The Ultimate Guide to London Pubs for First-Time or Seventh-Time Travelers

Advisor - Bijoy Shah
Curated By

Bijoy Shah

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  • England

  • London

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Outdoors

  • Nightlife

  • Entertainment

entrance to a pub with a red door and a sign that reads, "Fish & Chips."
Curator’s statement

London, the bustling capital of England, is a city known for its vibrant culture, iconic landmarks and rich history. But amidst the hustle and bustle, there's one aspect of London life that locals and tourists alike can't resist, the charming and historic pubs. These traditional establishments have been standing for centuries, serving up not only a wide selection of drinks but also delicious British fare. From the famous Sunday roast to the finest craft beers, London pubs offer a unique and immersive experience for every visitor.

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Where to stay in London

The Savoy Hotel

Beloved London institution, just a stone’s throw from the River Thames, known for its exacting service, sumptuous interiors and rare treat indoor swimming pool.

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Mayfair's Art Deco heaven, with glamorous design and impeccable service worthy of the Queen.

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The Langham, London

Luxurious London hotel with elegant suites and city views perfect as a home base for exploring the British capital.

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Places to eat & drink in London

people eating a roast

London's pubs are not just places to grab a drink; they are an integral part of the city's culture and history. From the traditional pubs serving up classic British fare to the establishments with breathtaking riverside views, each pub offers a unique experience. Whether you're mingling with locals at The Harp, stepping back in time at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese or enjoying craft beer at The Southampton Arms, London's pubs are sure to leave a lasting impression on every visitor. So, raise a glass and immerse yourself in the vibrant pub culture of London. Cheers!

Traditional Pubs: A Taste of Authenticity

The Harp: Mixing with Locals and Tourists

Located close to Trafalgar Square, The Harp is a pub that comes highly recommended by the London Evening Standard. Frequented by actors, West End workers and locals, this pub is always buzzing with activity. The extensive selection of beer is a highlight, making it a must-visit for beer enthusiasts. Whether you visit in the cozy seating area upstairs or enjoy the warm weather with the stained-glass windows open, The Harp promises a memorable experience.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese: Stepping Back in Time

Venture down a narrow side street and discover the hidden gem that is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This historic pub was rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire and has retained its old-world charm. The unique decor and secretive atmosphere transport you back in time. Despite its popularity, this pub often goes unnoticed, making it a true hidden treasure.

The Southampton Arms: Craft Beer Haven

Craft beer enthusiasts should make their way to The Southampton Arms. With an impressive selection of 20 varieties of craft beer, this pub celebrates the lesser-known breweries in London. The cozy fireplace, cash-only policy and dog-friendly atmosphere create a relaxed and friendly vibe. The Southampton Arms is a perfect spot to unwind and indulge in the thriving craft beer scene of London.

The Sekforde: A Trendy Gem in Clerkenwell

The Sekforde, formerly known as the Sekforde Arms, has undergone refurbishment and has become one of the best pubs in London. The friendly and knowledgeable staff, impressive interior design and delectable Sunday roast make this pub a standout. Located in the trendy area of Clerkenwell, The Sekforde offers a vibrant atmosphere and is conveniently situated near iconic landmarks such as Big Ben and the British Museum.

Riverside Delights: Pubs with a View

The Prospect of Whitby: A Historic Gem on the Thames

Situated along the picturesque Wapping Wall, The Prospect of Whitby is a historic pub with stunning views of the Thames. Dating back to the 16th century, this pub has welcomed patrons for centuries. Its riverside location provides a unique backdrop while enjoying a pint. The Prospect of Whitby is a must-visit for those seeking a touch of history and the charm of the riverside.

The Grapes: A Riverside Gem in Narrow Street

Nestled in the charming Narrow Street, The Grapes is a pub that offers a delightful riverside experience. This historic establishment has been a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The riverside terrace provides the perfect setting to enjoy a drink while taking in the scenic views. The Grapes is a true hidden gem that captures the essence of London's riverside charm.

The Dove: Riverside Views in Hammersmith

For a pub with a view, head to The Dove in Hammersmith. Situated along the River Thames, this pub offers patrons spectacular views of the water. Whether you choose to relax in the outdoor area during the summer or cozy up by the open fire in the winter, The Dove provides a charming and inviting atmosphere. Arrive early to secure a seat and soak in the riverside beauty.

Unforgettable Experiences: Pubs with Unique Themes

The French House: A Soho Gem

In the heart of Soho, The French House offers a unique pub experience. Unlike most pubs in London, this establishment has no TV or music and only serves beer in half pints. The French House has a rich history, having served as Charles de Gaulle's office during World War II. With famous patrons like Francis Bacon and renowned chef Fergus Henderson, this pub is a true testament to its unique charm.

The Churchill Arms: A Delight for the Senses

If you're looking for a visually stunning pub, The Churchill Arms is a must-visit. Adorned with flowers, this pub is a sight to behold. Inside, you'll find antiques, tin clocks, and sailors' lamps that create an eccentric atmosphere. The warm fireplace makes it a cozy spot to spend a winter afternoon. Despite its name, The Churchill Arms is not named after Prime Minister Winston Churchill but rather his grandparents, who were frequent visitors.

The Coach & Horses: A Legendary Soho Pub

The Coach & Horses is a legendary pub in London that has been a favorite among patrons for decades. Its lively atmosphere, complete with piano nights and sing-alongs, creates an unforgettable experience. With a menu that now includes vegan and vegetarian comfort food, The Coach & Horses has attracted a new wave of visitors. Located on Greek Street in Soho, this friendly joint is a must-visit for a memorable night out.

London Pub Culture: Sunday Roast and More

When in London, indulging in a traditional Sunday roast is a must. Many pubs across the city serve this iconic meal, making it easily accessible no matter where you are. A Sunday roast typically includes roast beef, roast pork or roast lamb, accompanied by Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables and gravy. This beloved weekly tradition brings Londoners together and offers a true taste of British culinary heritage.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Nadia Bess’s guide, Cocktails & Culture: 3 Days in London.

Advisor - Bijoy Shah

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Bijoy Shah

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to London.