1. The Ye Olde Cheeshire Cheese, Fleet Street

Located at 145 Fleet Street, closest tube: St Pauls.

Copyright: Rashbre

The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street is one of London’s finest, albeit trickiest pubs to find.  Hidden down a narrow alleyway, the Cheshire Cheese is one of the city’s oldest pubs, dating back to 1667 and has served brewskies to the likes of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The space itself is deceptively large and while there are several cozy pub spaces on the main floor, the basement beyond the toilet (watch your head while going down the stairs) houses the most charming spaces to sit back and have a pint.  Serving local Samuel Smith brews, the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is both historic and aesthetically pleasing; no wonder it is a hit with the locals.

2. The Old Bank of England Pub, Fleet Street

Located at 194 Fleet Street, closest tube: St Pauls.

Copyright: The Old Bank of London

The magnificent Old Bank of England, converted into a pub in 1975.  The bar is in the centre of the pub, below the extravagant chandelier.  The tables and chairs are made from a deep mahogany and the ambiance is charming, beckoning its patrons back time and time again.  The bar is rumoured to be located between the Pie shop and Barber shop made famous by Sweeny Todd; the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  Was he real or was he merely fiction?  It’s largely disputed, but the pub does rests atop vaults and passages which may or may not have been used to transport the “goods” between the businesses.  Regardless of dubious histories, the Old Bank of England is a fine spot to kick back and catch up with some good friends.

3. The Anchor Bankside, South Bank

Located at 34 Park Street, Closest tube: London Bridge

Copyright: Wikipedia

The Anchor Pub located close to Borough Market on London’s South Bank is a pub not to be missed.  This pub is reportedly where Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London (1666) burn while documenting the event in his famous diary.  The site is seeped in history and has been a popular hangout for river pirates and smuggler and even once used as a plague pit.

 

 

4. The Boogaloo, Highgate

Located at 312 Archway Road, closest tube: Archway

Copyright: The Boogaloo

Gritty in atmosphere and home to many entertaining evenings, the Bugaloo in Highgate is a great place to have a pint or check out the local scene.  Frequented by Shane MacGowan of the Pogues and home to several furry felines who dominate the couches, the Bugaloo borders on dingy without being dirty and hip without being pretentious.  Bring some coins for the jukebox.

 

5. The Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

Located at 22 High Holborn, closest tube: Holborn

Copyright: Cittie of York

Drinking in the Cittie of Yorke feels like drinking in the bowels of a ship.  Belonging to the celebrated group of Samuel Smith pubs, the Cittie of Yorke is both stylish and affordable.  Victorian cubicles line the side walls and are perfect for nestling in with a few good mates.  The main bar is decorated with wine barrels and in the basement can be found a restaurant if you’re keen for more than an order of chips.

 

6. The Princess Louise, Holborn

Located at 208 High Holborn, closest tube: Holborn

Copyright: The Princess Louise

The Princess Louise is one of the most popular pubs in Holborn and for good reason.  The atmosphere is decadent with walls covered in mirrors, glass and gold.  The pub gets buzzing at night so you’re best to get in early if you want to get a pint while the going’s good.  The Princess Louise is also part of the Samuel Smith family and is well worth a visit if you’re wandering through the Big Smoke.

 

 

7. The Alleycat, Soho

Located at 4 Denmark Street, closest tube: Tottenham Court Road

Copyright: Alleycat Bar & Club

The Alleycat pub is a hidden gem found in hip Soho on even cooler Denmark Street.  A basement pub which is easy to miss, the Alleycat has leather benches, happy hour specials, fantastic live music and a claim to rock and roll history (it is located below the famous Regent Sound Studios where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album).  If you want to get away from the chaos of Soho on a Friday night, check out the Alleycat pub and get grooving with some tunes.

 

8. The Alexandra, Clapham Common

Located at 14 Clapham Common South Side, closest tube: Clapham Common

Copyright: The Alexandra

The Alexandra falls into the unique category of being an Irish pub that is actually frequent by Irish folk.  A deep and dark interior with cozy couches, fireplace and crazy crap on the walls, the Alexandra is the perfect nook to enjoy a pint of Guinness and hide away from the rainy London winter.  Additional seating upstairs and a large screen downstairs make it a prime spot for watching the game or just watching the world go by.

 

9. The Tooting Tram and Social, Tooting Broadway

Located at 46-48 Mitcham Road, closest tube station:  Tooting Broadway

Copyright: Tooting Tram and Social

The Tooting Tram and Social, known formerly as The TramShed is located within minutes of Tooting Broadway tube station and is the place to venture for a night of drinking and dancing in South London.  The space is large and decorated to look like an eccentric old woman’s parlour.  The music will keep you jiving well into the night and leave you sore the next morning.  Get there early to avoid the crowds.

 

 

 10. Commercial Tavern, Spittalfields

Located at 142-144 Commercial Street, closest tube: Liverpool Street (or Shoreditch High Street on the Overground)

Copyright: Commercial Tavern

The Commercial Tavern is the type of place that you’ll bring your out of town visitors to.  Though a bit on the expensive side, the pub is a sight to behold with decorations ranging from gaudy wallpaper to downright impressive lighting fixtures.  Located on the popular Commercial Street in Spitalfields, the Commercial Tavern could be seen as pretentious, but even so is well worth venturing to for a pint or three.

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the author

Cat Mills is a writer and filmmaker hailing from Vancouver, Canada. While completing her BFA in Film Production at the University of British Columbia, Cat was accepted into the Golden Key International Honour Society and was selected as 1 of 20 up and coming film-makers nation wide to participate in the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association National Producers Internship program. After a brief solo traveling stint in Europe Cat packed her bags and moved to London for an adventure. Cat is currently based in Malta and spends much of her time trying to befriend the local feline population. Follow her blog at: Wicked and Weird Around the World.

  • kenny

    Great list, haven’t heard of the Cheshire Cheese! One of my favourites is the Ship Inn in Wandsworth. Great BBQs in the summer and outdoor riverside drinking goodness.

    • Cat

      Thanks, for the tip, Kenny! Will have to check that one out :)

  • Alex

    Good selection. I’ve frequented quite a few on this list myself and can vouch for them being some of the best pubs in the city.

  • Jessica

    One of my favourite things to do when visiting a new country is to find their watering holes. Thanks!

  • David

    Mirrors on the ceiling…that’s outrageous!

  • Dana

    Great list Cat! The research for this post must have been hard work but somebody had to do it! ;)

  • Shaun

    Cool list Cat, I’ll have to check some (or all) of them out next time I’m in London :)

  • Tareyn Rollheiser

    Nice! Some family members are heading to London this summer so I will forward this to them to keep in mind!

  • Risa Bea

    This is a very helpful list, and I appreciate that you’ve included a few that are near each other so that it’s easy to pack in a couple of cool pubs in one go. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenn.charlton Jenn Charlton

    This is great, Cat! Will be sure to check some of these places out the next time I’m in London!

  • Chris

    So many delightful venues to peruse! I’ll save this for the next time I’m in London.

  • Tiffany Shen

    Great list! I will be sure to use it when I visit =)

  • David

    Cittie of York’s closest tube is Chancery Lane. It’s practically next door…