London's best traditional pubs

This is what Britain does best

So what is Britain best known for around the globe? The Queen, friendly "bobbies", red telephone boxes, traditional pubs and... bad teeth. OK so we're not too proud of the last one, Freddy Mercury really hurt us there. Although he was South African, wasn't he? Do we get away with that, then? OK, maybe we're getting off topic...

But the point is: a traditional, charming pub rightfully wins its place on the list - as it typifies the very best of British... a friendly landlord, a roaring fire, good pub grub and, let's face it, warm beer. Bloody good warm beer though.

So if you're after charm, character and kegs and kegs full of good beer then head to one of London's best traditional pubs we've picked out below...




The Jerusalem Tavern
55 Britton Street EC1M 5NA
Region: Clerkenwell
Nearest Station: Farringdon

AIL Says: Not half as old as it looks, The Jerusalem Tavern is a relatively modern take on the traditional pub. However, it does such a good job at appropriating all the best things from authentic boozers that everybody loves it. Everybody! Rickety wood and glass partitions, radio silence, hearty food and ales from the Peterson’s Brewery all help to make this what some might call ‘a proper pub’.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
The Cross Keys
31 Endell Street WC2H 9BA
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Covent Garden (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Every entrance into The Cross Keys on Endell Street should include a little respect paid to the magic floral display going on outside it, all year-round. Hanging baskets and window boxes cover the façade to create one of the most welcoming pub entrances in the whole of London. Inside it is all dark, dim glow bulbs, solid pub furniture, carpet and brass. No lie, this is one of the best pubs in central London.

  • OUR REVIEW 7/10
  • USERS 8/10
Princess Louise
208-209 High Holborn WC1V 7BW
Region: Holborn
Nearest Station: Holborn

AIL Says: Back in the Victorian age, pubs weren’t the socially acceptable destination that they are now. In fact, people actively avoided being seen in them. Which is one of the reasons for the exquisite interior at The Princess Louise. Built into the timber of the pub are compartments that line the bar, complete with frosted glass, which mean that even today you can dive in and out of eyesight of prying eyes. Being a Samuel Smith pub also takes prices closer to days of old – but not that close.

  • USERS 8/10
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet Street EC4A 2BU
Region: The City
Nearest Station: City Thameslink (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: If you’re going to drink in the Cheshire Cheese then you’d better have good eyesight because this is one of the darkest pubs around. Built about a zillion years ago, the place retains all the ancient beams, strewn sawdust and wheat sheaf decorations that history gave it. And it’s huge and beautiful.

    The Harlequin
    27 Arlington Way EC1R 1UY
    Region: The City
    Nearest Station: Angel (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: Angel has its fair share of traditional pubs but none of them can claim to provide the homeliness that The Harlequin can. There’s an open fire, a soothing atmosphere, no music and nothing more exotic than Leffe on draught. Some may say that this is how all pubs should have remained and to those people we say, hush, at least the harlequin is still here for you.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    • USERS 9/10
    The Lamb
    94-98 Lambs Conduit Street WC1N 3LZ
    Region: Bloomsbury
    Nearest Station: Russell Square (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: It starts with those classic emerald green tiles that line its exterior and just gets better inside. The Lamb is one of London’s most handsome traditional alehouses, which is fitting since it is on the equally pretty Lamb’s Conduit Street. Booths, bar stools, dark stained wood, brass and glass decorate the interior and in keeping with what seems to be a trend in these glorious traditional pubs, there is no music.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    The Dog & Duck
    18 Bateman Street W1D 3AJ
    Region: Soho
    Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: Cramped on the ground floor, spacious above, The Dog and Duck regularly forces people out onto the pavement outside. But catch it at the right time and you will be treated to a fine example of a traditional pub. Take the ceiling’s resemblance to a stamped waxed seal, the tiled floor or the big gold chandeliers as proof that you are in a classic pub of true greatness.

    • OUR REVIEW 7/10
    The Star Tavern
    6 Belgrave Mews West SW1X 8HT
    Region: Belgravia
    Nearest Station: Hyde Park Corner (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: The Star Tavern isn’t just a traditional pub; it’s a traditional pub in an uber traditional area of London. Walk down the mews to this lovely Knightsbridge local and prepare for some odd looks because once you’re in you’ll stand out as an outsider immediately. Not in a bad way, of course, you simply will. But no fear, get thee to the bar, order a Fuller’s pint and settle in to a cosy corner.

    • OUR REVIEW 9/10
    Lamb & Flag
    33 Rose Street WC2E 9EB
    Region: Covent Garden
    Nearest Station: Covent Garden

    AIL Says: The Lamb and Flag has so much tradition that we’re only telling you that it was a favourite of Charles Dickens’ as an extra special treat. With its wooden paneling, ornamental brass, leaded windows, leather buttoned booths and oversized lamp posted above the entrance, this is classic British pub decadence in the heart of Covent Garden.

    • USERS 6/10
    The Palm Tree
    127 Grove Road E3 5BH
    Region: Mile End
    Nearest Station: Mile End (0.3 miles)

    AIL Says: The Palm Tree screams locals only but that can’t stop us including it in our list of London’s greatest traditional pubs. This is traditional done East-End style, which means plenty of hanging hops and the occasional unwelcoming glare. Hey Palm Tree, you don’t scare us, we want to revel in your charm and damn it we will! On the canal right next to Mile End Park it is a classic pub pilgrimage - as classic as they come.



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