London pubs: Historic, typical and with live music

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Guide to the best pubs in London: from the weirdest and most original to the quaint London pubs

Are you about to set out to discover the English capital? Then don't miss the best pubs in London! Elegant, melancholic and rich in culture, the Swinging City also offers a more down-to-earth and characteristic kind of entertainment: it is in London's pubs that you can catch its true essence.


Accomplice also to the important social role they have played over time, to this day this type of venue is the most popular among Londoners. You meet with friends, have a beer or discuss business: in a pub in London you can do anything you want, as if you were at home.

In addition to the historic ones with an almost medieval appearance, then, with the passage of time more and more original and extravagant ones have sprung up, with unique features. Curious to find out which ones? Here's your guide to the London pubs that exist, from the most typical and traditional to the most famous, including the strangest pubs in London.

If you go with Sprachcaffe on a study trip to England, it's sure to come in handy!


The Churchill Arms, Kensington's London pub

The reasons why we find The Churchill Arms on this list are countless. Located in the luxurious and exclusive neighborhood of Kensington, it is one of London's historic pubs, but it is also among the most distinctive. Tradition meets modernity inside, where it now unexpectedly houses a Thai restaurant. If during the nineteenth century it was known to count Winston Churchill's grandparents among its regulars, today as now it is a true institution.

Accomplice also is its aesthetics: walking past it without being speechless is impossible! Its spectacularly beautiful floral exteriors are already a calling card, but if you happen by here under Christmas the show is double because of the illuminations: certainly no expense is spared.

Built in 1750, it is one of the oldest pubs in London still in business today, and with a very impressive success despite the choice to offer exotic and nontraditional cuisine, which many might consider a gamble. Who's to say, however, that it's not the original combination of old and new that makes the incredible success of this London pub?

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Call Me Mr Lucky, a London pub... to be found

Not everyone knows that there is another "drinking" London, secret and hidden from prying eyes. There is in fact a dense network of bars and pubs to be found, hidden behind unmarked premises or, even, accessed through other bars.

Such is the case with Call Me Mr Lucky, one of London's strangest pubs: quirky, bustling and a little bit crazy, it is a must-see! To gain access, you have to enter the world-famous The Breakfast Club in London Bridge. Once inside, right at the entrance you find a team member to say the password to. Yes, to gain access to the secret pub you have to utter a code phrase!

"I'm here to get lucky" - that's all it takes to be escorted downstairs and get the party started.

If you want my advice, head here for happy hour from 5-7 p.m. (daily) to catch the livelier spirit of this place, whose ideal atmosphere between chill and extravagance will amaze you.

The French House, for a Gallic afternoon

Although the name makes one think of a different part of the world, The French House is considered one of London's most typical pubs, as well as one of its most beloved. It can be found at 49 Dean St. in Soho, in the city's West End, and has been open since 1891. Not one of the oldest ever, then, but in its "little" time it has made its mark on history: when owner Herr Schmidt, a German, was deported during World War II, the pub became the meeting place for members of the French Resistance. Among them, even De Gaulle used to frequent it.

Since then, The French House has taken on characteristics and traditions all its own. Only half pints of beer are served, except on April 1 when they are served whole instead. And on that day to tap the first pint must be the lead singer of Madness, Suggs, in honor of his mother who worked here as a waitress. Famous names among the clientele of this London pub include the unforgettable Edith Piaf.

This is a must if you walk through Soho: the retro atmosphere with no TVs or cell phones, French furnishings and soft lighting will keep you inside for hours on end.

Evans & Peel Detective Agency, much more than a pub in London

If you want to experience an evening out of the ordinary, Evans & Peel Detective Agency is certainly the location to go. It is located at 310C Courts Road, not too far from the Natural History Museum, and is a place that can give you a real experience.

Not just a pub, but (also) a detective agency where you undergo an interrogation to solve a case. Basically when you enter it is a detective who welcomes you, asking why you are visiting and asking you pressing questions. The unwritten rule is to play along by making up a case and experience an engaging and memorable evening!

When you are then given permission to sit at the table, you have the opportunity to order the most original and iconic cocktails, named after the most internationally famous gangsters. You can also let the bartenders advise you and rely on their creativity, of which they are notoriously rich.

It is one of the strangest pubs in London, but for the same reason also among the most coveted. This makes it essential to arrive with a reservation already made. And be careful, because the reservation is valid for a maximum time of 2 hours, at the end of which you will be politely invited to leave the pub to give up your seat to the next customers.

The Victoria Pub, among the best historic pubs in London

One cannot stay in London without popping into The Victoria Pub, a true icon in the Paddington area. It is located precisely at 10A Strathearn Place, convenient to reach by tube by stopping at Hyde Park or Lancaster, and is simply a marvel. With its elegant, manicured and impressive exterior, it is able to impress even more once inside, welcoming you with a warm and full English style.

Wooden bar, leather armchairs, red curtains and chandeliers scattered here and there to create just the right atmosphere of soft lighting: this is, in a nutshell, what you should expect once you cross the threshold. The Victoria Pub offers two rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs, which among other things even has a fireplace.

The menu is extensive and includes both sandwiches and the actual dishes of British tradition, going beyond the classic fish & chips. From grilled cod to lamb meatballs, you can feel like a real Londoner here for a night.

If you study with Sprachcaffe, it's also convenient to get to: our school is located in the residential neighborhood of Ealing, about half an hour by tube or bus from here.

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The Hawley Arms, the heart of Camden

One of the most iconic neighborhoods in London is certainly Camden Town, with its punk and transgressive soul and its vintage notes. It is impossible not to fall in love with it, especially if you decide to enter The Hawley Arms, one of the best pubs in London and one of the most historic in the neighborhood.

Perhaps from the outside it does not give the idea of the world to itself that it hides inside: it just looks like a classic pub, a bit eccentric because of the red it is painted with. Upon entering, however, you can sense the grit, tenacity, and hope of all the aspiring musicians who have made it a gathering place.

Among them all, one in particular has made history here: Amy Winehouse. She frequented it as a young girl, when she was not yet famous, and continued to do so naturally and humbly despite her international fame. Entering here is a bit like entering her home, and in fact the pub is plastered with photos of the unforgettable British singer.

Of course, the music at The Hawley Arms is a certainty: like other London pubs with live music, there is often a local artist present to accompany the evening with his or her songs.

The pub consists of two floors (above is the dehors), and it is always very crowded, so it is recommended to make a reservation, at least in case you want to have lunch there. In fact, the restaurant reserves the right not to reserve all available seats, so that even those who happen to be passing by can linger and say "okay, I'll stop here and have a drink." Again, the choice is very wide, both in terms of beers and drinks and food.

In short, you will have realized that London is much more than red telephone booths, museums of history and art, or royal palaces. It is a city to be experienced at night, in the less central and somewhat more hidden streets, where you will find London's strangest pubs as well as its most iconic and memorable ones. Only then can you get to know its true essence, among English beers and traditional dishes. And to end your evenings on a high note, under the banner of fun and the wildest music, don't miss London's most famous nightclubs as well: making the sunrise has never been so... British!