One of the
city’s great social levellers, a local can be the place to go for craft beers
or gastropub dishes, for feeling the sun on your face in an atmospheric beer
garden, or soaking up the city’s wealth of history.
Best beer gardens
At the south end of
Hampstead Heath hides The Garden Gate, a cosy 19th century
cottage with dark wood tables, upholstered chairs and an assortment of sofas.
The real draw is the gorgeous beer garden, complete with its own bar, plus
barbecue and a covered dining area (14 South End Rd, NW3; mains from £9.75).
The Britannia is a large, rambling old pub, which
sports a fabulous beer garden that sits right on the edge of Victoria Park –
you can lounge back in a deckchair and watch the comings and goings. A barbecue
runs throughout the summer weekends, and the pub serves decent gastropub
dishes, as well as hosting beer festivals and theatre nights (360 Victoria Park
Rd, E9; mains from £7.95).
has some great waterside drinking options, and the Union Tavern
is a belter, with its splendid location on the canal and a terrace that’s
perfect for alfresco drinking. It has the right mix of shiny gastropub (it
smokes its own meat and fish) and roughand- ready appeal, and is an ideal
stopover for those visiting Portobello Market (45 Woodfield Rd, W9; mains from
Best for beer
does decent Belgian and British gastropub dishes, but it’s the wide range of
beers that’s the top draw. Expect to find Belgian Trappist, wheat and fruity
beers, some 20 draught beers and at least six ales. Drinkers spill onto the
street in warmer weather, or hunker down in the low-lit back room when it’s
chilly (24–28 Broadway Market, E8; Trappist beers from £4.20).
The Old Brewery is situated within the grounds of
the Old Royal Naval College and features a bar, café and restaurant with
seasonal draught beers, brewed on site. There’s also a heady range from other
breweries. Sit in the main hall, which features burnished 1,000-litre copper
vats, the annexe bar or in the courtyard (Pepys Building, Old Royal Naval
College, SE10; four Meantime draught beers served on a paddle, £6.50).
The White Horse is a former gin palace and coaching inn on
Parsons Green, which invites a diverse clientele with its friendly atmosphere.
There’s hearty food, barbecues during summer and pleasant outside seating – and
they take their beers seriously, offering eight cask ales and some 135 bottled
beers. The pub matches drinks with food courses, and hosts four yearly beer
festivals (1–3 Parsons Green, SW6; draught pints from £3.50).
Best historic pubs
It’s no wonder this
magnificent old place is protected by the National Trust. The George Inn is London’s last surviving galleried coaching
inn, dating from 1676, and was visited by Charles Dickens, who mentioned it in
Little Dorrit. Now you can get Greene King ales and typical pub grub (75–77
Borough High St, SE1; mains from £8.95).
1863, The Prince Alfred has an impressive façade,
with a tall, curved etched window, and inside it has kept its Victorian quirks.
The bar is divided into five gorgeous booths and is always busy with locals,
many of whom head straight to the Formosa Dining Room, for the twice-cooked
crispy pork belly (5a Formosa St, W9; mains from £11.50).
It may look
like Friar Tuck just stepped out of this ‘ye olde pubbe’ just north of
Blackfriars tube, but the interior of The Blackfriar is actually an arts and crafts
makeover dating back to 1905 – jolly friars appear in sculpture, mosaics and
reliefs. There’s a good selection of ales and bitters and, unusually for this
part of town, the pub opens at the weekend (174 Queen Victoria St, EC4; mains
The article 'Mini guide to pubs in London' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.