This is the third instalment of my series of articles about the pubs of London.
There are about 3,500 pubs in London alone, and they are an integral part of the British way of life.
By way of comparison, there just are 195 Yoshinoya stores – the famous Japanese Beef Bowl chain – in the whole of Tokyo, so you can see that the number of London pubs outstrips this by far.
So, you want to try going to a pub but there are too many to choose from – how to decide? Fear not – this article will help you!
This is the third part of my series featuring really good pubs that I have actually drunk in myself; they are selected based on my personal experience as an expert judge of these matters!
Last time, I concentrated mainly on pubs in London’s West End, so this time I will head in the opposite direction – east, to the City!
The Counting House
This is another pub that started life as a bank.
The building itself was constructed in 1893, but the foundation is said to date back to the ancient Roman era – 2000 years ago!
The interior is quite large and has a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
The ceiling above the bar counter is a glass dome, which enhances the sense of spaciousness.
There are hotel rooms on the upper floors of the pub, so you can stay overnight.
|Address (Google Map)||50 Cornhill, Langbourn, London EC3V 3PD|
Ye Olde Mitre
Built in 1546, this is one of London’s oldest pubs.
It faces onto a quiet courtyard, rather than the busy main road; entry is via a narrow passage, which can easily be missed if you don’t know it’s there!
This very unique pub has won numerous awards, including the London Pub of the Year, and is listed in the guidebooks, so it’s always well patronized.
As you can see, the kitchen is rather small, so they don’t serve full meals – just light snacks such as pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs.
So this pub is very much a “drinking” place in the fine old tradition!
|Address (Google Map)||1 Ely Ct, Ely Pl, Holborn, London EC1N 6SJ|
Cittie of Yorke
The front entrance, above which hangs a rather imposing clock, is not very wide, but as you pass down the narrow passage, you emerge into a surprisingly large space.
The interior, with its high warehouse-like ceilings and beautiful black & white ‘half timbered’ Tudor walls, is unlike that of any other pub in London.
Behind the counter is a huge barrel for storing spirits and fortified wines. This was actually ‘used in anger’ back in World War II!
The high ceiling gives one a feeling of openness, but there are table seats which form a semi-private space for four people, so it is a pub that can be used in various social situations – from small intimate occasions to drinking and dining out with the extended family and friends.
|Address (Google Map)||22 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6BN|
The “Princess Louise” is famous for its luxurious Victorian décor.
Its appearance clearly differentiates it from other pubs – especially the passageway that leads you deep inside!
The partition on the right side of the aisle is mahogany, which is perfectly in keeping with the ‘olden days’ style of this pub.
Another ‘throwback’ is that there are two entrances, one originally reserved for the middle class and the ‘well to do’ [saloon], and the other intended for the poorer working class clientele [public bar].
Many older pubs, such as the Victorian Pub, still retain this traditional distinction. Whilst little observed today, it serves as a reminder of the British class system of yesteryear.
A popular beer is Samuel Smith’s, with its bitter taste and rich flavor. Also available are organic fruit beers and ales.
|Address (Google Map)||208 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EP|
If I were asked “What is the one thing that might persuade me to travel from Japan to visit England?” – my answer would be “the pubs!”
Perhaps the best thing about them is their ‘accessibility’.
You can go in alone, and order your drinks or food ‘over the counter’, you can sit wherever you like, there is no waiter ‘hovering over you’, and you can stay for as long as you like!
And the pub is the perfect place for people-watching; there is a wonderful cross-section of humanity – “all sorts and conditions of men”!
Old codgers sitting alone, nursing a pint; younger groups, excitedly watching the sports on TV, cheering on their ‘side’; young women gossiping over wine and champagne; and happy families enjoying a Sunday roast around the table.
Everyone enjoys what they are doing, and no one bothers anybody else. This atmosphere and way of thinking encapsulates the whole character of the British.
Sure, it’s fun to go out ‘seeing the sights’ and to take part in popular tourist activities; but if you want to experience something quintessentially “British” – go to the pub!
There’s no other “easy, cheap and fun activity” quite like it!