Travel

13 London Pubs You Need To Hit For A Cold One (June 2024 Edition)

By David Congram

Pubs are vibrant little pockets of London life, egalitarian places where cross sections of the city come together to briefly escape the mania of the bustling metropolis—so you best believe, here at Urban List, we've gone and done the hard yards for you and knocked back a pint or two to find you the very best London pubs.

With more than 3,500 pubs across Greater London, tying one on might seem a little overwhelming for a newtimer. So to help start your liver, here’s a quick tally of noteworthy, sometimes ancient, often totally mad, always merrymaking London pubs. That's right, read on for the best London pubs to hit in 2024.

The Albion

10 Thornhill Rd, Islington

The Albion London PubImage credit: The Albion | Website

The Albion, located in Islington on Thornhill Road, is charming, cosy and proper British. It’s a winner all year round whether it’s a cold winter day or the sun is out and shining—as well as any conditions in between. The pub hosts log fires, polished floorboards and an exterior covered in wisteria foliage. It’s worth walking past just to get a glimpse (and photo) of the building covered in greenery. The entrance could almost be confused as someone’s house or a boutique hotel if not for the many tables placed in the front courtyard. But it’s the beer garden that is most impressive and perfect in summer, keeping the theme with more plants surrounding the seating. You will find the usual classics here on their all-day a la carte menu, such as beer battered fish served with hand-cut chips—but you can also order some left-field dishes for a pub like their kombu roast cod loin. 

The Landseer Arms

37 Landseer Road, Upper Holloway

The Landseer Arms London pubImage credit: The Landseer Arms | Instagram

Fittingly named after the street it runs off, The Landseer Arms is a gastro pub built in 1874 with a plethora of local beers and ales (as well as Guinness) on tap, natural wines from all around Europe and a menu that is inspired by the Mediterranean. The food here is serious, and seriously good for a pub. You almost get the feel of a hatted restaurant when dining in, featuring lit candles on the tables at night and unique art draping the walls. Yet it’s just as inviting for those who want to stroll in solo and sit at the bar and have a drink whilst chatting to the friendly staff on shift. 

The Landseer Arms is a trendy pub. From its look and feel to the food menu that changes regularly and is written up each day on a chalkboard. They also serve an exceptional £8 lunch on weekdays with only three simple options on offer. Yum.

The Cadogan Arms

298 King's Road, Chelsea

The Cadogan Arms Chelsea London Pub exteriorImage credit: Major Foodie | Website

Now owned by the powerhouse hospitality group that is JKS Restaurants, behind iconic establishments such as Lyle’sThe Cadogan Arms is an institution in Chelsea. Only a brisk walk from the River Thames and Battersea Park, the pub was reopened and given a facelift in 2021, whilst paying homage to its famous look and feel that had been around for two centuries. This is no average public house. It’s luxurious and elegant, and certainly a bit more upmarket with stained glass windows and Instagramable chandeliers hung from the ceiling. It’s the type of pub you can go to for a few sneaky pints of craft beer after work for knock-offs or a fancy date night dinner with your nearest and dearest, featuring a seasonal menu with pub classics done very well and an emphasis on traceability right the way through from snacks to mains.

The Seven Stars

53 Carey St, CBD

With credible evidence, many refer to The Seven Stars in Aldwych as one of the oldest pubs in London, dating all the way back to 1602. This gastro-pub is open every day of the week, and is generally overrun by judges and barristers when the Royal Courts of Justice next door are in session. With a generous selection of real ales on tap and menus varying every day depending on availability, freshness and the pleasure of Roxy Beaujolais (the charismatic publican, also known as ‘the Alewife of the Ages’), be sure to carve out a few hours in your itinerary for a soak.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

145 Fleet St, CBD

an old pub with a chesterfield sofa
Image credit: Ye Olde Chesire Cheese | Website

I think this might just be the most famous pub in the world, making an appearance in Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale Of Two Cities. But that’s not Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’s only literary clout, during its 355 years, this 17th-century chophouse has been frequented by dictionary daddy Dr Johnson, and wordsmiths Mark Twain, W.B. Yeats, P.G. Wodehouse, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and more. 

Rebuilt several times over, lastly in 1667 after the Great Fire, the site once formed part of a thirteenth-century monastery, which probably explains why the whole dimly lit warren is filled with high-backed church pews. With a front bar, a chophouse restaurant, the Cheshire Bar, Cellar Bar, Williams Room and Johnson Bar (to name just a few), navigating through tiny arches and winding staircases is half the fun – but mind your head! You’ll be glad to know the sawdust on the floor is changed twice daily, so go ahead and wear your suede shoes. Be sure to order the signature dish, Ye Olde Steak and Kidney Pud.

Ye Olde Mitre

1 Ely Ct, Ely Pl, CBD

Ye Olde Mitre is instantly recognisable for the cherry tree (now bolstering the pub front) that Elizabeth I was reputed to once frolic around with Sir Christopher Hatton. So there you go.

Ye Olde pubkeeping is taken very seriously here, and has been since 1546 when first built for the servants of the Bishop of Ely, when the pub was actually part of Cambridge. Random. Wood panelling, mullioned windows, burnished metals and dim lighting makes the Mitre feel more British than Britain, all very in keeping with the historic nature of this area where William Wallace (yes, Braveheart) was hung, drawn and quartered.

Dingwalls

East Yard, 11 Camden Lock Pl, London

For a different side of London history, head over to Dingwalls in Camden by the canal. Opened 1973, Dingwalls is an epicentre of music greats and one of the most famous pubs in London. Once a dance hall, briefly a jazz bar, and over time hosted gigs for Blondie, The Ramones, The Clash and, naturally, The Sex Pistols, Dingwalls remains to this day one of London’s best pubs for live performances. A packed calendar of concerts, comedy and club nights promises plenty of ear-blistering or side-splitting entertainment, and a canal-side outdoor terrace guarantees a more relaxing locale for a pint.

The Prospect Of Whitby

57 Wapping Wall, CBD

an old pub
Image credit: The Prospect Of Whitby | Website

Canalside social sips are a real feature of London’s drinking culture, but be careful with whom you clink glasses. Down in Wapping, the terraces of The Prospect Of Whitby might offer spectacular views of the River Thames, in addition to beer gardens and balconies for many an al fresco afternoon, but it’s also a notorious haunt for pirates.

Or it was at one point back in 1520. Original flagstone floors, a super rare pewter-topped bar, ancient barrels and a genuine ship’s mast shoved in for good measure, it comes as no surprise that The Prospect’s hand-battered fish and chips are perennially popular accompaniments to its great cask ales. Plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available on the menu.

You might also like:

The Old Bank Of England

194 Fleet St, CBD

From pirates to a different breed of thief, make your way back into central London to visit the Old Bank Of England. Known for its Hertfordshire brewed beers and traditional pub grub menu, The Old Bank boasts one of the city’s most beautiful interiors.

Within the Old Law Courts, the Old Bank Of England was actually once The Bank Of England from 1888-1975. Once you’re feeling tiddly, it’s a tradition to go and sit in the pub’s vintage Routemaster doubledecker bus in the suntrap courtyard garden. You know the drill: send pics, or it didn’t happen.

The Churchill Arms

119 Kensington Church St, CBD

a pub covered in colourful flowers on a sunny day

And while your camera’s handy, take a snap outside Kensington’s Churchill Arms where from gutter-to-rooftop the pub is covered in floral displays year-round. In fact, Churchill's floristry is so well-reputed that it even took home gold at Chelsea Flower Show.

Step inside, and order a real ale at the bar crammed wall-to-wall with Winston Churchill knick-knacks. A favourite of his grandparents, this pub has had a few transformations since opening in 1750, not least its extensive Thai cuisine available every day of the week.

The Cittie Of York

22 High Holborn, CBD 

The weird thing about the Cittie Of York is that you can never tell just quite how old it really is. At times, it seems a little slice of Tudor Merrie England, at others, egregiously Victorian and, elsewhere, perhaps a hint of deco. Well, in all its Frankensteinish glory, it’s all of the above. 

A watering hole since the 1430s, this now baronial pile was once a well-known London wine merchants shop, later remodelled between the wars into an elegant Henry VIII dining hall public house. With its series of intimate drinking booths, it has become a blueprint for contemporary pubs (a la Wetherspoons) making hamfisted attempts at posterity.

It’s usually standing room only around the enormous iron fireplace in the centre of the pub, but on Tuesday to Friday evenings you will be able to venture down deep into the bricked cellars for a cosier time. Come back again and again and, chances are, you’ll be lucky enough to access its secret beer garden open on special rare occasions. 

The Sherlock Holmes

10 Northumberland St, CBD

a plate of bangers and mash

Pubs feature again and again in English literary history, but perhaps none have capitalised on this more than The Sherlock Holmes, originally The Northumberland Arms built in the 1870s. As far as themed pubs go (and there are plenty), this one takes it the furthest.

Briefly featured in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, The Sherlock Holmes dedicates its upstairs to a faithful reconstruction of the famous fictional detective’s apartment: deerstalker, pipe and violin all faithfully present, conceived for the 1951 Festival Of Britain. With all the usual pub fare, real ales, spirits and wines galore, this historic London pub is conveniently located smack-bang in the middle of all the must-see London landmarks including the Palace of Westminster, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square—so make a day of it.

The Windsor Castle

98 Park Rd, CBD

It doesn’t get more British than this. Marylebone’s The Windsor Castle is a fever dream of royal family clutter, including an entire wall mural dedicated to Princess Diana. Framed photographs of the Windsor lineage line the interiors, punctuated by little plaques denoting famous regulars, and even dedicated reservation plaques  for children once they achieve drinking age. 

But weirder still, if you happen to sport a moustache, chances are you’ll be welcomed with open arms. As the monthly meeting place of the Handlebar Moustache Club of Great Britain, if you’re lucky enough to time your visit to The Windsor Castle perfectly, you might just catch a trophy ceremony – the upper lips are anything but stiff. 

 

Image credit: Sara Groblechner | Website

Urban List Best Of has our highest stamp of approval—curated lists of the very best recommendations for you to eat, do, see, buy or book, carefully chosen by our Editors.

Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, and if you purchase something through the links in this article, we will earn a commission from those partners. To find out more about who we work with and why read our editorial policy here.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.