"If you haven’t enjoyed a long, leisurely walk of the Heath followed by a stop at the Spaniards then drop everything and go now"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
Depending on which story you pay attention to, the Spaniards Inn was variously, the birthplace of highwayman Dick Turpin, the oldest pub in London, a favourite of John Keats and, naturally given it was opened in 1585, home to an ‘authentic’ pub ghost. Given this history it’s no surprise that the Spaniards Inn is one of the most famous in London. And while the history counts, the pub is more than a monument stood at the edge of Hampstead Heath, these days it’s the ideal spot for a post-walk tipple and/or a hefty roast dinner.
Given its age, the pub’s subdued whitewashed exterior doesn’t give much away. Once inside, the heavy beams that dissect the ancient rooms and the warped wooden panels that enclose the cosy space offer the reward of timeless ye olde style for those here on a history trip. But many aren’t here for the history, many are here because despite its storied past, the Spaniard’s Inn is a great pub. Low ceilings, large open fires and not a low dangling filament bulb or exposed brick wall in sight, the charm is in the simplicity. And while all that fine aging has left the pub reflecting an idealised version of the past, its bar has kept up to date, offering a good range of draught beer from the likes of Brew Dog and Meantime as well as some a revolving selection of ales.
We eat the classic roast and while it isn’t quite as memorable as the super-attentive service from our waitress, it’s a solid Sunday dinner in a place that could so easily rest on its reputation and offer far worse.
Tourist or Londoner, if you haven’t enjoyed a long, leisurely walk of the Heath followed by a stop at the Spaniards then you should. This coming weekend if possible.
T.A.O reviewed The Spaniard's Inn on Tue 15 Nov 2016Review disclosure: reviewed anonymously