Whether you’re a tourist visiting London for the first time – or a seasoned Londoner, you want to be sure that the pubs you visit in the centre are the very best. Everybody has their favourite cosy local, but when it comes to WC1 and WC2, the pubs are bigger, better and completely fascinating.
YE OLD CHESHIRE CHEESE
Although Ye Old Cheshire Cheese is not the oldest pub in London as some would have you believe, it has retained more of its original charm better than any other pub in London. It was one of the first pubs to have been rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 and was frequented by Charles Dickens, Dr Johnson and Mark Twain amongst others.
The Porterhouse brewing company also runs five bars around the world; three in Ireland, one in New York and one in London. London’s Porterhouse has over 100 bottled and draft beers available and has every different sort of beer from banana bread beer to Delirium Tremens. The interior is unlike any other London pub and has a steampunk, Pompidou Centre kind of vibe.
THE FRENCH HOUSE
Famed for its artistic and literary clientele, Soho’s French House is one of London’s best known pubs. Originally the York Minster, it was renamed The French House due to its association with Charles de Gaulle and the Free French Forces. Dylan Thomas, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud were all regulars at the pub during its heyday in the 60s and 70s.
De Hems is a Dutch pub just outside Soho in London’s Chinatown district. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing pubs in central London with a late Victorian facade that is as inviting as it is visually engaging. De Hems has a wide range of Dutch and Belgium beers and delightful Netherlandish snacks – you’ll feel like you’re back in Dam Square.
PILLARS OF HERCULES
The literary critic Clive James named his second book after the pub because he wrote so much of it in the Pillars of Hercules and like many Soho establishments, it has a history of attracting literary figures. The main attraction of the Pillars is that it provides value for money with food and drink being surprisingly inexpensive for central London.