London pubs – what is more iconic and comforting than the thought of sitting in a cozy oak beamed room on comfy chairs, next to a fire, drinking a pint? There are over 7000 pubs in London, some fabulous, some not, so the question, of course, is which are the top 10? From pirate dens on the River Thames to haunts of highwaymen, we’ve gone looking to find you 10 of the finest, most historic, most interesting pubs in the city of London. Draw a pint, pull up a chair, and settle in to see what makes our top 10.
10. The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
The Mayflower has been a pub since the 1500s, although the name has changed a few times over the years from Shippe to The Spread Eagle, to the Crown, and now Mayflower. The area of Rotherhithe has long been a shipping port, and many people left for the Americas from here; supposedly the famous Mayflower picked up passengers directly from the pub before heading to Plymouth. There’s a good selection of beer and ale on tap, including rotating guest ales, and the menu offers traditional pub fare.
9. The Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden
The Lamb and Flag was established in 1772 as The Coopers Arms in Covent Garden, and has been a local watering hole ever since. In the 1800s it became known as “the Bucket of Blood” for the bareknuckle prize fights it hosted. Charles Dickens is believed to have been a regular customer. This is a Fuller’s pub, meaning it is one of some 380 pubs in southern England owned by Fuller’s brewery which makes London Pride, and Chiswick Bitter, so there will be good drinks on tap. The menu is traditional pub fare.
8. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a grand old historical pub. Rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire of London, it occupies several floors of varying sized rooms, most of which are heated by coal fires. Located in an alleyway, it can be hard to find, but well worth it. There’s no natural light, so it has a somewhat gloomy, if cozy feel. Charles Dickens, Dr Johnson, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were all regulars here. Currently owned by the Samuel Smith Brewery which owns about 300 pubs, so the beer comes from their Tadcaster brewery – good value beer, but limited selection.
7. Cittie of Yorke, High Holborn
The Cittie of Yorke building dates back to the 1920s, but there have been pubs on this site since 1430. The back room is long and hall-like with towering ceilings and vats off to one side, and features Henneky’s Long Bar – Dylan Thomas wrote an ode to it. The pub also features Victorian-style cubicles separated by wooden screens. Another Samuel Smith Brewery pub.
6. The George Inn, Southwark
The George Inn is London’s last remaining galleried inn, and the only pub in London owned by the National Trust. The pub dates back to 1677; another rebuild after the Great Fire. The interior is divided into several bars, including the Old Bar, which was once a waiting room for coach passengers, the Middle Room, frequented by Charles Dickens, and the beautiful second floor gallery with its exposed beams and tapestries. There is also extensive outdoor seating.