Step Inside 12 Of The Prettiest Pubs in London
Heading out for a pint is one of the ultimate British pastimes and this has been common knowledge since the 18th century. By the 1750’s London was reckoned to have 207 inns, 447 taverns, 5,875 beer houses and 8,659 brandy shops. Nowadays, London has over 3,500 pubs, so you can never run out of options to quench a thirst.
However, all pubs were not created equal and some are lovelier than others. Because we care about a good drink as much as great aesthetics (what architect doesn’t?), we’ve selected 12 of the prettiest pubs in London to get your fix.
These city’s boozers are so charming, so characterful and so Instagrammable that you’ll enjoy your drink to unknown levels (or so we hope). And in case you are wondering, yes, they ALL have amazing history, design and architects associated to them 😉
Now, what would you like to drink?
For more inspiration, get your Architectour Guide of London
1. The Churchill Arms
This extremely beautiful pub was constructed in 1750, making it one of the older and more historical pubs in London. Why the name Churchill? Apparently, Winston Churchill’s grandparents were regulars of the pub back in the 19th century. Lady Frances and John Spencer-Churchill (7th Duke of Marlborough) frequented the Churchill Arms with their 13 children, one of them being Winston Churchill’s father.
Location: 119 Kensington Church St, Kensington, W8 7LN (Google)
Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate
2. The Golden Lion
Although The Golden Lion was built in 1898, there’s been a tavern here since God was a lad. The pub’s original license dates from c.1690. The architects, Eedle & Meyers, were specialists in pub architecture, a prestigious category issued by RIBA (only joking, but how cool would that be?😜). This boozer has all the cool Victorian features: brass & mahogany, bow bar windows and stained glass. While some of its loyal clientele belongs to the prestigious kind (Napoleon III, Oscar Wilde, actress Lillie Langtry…), in 1823 the landlady was kicked to death by a female customer. She now haunts the pub.
Location: 25 King St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6QY (Google)
Nearest Tube: Green Park
3. The Counting House
The Counting House is located in a beautiful Victorian building — originally Prescott’s Bank — designed by H.C. Boyes and built in 1893. Two years later, in 1895, a gentleman’s club was established upstairs. Prescott’s Bank’s history is fascinating: It was founded in Threadneedle Street in 1766, and over the period of 100 years it acquired more than 35 other banks. In 1970 it became part of the National Westminster Bank and the building was repurposed. Still, the walls ooze from money, transactions and scandals.
Location: 50 Cornhill, London EC3V 3PD (Google)
Nearest Tube: Bank
4. The Blackfriar
One of our favourite pubs ever — The Blackfriar — stands in a traffic triangle in what once was a Blackfriar priory (We bet you didn’t expect this at all 😜). Architect Herbert Fuller-Clark, who was also a water polo champion (we know you love these random fun facts), designed this building in 1875 and later it was decorated by the sculptors Frederick T. Callcott & Henry Poole. The building was nearly demolished during a phase of redevelopment in the 1960’s, but was luckily saved and listed. And thank God, the interiors are like no other pub in London.
Location: 174 Queen Victoria St, London EC4V 4EG (Google)
Nearest Tube: Blackfriars
5. Princess Louise
Don’t let the rather modest exterior of this pub deceive you, it’s one of the great historic pubs of London, and it’s well-known for its remarkable interior. Sumptuous mirrors, tiles, etched panels and even the most elegant urinals you’ll ever see (sorry, you need to be a man to be allowed in the loos) are here. The ground floor layout is like it was in Victorian times with a series of seven drinking spaces separated by mahogany partitions with decorative etched glass panels abutting the large U-shaped bar counter. Besides the main space (and urinals) don’t miss the Victorian fireplace and the rear right small room.
Location: 208 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EP (Google)
Nearest Tube: Holborn
6. Coach & Horses
Beware dear architect as there are still over fifty Coach and Horses pubs in London alone and you want to visit this one in particular. This popular name comes from the horse drawn carriages that were the only means of transport between cities until the invention of the railway systems. The Coach and Horses of Bruton Street was constructed in the 1770’s and looks much as it did on its opening day as a coaching inn. It’s in fact one of Mayfair’s oldest surviving unreconstructed taverns and the Tudor exterior is original.
Location: 5 Bruton St, Mayfair, London W1J 6PT (Google)
Nearest Tube: Green Park
7. The Albert
The Albert, built in 1862, is the only remaining building from the original phase of the development of Victoria Street. However, the site was home to an even earlier pub: The Blue Coat Boy. In the mid-19th century the Artillery Brewery purchased the pub for £978 and created the space we now know: Ornate ceilings, hand-etched frosted glass windows and wrought iron balconies. Additionally, you’ll find a Prime Minister’s gallery (playing tribute to its proximity to Houses of Parliament) and some special memorabilia, such as the House of Commons Division Bell and one of Queen Victoria’s napkins.
Location: 52 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1H 0NP (Google)
Nearest Tube: Victoria
8. Ye Olde Cock Tavern
This ancient pub was created in the 17th century but the present building dates to the 1880’s. Ye Olde Cock Tavern is part of the historical Fleet Street, an important road that cuts through the city of London, with origins dating back to 200 CE when it was a major Roman thoroughfare. This curious London pub, snuggly wedged between two larger buildings, is perhaps best known for its literary patrons. Samuel Pepys, Alfred Tennyson and Charles Dickens were regulars and Samuel Johnson wrote the first English dictionary here.
Location: 22 Fleet St, Temple, London EC4Y 1AA (Google)
Nearest Tube: Temple
9. Crown and Anchor
On this delightful area of London between Neal and Shelton Streets, you’ll find a dark red pub re-built in 1904: Crown and Anchor. The large and beautifully-designed windows are some of its many charming aspects. Huge planters and hanging baskets adorn the exterior and its filled with copper and vintage trimmings too. The downside? It’s always too crowded.
Location: 22 Neal St, West End, London WC2H 9PS (Google)
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
10. The Three Greyhounds
Dating back to 1847, The Three Greyhounds sits in the heart of Soho’s musical scene. Perhaps that’s why it isn’t surprising that it was allegedly once the drinking haunt of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. The Three Greyhounds was aptly named after the dogs who once hunted hares here, when Soho was open ground. In fact, Soho itself comes from the hunting cry So Ho! While it is recorded that Casanova stayed in this street in 1764, licensed premises have existed here since 1847 only. And no, Mozart wasn’t amongst its early customers because he was seven years old when his father brought him to London and eight when he left.
Location: 25 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 5DD (Google)
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
11. The Holly Bush
Before becoming a pub in 1928, this 1790’s house was used as Assembly Rooms — also known as the night clubs of the 18th and 19th centuries. The interiors are gorgeous: oaken rooms with etched glass panels, a delightful log fire and a slightly ramshackle atmosphere. Don’t miss the little-known overflow on the first floor and the memorial plaques to regulars on some tables.
Location: 22 Holly Mount, London NW3 6SG (Google)
Nearest Tube: Hampstead
12. The Spaniards Inn
Built in 1585 as a tollgate on the Finchley boundary, The Spaniards has more than a few tales to tell — most of them including ghosts. But let’s focus on the living today. This picturesque inn was named after the Spanish Ambassador to James I of England (1566–1625) and it has more legends and rumours than any other pub in the list. It was allegedly the place in which Keats penned Ode to a Nightingale (although nearby Keats Museum claims the same achievement) and immortalised by Dickens in The Pickwick Papers, The Spaniards Inn is a Hampstead classic.
Location: Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, London NW3 7JJ (Google)
Nearest Tube: Hampstead
Check these and other amazing locations on Architectour Guide of London