View Full Version : Real Ale in Marylebone area

12-16-2004, 11:39 AM
I'll be spending a few days in London just after Christmas. I know the Marylebone area pretty well from years gone by but I realize that pubs in the area have gone through quite a few changes. some are no more (including the one on Crawford St. where I met my wife) others have become chain pubs etc. Some may even have improved.
Any recommendations for great cask beer in the area?


12-16-2004, 01:24 PM
Try www.fancyapint.com and go to Locations/Marleybone. Very extensive, the good ones have 4 or 5 pint ratings. I used this sight when in London a few weeks ago with much success!

Richard English
01-08-2005, 07:52 AM
One of the things that often surprises US readers of this board is how difficult it is to get UK readers to recommend pubs. And the reason for this is, quite simply, the huge differences between US and UK cities, especially London.

In most cities in the USA there are some good bars - but most of the bars are rubbish, selling only chemical fizz. Recommendations are essential if one is to be able to enjoy a good drink. For example, when I was recently in Orlando (and thank you all for your help) I managed to find the Cricketer's Arms and had some excellent beer. But it's just about the only decent pub in the entire International Drive area.

Chicago, too, has some wonderful bars - but they are very much the exception with maybe 95% of the bars being chemical fizz establishments.

London is quite different. To start with it has far more pubs than just about anywhere else (estimates vary from a low of 5,000 to a high of 6,000) and 95% of them will serve good beer. In addition there will be specialist bars and, of course, hotel and other bars.

So, to try to suggest a favourite is impossible since even the most dedicated London drinker won't have managed to try them all.

Another difference between London and many other cities is that it has a very good public transport system and an off-peak travel card (off-peak being after 0930) allows unilimited travel on the tube (subway) and the buses for a whole day for around $7.

Which means that it's very easy just to travel around or walk around and try pubs as you find them. You won't be pounced on by a "hostess" as you walk in and, if you don't like the look of the place, just walk out. Nobody will mind.

To give some ideas, though:

The Victoria, near Lancaster Gate and Paddington - a Fuller's house which will be hosting a free evening on 22 February when I (and others) will be speaking about pubs.

The Nag's Head in Kinnerton Street, near Hyde Park Corner, which has probably not changed much in the past 50 years (look out for the pewer-plinthed beer engines)

The Hole in the Wall, Waterloo - in one of the railway arches and a really interesting experience (and good beer).

Any Wetherspoons will be acceptable and cheap.

Be careful of pubs near tourist areas (like Madame Tussauds) since they will overcharge.

Enjoy yourself.

01-08-2005, 10:42 AM
In addition to Richard's masterful summary:

Although there is a huge number of pubs in London (most of which serve good cask beer), there is also a multitude of what I call bars, which don't sell any worthwhile beer. Don't just step into the first bar you find; if it doesn't look like an English pub, then it probably doesn't have any good beer to speak of.

Look for beer engines (hand-pumps). If there are none, there is almost certainly no good beer.

Interestingly, Hoegaarden wit is often lumped along with the fizzy-piss beers in the UK. It is served in most places, including those which have no other good beer. I, personally, avoid it, due to its extortionate price (3.50 per pint, 4 in many places).

Richard, I was driving near St. James' Park about a week ago and noticed a pub (which was closed at the time) called the Two Chairmen. The name rings a bell and I wondered if it was one of your favourite pubs. If so, is the beer there worth a visit?

Richard English
01-08-2005, 12:08 PM
The Two Chairmen I use is just off Trafalgar Square in a cul-de-sac. You'd be unlikely to drive past it although you might spot it if you didn't blink as you drove towards Pall Mall. Although it is almost as near to the centre of London as it is possible to be, it is a very local boozer and few tourists ever find it.

There's a Two Chairmen in Westminster but I've not tried it.

There's also a Crown and Two Chairmen in Soho and probably more with similar names.

St James's Park is quite large and there are several pubs in the roads surrounding it, including the Buckingham Arms in Petty France - one of the best Young's houses in London.

You are right to caution against bars - although some are actually very good. There's a Belgian bar just where Drury Lane meets Gt Queen Street which has a vast selection of draught and bottled Belgian beers. But always look for the beer engines if you're not sure - that way you won't be disappointed.

01-10-2005, 08:20 AM
The Two Chairmen in Westminster was one of our stops last month. Good beer, very friendly staff and patrons. Of the many we went to, it was one of the better stops.

I agree with pub recommendations. I don't think we went to one that was recommended to me. I just marked off on my map book the "highly rated" pubs and we veared off of our path when we got near one.