10 Best London Pubs

Top 10 London pubs

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There are around 7,000 pubs in London… so how do you make sure you end up with a good pint when there’s such a long, long list?

Well, quite simply, there isn’t a magic formula – there are hundreds of good drinking spots in the vast area over which the city sprawls… you just have to find them first!

Here are ten of my favorites – intended, not as a definitive guide to London nightlife, just a way to share the top ten London pubs that have stood out to me over the years!

1. The Rosemary Branch

The Rosemary Branch

The Rosemary Branch is arty, bohemian, alternative – and yet still manages to stay just the right side of “trendy”, despite its proximity to Shoreditch and Old Street. There’s a theatre upstairs, whilst the main pub is a treasure trove of board games and eclectic wall hangings. Plus there’s a real coal fire, making it perfect for hibernating in the winter.

2 Shepperton Road

Tube: Old Street

2. The Palm Tree

The Palm Tree

Once part of a row of terraced houses and now slap in the middle of the Mile End Ecology park, The Palm Tree is a genuine relic of the Blitz… And inside, it’s as if it hasn’t been decorated since then, either. A ‘retro’ East End drinking den for all the right reasons, it’s the sort of place where the clients actually know everybody. The pints are good, the live jazz on weekends is excellent and the grass outside lends itself nicely to summer afternoon drinks.

Haverfield Road

Tube: Mile End

3. Jerusalem Tavern

Jerusalem Tavern

Possibly the smallest pub in London (if not the world), the 17th century Jerusalem Tavern is renowned amongst those in the know for its wide range of special St. Peter’s brews accompanied by a hearty sausage and mash. If only you were a teeny bit more likely to find somewhere to sit after midday…

55 Britton Street

Tube: Farringdon

4. Bradley’s Spanish Bar

Bradley’s Spanish Bar

Another ‘compact’ pub on the London scene, Bradley’s is split into two even smaller halves, the ground floor with its vinyl jukebox and the cellar-like downstairs bar. Characterized by its nick-knacks and perfectly poured beers, it’s an enjoyably odd mix of English eccentricity and continental chic.

42 Hanway Street

Tube: Tottenham Court Road

5. The Pineapple

The Pineapple

Huge mirrors, Victorian wallpaper and scorching fires make this out-of-the-way pub a great winter warmer, whilst the courtyard and airy conservatory mean its also an excellent choice in the summer. They serve Thai food that, unlike hundreds of other London pubs which now seem to do the same, is both reasonably priced and pretty good.

51 Leverton Street

Tube: Kentish Town

6. The Cittie of Yorke

Cittie of Yorke

This busy pub has to get a mention for being one of the best Sammy Smith’s pubs in the capital. Aside from the pleasantly dusty old decor and the booths that are rumoured to be soundproof (as so many cases are discussed in here by lawyers from Gray’s Inn next door), it’s main draw is something very rare in London indeed; cheap pints!

22 High Holborn

Tube: Chancery Lane

7. The Old Queen’s Head

The Old Queen’s Head

Chandeliers and leather sofas make this pub worth a visit, but their taste in music makes it something of an Islington institution. From open mic nights to big name house DJs at the weekend, the Old Queen’s Head pulls in some great acts too.

44 Essex Road

Tube: Angel

8. The Alma

The Alma

A little out of the way up in Newington Green, The Alma is a little London gem; as quirky, cosy and inviting inside as it looks through the window. It’s always pleasantly gloomy in here, with candles providing the only light, and a nice crowd of 20-somethings priced out of Islington.

59 Newington Green Road

Tube: Canonbury

9. The Lamb

A real ‘local’ pub in the middle of an often anonymous city, The Lamb is the place to stare at the eccentric residents of ultra-fashionable Bloomsbury. Often surprisingly quiet thanks to its location on one of London’s most pleasant but overlooked streets, it’s an old-fashioned haven.

94 Lamb’s Conduit Street

Tube: Russell Square

10. The Pride of Spitalfield

The Pride of Spitalfield

Just when you thought the trendy crowd had completely taken over Brick Lane, you find a lovely little boozer like this just off the main drag. Well, you eventually find it, anyway – this has to be one of the hardest pubs to find on the list (hence its bumped to no. 10) but its friendly feel and peaceful spot make it worth coming back to. Just don’t forget your A-Z.

3 Heneage Street

Tube: Aldgate East

Phew, that’s a lot of pubs to get through! If you’re visiting the capital and need somewhere to sleep it off, check out our London cheap youth hotels or  best London hostels.

Hungry in London? Check out the 45 Best Street Food Stalls in London

What pubs have we missed out? Let us know in the comments…

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Thanks to Jaume Meneses for the hero shot and Ewan-M for all other images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting. 

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