Oxford University Boat Club have won it 80 times. Cambridge University Boat Club have won it 83 times. But who will win the Boat Race this year? On Sunday, thousands will descend on the banks of the Thames to find out. And, of course, the spectacle wouldn’t be complete without a pint in your hand.
From Putney to Barnes, the 4.2 mile course winds and wends its way past many pubs — but these six are our favourites. A nautical-themed haunt, a foodie institution and a stalwart of the West London pub scene are among your options for the day. So take a look, decide on a pub and get ready to cheer on your chosen team this weekend…
Visit The Duke's Head to fuel up for the day ahead
“She has enjoyed this uniquely British battle of the oars for over a Century,” reads the official description of The Duke’s Head. And enjoy it this Victorian grade II listed building indeed has. The spirit of the boat races runs from the optics behind the bar to the riverside views — and is well worth your time this Sunday.
It’s the perfect place to fuel up for the day of drinking ahead, as the food is second-to-none. We’re talking Ox Cheek Terrine, Baked Somerset Camembert and Colcannon Mash. And, with more in-house pickling, curing and salting than almost any other pub in London, this vintage-style cooking promises to tantalise any tastebuds — while your eyes will get a treat thanks to breathtaking views of the Thames.
The Duke’s Head, Putney
Head down to The Crabtree for a party atmosphere
Set on one of the most picturesque stretches of the entire Thames — not just along the Boat Race course — The Crabtree sits on the quiet bank between Hammersmith and Putney bridges. But, although the bar is usually reasonably tranquil, Boat Race day brings the noise to Craven Cottage.
Boasting a ‘killer’ line up of live music all day from midday, the pub will be a hotspot of bankside partying on Sunday — with a DJ even taking to the decks to keep you celebrating — or commiserating — your chosen side late into the night.
The Crabtree, Putney
Go upstairs in The Blue Anchor for serious views of the course
The Blue Anchor has the nautical theme down. From its suitably seafaring name to the white-and-blue colour scheme, this is the ideal location if you’re looking to engage with the maritime side of the day’s sports. And, in prime position on the banks of the river in Hammersmith, it’s the ideal place to watch all the action, too.
First licensed in 1722, this is a reliable drinking den for the day. But, although downstairs the wood-panelled 17th century pub channels the vintage vibes, you want to head upstairs to the newly, beautifully refurbished ‘River Room’, for the best views of the course.
The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith
Dock yourself at The Old Ship for the best beers
Another haunt with a nautical leaning, The Old Ship in Hammersmith is buoyed up with an enthusiastic crew at the helm and some of the best cask-conditioned beers in West London. Head here if you fancy seeing how many pints you can sink while the rowers fly across the water.
The food’s great, too. A battered fish finger sandwich or Coxswains lunch will likely get you into the riverside mood — and the The Old Ship has one of the longest and most unimpeded views of the course of all the pubs on this list. A solid choice if you’re planning on sitting tight throughout proceedings.
The Old Ship, Hammersmith
For comfort and a winning wine list, go to The Bulls Head
If you’re considering staying home this year, and plan to watch the Boat Race from the comfort of your own armchair, then allow us to offer you an alternative. The Bulls Head is a Barnes institution and, thanks to its many sofas, roaring fires and dark wood decor, probably comfier than your very own living room.
Although it may have an illustrious musical heritage — the jazz nights are legendary — this is an institution from which you can watch the Barnes-based stretch of the Boat Race. Just grab a glass of the organic Château Bourdicotte Bordeaux and kick back.
The Bulls Head, Barnes
Settle in for a pre-Boat Race brunch at The White Hart
Home to the famous SW13 sunsets, The White Hart is a stalwart of South West London. Built originally in 1662, before being rebuilt in 1899, it’s a pub with a countryside feeling — despite being within rowing distance of the City.
And this laid-back atmosphere and these unrivalled views pay dividends come Boat Race day. This is the perfect pub to pop into if you fancy a lavish meal before watching the action unfold. And, if a pre-Boat Race brunch is on the menu, we’d suggest ordering the Rosary Ash goat’s cheese, pear & walnut open sandwich. A delectable treat.
The White Hart, Barnes
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