Discover the Best Bars and Pubs in London
Whether you’re looking for a traditional pub, a fashionable wine bar or a hot new gastropub, London boasts a dizzying array of drinking options.
Whether you prefer beer, wine, cider or cocktails, it’s a good bet you’ll find something to quench your thirst, soothe your soul, and delight your taste buds in London. But don't feel overwhelmed by the options (granted, there are lots of them) because we here at Plum Guide have curated a list of the very best bars and pubs in London.
Drinking a classic pint of beer in London
What could be more British than enjoying a pint "down the pub"? The country is known for having some of the finest beer in the world, but there are just a few things to know before ordering.
First of all, beer is not served ice cold like it usually is in the States. So, if the temperature seems slightly warmer than you’re used to, this is intentional and aims to to maximise the flavour. While you're exploring the best bars and pubs in London, you’ll want to try the following types of beer. Lager is light, somewhat hoppy, and refreshing. Bitter is like lager but even more hoppy. Ale is slightly sweeter, made with more malt, but IPA (India Pale Ale) has more hops (the source of that slightly bitter herby taste). Then there’s stouts and porters, which are darker, richer (although, strangely, usually less alcoholic) brews.
Some beer manufacturers make all of these and more, and many of the best bars and pubs in London will serve a selection. Pro tip: order a half pint at a time so you can try several. For great beer in a central location, head to Trafalgar Square. Our favourite watering hole near Trafalgar Square is the Chandos, which serves a lovely selection by Samuel Smith's Brewery: lager, Nut Brown Ale, Taddy Porter, organic cider and seasonal specialities.
Sampling English cider in London
The United States has only recently begun to have a love affair with craft cider, but the English have been drinking it for centuries so you'll find plenty in the best bars and pubs in London. Some of it is sweet and scrumpy (that means it’s freshly made and very apple-y); some of it dry, yet smooth; some is clear; some cloudy; some is still; some fizzy; and some cider is even made with pears (officially known as "perry"). Don't limit yourself Strongbow, which is widely available but is arguably the Budweiser of cider. Regional specialties from the West Country are certainly worth a try. We particularly like Orchard Pig and Kingfisher. You can sip cider to your heart’s content at The Cider House in London’s Borough Market, which sells New Forest Cider and a wide range of English ciders from small producers.
Sip on fine wine in London
When it comes to the best bars and pubs in London, Fitzrovia punches above its weight, and particularly when it comes to wine. If wine is your drink of choice, most pubs serve at least a house red and white, but a wine bar will give you a bigger selection. The Remedy Wine Bar & Kitchen on Cleveland Street in Fitzrovia is cosy and has a fabulous selection of wines; they also have a daily happy hour from 4-6, where you can get a glass of vino for only £4! You may also enjoy 10 Cases in Covent Garden, a cosy wine bar with a carefully curated selection of wines (ten cases at a time). Enjoy your vino on the outdoor terrace, accompanied by tapas dishes or a selection from the revolving seasonal menu.
The best pubs in South London
Head south of the river to discover the foodie side of London's best bars and pubs. The Anchor and Hope in Southwark is a favourite for its casual vibe and traditional rustic fare. The menu includes gamesman’s delights like venison, freshly Dover sole, spring lamb, three-cheese souffle with hazelnuts and traditional desserts like Bakewell tart with clotted cream. The wine list is equally impressive, while there’s also beer, spirits and cocktails at reasonable prices. Closed on Sundays, alas.
As well as being open on Sundays, the Brookmill Pub near Deptford – a great place to stay near the o2 Arena – has a slightly greater emphasis on beer (stocking brews from a number of local breweries like Brockley Brewery and Gipsy Hill Brewing Company), and a comfy interior with large windows for people watching and enjoying the street view. The menu is somewhat limited, but has an interesting fusion approach (flavours include Cajun and Middle Eastern) and features seasonal ingredients.
The best pubs in North London
Another gastropub well worth a visit is the Bull and Last near Hampstead Heath in northwest London. Take a hike and you’ll be ready for a tipple and a nibble. The bar is bustling, but the upstairs dining room lets you relax and enjoy the fine selection of beers hefty wine list; and hearty, creative yet quintessential English fare. You’ll find a delectable assortment of fish and meat dishes, charcuterie, vegetarian options (like handmade gnocchi) and tempting desserts. Go for that pistachio parfait or the dark chocolate mousse – you earned it with that brisk walk on the heath. This pub also has a charming event space (the Stag Room) that seats up to fourteen people for private parties.
The best dog-friendly pub in London
While a number of the best bars and pubs in London are dog friendly, the Cleveland Arms is particularly famous for welcoming furry friends. Centrally located near PaddingtonStation, the Cleveland Arms is set on a street full of grand Georgian houses in a historic building that just screams "old-school pub”. It is family friendly, dog friendly, LGBT friendly – just all-around friendly, in fact. Plus, it’s open seven days a week and serves breakfast until noon on the weekend. The eclectic decor makes it a delightful place for drinks or a meal, while the wine list features a classy selection ranging from France and Italy to South Africa and Argentina.
The menu, as with so many of the best London pubs, shifts with the seasons, and the Cleveland Arms also has daily well-priced gourmet lunch specials. Recent featured dishes include rabbit tagliatelle; onglet steak; artichoke and pea risotto; and a prawn, mussel and crab stew. The desserts are heavenly: hazelnut tart with caramelised apples and crème fraîche, anyone? For an even more traditionally English pub experience, head here on a Sunday for a refined take on a classic roast dinner.
After a day at the pub with your pooch, head home to one of the best pet-friendly apartments in London, all of which have been carefully curated by our home critics to meet the high standards you deserve during your stay.