The Ultimate London Pub Guide

Time to get yourself daaaaaan the pub for a swift one...

Whether it's for proper pints and dodgy locals or craft beers, hidden cocktail bars and insane roast dinners, pubs are a British institution, the stuff of legends. No matter what part of town you're in, you're never far from a bl**dy good pub, here are some of the best in London (and let us know if we've missed any epic ones!)



The Toucan This Soho institution packed with posters and toucans is pretty miniature and usually overflowing onto the streets. We like to perch on one of the Guinness glass bar stools with a plush cushion for a head and hit the bar snacks (spicy olives and peanuts). This place is known not just for its Guinness, but also for its oysters which are sourced from Rossmore County Cork. Not into oysters? Opt for an Irish stew or baked beans. Solid. 19 Carlisle St, London W1D 3BY

Shaston Arms Friendly pub sticking to tradition with regional family brewers at the helm. Keep your eyes open for the fire engine red and there’s your portal; think good old ‘wooden round table two stool’ formula alongside some framed memorabilia, red galore and booths and that’s that.  The crowd are old school Soho, and crowds don't get better than that. 4-6 Ganton St, London W1F 7QN

The French House No music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones at this Grade II listed watering hole. Just booze, chatter and b&w photos of people from bygone eras. It’s a bit of a literary haunt, so if you’re an Archbishop of Banterbury this’ll suit you just fine. Although it deviates from the standard pub in that you’ll only get served a half pint if you fancy a beer cos they’re more about their vino, we still say it’s proper and no doubt a bucket list cert. 49 Dean St, London W1D 5BG


Ten Bells This Georgian public house covered in original tile is apparently associated with Jack the Ripper, but those days are long gone. You can drink your 5 quid pint in peace now. Mostly...They’ve even got their own session lager called Belllend that BarChick rates. They’ve got food locked down here as well with a brunch offering, basic bits and bobs and unusual cuts. If you’re in need of a change of scenery, head upstairs to the killer cocktail bar set on bring Warsaw to East London. 84 Commercial St, Spitalfields, London E1 6LY

Water Poet Wicked beer garden, hog roasts, craft beers (Meantime to Camden), pool tables and a weird *ss mannequin by the bar throwing up the rock on hand sign. The crowd’s a little less wanky banker and a little more country lad meets urbanite, but they’ve got a room to match any kinda human. They’ve even got a barn out back with mismatched fittings and painting clusters if you wanna booze like you’re at nan’s local in the heart of the country. 9-11 Folgate St, Spitalfields, London E1 6BX

The Gun After one helluva refurb, this Spitalfields boozer is a pub of the classier ilk. It's pub meets chic bistro, with super gorge copper piping bringing you a wicked selection of beers and a proper decent cocktail menu to match. They also do a corker of a roast lunch on a Sunday. Be like BarChick and go with The Feast to share. It brings all bells and whistles to your table. Try and resist pouring that PROPER gravy straight into your mouth. 54 Brushfield St, Spitalfields, London E1 6AG


Princess Louise Ornate Victorian pub with Samuel Smith beers, etched glass panels, oak furnishings and a helluva lot of other intricate decor. Sidle up to the island bar or one of the frosted glass booths, get an ale in you saloon style and get stuck. 208 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EP

Ship Tavern 16th century mahogany pub that used to serve as a safe haven for Catholics during the reign of Henry VIII. Some say the screams of unfortunate priests who were executed after being discovered in hiding in a tunnel in the cellar can still be heard today. Creepy. Make like captain and sit yourself at one of the burnt orange booths closest to the ‘galley’. Pewters of real ale, cockles, mussels and sausage rolls beside the glow of a candelabra? Yes mate. 12 Gate St, London WC2A 3HP


Jerusalem Tavern This 90s baby with 18th century decor gets rammed, so don’t go rocking up at 11 pm. If you do, you’re guaranteed to not snag a seat by the roaring fire or any seat for that matter, but you’ll be generously welcomed to a pint and such. St. Peter’s brewery is at the helm, so take advantage of a proper premium-strength IPA. Wanna take the party home with you? Opt for a five-litre mini-keg on your way out. But if you plan to stay a while, match it up with some smart pub snacks. 55 Britton St, London EC1M 5UQ

Betsy Trotwood Four-storey revamped Victorian boozer with a bar at street level, a pint-sized stage in a cavernous cellar (think cosmic country blues played by ledges like The Goat Roper Band) and an upper-level acoustic room/bar. Booze wise you'll be drinking Shepherd Neame ales, special Bloody Marys for under a fiver and filling up on solid pub food. Get into the mix of suits skiving off work and twenty/thirty somethings who dig music. 56 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3BL 



Owl & Pussycat Gastropub in Shoreditch with all the trappings of gentrified but not soulless local: chesterfields, caged pendant bulbs, light teal paint and frame clusters. Nab a seat by the fire in winter or the terrace all year round. Downstairs gets rammed as that’s where you’ll find the pumps, but upstairs is more sit down Victorian dining room style. 34 Redchurch St, London E2 7DP

The Crown & Shuttle It’s not a stock-looking pub equipped with roaring fire and stained glass, but that’s no matter cos you’re going to this one for the massive garden and craft beer. They’ve got a rotating selection of cask ales, but they’re well into their IPAs so don’t limit yourself. Inside is all exposed brick, high ceilings, vibrant fittings and scattered white and blue enamelware filled with burgers, wings, chilli cheese fries and the like. They’ve even got a secret cocktail bar upstairs if you’re feeling a bit naughty. 226 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6PJ  

Well & Bucket Take an old leather shop, strip back the dodgy décor, throw in a couple of oysters and you’ve got yourself an East London boozer with a bit of edge. Inside is super spacious and fitted with shiny brass piping, polished tiles and portraits of skeletons in it might be something granddad or nan will scoff at but you probs won’t be bringing them here anyway. It’s a place for mates. They’ve got a decent selection of beer from craft ale and local lagers to cask classics and the menu’s pretty grand as well with an epic oyster list, Louisiana hot wings and chilli fries. 143 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 7DG

The Birdcage This green tiled Victorian gastropub at the end of Columbia road sits snug and pretty on the fringe of the Sunday flower market, but even on other days it’s still a beaut. Hit The Birdcage up for karaoke on the weekends and you’ll find yourself in the midst of slightly wonky locals and East End cool cats or drop by anytime for proper game of pool with your mates. 80 Columbia Rd, London E2 7QB

Bethnal Green

Sebright Arms Tarted up with wood, crimson paint and stained glass, this boozer’s got epic Bunsmiths burgers, a bit of a grotty basement venue and craft ales from top notch micro-breweries. You might find the kind of lads who use beard oil here, but it’s all good vibes. 31-35 Coate St, London E2 9AG

Sun Tavern The dudes behind Discount Suit Company refurbished this Victorian pub and made it look like New York diner with red bar stools, bare brick and pendant filament bulbs. The menu’s dominated by a short cocktail list, Irish spirits and ales from local microbreweries. They’ve even got a selection of poitin (v. potent) if you’re serious about your gaelic roots or your booze. 441 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN

London Fields

Cat & Mutton This revamped 300 year old boozer right by London Fields is epic.  Keep it classic on the ground floor (think gastropub meets saloon meets diner) where you’ll find a lengthy bar, ale and craft beer, tin ceilings plus some wacky taxidermied muttons; or leave your pint downstairs (seriously, rules are rules) and wind your body up the spiral staircase to Pearl’s for cocktails. Weekend nights are when the party happens; expect retro disco and soul to be spinning. 76 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ

The Dolphin If you haven’t woken up with a Dolphin stamp on your face or *rse, you haven’t lived. R. Kelly is played every hour alongside other RnB bangers, there are no locks on the loos, it’s carnage in the garden and on the dancefloor and the staff are f*cking cool as. Do a shot, eat a greasy burger and forget who are and where you came from. The English way. 165 Mare St, London E8 3RH

The People’s Park Tavern The stuff of legends. Wicked huge beer garden, traditional pub fare and a range of their own beer brewed on site.  Yeah, it sounds like your basic public house by a park, but the garden thrusts it into a different caliber. It’s massive, on the edge of Victoria Park, equipped for all seasons and drenched in green. To seal the deal they’ve also got hearty roasts and fire pits. Wanna do like BarChick? Commandeer one of the cabanas outside and stick it out till the end like a champ. 360 Victoria Park Rd, London E9 7BT


The Hemingway Taxidermy, old portraits of crooners and Chesterfields adorn this pub that’s well into meat and bourbon and looks a bit like a saloon-cum-brothel. Get the Jenga or board games out, tuck into the burger or home-made Scotch eggs and check out the loo with gaping red-lipped urinals and tasteful illustrations of sex organs set to a heady soundtrack of Mozart and Beethoven. Epic. 84 Victoria Park Rd, London E9 7JL

The Hunter S The Hunter S is a bad *ss boozer, named after the main man Hunter S Thompson himself so you know it’s gonna be slightly screwy. Settle into a leather couch under the copper ceiling amongst taxidermy and get stuck into the cocktails. You’ll have to go off menu but they’ll happily whip you up a Negroni or an Old Fashioned; just don’t go asking for a Pina Colada otherwise they’ll show you the door. Alternatively, opt for an ale and some gastro locally-sourced pub grub with a Pan European twist. 194 Southgate Rd, London N1 3HT


The Gun  This Grade 2 listed pub is a London classic. Killer views of The Thames, decent ale selection, a cracking wine list (and ciders too if that's your thing) and the food's got the British gastro down to a T.  In the winter you'll find BarChick shotgunning a leather armchair by the blazing fire (and sipping on one of their winter cocktails) but it's in the summer that this place really comes to life. Hit their mega terrace for some of the best river views in London. 27 Coldharbour, Poplar, London E14 9NS


Notting Hill

Churchill Arms Apparently Winston Churchill’s grandparents were neckin’ em down here in the 19th century. Sick. They’ve got Thai curries, proper cask-conditioned ales and they've temporarily banished their iconic flower baskets and have instead festooned their facade with 20,000 fairy lights and 90 Christmas trees! 119 Kensington Church St, Kensington, London W8 7LN

The Cow One of London’s first gastropubs is still killing it. You get some of the best Guinness and oysters in town here. It also has the kind of feel-good-look-good crowd to get off on. Oh and did we mention the chicken kiev comes ON the bone? Yep. 89 Westbourne Park Rd, London W2 5QH

The Westbourne Come summer time this is the terrace in which you wanna hang. Team that with some really good pub grub, a great selection of Belgian beers, the fact that you can bring your dog and a really hot crowd and you have yourself a session. 101 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2 5ED



Montpellier Peckham’s twenty-something artists’ meets thirty-something freelancers’ haunt. Turquoise and blue walls, back room cinema playing independents, Flock & Herd pork scratchings 2-4-1 burgers on Monday and friendly (enough) staff. At the weekends they get DJs in and it gets rammed so beware. 43 Choumert Rd, London SE15 4AR

The Gowlett This one’s a damn proper local boasting a healthy dose of cockney with a trickle of the bearded t*ts. There’s a terrace, a pool table, wood-fired pizza oven that does epic pizzas, resident dogs (big up Dallas), chesterfield sofas and football on the telly. On Thursdays, you could bring your own vinyl for Lucky 7s night and spin your fave tunes for 15 mins. Try not to be sh*t. 62 Gowlett Rd, London SE15 4HY


Magic Garden This one looks like where you’d go to shroom with someone from the Balkans. Magic chips with truffle & parmesan, weird and brilliant live music and an outdoor garden decked out with Indian fabrics and fairy lights. Not a geezer’s pub, but if you like Glastonbury you’ll dig this. 231 Battersea Park Rd, London SW11 4LG


Prince of Wales A 1920s Art Deco Dancehall with a wooden dance floor, famous for it's two-tier terrace, world renowned DJs (think Giles Peterson etc.) and Turbosound system to soundtrack your day or night of absolute carnage. Not ready for what their 24 hour license has in store? Hit up the gastropub on the ground floor for wood-fired pizza and craft beer or find the speakeasy hidden on a secret floor that churns out the best cocktails in south London. 467- 469 Brixton Rd, London SW9 8HH

Duke of Edinburgh This one’s got one of the biggest beer gardens in South London equipped with BBQ pit and bar so it gets ridiculous in the summer when some kinda big sports game hits the outdoor screen. The inside's all about loads of sofas for sprawling, ale, cask beer and pool table. The decor’s a bit common, but that’s not what you’re here for anyway. Hungry? They’ve got you sorted with a daily changing menu/catch-of-the-day. 204 Ferndale Rd, London SW9 8AG 


The Avalon With a raucous front bar, this pub has got some serious party feels from the second you walk in but hidden through the back door is an oasis-like garden with booths, beanbags and an outdoor bar. If you’re looking to get fed, park up in the Victoriana vibe dining room and get your fill of the big food that flies outta the kitchen. 16 Balham Hill, London SW12 9EB


The Camberwell Arms The guys behind Waterloo's Hope and Anchor got hold of this place so the food's gone next level. The restaurant in the back is where you'll find BarChick getting a Sunday roast fix, but the old school boozer out front is where to hang with the locals and work the local beers.  Friday/Saturday nights have a bit of twenty/thirty-something party vibe but if it gets too much sneak up the stairs at the back of the pub into their speakeasy where killer cocktails await. 65 Camberwell Church Street, London, SE5 8TR


The Mayflower For those lethargic 16th century evenings and hardcore pub enthusiasts. It was the original mooring point of Pilgrim Fathers’ Mayflower, but now it’s a boozing haven. Come for Blackout Sundays, which means no electricity past 6, or Wednesday Pie Nights. Perch by the latticework windows with real ale in hand and maybe hit up Sands Film Cinema beforehand to make it into a night. Views of The Thames are epic from here. 117 Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4NF 


Ivy House It's housed in a 1930s Grade II listed edifice, it's London’s first co-op pub, it’s got loads of charming and pervy punters and it’s a stomping ground for all the local dogs. But the clincher is the gold and wood music room that rocks with endless bizarre entertainment. Although massive supporters of the craft beer market (Brockley Brewery to Beavertown), they’re still keeping it proper with Guinness and Truman’s Runner for grandad. 40 Stuart Rd, London SE15 3BE

The Old Nun’s Head They’ve gone ahead called themselves the ‘Ryan Gosling of Pubs’. Not sure what they’re on about, but we’re into it. Here’s the home of Burger Bear so Saturday nights are when you wanna hit it for insane burgers, Cask Mondays (3 quid pints of cask ale), craft beer and a tiki back garden that could go either way of the chill--->insane spectrum. Always good times. 15 Nunhead Green, London SE15 3QQ


Great Exhibition Local Victorian boozer near Yummy Mummy Lane (Lordship Lane) with a mixed Dulwich crowd: mums, professional twenty-somethings, local shop owners and those who wanna cram as much booze into their Saturday afternoon as poss with an unlimited boozy brunch. Everyone’s chill, so probs not the place for you if you wanna get rowdy. They’ve got jazz on Sundays, 2-4-1 burger Mondays, bottomless brunches, Lucky Wednesdays (roll the dice and get a 6 and your meal’s on them) etc. All the gimmicky bullsh*t we all love. 193 Crystal Palace Rd, London SE22 9EP

East Dulwich Tavern They’re all about their real ale, beers from South East breweries, fireplaces, skylights, jazz nights and monthly film nights. Come Summer, folding glass walls part and it turns part al fresco. No need to eat elsewhere cos they’ve got modern British pub fare, which you could eat whilst watching all the football. Whoever you are, you’ll fit right in. 1 Lordship Ln, London SE22 8EW 

New Cross

Royal Albert Victorian freehouse with velvet curtains, chesterfields, fairy lights and live jazz. This is where you’ll find London’s league of musicians and oddball characters. Grab a real ale or cider and join them. No need to migrate for dinner either as they’ve got far more than mum’s meat and two veg special. Think seasonal gastro dishes like creamed savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke gratin and game terrine. 460 New Cross Rd, London SE14 6TJ 

Montague Arms Medieval-looking pub in New Cross with low ceilings, taxidermy, cordage, sunken seats and other random memento mori and steampunk curios. It used to be a famous music venue, but now it’s where slightly sh*t but fun bands play. They’ve got craft beers on deck (including their very own brewed onsite) as most South London pubs seem to, but they’ve also got cracking guest ales from around the country. Come hungry as they’ll be sorting you out with American hot dogs, spit-roasted chicken or pies if you’re willing.289 Queen's Rd, London SE14 2PA


Harwood Arms The only Michelin-starred pub in London. Imagine that. Their wine list has over 200 bins, the spreads are seasonal with a bit of a twist on tradition and the decor is posh country in an airy space that’s been sitting pretty since the mid 19th century. Walham Grove, London SW6 1QP

White Horse BBQ, beer garden, cask ales alongside imported keg beers like Sierra Nevada and 135 bottled beers from all over right on the fringe of Parsons Green. It’s a pretty standard looking gastro pub, but it’s got some nice touches like the loos named ‘Pistols’ and ‘Dolls’, a couple of copper beer tanks and chandeliers in cages. We’re into it. 1-3 Parsons Green, Fulham, London SW6 4UL 


Nag’s Head Mobiles are banned!! Mental.  The wood-panelled walls are covered with quirky sh*t (instruments, garden tools, cartoons) and ale comes from Adnams. It’s a proper geezers pub, so act the part and leave the phone at home. Leave your coat on the back of the chair or ask for chips with your meal and you’ll be told to f*ck off. Ok, not really, but you’ll be told off. Sounds like no one’s safe from a torrent of abuse, but it’s all a part of the charm. Just don’t be fussy and it’ll be grand. 53 Kinnerton St, Belgravia, London SW1X 8ED

Star Tavern Underbelly types used to chill here and cook up cunning schemes. Now, it’s a bit of a mixed bag looking for gastro pub grub and Fuller’s ale. London’s Pride shall be slagged off no longer. Except the proper pub color palette of crimsons, browns and golds. Chandeliers, gilt mirrors and a roaring fire await you. 6 Belgrave Mews W, London SW1X 8HT


Finsbury Park

Faltering Fullback Tucked away Irish pub with makeshift Thai counter for semi-late-night munchies, bric-a-brac hanging precariously from ceiling, caboose chairs and an all wood garden covered with trailing and potted plants. Nice.  There’s also quizzing and big screen sports for people who need more stimulation… 19 Perth Rd, London N4 3HB

Hampstead Heath

The Spaniards Inn The ultimate wood-panelled pub to warm up in after a hard session at Hampstead Heath. Settle in by the roaring fire and get them to make you a cocktail. Don’t go asking for a Sex on the Beach, we’re talking Hot Toddies, Hot Buttered Rum and very spicy Bloody Marys. There’s even a dog wash for your pooch. The gardens are grand, the booze is proper and the literary anecdotes are endless. Make like Dickens or Keats and get on with it. Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 7JJ 


The Hawley Arms Victorian boozer that survived the Great Fire of Camden and was restored thanks in part to the ledges that are Noel Fielding and Amy Winehouse. It’s a Greene King pub, so you know the lowdown when it comes to booze. BarChick says grab a Budvar and a pie, head up to the terrace and bliss out. You’re bound to find some band shoehorned into a corner playing angsty sh*t, but it’s all in good fun. 2 Castlehaven Rd, London NW1 8QU

World’s End It’s absolute f*cking carnage at World’s End. Take this one in stride and in small doses. Alternatively, go apesh*t. No one will care. It’ll probably always be a landmark, but we’re not so sure if it’ll always be a novelty. Perch up on the mezzanine and watch all the crazed passerby below; you get it all at World’s End - the good, the bad and the horrendously ugly. 174 Camden High St, London NW1 0NE