“What do you miss about London?” I was asked not long ago while sipping an unforgivably cold American-size pint of London Pride in one of those Chicago British-pub-wannabes. Too many things to list here: the people, the working culture, the small music venues, the international cuisines, even the night buses… but, for sure, right there at the top of the list, one thing I really miss is the pubs.
There are plenty of pubs in Chicago, but like the one just mentioned, they are the Americanized version of a British pub. Anyhow, I am not here to complain, but to remember and celebrate.
Before moving to London, I spent three years in York, a city that claims to have 365 pubs, one for every day of the year. That said, I was introduced to the beautiful, romantic, nostalgic, and sometimes desperate, venture of going to the pub only after I moved down to the Big Smoke: small and cozy or large and crowded, silent and intimate or loud and joyful: London pubs are something different that I truly, unconditionally, love.
But without further ado, here is a list of 47 of my favorite pubs in London. They might not be the best, they are without doubt not all the pubs I’ve been to in my almost 10 years in London, but they all have a personal story attached to them.
The Magnificent Six
These are the pubs that hold a special place in my memories, having spent there tons of time with beautiful people, and having left there a little piece of my heart, a sizable piece of my liver, and, sadly, most of my monthly paychecks. They are, together with the bunch of people that were orbiting around them, foundational to explain my love for London. So, let me start with the one where everything started: the Old Nick.
1. Old Nick
This was my first “Company pub”, aka the pub where you and your colleagues, all your colleagues, go every given Friday at 5 pm. Mandatory. Monday to Thursday is encouraged too. The Old Nick is where all my 2010-2014 weekend shenanigans started. Despite the Old Nick having a number of sitting areas, some more reserved than others, I remember always hanging in the same corner of the bar or, weather permitting, outside. I still remember my first time: a week or so after starting this new job, around 5pm a cryptic email sent by my boss popped up in my (and probably few more folks) inbox. Subject: “Just for one”. Classic.
Old Nick, 20-22 Sandland St, London WC1R 4PZ, United Kingdom
2. The Salisbury Hotel
I moved to Harringay only in 2012, but despite living about 10 miles away in Shadwell for the first two years of my London life, somehow I consider The Salisbury my first local. It is a massive, grade II* listed pub that in those years was attracting a number of bizarre characters, serving a variety of local ales or international beers (including the infamous psychotropic “Palm”), and an award-winning banger and mash to die for. The Old Nick followed by The Salisbury followed by a late night falafel wrap in Manor House and by a never-ending late night journey on the N253 back to East London had been my classic Friday routine for a good while. Eventually since I couldn’t move the pub, I moved myself.
The Salisbury Hotel, 1 Green Lanes, Harringay Ladder, London N4 1JX, United Kingdom
3. The Harlequin
I worked for two companies in London, and The Harlequin (aka “The Harlo”) was my second “company pub” with a substantial difference from the Old Nick: at the Harlo, everything was happening Monday through Thursday, with Friday being the (not uncommon, really) exception. It is a very tiny pub, tucked away off the beaten path on Arlington Way, with a cozy fireplace perfect for those rainy London nights and a sort of secret beer garden in the back where to hang, weather permitting. Too small to host the whole company, but most of my favorite colleagues were hanging out there.
The Harlequin, 27 Arlington Way, London EC1R 1UY, United Kingdom
4. Faltering Fullback
One of the most beautiful pubs in North London, The Faltering Fullback. The interior is stunning and the maze-like rooftop garden perfect for a warm summer evening. A typical night while hanging around here would have involved some pints at the Fullback, a pizza at the nearby Pappagone, and one for the road back at the Fullback before heading home. Bonus memory: getting drenched by a pint of ale when Arsenal scored the winning goal in the 2014 FA cup. Go Gunners.
Faltering Fullback, 19 Perth Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 3HB, United Kingdom
5. The Reliance
The Reliance was for a while my midweek drinks spot with my mates: a few pints of London Pride or the occasional local IPAs, standing at the bar, talking about politics, life, and bragging about our genius fantasy football moves, only to be regularly disappointed by the next Premiership round.
The Reliance, 336 Old St, London EC1V 9DR, United Kingdom
6. Bank of Friendship
I discovered this little hidden gem pretty late, only after moving to Arsenal in 2017 and it has been my “local” until I moved across the pond. The BoF is one of the coziest pubs I know in winter (picture: fireplace, sofas, perfectly poured pints of ale and the occasional live music), and one of the best in summer, thanks to the beautiful rear beer garden.
Bank of Friendship, 226 Blackstock Rd, London N5 1EA, United Kingdom
The You look good on the dancefloor pubs
My love for this city goes together with my love for music. And London and music are a match made in heaven: hundreds of iconic small venues, most of which are free, where you can listen or dance to all sorts of music, a city packed with small or large gigs every day of the year: from jazz to punk, from indie to blues and everything in the middle. A gig in a London pub is a heartwarming experience
7. Hope & Anchor
A historic music pub, dangerously on my way home when I was living in Islington. Great little gigs and a very cool vibe. Bonus point: it is literally opposite my favorite small venue in London, The Union Chapel, making it the perfect pre-gig place.
Hope & Anchor, 207 Upper St, London N1 1RL, United Kingdom
8. The Good Mixer
Another iconic London haunt. One of the last really punk rock places in an otherwise pretty gentrified area and a great place to go either to enjoy some mostly unknown good old rock bands or before hitting some of the more famous music venues around Camden.
The Good Mixer, 30 Inverness St, London NW1 7HJ, United Kingdom
9. The Dublin Castle
When legendary is not an exaggeration. Some of the most sweaty dance nights of the 9 years I spent in London took place in this glorious place.
The Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, London NW1 7AN, United Kingdom
10. The Dolphin
Another legendary place, although for really different reasons. IYKYK.
The Dolphin, 163, 165 Mare St, London E8 3RH, United Kingdom
11. The Lexington
Some folks may say that this is more a bar than a pub, but this is my list, so take that. I used to go to the Lexington mostly for the live music shows – including a couple of my all-time favorites – in the upstairs’ room, but also for the odd midweek pint since my last London office was pretty close.
The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Rd, London N1 9JB, United Kingdom
12. The Boogaloo
I loved to bike to this place on an ordinary, sleepy Sunday afternoon when, more often than not, you might end up having a chat about music and life with the likes of Liam Gallagher and sorts while listening to some unplugged little gigs.
The Boogaloo, 312 Archway Rd, London N6 5AT, United Kingdom
13. The Haggerston
Packed dance nights and chill Sunday jazz. My last year in Dalston, chances of finding me there for a cheeky one after work were pretty solid.
The Haggerston, 438 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA, United Kingdom
14. The Victoria
A very nice pub, 5 minutes’ walk away from where I was living in Dalston, with a super cool small speakeasy venue on the back accessible through a bookshelf. Can’t get more Londoner than this.
The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Rd, London E8 3AS, United Kingdom
15. The Old Queens Head
Some of the craziest nights of the first half of my London years ended up being in the upstairs’ dance hall of the Old Queens Head. One word: Jaegerbomb!
The Old Queens Head, 44 Essex Rd, London N1 8LN, United Kingdom
16. The Slaughtered Lamb
More than the pub itself, a little bit too trendy for my taste, I was madly in love with the downstairs venue.
The Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton St, London EC1V 0DX, United Kingdom
17. The Finsbury
When I was living in Harringay, this was the closest music pub, although my best memories of the Finsbury are not directly connected to live shows, but a bunch of innocent midweek date nights.
The Finsbury, 336 Green Lanes, Finsbury Park, London N4 1BY, United Kingdom
18. King’s Head
Probably more famous for the upstairs’ opera theater than for the downstairs live music. On the way back from work, I stopped by a number of times to enjoy some unplugged live music from local artists while sipping some good reassuring ales.
King’s Head, 115 Upper St, London N1 1QN, United Kingdom
The beer connoisseurs pubs
During my first couple of years in London, I discovered a passion for those room-temperature, plain, reassuring ales. But I am fundamentally a curious person, so more often than not, I ended up betraying the traditional British beers with the random up-and-coming local brewery craft beers.
19. The Earl of Essex
Google describes The Earl of Essex as a “serious beer drinkers’ pub”. I think I fit in just fine.
The Earl of Essex, 25 Danbury St, London N1 8LE, United Kingdom
20. The Jolly Butchers
A mecca for beer lovers in the heart of Stoke Newington with a unique open-plan layout, making it a tad different from all the other pubs in this list. One of the most common culprits of my deadliest Sunday hangovers.
The Jolly Butchers, 204 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 7HU, United Kingdom
21. Craft Beer Co
A great selection of craft beers and the almost certainty of finding some of my colleagues or familiar faces on any given school night. There are 2 or 3 left in London but this location has now sadly closed.
Craft Beer Co, 55 White Lion St, London N1 9PP, United Kingdom
The Eating is cheating pubs
There is a saying that goes like this: Eating – on a night out – is cheating, and I lived by it for most of my time in London. The accepted exception is when you go to a pub with the primary intention of having food: and I swear, some of the London pubs and gastropubs I tried have nothing to envy of much more recognized cuisines. Ok, I said it, so what?
22. The Albion
A charming Georgian pub with a gorgeous, large garden and hands down one of the best Sunday roasts you can get in London. Best memory: here is where in September 2018 I celebrated attaining my British Citizenship, with mum and dad.
The Albion, 10 Thornhill Rd, London N1 1HW, United Kingdom
23. The Pig and Butcher
One of the best gastropubs in North London and a classic work Christmas dinner place.
The Pig and Butcher, 80 Liverpool Rd, London N1 0QD, United Kingdom
24. The Bull and Last
I’ve been to the Bull and Last only a couple of times, but both were with great friends, enjoying one of the finest fish and chips you can get in London.
The Bull and Last, 168 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1QS, United Kingdom
25. Prince George
I came here for a Sunday lunch a few times, but the best memory I have is one happy Christmas dinner with a buch of lovely people. Love (and beers) all around.
Prince George, 40 Parkholme Rd, London E8 3AG, United Kingdom
26. The White Hart
The White Hart meant the recovery-from-the-weekend-madness-Sunday-roast in one of the nicest beer gardens in East London, often shared with curious and fearless London foxes.
The White Hart, 69 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 8EL, United Kingdom
27. The Princess of Shoreditch
One of the gastropubs I’ve been to the most whenever I was meeting for dinner and drinks with friends in Shoreditch. I took my parents too here and they loved it.
The Princess of Shoreditch, 76-78 Paul St, London EC2A 4QB, United Kingdom
28. The Spaniards Inn
Here I had the last of my 52 Cuisines of London series. A beautiful historic pub with great food and a lovely beer garden.
Spaniards Rd, London NW3 7JJ, United Kingdom
The Friday I am in Love pubs
There is a bunch of pubs where, due to the location or whatever other reason, I was meeting with friends and / or colleagues pretty much exclusively for Friday after-work drinks.
29. Exmouth Arms
Another Victorian pub that eventually became the Friday post-work first choice to go with some colleagues tired of going to the Old Nick, with long nights spent ping-ponging along Exmouth Market between the Exmouth Arms, the nearby Cafe Kick, and Santoré, one of my favorite pizzerias in London.
Exmouth Arms, 23 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QL, United Kingdom
30. Kings Stores
A nice pub tucked away in a quiet alley close to Liverpool Street station. A classic Friday hangout in my last couple of years in London.
Kings Stores, 14 Widegate St, London E1 7HW, United Kingdom
31. Camden Head
Another Victorian pub with a large terrace and a good selection of ales where I spend more than one summer Friday night.
Camden Head, 2 Camden Walk, London N1 8DY, United Kingdom
32. The Ten Bells
An iconic pub moments away from Spitalfields market and not too far from where I was living in Shadwell, where beers and shots were coming copiously, only to be followed by a couple of lifesaving Brick Lane bagels on my way home.
The Ten Bells, 84 Commercial St, London E1 6QQ, United Kingdom
33. The Crown and Shuttle
One of the larger (and crowded) beer gardens in this part of East London, where especially in summer, I used to hang with some mates.
The Crown and Shuttle, 226 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6PJ, United Kingdom
The “Rest of the Best” pubs
Another bunch of pubs that I have visited at different times. It goes without saying that the list of all the pubs I’ve hung around is much longer and I’m sure I am forgetting some important names that I will add whenever I remember.
34. The Three Johns
A valid alternative in Angel whenever the group of colleagues going to the pub was too large to fit in the Harlo.
The Three Johns, 73 White Lion St, London N1 9PF, United Kingdom
35. The Alwyne Castle
Some great memories, some not so great memories here, but hey: life, uh?
The Alwyne Castle, 83 St Paul’s Rd, Greater, London N1 2LY, United Kingdom
36. Princess Louise
Not a super common destination, but a tempting one, being super close to Holborn Station, my office tube stop for a few years. Boasting beautifully preserved interior and, not something to ignore in those early London years, much cheaper than other pubs in the area.
Princess Louise, 208 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EP, United Kingdom
37. Cittie of Yorke
Same as above, a cavernous pub this time dangerously close to my other tube stop option, Chancery Lane. In reality, I haven’t been there much, but one thing is for sure: I do have very blurry memories of those few times.
Cittie of Yorke, 22 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BN, United Kingdom
38. Old Red Lion
Old Red Lion, 418 St John St, London EC1V 4NJ, United Kingdom
39. The Prince
I came here only once, really, but I have a strong connection with this place, being where I first told someone I was about to leave London.
The Prince, 59 Kynaston Rd, London N16 0EB, United Kingdom
40. The Cat & Mutton
Broadway Market is one of my favorite streets in London, so it came only natural to start hanging at this pub located at the very north end of the road, at the southern edge of London Fields.
The Cat & Mutton, 76 Broadway Market, London E8 4RA, United Kingdom
41. The Fox
Now sadly closed, damn gentrification, The Fox was another of my usual hangouts, especially in those years I spent living in Dalston.
The Fox, 372 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4DA, United Kingdom
42. The Auld Shillelagh
Probably the only Irish pub in this list. An Irish friend once claimed this is the only pub in London serving pints of Guinness the right way. Who am I to not believe him?
The Auld Shillelagh, 105 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0UD, United Kingdom
43. Pub On The Park
A fun and relaxed pub with a spacious outdoor terrace, situated right on the edge of London Fields. One of the best places to hang around on a summer afternoon / night.
Pub On The Park, 19 Martello St, London E8 3PE, United Kingdom
44. The Churchill Arms
One of the most beautiful pubs in London with wonderful floral displays that completely cover the exterior of the building. Come in December when, thanks to the Christmas decorations, it gets even more incredible.
The Churchill Arms, 119 Kensington Church St, London W8 7LN, United Kingdom
45. Duke of Cambridge
A pub that will always remind me that surreal day following the Brexit referendum. This is where I met with a bunch of colleagues trying to drink the sorrow and disbelief away.
Duke of Cambridge, 30 St Peter’s St, London N1 8JT, United Kingdom
46. The Lamb & Flag
A place I used to take first-time London visitors. One of the oldest pubs in London and for sure one of the most iconic.
The Lamb & Flag, 33 Rose St, London WC2E 9EB, United Kingdom
47. The Crown and Anchor
When I was still living in Yorkshire, I tried to get a job in London a few times. Every time, after the interview and before the train back north, I was meeting with my mate and some of his colleagues in their “Company pub”. Funny story: after a few years, I ended up working – and I still do – for that same company.
The Crown and Anchor, 22 Neal St, London WC2H 9PS, United Kingdom