Is there anything quite like a pub? The welcoming wooden furnishings, the unmistakable tang of joyous nights in the air, the shiny taps poking their marquees above the bar, the simple familiarity of the place, even if you've never been there before – pubs are a quintessentially British place and no one does them better than London. Whether you're there for a freshly drawn pint, to cheer on your team or to treat yourself to a Sunday roast, everyone needs to have a favourite pub. That's why we've put together a list of the best pubs in London to help you find your next local. Cheers!
Guide to the best pubs in London
In this guide
The best pubs in London
- The Churchill Arms – One of the prettiest pubs in England
- The Harwood Arms – One Michelin Star
- Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – A witness to history
- The Southampton Arms – Indie brewery champion
- The Owl & Hitchhiker – Don't forget your towel!
- The Harp – Covent Garden retreat
- The Dublin Castle – Legendary music venue
- The Faltering Fullback – Sports and greenery
- The Devonshire – Balham beach pub
- Ye Olde Mitre – Hidden historic ale house
- The Anchor – Shakespearean pub by the river
- Princess Louise – Victorian-era marvel
- The Old Bank of England – Grand interiors, plus a bus out back
- The Shacklewell Arms – The right kind of place for rock 'n' roll
- Cask Pub & Kitchen – For the discerning beer aficionado
- The French House – French silent film
- Skehans – Family-run South London favourite
- The Prospect of Whitby – Historic riverside tavern
- The Sun Tavern – Careful, the drinks go hard here
- The Tavern on the Hill – E17 local with city-spanning reputation
- The Lyric – Soho's hidden gem
- The Drapers Arms – Well-known gastropub
- The Hawley Arms – Amy Winehouse's favourite pub
- McGlynn's – Straightforward King's Cross tavern
- The Auld Shillelagh – Off the leash and on the lash
- Mr Fogg's Tavern – Eclectic decor and joyous atmosphere
- The Cow – Seafood specialists
- The Holly Tree – Fun for the whole family
- The Grenadier – Spoooooky
- The Queen Adelaide – Queer party pub
- The Coach & Horses – Soho icon
- The Pembury Tavern – Come for the pizza, stay for the birra
- The Palm Tree – Timeless no-nonsense boozer
- The Lamb & Flag – Buckets of history
- The Cross Keys – Classic pub that oozes character
- The Mayflower – Start your pilgrimage here
- Marksman – Pub dining that hits the spot
- The Commercial Tavern – Don't judge a pub by its front
- The Cadogan Arms – Local boozer done the Chelsea way
- Pub on the Park – Spectacular view of the park
- The Antwerp Arms – Cosy community pub
- Fox & Firkin – Beer, music, pizza
- The Lucky Saint – Experience an inclusive pub
- The Holly Bush – Village vibes in Hampstead
- The Hung, Drawn & Quartered – Traditional pub in central London
- Prince of Peckham – Lively Peckham pub
- Waxy O'Connor's – Gargantuan Irish pub
- The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms – Award-winning local
- The Apollo Arms – Community feel
- The Blue Posts – Distinctive Soho pub
- The Four Thieves – Unique pub entertainment
- The Ship & Shovell – Traditional charm
- The Spaniards Inn – Idyllic pub in Hampstead
- The Sun & 13 Cantons – Traditional meets modern in Soho
- The Gipsy Moth – Drinks in the heart of Greenwich
- The Flask – Long-standing North London pub
- The Woodman – Inclusive and cosy
- The Albert – Political pub packed with history
- The Dog & Bell – Vibrant community venue
The best pubs in London
One of the prettiest pubs in England
Covered in flowers and greenery both inside and out, The Churchill Arms is a postcard-ready pub in Kensington, often hailed as one of the most beautiful pubs in all of England. The festive garlands it's decked in around Christmas are especially enticing. It can get pretty busy, but if you do manage to get inside, the spicy Thai noodles and wide range of Fuller's beers won't have you leaving in a hurry.
One Michelin Star
The only Michelin-starred pub in the city, The Harwood Arms is a gastropub in Fulham that's famed for excellent cooking with an emphasis on the finest British produce, especially game and other wild food. The stylish contemporary take on a traditional pub features leather sofas, wooden furniture and stag heads on the walls. On Sundays, you can tuck into an exemplary roast, accompanied by a glass of wine from the extensive list that covers all corners of the globe.
A witness to history
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street has been around for centuries, even being rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Its regulars are said to have included historic figures such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and there are even signs it was used as a brothel for some time, so it's safe to say it's truly seen it all. It's a suitably dim place with many nooks and crannies that serves carefully-sourced pub food and Sam Smiths beers.
Indie brewery champion
Located just off of Hampstead Heath, The Southampton Arms claims its spot thanks in part to being a great place to grab a pint after climbing Parliament Hill. Its other big draw, however, are the drinks. It's the only dedicated pub in London to feature beers and ciders exclusively from small independent British breweries, so if you're looking for a new favourite tipple, this is the place to go exploring.
Don't forget your towel!
The Owl & Hitchhiker is inspired by and devoted to the celebrated sci-fi comedy of Douglas Adams' bestselling The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels, applying the same sort of quirky, joyful logic and clever humour to its funky space. It offers different craft beers from local breweries on tap, while the food menu features homemade Caribbean specialties such as salt fish puffs and jerk chicken burgers, with a good number of veggie and vegan options as well.
Covent Garden retreat
The Harp is such a definitive pub you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a Covent Garden tourist trap, but trust us, it's not. In fact, it's especially great for when you need an escape from the area's crowds. Across two floors, the award-winning ale house leans into traditional charm with heaps of character and a selection of classic cask ales and rotating guest brews on tap. They're especially proud of their selection of ciders and perries from all over the UK.
Legendary music venue
The iconic red-painted front of Camden's family-run Dublin Castle pub has claimed its place in music history as the birthplace of UK greats Madness, a hothouse for the Britpop explosion of the 1990s, and a regular haunt for famous locals like Amy Winehouse. A glance at the walls, adorned with signed posters, will attest to the joint's legacy, which it keeps alive with gigs in the back room and bucketloads of cheap booze.
Sports and greenery
The Faltering Fullback, tucked away in Arsenal F.C. territory behind Finsbury Park, is an Irish pub with huge screens showing all sorts of sports, especially rugby. The leafy beer garden in the back is a winner in its own right, making the pub as a whole a great choice regardless of whether you're looking to relax with a pint in hand, catch up on the score, or just have fun in the lively evening atmosphere with concerts and pub quizzes.
Balham beach pub
The Devonshire is far from your typical local watering hole, with its high ceilings, spacious rooms, comfortable sofas, glitzy decor and potted plants all over. Founded in 1821, it has plenty of history, but more importantly, it also has a sun-soaked garden in the back with serious beach club vibes during the summer – you can even book your own beach hut. If your tummy's a-rumblin', grab one of the decadent burgers or Sunday roasts with all the trimmings.
Hidden historic ale house
Steeped in history, Ye Olde Mitre is not the easiest to find, but its focus on traditional pub-keeping make it well worth the effort. Built nearly half a millennium ago, the pub is great for after-work drinks and socialising in a less rowdy atmosphere, with seven ales on tap as well as occasional wooden cask beers available in small batches. The food menu deserves special mention as well, with the talented chef specialising in homemade toasties and bar snacks such as pork pies and sausage rolls. Also, Queen Elizabeth I danced around the cherry tree in the courtyard once upon a time, for what it's worth.
Shakespearean pub by the river
A maze-like warren of rooms, passages and staircases by the Thames, the Anchor is just a few minutes from Borough Market and the famed Globe theatre. William Shakespeare is said to have regularly visited one of the pub's previous incarnations. The current one makes for a great riverside stop to refuel at when taking in the many sights in the area, with plates of golden-fried goodness and other pub classics to munch on while downing the many Greene King beers and other drinks on offer.
A prime example of the grandness Victorians bestowed upon their favourite watering holes, the Princess Louise is a Grade II listed structure all the way to its marble urinals. How's that for a posh pee? The various parts of the pub are divided with etched glass screens, adding to the intimate, quiet vibe, though it gets plenty lively when the after-work crowds start dropping in. The drinks on offer come courtesy of Samuel Smith's.
Grand interiors, plus a bus out back
The Old Bank of England boasts a stunning interior with high ceilings, tasteful wooden furnishings and a verdant central area trimmed with greenery, becoming downright majestic when night falls. There's a proper vintage Routemaster double decker bus parked in the sunny garden out back, and the location on Fleet Street is great for exploring the many sights in the area. The pub is operated by Hertfordshire brewers McMullen, offering a selection of their tipples as well as beers and ciders from all over the world.
The right kind of place for rock 'n' roll
The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston is an established stop on the touring circuit for rising indie talent, regularly offering you the smug satisfaction of having seen a band "back before they were big". The cosy pub in the front includes a kitchen that serves Lebanese street food, and there's a smoking area in the garden out back.
For the discerning beer aficionado
Try the Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico if your local boozer refuses to stock the trippel you keep nagging them about. Odds are good you'll find it there, and with ten cask ales, 15 keg lines and more than 300 bottled beers to choose from, you'll be able to find a decent substitute at the very least. Check what's on the impressive beer list each day online, and make sure to cast a hungry eye over the gourmet burgers on offer.
French silent film
It's a pub … but French? Before you run away in horror, do hear us out. This iconic establishment situated on Dean Street does cuisine the French way, offering delicacies such as foie gras and onion soup, as well as letting you choose from thirty champagnes and wines by the glass. More significantly, it offers a lull from the constant chirping of modernity with a strict policy of no music, no phones and no TV, making it a favourite of more talkative types as well as showbiz names.
Family-run South London favourite
The picturesque Skehan's Free House in New Cross is a favourite not just because it looks like something out of a colouring book, but also because it's one of the few independent, family-run pubs left in the city. It's quite a lively place with an emphasis on live music, including jam sessions and karaoke nights. During summer, you'd be hard-pressed to find a nicer place for a pint than the beautiful garden hidden in the back, which also includes a Thai restaurant.
Historic riverside tavern
Anyone who spends any time in London soon learns that riverside locations are at a premium. Holding on to its spot by the Thames for more than 500 years, the Prospect of Whitby has been putting it to good use with awesome views of Canary Wharf across the water. The naval-themed tavern has drawn a mixed crowd through the centuries, from smugglers and Charles Dickens to royalty and celebs such as Paul Newman, and it's still very popular today.
Careful, the drinks go hard here
The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green, restored in 2014 but dating back to 1851, where you go for strong Irish spirits of the legal as well as the, er, somewhat less legal variety. The pub is famed for its list of Irish whiskeys, the largest in the city, as well as the world's most expansive selection of poitín, original moonshine from Ireland, illegal until 1997 and dialling the ABV up as far as 90%.
E17 local with city-spanning reputation
It might be off the beaten path, but this Walthamstow local has quite the following thanks to its resident kitchen, Jam Shack – even the likes of Stormzy have made the Sunday roast pilgrimage! The traditional pub on Higham Hill is run by the Wild Card Brewery down the street, meaning you can always count on a range of intriguing craft beers on tap, and there’s a nice outdoor garden as well.
Soho's hidden gem
With a welcoming atmosphere, typical wood furnishings, Victorian wall hangings and open fires, Soho's The Lyric is a lovely little Victorian pub. The food is uncomplicated yet tasty, with all the British pub evergreens you'd expect, while the 33 taps feature tipples from leading independent breweries. Straightforward, classic and done well.
The Drapers Arms in Islington distinguishes itself from the usual boozy dives with a chic setting of high ceilings, neutral colours, chandeliers and checkerboard floors. The food offerings follow suit with painstakingly prepared mains such as trout in mussel broth, crusted lamb loin chop, aged sirloin and more. Pair them with wines off their curated list of regional wines available by the glass for the full gastropub experience.
Amy Winehouse's favourite pub
Surviving a devastating fire, not to mention many a wild night, this iconic Camden tavern is famous not just for being a welcoming place to have a good time and down a couple of pints at, but also as a legendary music venue – just take a look at the autographed photos that cover the walls. Gigs take place regularly, but even on off nights you can expect a vibrant rock 'n' roll atmosphere.
Straightforward King's Cross tavern
Look, lovely Victorian decor, fancy gastropubs, carefully curated drinking menus, stunning views, entertainment, history – these are all great characteristics to look out for when choosing your next favourite tavern. But sometimes, you'd just like a nice, friendly, no-frills place to hang your drinking hat at. McGlynn's is that exact place, an unpretentious tavern with a convivial crowd in King's Cross. Sometimes, that's all you need or want.
Off the leash and on the lash
The Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington is hailed as one of the most authentic Irish pubs in the world outside of Ireland, and they pride themselves on serving the best Guinness in the city. Larger than it looks at first glance, the pub also has a beer garden in the rear. With live music and sports on regularly, it's a great place for a quick shot of St Patrick's vibes, no matter the time of year.
Eclectic decor and joyous atmosphere
Mr Fogg's Tavern is named after the protagonist of Jules Verne's famous novel Around the World in 80 Days, and it's packed to the brim with the kind of curios and knickknacks the fictitious adventurer might have brought back from his travels. You can marvel at the eccentric collection while waiting for your pint or the classic pub grub, or join the weekly cockney singalongs.
Chef Tom Conran's The Cow is an Anglo-Irish gastropub in Notting Hill that specialises in seafood with Northern European influences. If you want oysters to go with your Guinness, this place claims to be an essential choice. The sizeable shellfish menu is followed by various main courses, including a hearty fish stew, and there's a good selection of wines to pair with. It's all served in a tastefully furnished saloon or dining room, both dominated by artist Paul Slater's playful murals.
Fun for the whole family
The Holly Tree on the edge of Wanstead Flats underwent extensive refurbishment in 2019, not just installing a new kitchen that serves a varied selection of both pub standbys and more exotic dishes and freshening up the interior with a classic pub look, but also laying down a fully functioning miniature railway in the newly landscaped garden. As you can imagine, it's a great place for kids.
Though The Grenadier is located in the affluent Belgravia neighbourhood, that's not the reason its ceiling is covered in money – there's actually an intriguing ghost story behind that. That isn't this fine military-themed establishment's only claim to fame, however, as it's famous for its Beef Wellington, a highlight of the traditional pub grub on offer. Meanwhile, the elegant atmosphere at this former officers' mess easily transports you to another time and place.
Queer party pub
The Queen Adelaide is a queer-friendly pub in Hackney with snug booths in the basement, an assortment of ramshackle furnishings and a serious devotion to partying late into the nights, especially on weekends, when the licence expires at 3am. The lively atmosphere is boosted further with DJ nights, usually featuring disco, funk or house tunes, but often branching out into other genres as well.
This Grade II listed pub on a Soho corner is rightfully considered one of the most famous ones in the neighbourhood. Despite passing into Fuller's ownership, it hasn't lost any of its independent charm or clientele. Wide-eyed tourists mingling with local characters, workers recovering after their jobs and shoppers after their sprees, The Coach & Horses offers shelter in a cosy traditional setting to all who find their way to its iconic red pillars, as it has for ages.
Come for the pizza, stay for the birra
The legendary Pembury Tavern in the heart of trendy Hackney was restored in 2018 and is now run by the local Five Points Brewing Company. That means 22 lines of beer at the bar, including guest takeovers. Another major draw? The food side of things, with a drool-worthy array of New York Neapolitan pizzas from Ace Pizza, with toppings such as 'nduja, pepperoni, scamorza, rosemary, pecorino and more.
Timeless no-nonsense boozer
The Palm Tree is a Grade II listed establishment that simply doesn't do change. For starters, it's the only building in the area to have survived both the Blitz and the creation of Mile End Park around it. Furthermore, you'll note we left the website section blank, and the register is cash only. They seem like they strongly prefer their regulars to any new faces popping by, too, but it's all part of the East End appeal that has withstood the test of time and even earned the pub scenes in Luther, among others.
Buckets of history
A historic part of Covent Garden since 1772, The Lamb & Flag was founded as The Coopers Arms, then earned a rather grislier moniker in the 19th century. Due to the bare-knuckle prize fights that took place there, it was called "The Bucket of Blood", but these days, it's known as a lovely Georgian pub with a nice courtyard, fresh pub grub and plenty of interesting facts for history buffs. For instance, Charles Dickens was a regular here.
Classic pub that oozes character
The Cross Keys in Covent Garden is a busy tavern in a busy part of town, starting with the lush greenery that covers the entryway and continuing with the wealth of various decoration, mirrors, signs, pictures, knickknacks and even Beatles memorabilia, a bust of John Lennon and a napkin with Elvis Presley's signature. The mesmerizing decor makes it a cosy place to have a pint even if you're on your own.
Start your pilgrimage here
The Mayflower is an authentic pub on the banks of the Thames, named for being the location of the mooring point of the ship that carried the pilgrims to America in the 17th century. The dim interior is splendidly done in dark wood, lit by candlelight and covered in old photographs, and the riverside terrace makes great use of the location. If you can prove a family connection to the original pilgrims, you can even sign the pubs Descendants Book.
Pub dining that hits the spot
The first pub in London to be named Michelin Pub of the Year in 2016, the buzz surrounding Marksman in Bethnal Green is still very much alive all this time later. It’s easy to miss the stairs leading from the nice but innocuous neighbourhood pub area on the ground floor to the sunny terrace and the dining room, though you’d regret it if you did. The daily menu offers refined takes on British classics such as pies or sheep’s milk dumplings, as well as the famed specialities like the brown butter & honey tart and the filled buns that are spoken of in hushed tones all over Hackney.
Don't judge a pub by its front
It seems pretty bland from the outside, but the interior reveals weird yet wonderful decor that turns “worn down” into a pleasing aesthetic choice. The Commercial Tavern feels almost like walking into a disused 17th century chateau that the owner abandoned but forgot to take their stuff with them. That “stuff” also includes an oven for sourdough pizzas that surpass typical pub grub expectations, as well as a selection of craft brews that has something for everyone.
Local boozer done the Chelsea way
Chelsea’s classy favourite is beautifully clad in polished wood that recalls an upscale country manor. It’s known for its dishes, which are devoted to sustainability, local produce and seasonal ingredients for a menu that features both British dining classics and comforting pub food. With a carefully curated wine list, cocktails and twelve draught beers on offer, the drinks are up to par as well.
Spectacular view of the park
Hackney’s Pub on the Park is located on the eastern border of London Fields, boasting a large beer garden with a magnificent view of the park. The interior warren hides different rooms, open fires and several big screens for sporting events. You can order classic pub dishes such as fish ‘n’ chips from the kitchen, as well as a varied vegan offer including different burgers.
Cosy community pub
The Antwerp Arms became North London's first community pub in 2015 but has been in situ in Tottenham since the 19th century. Indoor and outdoor tables are available at this friendly venue and you can even take your drink into the park opposite. The pub has a busy schedule of parties and events and vibrant food is also served, including a Sunday roast.
Beer, music, pizza
If you love pizza, beer, and live music, check out Fox & Firkin. This Lewisham pub has quirky and homey decor as well as a friendly atmosphere. It's also well-known for its expansive beer garden, complete with lights, plants, covered areas, and street art. Regular gigs and events are on as well.
Experience an inclusive pub
No one gets left behind at Marylebone pub The Lucky Saint. Opened by the alcohol-free beer brand, this is a modern pub that serves extensive non-alcoholic options alongside alcoholic drinks. There's also a menu of modern pub grub that fits the inventive image. This is an inclusive spot set over several floors.
Village vibes in Hampstead
The Holly Bush is an iconic centuries-old pub in Hampstead. This cosy local gives off a country village vibe and has a traditional interior. You'll find plenty of choices behind the bar as well as a classic British food menu. Private dining is available, and there are also function rooms here for special occasions.
Traditional pub in central London
Based near the Tower of London, The Hung, Drawn & Quartered is a bustling and traditional pub with a memorable name. There's a classic interior with towering pillars, leather seating, and a wide choice of drinks, including cask ales. For food, the focus is on traditional London cooking - you'll find an extensive selection of pies plus other favourites like fish and chips and a Sunday roast.
Lively Peckham pub
In South London you'll find Prince of Peckham, a buzzy modern pub with loads going on. The bar area is colourful and dominated by a traditional tiled bar. There are co-working spaces here plus a range of exciting events including parties and life drawing classes. Caribbean cooking is served and a wide variety of drinks are also available.
Gargantuan Irish pub
Head to one of the city's largest Irish pubs when you're in Soho – Waxy O'Connor's. This labyrinth-like venue is set over six floors with four distinct bar areas. Expect warm hospitality, live music and sport, and a broad choice of drinks. The pub is particularly well-known for its extensive choice of Irish whiskeys. Burgers and snacks are also served.
Try The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms if you're looking for a friendly local pub in Holloway. This pub has a picturesque pavement terrace and a cosy bar area with a traditional look. A private function room is also available. The pub offers a wide range of drinks but specialises in gin in particular. Food is also served.
Opened in Clapham in 2023, The Apollo Arms is a modern pub that creates a welcoming and inclusive space for the local community. It's a cosy venue with a games room, a snug, and an outer terrace. At the pub you'll find a wide choice of drinks plus gourmet food including signature dishes and seasonal specials.
Distinctive Soho pub
The Blue Posts in Soho isn't your average pub. Behind an exterior in a moody shade of blue, it includes three venues in one, with a traditional pub, wine bar, and an exclusive chef's table restaurant in the building. The pub has a classic look, and the gourmet bar snacks here reflect the venue's culinary prestige.
Unique pub entertainment
The Four Thieves in Battersea is ideal if you just want a relaxing drink but there's plenty more going on here too. This buzzy spot has lots of activities on like karaoke and comedy nights, VR gaming, arcade games, and a thrilling raceway. A wide range of drinks and tempting food options are offered here.
Located in Charing Cross, The Ship & Shovell has a unique layout, set in two spaces across a backstreet from each other. It has a rich red interior and a traditional look and atmosphere throughout. A broad range of drinks are served at this friendly spot, as well as menus of classic British pub grub like ham, egg, and chips. Private hire is welcomed.
Idyllic pub in Hampstead
Elegant wood-panelled pub The Spaniards Inn is located at the corner of Hampstead Heath – pop in for a drink after a walk. This Grade II listed pub has an idyllic beer garden surrounded by a picket fence and a smart interior. Have a drink here or sample the classic pub grub that's on the menu.
Traditional meets modern in Soho
Set in a Grade II listed building, The Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho has a boldly-painted exterior and a classic look inside. Whilst it may look traditional, the attitude is modern, with a secret basement bar, lots of drinks choices, and food from rotating kitchen pop-ups serving international cuisines like Ukrainian, Nepalese, and Korean and US-style fried chicken.
Drinks in the heart of Greenwich
Well-located in Greenwich next to the Cutty Sark, The Gipsy Moth is a popular pub with an expansive beer garden wrapping around its exterior. Inside the Grade I listed building you'll see a light and contemporary pub interior. Craft beer, wine, and cocktails are served, plus seasonal menus of classic pub dishes.
Long-standing North London pub
The Flask is a Highgate institution. This traditional pub has a long history, and has been frequented by names like Byron, Keats, and Kate Moss. Foodies are in for a treat here – the refined cooking on offer is prepared with seasonal ingredients and elevates typical pub grub. The pub has an attractive beer garden too.
Inclusive and cosy
Right next to Highgate station, The Woodman gives off a country pub feel. It's a welcoming and comfortable venue that's dog- and family-friendly. The interior is packed with distinctive decor and there's a large heated garden. You can sample a wide range of drinks as well as sophisticated pub food throughout the day.
Political pub packed with history
Grade II listed pub The Albert was built in the 19th century and survived The Blitz in World War II. Many of the Victorian features here remain almost completely untouched, including ornate ceilings and etched frosted windows. It stands out from the more modern structures surrounding it and has a busy atmosphere. Food and drinks are served.
Vibrant community venue
Painted in a bold shade of red and with a strong community vibe, The Dog & Bell is an award-winning pub in Deptford. Pop in for a drink or join one of the varied events that go on here including food and ale fests, charity fundraisers, live music, and a weekly pub quiz. The venue is traditional through and through and has outdoor tables too.