Whether you’re a wine lover or a beer connoisseur, London is brimming with fantastic venues where you can enjoy a few drinks, but few offer as authentically British an experience as the traditional pubs dotted around the city. From historic spaces to more modern affairs, we've compiled this complete guide to all you need to know about London's thriving pub culture, as well as providing you with some inspiration for a few top venues to visit when you're next in the city.
A brief history of the London pub
It isn't just London where you'll find a continued emphasis on pubs, but throughout the UK. These spaces have a long heritage in the British Isles, which dates all the way back to the Roman occupation of Britain. It was the Romans who first brought the notion of a pub (or specifically as it was known at the time, a 'tabernae') to the nation, and British publicans soon developed local ale to suit these new establishments, before the earlier term adapted to be known as a tavern.
In the intervening centuries, the concept of a tavern continued to evolve, serving food and drinks to guests and sometimes offering the added benefit of accommodation for anyone travelling through.
This aspect proved particularly popular with some of the earliest London pubs and taverns, thanks to the city's long-standing role as a major hub of trade, commerce and pilgrimage.
By the 1500s, there were more than 20,000 inns and taverns in England and Wales. Even a subsequent emphasis on tea and coffee couldn't deter people from being drawn back to the charms of the great British pub – a tradition which still has major appeal for visitors staying at the Hyde Park Hotel Paddington.
London's Best Pubs
There are plenty of great pubs and bars near Hyde Park, as well as lots more slightly further afield throughout the city. Each can be easily reached thanks to London's public transport system – so we've outlined some of our favourite venues for you to explore during your next trip to the area!
This delightful riverside pub is one of the most historic pubs in the city, providing plenty of atmosphere while you stay at the Hotel Park Grand London Hyde Park. There are lots of dark corners to get comfy in and great views of the Thames if you sit by the window! After a trip here, you can also enjoy a journey along by the river in an area of the city which is a little off the beaten track, making it ideal for intrepid travellers who want to see a different side to London.
This Victorian pub in Soho is close to many of the West End's most popular theatrical venues, making it the ideal spot for some after-show drinks. There is plenty of craft beer to go around, and the interior is charmingly understated, in contrast to some of the flashier bars to be found closer to Piccadilly Circus.
For anyone craving authenticity, The Lyric offers this in spades – as well as the chance to chat to locals on one of the shared tables at the pub.
The Ivy House
One of London's most treasured pubs, The Ivy House was saved from destruction by a successful local campaign, helping to emphasise how important it is to London's pub-visiting community. The pub has a great menu of delicious dishes to choose from which rival some of the best restaurants in Hyde Park, and there's also lots of great activities happening here throughout the week – including everything from live shows to a chess club.
For real community spirit and a glimpse at the more village-style feel of some of London's districts, this is a fantastic place to enjoy a pint.
Earl of Essex
Based in Islington, the Earl of Essex was an early adopter of the now-trendy craft beer craze, and takes their brewing seriously! There's beer on tap, as well as a welcoming atmosphere. The pub can get pretty busy at peak times, as local punters gather to share a few drinks in great company and relaxed surroundings. If this sounds like the pace you're seeking while staying at Park Hotel Hyde Park, then head for Islington and experience authentic London pub culture.
Offering the authentic Cockney pub experience, Palm Tree doesn't look like much from the outside, but once you step indoors, you'll be treated to red décor and lots of friendly chit-chat, as well as the chance to get involved in an East End-style singalong every Saturday night.
This is definitely not a pub for wallflowers, but if you're open to new adventures, then a trip here is sure to put a smile on your face.
This delightful and low-key pub offers a closer look at London's artistic and cultural scene, with an extensive and varied ale menu. The space is decorated with beer mats, which help give a homespun look and feel to Harp, and its grown a devoted following amongst the arty scene which surrounds Covent Garden.
You'll regularly see people heading here straight after a local performance, so if you want to mingle with creative types, there's no better space to begin your London pub crawl.
With tradition at its core, this is a relaxed pub which also specialises in regular live jazz performances. It's often frequented by commuters who head directly here for a few drinks after work, and is popular with people seeking some friendly, unpretentious socialising.
There's also cheese plates and pork pies on the menu, which can be teamed wonderfully with a beer from the extensive drinks selection the pub has to offer, ensuring you have many more reasons to enjoy a trip here when you're in the city.