The Best Bars To Watch The Boat Race

5.50pm on Saturday 11th April 2015

With that age old Cambridge vs. Oxford rivalry as classic as it was in 1829 (when this all kicked off) you know that this boat race between toffs is going to mean big boozy banter. Muscly thighs, blink and you’ll miss it action, and a downright decent excuse to pull out some red trousers or a tweed jacket and get tanked next to The Thames.

These are the best waterside watering holes to catch the action:

Dukes Head, Putney

If you’re keen to get proceedings underway then hustle for a spot here. This riverside terrace will be heaving, but the Duke’s Head has got this with an outdoor kitchen and three pop-up bars for instant beers.  Didn’t get up early enough to grab front row seats? No drama, just get smashed inside at the bar and watch the showdown on the plasma screens.  Even if neither of the eights are quick off the mark, you're guaranteed a strong start. Sticking around? These guys have DJs for the afternoon after party.

8 Lower Richmond Road, London, SW15 1JN

The Boathouse, Putney

Plonked proudly on the river front, this is the spot to hit if you want to catch the start of the race and then just forget about it and get boozed. Watch as the coin is flipped to decide which side of the river each team will row on.  All that coin flipping action made you hungry? Tuck into street food on the pub’s terrace bar and chill out to some live music.

32 Bewhouse Lane, London, SW15 2LX


The Crabtree, Fulham

Is it all getting too much? Has a pre-race scrap broken out between your two best friends of opposing elite educations? Don’t sweat it, take a ten minute stroll down the river and hit up The Crabtree. A mega decked-out terrace, a hog roast in the garden and plasma screens.

Rainville Road, London, W6 9HA

River Café, Fulham

If you’re looking to stay seated, classy and on a Michelin star thing, then make sure you book (essential) at The River Café for high tea and views of the river. This converted warehouse is considered one of London’s best riverside restaurants. Admittedly the goods on offer might mean that you forget about the race completely. Rush outside to get a clear view of the river as the boats whizz past.

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London, W6 9HA

The Rutland Arms, Hammersmith

You’ll find a couple of boozers on this curve of the river, and The Blue Anchor and The Rutland arms are the terrible twins of the lot. Bounce between both and and catch the race somewhere in-between. It’s a burgers, beers and chips sort of place so don’t expect anything grand.

15 Lower Mall, London, W6 9DJ 

The Dove, Hammersmith

This place lays claim to being one of the oldest watering holes on the river, and has more than one bar from which you can purchase your poison. Engage in a little competitive behaviour of your own as you elbow your way onto the tiny balcony, if you’re looking for views of the river, you're gonna have to play dirty.

19 Upper Mall, London, W6 9TA

The Old Ship, Hammersmith

This waterside favourite has been pumping out pints since 1722, even longer than those posh boy boats have been shooting along The Thames. If the sun’s out this is where you want to be to catch full views of the race. It takes Al Fresco to the max and has everything from a grassy knoll, a decked area, a terrace and a balcony for pirate style views. Expect live music and a BBQ, you know these guys will do it right.

25 Upper Mall, London, W6 9TD

The Bulls Head, Barnes

With a rep for it’s Jazz nights and damn good view of the river, this is the pub to go  if you want to continue the party after all the excitement has passed. They call their cocktails “cutting edge” so we stick to what they do best and order in the beers or wine. The music will start around 8.30pm so you’ve got more than enough time to recover from the race with a pint or two.

373 Lonsdale Rd, Barnes, London, SW13 9PY

Ye White Heart, Barnes

The White Hart in Barnes is the place to be if you’re in it for the finish line; BarChick usually bags one of the benches right by the river; we don't mind getting wet.  Catch the glory, tears and wetsuits from The Canon Bar and Terrace. Feel like celebrating? Go for the five course Boat Race banquet and wash it down with a Cambridge or Oxford (or both) cocktail.

The Terrace, Riverside, London, SW13 0NR

The Ship, - The Finish Line

This is probably one of the hottest spots to catch the end of the race in and with its location right next door to the Budwieser factory there is no chance that the they’ll run short of booze. If you love a good climax,  leg it and get to The Ship as this place will be packed. It’s a true traditional pub that’s heavy on oak and boozing locals.  There's also a banging menu that's all about British pub grub like ploughmans and steaks, apple pies and custard. Can't leave the b*tch at home? Bring your dog and kick back on and the outside terrace for prime view of the boats.

10 Thames Bank, Mortlake, London, SW14 7QR