Everyday at about 5:00pm, the business men and women of central London can be found at their nearest pub. Pub culture is alive and well in London and so visitors want to get in on some of the fun. I always make a point of taking my own visitors to at least one pub because there’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. London has so many pubs, in fact just over 3,000! The best pubs in central London, in my opinion, are in Fitzrovia. Fitzrovia is a wonderful neighbourhood, one of my favourites. Check out my neighbourhood guide here.
A great way to spend an early evening in London is to go on a pub crawl. My particular pub crawl consists of 6 pubs. If you don’t feel like having 6 pints, you can always opt for half pints!
The Masons Arms
The first stop is hard to miss. The Masons Arms is instantly recognisable by its baskets of flowers decorating the outside of the building from bottom to top. And, in the spring, summer, and autumn, the flowers are real!
Horse & Groom
The Horse & Groom is an oft overlooked but beautiful Victorian pub a few minutes from Oxford Street. Along with plenty of original tiling and woodwork, the pub has four distinct sections: the front is predominantly standing room, the middle area has a rare-to-see dartboard and the back room is the most cosy, with bench seating and a fireplace. There’s also a very civilised upstairs bar.
The Horse & Groom is a Samuel Smith’s pub. It is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery and is also one of my favourites. This brewery operates about 200 pubs, mostly in the north of England, and also conducts itself with a sort of code. As they explain on their website, George Orwell described his perfect pub in a 1945 essay entitled “The Moon under Water” – Samuel Smith’s pubs accord with his ideal in several ways:
- The architecture and fittings must be uncompromisingly Victorian
- Games, such as darts, are only played in the public bar so that in other bars you can walk about without the worry of flying darts
- The pub is quiet enough to talk, with the house possessing neither a radio nor a piano
- The barmaids know the customers by name and take an interest in everyone
- A creamy sort of draught stout is served
- In winter there is generally a good fire burning in at least two of the bars
The Yorkshire Grey
This pub is my personal favourite and is another Samuel Smith’s pub. The Yorkshire Grey dates back to at least 1826 and even though the architecture is not particularly spectacular, I still think it is a very beautiful pub. I like the mix of intricacy and simplicity. I also love the fact that this pub is nice and small, which prevents large, loud groups from taking over.
Interestingly, because the BBC is located right behind the pub, The Yorkshire Grey is popular with BBC employees. So, if you fancy hitching up with a reporter, might want to stop here.
The Ship has been standing on the corner of Hanson and New Cavendish Street since 1772, being rebuilt in 1887. Originally licensed in 1777, when it was known as The Centurian, it has been a familiar face in an ever changing neighbourhood. What’s great is that The Ship has stayed traditional with its decor, drinks, and values and has been family run for over 40 years. The owners are a lovely old couple who welcome locals and newcomers alike. I just love the nautical theme!
The King & Queen
A great independent pub is The King & Queen. It has been in the hands of family-run LEA Taverns since 1985.
Draft House Charlotte
And for something a little less traditional, head to the Draft House. Draft House is a chain of craft beer pubs, with one located in the middle of Fitzrovia in the former Queen Charlotte. It’s tiny but it’s fun to try out beers like ‘Suspended In Mosaic’ and ‘The Great Pumpkin Ale’. It also happens to be surrounded by some great dinner options, so perhaps after you’ve had quite a few pints it’s time for poke bowls or burgers!
What do you think? Do you like pub crawls?