Top 10 historic pubs in London

With over 3,500 pubs still pouring pints in the capital, here’s our top 10 historic pubs in London to help define your trundle down Tippling Street…

1. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

historic pubs in London

Rebuilt after The Great Fire in 1667 this pub features in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and provides a lost-in-time alehouse atmosphere. With seven floors to explore, you can doff to your cap to Polly The Parrot or sit by the fire and follow in the literary footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Dr Johnson.

2. The Black Friar

historic pubs in London

Completed in 1905 this offers a museum-quality display of Arts & Crafts finery. Remembering the lives of the 13th-century monks who resided on this riverside plot, the pub has over 50 types of marble, mother of pearl inlay, stained glass and other magnificence to soak up whilst sipping on a pint or two.

3. The Princess Louise

Named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, this is the finest example of gin-palace style architecture. It’s full of quirky wooden divides, etched glass and mosaic floors, with even the gentlemen’s bathrooms afforded protected architectural status.

4. The George Inn

historic pubs in London

The George Inn is also known as ‘Shakespeare’s Local’ because the boozing bard used to perform in this galleried coaching inn courtyard before moving further along the river to the famous Globe Theatre. It’s deemed so important it’s owned by the National Trust, and Dickens’ life insurance certificate hangs casually by the bar.

5. The Dove

One of London’s finest riverside pubs. A secretive bolthole for merry monarchs such as Charles II and their mistresses in the day. It is also home to the smallest bar in London, whilst the bijou terrace is the perfect place to watch river life slowly pass you by.

6. The Spaniards Inn

This haunted tollhouse tavern sits high above London close to Hampstead Heath. Featuring in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, even Dick Turpin’s famous steed is still heard galloping long into the night nearby.

7. The Lamb & Flag

Covent Garden’s very own ‘bucket of blood’ famous for its bare-knuckle boxing fights and infamous murder attempts in the heart of theatreland.

8. The Mayflower

The Mayflower is named in honour of the Pilgrim Fathers boarding the eponymous ship here in 1620 and voyaging to the New World. American postage stamps are still sold behind the bar, and you can drink under the stars and stripes suspended over The Thames. Guests with proven lineage can even sign the descendants book.

9. Ye Olde Mitre

The hardest pub to find in London, and certainly one of the oldest. Queen Elizabeth is said to have danced around the cherry tree in the corner of the bar, and local thieves used to escape the long arm of the law here as the land is owned by the Bishop of Ely where the City police had no power of arrest.

10. The Churchill Arms

A madhouse full of eccentric paraphernalia and good times. Famous at Christmas for being festooned with over 100 trees and 20,000 fairy lights. Summertime brings its own floral bounty not far from Kensington Gardens.

Liquid History Tours

The award-winning Liquid History Tours offers guided walking tours to London’s finest pubs, alehouses and taverns. With small group sizes and local guides you can follow in the footsteps of Dickens and Shakespeare, whilst pausing for a drink at some of the city’s famous watering holes, and soaking up the quirky history along the way.

historic pubs in London

Departing seven days a week, you can also request a tailored private tour direct from your hotel or designed to drop you off at a theatre or dining destination of your choice. Perhaps a trip along the Bermondsey Beer Mile or Gin Lane might tickle your fancy too?

historic pubs in London

And if group tours are not quite your thing, and you prefer to define your drunken detour under your own steam then you can also purchase their best-selling book Liquid History: An Illustrated Guide to Great London Pubs.

With over 50 ‘must-visit’ pubs it’s the perfect gift for any lover of London and the pubs that benchmark its history as much as its architecture.