bit touristy but worth a visit. Find out more here http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/show.shtml/434/George/London_Bridge

Try also the Nag's Head. near Hyde Park Corner. A real time warp and good Wells Bombardier. http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/show.shtml/3637/Nags_Head/Belgravia

10-14-2004, 08:06 AM
Originally posted by Richard English
Mind you, I understand that some publicans would let you wait inside the pub for it to open - and you could always have a drink while you were waiting!

You might have to know the 'secret knock' first! ;)

The other difference of course was the smoking. We have quickly gotten used to our smoke-free pubs here, so it was strange to see it again. But, you also don't get hoardes of people standing outside smoking either, which has become the norm in Ireland.( a little off-putting, wading through a group of smokers just to enter a pub.)