5 Historic London Pubs You Need to Visit
- Historic Travellers Rest
Grabbing a pint is a must-do when you travel to London. Not only is it a lot of fun, but visiting a pub is a big part of British culture.
Forget about memorizing lists of dates and long-dead monarchs. This is history with a boozy twist. London boasts some of Britain’s oldest pubs, pubs that are full of great stories as well as a great beer selection. You might even find spirits of the non-alcoholic variety in some of them.
Whether it’s enjoying a pint in the same spot as Elizabeth I or consuming cocktails in Jack the Ripper’s hunting ground, no trip to London is complete without a visit to one of these brilliant boozers.
Here’s a list of 7 historic London pubs you won’t want to miss.
1. The Spaniards Inn
There are loads of reasons why you should head north to Hampstead, and the Spaniards Inn is one of the best. Located on the edge of sprawling Hampstead Heath, this charming pub dates right back to the 16th century and is rumored to have once been owned by Dick Turpin’s father.
In fact, the ghost of this feared highwayman is supposed to haunt both the pub and the road outside!
Less sinister, but no less notable visitors to the pub included Charles Dickens and John Keats, and the pub has been mentioned in The Pickwick Papers and Dracula.
It’s made up of a handful of wooden paneled rooms, including a cozy little snug, and has one of the best beer gardens in town. Aim to visit on a Sunday for one of their yummy roasts.
2. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
When you first walk into this Fleet Street pub, you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s a bit on the small side. A tiny front bar and “courtyard” are seemingly all the drinking space there is. But explore a little further and you’ll discover a warren of cozy cellars, leading down to a cavernous “chop room” where you can enjoy some solid pub grub.
here has been a pub here since the early 16th century but what you see today was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is perhaps best known for its literary associations — the likes of Samuel Johnson, Arthur Conan Doyle and that old gadabout, Charles Dickens, have all visited.
3. The George Inn
Just a few minutes’ walk from one of London’s most modern buildings, the Shard, is one of London’s oldest, the George Inn. It’s easy to miss it, however. This 17th-century coaching inn is tucked away in a courtyard just off Borough High Street. Look out for the sign on the main road because this is one beautiful boozer.
The first things you’ll probably notice are the striking balconies running along the front of the building. This pub is actually the last galleried inn in London and is one of only two coaching inns in town.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Charles Dickens used to drink here and it makes an appearance in his novel, Little Dorrit. Enjoy a drink in the courtyard when the sun’s out or head upstairs for traditional British food in their restaurant.
4. The Ten Bells
One of the most gruesome episodes of London’s history played out at the Ten Bells. Jack the Ripper is believed to have frequented this east London pub and at least two of his victims – Mary Kelly and Annie Chapman – are associated with it. In fact, Mary Kelly was last seen here just one hour before she was murdered!
If you’re looking to get a sense of gothic Whitechapel then this is the place for you. Soak up a few pints in the candlelit main bar or head upstairs for killer cocktails in what feels like a spooky old house — although these days the scariest thing about the Ten Bells is the toilets!
5. Ye Olde Mitre
This is not only one of the oldest historic pubs in London, but it’s also one of the smallest AND the most difficult to find. In fact, for centuries it wasn’t even part of London, it was actually part of Cambridgeshire!
Ye Olde Mitre is tucked away down a narrow alleyway just off Ely Place — a street packed with history in its own right.
This area was once the domain of the Bishops of Ely (a town in Cambridgeshire) and Ye Olde Mitre was built for the servants of nearby Ely Palace, now demolished.
Past patrons include none other than Elizabeth I, who reportedly danced around a cherry tree with one of her favourite courtiers, Sir Christopher Hatton. Part of the tree is preserved inside the pub but it’s safely locked inside a glass case — in case anyone gets the urge to do a bit of pole dancing!