I love a good pub. Whether it has a sunny beer garden for summer afternoons or a cozy fireplace for winter evenings, I revel in these oh-so-British spaces. Over the years I’ve discovered some pretty watering holes in the city, from historic gems to floral-fronted beauties. If you want some ideas for where to get your fix, today I bring you 17 of the best pubs in London for aesthetic style.
Best Pubs in London
This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. There are pubs I love for other things, too. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese wins for the best name and most historic atmosphere, the Thomas Cubitt is my favorite for modern ambiance, and the Lamb and Flag is a sweet gem tucked away down a Covent Garden alley.
But the ones I’m writing about today steal my heart for their looks. Call me superficial, but I can’t help loving a pub that gets me reaching for my camera when I walk by. Or in.
1. Churchill Arms Pub
I would be remiss if I didn’t put the Churchill Arms in Kensington at the top of my list. This pub is famous for its flower-covered facade, and it’s amazing to see up close. There are different blooms for each season, and it’s even covered with Christmas trees during the winter.
Inside this 18th-century establishment there’s lots of Churchill memorabilia, as Winston’s grandparents were regulars here.
2. The Holly Bush Pub
The Holly Bush in Hampstead has been my favorite pub in London since I moved to the UK. This village gem is tucked away on a little side street and has all the charm of a storybook. With the name painted on the front and the little holly logo, it’s picture pretty from any angle. The interior is full of heritage charm and fireplaces, too.
3. Coach & Horses Pub
In Mayfair, the Coach & Horses pub on Bruton Street dates back to the 1770s and is thought to be one of the first properties built om the road. It stands alone among modern buildings and its skinny shape, half-timbered facade, and hanging flower baskets all combine to make it one of London’s most attractive pubs.
4. The Albert
A visual brain-teaser, The Albert pub on Victoria Street in Westminster looks like it’s straight out of a trompe l’oeil painting. Built in 1862, it was named after Queen Victoria’s late husband and the brick facade has striking terraces lined with overgrown flower boxes. Like the Coach & Horses, it’s an island of historic charm nestled among towering contemporary architectural feats.
5. The Dickens Inn
Over in St Katharine Docks, The Dickens Inn is another of the best pubs in London for floral extravaganza. The facade of this 18th-century warehouse building features heavy timber beams dripping with seasonal blossoms. Its location on the river and docks makes it beautiful from up close and far away, and I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon soaking up the sunshine outside on sunny days.
6. The Blue Posts
In Soho, The Blue Posts pub on Berwick Street always reminds me of a gingerbread house. Its arced roof, brick facade, and icing windows all combine to make it one of the sweetest pubs in the city. I love the flowers growing above the windows of the ground floor, too.
7. The Hereford Arms
And speaking of flowers, another of the best pubs in London for this pretty feature is The Hereford Arms on Gloucester Road in South Kensington. With a line of bright blooms running its length and lots of greenery out front, it brings nature into the city in the most beautiful way.
The pub is also known for being a favorite drinking establishment of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, and of American servicemen during World War I (Hereford Square across the street was even turned into a baseball diamond for games with allied troops).
8. The Fitzroy Tavern
In Fitzrovia, The Fitzroy Tavern is beautiful both inside and out. This Victorian pub dates back to the 1880s and has all the history to show for it. There’s everything from etched glass partitions that form cozy snugs to intricate wrought iron detailing. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the tavern was a favorite meeting spot of many London artists and intellectuals including Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, and George Orwell.
9. The Horseshoe Inn
Just behind The Shard, The Horseshoe Inn is a friendly reminder that not everything in this part of the city is shiny and new. The pub not only drips with old-world charm, but also backs it up with everything from cockney sing-alongs to dart boards and a pub cat. There’s a garden and a sun terrace for sunny days, too.
10. The George
Every time I walk along The Strand, I have to take a picture of The George. It’s one of the best pubs in London for being photogenic, with its tall white facade and pointed roof. And carved timber details. And little glass window panes in all shapes.
11. Ye Olde Cock Tavern
A few doors down, the Ye Olde Cock Tavern takes everything I love about The George and compresses it into the skinniest pub front in London. This adorable building is sandwiched between much larger ones but manages to stand out for its narrowness, pointed roof, and window details.
Originally dating back to 1549, the pub has hosted every famous Londoner from Samuel Pepys to Charles Dickens. Every time I walk by I want to put it in my pocket and take it home.
12. The Golden Lion
Another of the best pubs in London for historic charm, The Golden Lion pub in St James’s is also known for its slender facade. I love the external details and windows as much as I do the charming traditional interior. There’s also a little balcony that’s fun on warmer evenings.
13. The Windsor Castle, Westminster
Back in Westminster, The Windsor Castle pub is another London establishment with a real sense of history. Full of wooden partitions with etched glass, parquet floors, and chandeliers, stepping inside feels like walking straight into the past. This is Victorian splendor at its prettiest.
14. The Windsor Castle, Kensington
But there’s not just one Windsor Castle pub that makes my list. The Windsor Castle in Kensington is also worth a visit for its charming interiors and stunning outdoor space. Inside, wood paneling and a fire place make it oh-so-cozy on cold days and outside it has one of the best beer gardens in London.
15. Crown and Anchor
Right in the heart of Covent Garden, the Crown and Anchor pub always lures me over with its red tiles and rounded corner windows. Built in 1904, this is a relatively new pub as far as my list goes, but it’s still one of the greats for its stunning exterior.
16. The Spice of Life
In nearby Soho, The Spice of Life is one of the most eye-catching pubs in the city. This 19th-century gem is exposed on three sides and has bay windows, copper domes, rooftop gargoyles, and spherical street lamps gracing its exterior.
Inside, the pub has hosted all kinds of musical acts over the years, including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, The Sex Pistols, and Darius Brubeck.
17. The Three Greyhounds
Just behind The Spice of Life, The Three Greyhounds pub is a mock Tudor extravaganza and one of the best pubs in London for wow factor.
Built in 1847, it was named for the dogs that hunted hares in the area when Soho was open ground. Since then it has become a favorite haunt of everyone from Mozart to The Clash, and has featured in the London film Bend it like Beckham.
Writing this post has reminded me how many pretty pubs there are in London. I’ve already made a mental note to revisit more—the Princess Louise in Holborn comes to mind—and keep my eyes alert to others I’ve yet to find. I’m looking forward to toasting their beauty.
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