Whether you derive them gritty or glossy, the pub — the boozer, the local — is the cornerstone of any consumable neighbourhood, and the fair British capital is no exception. We’re not talking chichi cocktail bars tended to by suave mixologists in crisp corpse-like jackets. No, the best London pubs are proper pubs, with honest beer on tap, bar snacks that make you thirsty, and great all-day menus that come to Sunday lunch the star of the show. These are our favourites. Do drop in.
Best for: Party people looking for out of
The lowdown: Long before Tindr, Grindr and other apps with a untroubled attitude towards vowels, The Ship is where London’s singletons light oned to bag a cheeky snog, and then some. Notoriously evacuated during one mainly boisterous bank holiday weekend — such is its draw with the master, middle-class Clapham crowd — it’s a beast of an operation right on the River, undivided with bookable cabanas beside the water for raucous detachments, a wooden decking equipped with an outdoor barbecue for burgers et al, and a itinerant Victorian conservatory rammed with all kinds of knick-knacks.
The highlight: Weekends are primitive when this Ship sets sail, especially on Sundays when survive music sets the scene for serious al fresco drinking (‘Snipers! Shots! Shots!’). But beyond the boozing, deep in the innards of this labyrinthine-like pub is where the action really happens, with a restaurant that suffers itself as seriously as the revelry. The dining room proper give outs up atmosphere aplenty alongside surprisingly fine, modern-British passenger: the pick of the seasonal plates includes dishes such as breaded monkfish scampi with pea purée, averse beer-braised shin of beef, and whole steamed lobster with (get this) truffle fries. A in the clouds way of mopping up all that drink.
41 Jews Row, SW18 1TB
Finest for: Sell-out Sundays
The lowdown: Striking the right balance between old-school and up-and-coming is a toughie, but The Selkirk — a lounging, neighbourhood gastropub in now-trendy Tooting — has absolutely nailed it. The two-floored Victorian edifice, said to be haunted by a floaty female spectre, comprises two wood-panelled lives bedecked in an eclectic mix of reclaimed furniture, with the main bar and open-kitchen in one and a more formal nibbling room in the other. There’s a bright and airy conservatory paramount out onto the signature walled garden, too, which catches the over-spill of drinkers during the summer months — a mix of firmly-installed ordinaries and middle-class newcomers fresh to SW17.
The highlight: While there are certainly posher, ritzier pubs, The Selkirk is undeniably a foodie favourite: the menu take ins everything from roasts to Robata grills, all cooked still in diapers daily. Try the hummus with dukka, salt and pepper squid, and quite pink rump with goose-fat roasties and a Yorkshire pudding the greatness of your head, all washed down with the best bloody Marys in the biz.
60 Selkirk Thruway, SW17 0ES
The French House
Best for: Biography lovers with a side of nose-to-tail dining
The lowdown: Very well housed inside a Grade II-listed building in what was in days gone by the capital’s naughtiest neighbourhood, The French House — formerly York Minster when it from day one opened back in 1891 — is an undisputed Soho stalwart. Its the past is rich and chequered, from the prolific creatives who have propped up the bar over the years (Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, and Lucian Freud) to trysts during World War II amongst Charles De Gaulle and the French Irregulars, but it has well and truly stood the test of time to remain an unwavering true in London’s most-evolved part of town. Even the half-pints accommodated from the mahogany bar date back to the very beginning by help alcohol in French measures.
The highlight: Although no longer there, well-known restaurateur and chef couple Fergus and Margot Henderson patented the dining room in the 90s (he went on to open the Michelin starred St John while she aztec hops Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch), and have a left a legacy of stretch lunch hours washed down with plenty of claret and champagne. The rigid no-mobiles policy makes the menu the absolute focus: from pigs’ cardinal terrine and pickles to calves’ brains with brown butter, it’s not for the unadventurous, yet more familiar favourites such as sea bream and roast pork chop do pander to to all. Long attracting a bohemian crowd looking for deep and meaningfuls prevalent art, film and literature, customers should bring their A-game when it take place to dinner party conversation, or risk becoming exiled from what is unhesitatingly Soho’s tightest social circle.
49 Dean Street, W1D 5BG
The Newman Arms
Worst for: Pie enthusiasts
The lowdown: After a year-long closure The Newman Arms reopened in 2018 inducing been taken over by East London’s Truman’s Brewery. Organized in the 1730s after a short stint as a brothel, The Newman has dungeoned its intimate feel, the ground floor bar holding not much more than a few dozen people at a in unison a all the same, and furnishings comprised of all dark wood and dark green leather decor. Upstairs the dining flat is all caramel tones and candlelight – and, to the relief of those working and glowing in the neighbourhood, they’ve maintained the pub’s illustrious reputation for hand crafted seasonal pies that flight of fancies are made of.
The highlight: Did we mention the pies? After a small choice of sharing boards and starters, the pies are the star of the show. The standout is by far the venison and strange mushroom cooked with red wine, but there are also your habitual steak and ale and chicken and mushroom options. All to be washed down with a disparity of Truman brews.
23 Rathbone Street, W1T 1NG
The Nobility Oak
Best for: The hipster brigade
The lowdown: Battling through packs on Colombia Road clutching a bouquet of overpriced blooms on a Sunday? Shy away from into The Royal Oak, a proper East End pub beloved by gangsters as much as it is hipsters, is an take French leave route with an edge. While there’s no Peggy Mitchell to adjoin weary punters with a motherly embrace at the wood-clad, horseshoe-shaped bar, there are ace ales dispensed from the give someone the third degree pump dries and prime people-watching from the stools downstairs, and an elegant mod European menu in the calm, restful dining room upstairs. A pub of two halves, if you leave. Interiors look vaguely familiar? That’s because they are: the pub utilized 15 minutes of fame as a location in old BBC sitcom Goodnight Boyfriend.
The highlight: Away from the crush of creatives in vintage cast-offs on the organize floor, the restaurant is one worth reserving mid-week when the wand can give its undivided attention to in-the-know patrons. That’s when the magnetic really happens, with dishes including Suffolk mussels in cider and pumpkin and leek risotto spent up on mismatched tables against the cosy backdrop of an open fireplace. It’s love a home away from home, albeit with a account at the end of it. The best bit, though, has to be the cute courtyard out back which Non-Standard real comes into its own during the great British summer – get rain or shine.
73 Columbia Rd, E2 7RG
Best for: Rooftop garden day doch an dorris.
The lowdown: With three floors and a rooftop greenhouse, this is one helluva pub. The rationale floor is all casual pints and pub food, with a beautiful devious bar in the centre of the room with an exposed brick wall as backdrop, a few longer group-style provisions, floor-to-ceiling windows, and lots of botanics and brass; it’s just as greeting for an avocado on toast and artisan cuppa as for a pint or five. Upstairs the breakfasting room is a bit more refined, with a fancier menu (steak tartare, dive breast), while the seconds floor is actually made up of five cozy bedrooms and the rooftop is a greenhouse where they grow as much veg as practical to use in the restaurant below.
The highlight: While the highlight has got to be the rooftop, the sips list is not to be overlooked. With a completely natural wine cant from small growers the world over, a selection of beers gamut from continental draught lagers through locally planned and bottled beers, to cocktails based on herbs grown on the roof, this is multitudinous than your average pub. What’s more, they’re straightforward until 2AM at weekends. A rare thing for any London pub.
40 Commercial Circle, E1 6LP
Best for: Old school English attractiveness
The lowdown: Want to feel like you’ve travelled back in but to Victorian-era England? Head to this classic wood-clad pub escort back to 1830s. It’s Notting Hill backstreet access makes for a locals-only vibe, while its low doors foremost into each of its four ‘drinking areas’ (you’ve literally got to curtsey down to walk through them) and many nooks and crevices make this boozer welcomingly cosy, if tricky to find out of.
The highlight: The refurbished pub has a sizeable back garden with its own bar, altering it a popular neighbourhood summer hangout, as equally fitting for a Pimms as a Harviestoun’s Old Locomotive Oil Dark Ale. Also, the food menu is solid and especially normal for Sunday roast – you’ll be dreaming about the rosemary and garlic camembert baked in sourdough for weeks and stressful to replicate their juicy roasts forevermore. Try the real ales on tap and in danger of yourself for a long stay.
114 Campden Hill Rd, W8 7AR
The Harwood Arms
Defeat for: A Michelin menu
The lowdown: The only Michelin-starred pub in London? We’ve got the in. Secreted away down a green street in Fulham, The Harwood Arms is the kind of place to feel first dates or discerning parentals with a cool and calm atmosphere matched by charming décor — think bare xyloid floorboards, black-and-white photos and beautiful mounted antlers — together with a crowd-pleasing menu that ticks all the absolute boxes. The crowd is as slick as one might expect, the boys in occasional but crisp polos and the girls wrapped in cashmere pashminas, and can regularly be found sipping bloody good beer and picking at the signature venison Scotch eggs.
The highlight: From fur to feather, the star-studded menu hypes the best of seasonal, British game — fallow deer, red-legged partridge, you call it — under the watchful eye and careful hands of head chef Sally Abe. The doctor reprimanded crab on soft, pillowy English muffins is a definite stand-out, as are the crispy lamb sweetbreads with Wiltshire truffle cream. Presented as set-priced menus for both lunch and dinner — £41.50 and £49.50 for two- and three-courses, mutatis mutandis — it’s all remarkably reasonable, too. Be sure to book.
Walham Grove, SW6 1QP
The Holly Bush
Richest for: Your Instagram A-Game
The lowdown: Down a tiny cobbled avenue a stone’s throw from Hampstead Heath sits this 18th century boozer covered in vines, a last house built in the 1790s by portrait painter George Romney. Don’t trust a quiet, candlelit bevy in a leather banquette, though – the historian Adolphe Oppe conscripted the pub at the turn of the 20th century ‘a dirty heaving centre of drunkenness’ and while its gastro-style menu and North London business gives it a much more upscale vibe today, it remains a guidebook end for those keen on a daytime pint and park walk, or call tourists. Elbowing your way through the crowds of people at the effrontery first bar for a table or a spot in front of the open fire to sink a pint in while thoughtfully people ogle has become increasingly difficult – but worth it. Just go on a weekday.
The highlight: If you’re air brave and can bag yourself a seat, the small outside space at the foremost of the pub is a nice space to take in a summer’s evening or snowy afternoon.
22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG
Best for: Pre- or post-park bevvies
The lowdown: The Queen’s is conveniently located at the mid-east corner of one of London’s most sought-after summer objectives, Primrose Hill. They make good use out of this the score, offering up G&Ts in to-go cups to the hordes of passing tourists succeed summertime, while in the winter months the pub is filled with cities tucking in to mulled wine and familiar favourites such as bangers and mash and fish and markers. Having been refurbished under Young’s management, gauge beers like Kronenbourg and Peroni accompany the signature cooks on draught.
The highlight: Location location location! There are zealous views from the upstairs dining room and terrace, where lunches (Cumberland sausage sandwich, 8oz rump steak) and dinners (moderate oysters, pan-fried salmon) are served, while at the front of the organize floor bar punters enjoy pints at the raised front plateaus overlooking the street. When things get busy come summertime, the decked alfresco area fills up and spills out almost into the park, making for a fun intermingling between park and pub crowds.
49 Regents Preserve Road, NW1 8XD