In my previous post on London, I mentioned that we managed to visit eight pubs plus an outdoor cafe and therefore Biergarten to us. We put little to no thought into our selections beforehand, picking things strictly based on proximity and a decent review on Google. The only exception to this was the Mayflower Pub, as A wanted to go there. This means that these recommendations are completely random, I have no idea if they can be found in any guidebook, we just really liked all of them. Our gift is planning not to plan, we just find what we find and usually it works out well enough. To the pubs!
1. The Devonshire Arms (Kensington)
We went here on our first night and would’ve happily had a pint here every other night of the trip as well if we hadn’t had to visit some other places. Contrary to the pictures below, there were a lot of friendly people, great food, and a very cool rustic-chic interior. The bartender let BV take samples, there were colorful characters to watch, and a dog or two doesn’t hurt the situation. We were completely bushed by the time we went out for dinner (that 3am wake-up was a killer), so that fact that this was just a 5-minute walk from our hotel was a total win. I had a burger and BV had a steak and cheese pie, and I’d go back in a second for either choice. Most excellent.
2. The Mayflower (Rotherhithe)
Their website advertises this pub as the oldest on the Thames, and since it’s named for that famed ship which set off to the future U.S.A. just outside, it’s easy to see this place getting really kitschy really quickly, but it doesn’t. Apart from us, an American flag on one side of the deck over the river (Union Jack on the other side, of course), and the one or two other U.S. accents we heard inside, this was a solid pub. We grabbed a spot on the tented terrace as the wind had kicked up on the deck, but I would’ve loved to settle in next to the massive stone fireplace inside if that table had been open!
As I mentioned in my previous post, A used to play darts at the Mayflower’s sister pub in California, but sadly we didn’t see a dartboard at the original. That was perhaps the only disappointment in our visit, so if we missed the dartboard please let me know! It’s really for the best though, my darts skills have seriously deteriorated since our epic college Happy Hour Free Darts and Popcorn Bar Crawls of yore.
3. The Harp (Covent Garden)
Feet aching and slightly parched from several hours of looking at All The Art in the National Gallery, we stood outside on Trafalgar Square looking to see where we could quench our thirst and kill a few hours before meeting up with A and J. We found The Harp just a few minutes and a few turns away. Again, despite the primo location, most of the patrons were in suits and/or with lanyards and company badges dangling from purse straps and belt loops. I’m sure there were a few other dawdling tourists around, but it seemed much more like an after-work crowd packed into the narrow downstairs bar.
The taps were numerous, which meant that BV once again managed to get a tasting flight before making any decisions. Even more impressive than the row of taps was the vast wall of labels, covering every bit over the bar. Whoever collected all of them, I salute you. There was plenty to look at, as you can see. Besides the labels, the walls were packed full of paintings and prints… who knew we didn’t even have to go to the museum? Plus it gave us a chance to indulge in a bit of the statue game, here adapted to the paintings…
Honourable Mention*: The Blackbird (Earl’s Court)
We didn’t drink anything besides coffee here, but we did stop in one morning for a traditional English breakfast. The food was good (I went with eggs benedict, regretted it slightly when the other three plates came out), as was the atmosphere and service. It felt very “typical” pub, which meant lots of wood and leather, but it was on a street corner, had lots of windows and so was very bright and cheery.
So there we have it. My three (and a half) favorite pubs from London. Very unscientifically chosen, but that’s just how we do things around here. Let me know if I got it right (or horribly wrong), or if you’ve been to any of them in the comments! And cheers, of course!
*I’ll even use the UK-appropriate spelling of honourable. You’re welcome.