Check out a map of London and you’ll immediately recognize a host of famous names and locations. Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus. All those museums and galleries. All that history and Victorian architecture. But let’s face it, you’re going for the pubs.
Despite losing over 1,200 pubs in the last fifteen years, England’s capital still has over 3,500 fine drinking establishments to choose from. You’ve got to love a city where the mayor has pledged to maintain an annual audit to stop any further decline.
Here’s a list of top places to pop in for a pint next time you’re visiting London.
1. The Lamb and Flag
Tucked away in the back alleys of Covent Garden, the Lamb and Flag claims to be the oldest pub in the city. It’s been licensed since 1623 in a building that dates to the time of the Tudors.
2. The Harp
Close to Leister Square and Charing Cross Station, this is a local favorite that specializes in a rotating list of real ales. Lovely ambiance but tends to get incredibly busy by the end of the day.
3. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
This Fleet Street institution was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London but has been serving a great brew on the same site since 1538.
4. The French House
An upscale watering hole with a proud history and strange ways. You’ll only be able to order half-pints at a time and won’t be allowed to use your mobile, but the fact that Charles de Gaulle made it his office during WWII alone makes it worth stopping by.
5. The Marksman
Michelin’s pub of the year for 2017 offers authentic British fare and a nice selection of local beers, ales and lagers. It may lack the history of other vaunted pubs but serves a great chicken and wild leek pie.
6. The Spaniard
This one tops a lot of lists because you’ll get the experience of having a pint in a country pub, right alongside Hampstead Heath. Enjoy rotating cask ales and gastropub fare.
7. The Mayflower
If you’re visiting Jolly Old England from the colonies, you’ll want to raise a glass to the exact spot where the Pilgrims sailed off for America. Cobbled streets, dripping in atmosphere and great views of the Thames.
8. The Old Red Crow
If you’re looking for craft beer, you’ll want to check out this great Smithfield pub. You’ll usually find around 20 stouts, porters, Belgians, cask ales and IPAs on tap.
9. The Understudy
Reputed to be the best pub on the South Bank, where you’ll find a wide selection of real ales alongside the Thames.
10. The Famous Cock
Just because. Drop in after an Arsenal match, conveniently located alongside the Highbury & Islington tube station.
With so many historic inns, trendy gastropubs and working-class boozers, it’s hard to choose the very best. Regardless of where you begin your journey to find the perfect pint, however, you’re sure to find a hearty welcome and (with any luck) a seat by the fire. Cheers!