London is famous for many things, including Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, The Thames River and The London Eye, but there’s nothing which captures the attention of the average Londoner like a good British pub. The London pub has, over time, developed into a watering hole which dons many faces. Some London pubs are perfect for after-office crowds and others are frequented by families on the weekend for Sunday lunch. The key to finding the best pubs in London is to stay in-the-know about the latest openings and to be clear about what kind of London pub experience you’re looking to find before you start your search.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Latest versions of London pub guides
- List of pubs in your local area
Stay connected. Read The Good Pub Guide and Time Out London regularly. They are two of the most useful guides with information about new and existing pubs in London. Subscribe to their online newsletters so that information about new London pubs or changes to existing London pub favourites get delivered direct to your email inbox.
Enquire about facilities. Before visiting a pub in person, make a quick call and investigate. Make sure it’s the right kind of pub to meet your needs and tastes. Find out if it’s suitable for children, if they show important sports coverage regularly, what kind of menu they serve on a Sunday afternoon and when their business periods are during the day. These kinds of enquiries will give you a good idea as to what kind of London pub it is and what kind of crowd it attracts. A large number of London pubs over the past decade have begun to specialise in certain areas too. Find out if they serve a specialist cheese and wine menu or if they have discounts on certain kinds of orders. The more questions you ask, the more you will be able to gauge whether or not it’s the kind of London pub you have been looking for.
Find out if the London pub you have selected is part of a chain. Weatherspoons pubs, for example, are notorious for their low beer prices and cheap food deals. They don’t play music and therefore function best as a place for people to meet up with friends and chat. They also function well as a pre-event location. Lots of Londoners meet in a Weatherspoons before a sports match or before moving on to a different bar/club towards the end of the evening.
Select your location well. Visit the pubs in Central London and close to Liverpool Street Station for after-office happy hours during the week. Expect low prices, but standing room only, and to be surrounded by London business types who are chilling out after a long day at the office. Try pubs along Broadway Market in Hackney on the weekend for cheese and wine options or if you’re interested in trying a range of beers from all over the world. Families looking to have Sunday lunch should look to pubs located in North London with outdoor patios for children to enjoy during the summer months.
Become a regular. Visit your local tavern, found in all residential areas across London, for a quiet, weekday pint. Many local London taverns have fully-functioning open fires that you can sit next to, with your book in hand, during the winter months. Befriending the landlord of your local tavern can be a great way to integrate yourself into the community if you have recently moved to the area too.
Consider the weather. During the winter months, the best London pubs are those with lots of indoor space and open fires. In the summertime, look for a London pub with a great patio area or plenty of space outside of the street to enjoy your beer in the sunshine.
Tips and warnings
- Become a regular. Get to know a pub by visiting it regularly on various days. London pubs are little communities waiting for more members.
- Avoid listening to hearsay. Finding the right London pub is an individual thing. What one person likes or dislikes won’t be the same for everyone else. The best way to find the best London pub is to frequent them in person.
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