Discover: The Oldest Pubs In London

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A vintage-style pub interior with wooden barrels, a curved bar counter, high wooden ceilings, and globe-shaped hanging lights. The space features wooden tables and chairs and a mix of warm tones, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
Charlie Dailey 2014

From pandemics to wars, with sailors, smugglers and many a famous name as their guest... here are the top 5 oldest pubs in London for you to visit.

Cheers, thirsty history enthusiasts and ale aficionados! If you find yourself wandering the foggy cobblestone streets of London, amidst the iconic landmarks and the Queen's guard, fear not, for there's another kind of British treasure waiting to be discovered - the oldest pubs! These ancient watering holes have withstood the test of time, weathering everything from plagues to rebellions, and they are as much a part of the city's history as Big Ben and black cabs. So, if you're in search of a pint with a side of nostalgia, look no further! From cozy fireplaces to delightfully wonky beams, these venerable establishments have stories older than your grandpa's pipe tobacco. But let's not be biased; we'll leave the final decision of the best amongst them up to you. Meanwhile, we, the ahem self-proclaimed experts, have donned our deerstalkers and bar-crawled around the capital to bring you the crème de la crème – behold our top 5 oldest pubs in London. Get ready to drink in the history and raise your glasses high in a toast to the bygone times!

The Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden

A group of people socializing outside the Lamb and Flag pub on a narrow brick street. The pub has flower baskets hanging under its signage, and the scene includes a traditional red phone booth to the left. The atmosphere is lively and convivial.

33 Rose St, London WC2E 9EB

In the heart of London's Covent Garden, The Lamb & Flag pub stands as a living relic of the 17th century. History runs deep within its walls, and stories of poet John Dryden's infamous beating in 1679 add an extra layer of intrigue. Though small in size, the pub's courtyard offers a tranquil oasis for city-dwellers seeking a respite. Stepping inside, you'll find a charmingly unchanged decor that embodies the essence of a classic British pub. Despite its storied past, The Lamb & Flag now offers a relaxed ambiance, where patrons can enjoy reasonably priced pub meals, including vegan and vegetarian options. So, whether you're a history enthusiast or simply seeking a pint in a cozy setting, The Lamb & Flag invites you to embrace London's past and revel in its hospitality.

The Prospect of Whitby

A historic brick pub called The Prospect of Whitby with a ship painting on its sign, adorned with hanging flower baskets. Illuminated lamps flank the entrance, and a chalkboard menu stands to the left. The windows and doorway reveal a glimpse inside.

57 Wapping Wall, London E1W 3SH

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the intriguing history of The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping's oldest riverside pub that has stood proudly since 1520. Formerly known as The Devil's Tavern, this establishment has seen it all, from swashbuckling sailors and smugglers to the notorious "hanging judge" himself. As you step inside, the eerie ambiance draws you in, with gothic-inspired dark wood panelling, uneven stone floors, and wonky timbers that evoke the mystique of a Harry Potter tale. Don't be startled by the noose and gallows hanging off the balcony, for this pub embraces its dark past with a hint of macabre charm. Amidst the historical setting, The Prospect of Whitby offers a varied and wholesome menu, catering to all tastes, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. From classic burgers and fries to delicious butternut squash soup, there's something to satisfy every appetite without breaking the bank, as prices start at £5.25. Savor your favorite bourbon while gazing at the picturesque views of the Thames, and let the tales of this ancient pub whisk you away on a voyage through time. Whether you're a history buff, a ghost hunter, or simply in search of a memorable riverside experience, The Prospect of Whitby beckons with its tales of old and hearty fare fit for all adventurers.

The Spaniards Inn

A two-story yellow building labeled Spaniards is covered in snow. The surrounding trees and ground are also blanketed in snow, creating a picturesque winter scene. The building features several windows, chimneys, and a central entrance with a hanging lamp.
The Spaniards Inn via Facebook

Spaniards Rd, London NW3 7JJ

Perched atop a hill in Hampstead Heath, The Spaniards Inn stands as an iconic London pub with a history dating back to the 1500s. Originally a tollgate on the boundary to Finchley, it was named after the Spanish Ambassador to James I of England. The pub's literary pedigree shines brightly, as it welcomed illustrious figures like Byron, Keats, and Dickens, who frequented it as their own abode. Even Bram Stoker immortalized The Spaniards Inn in "Dracula." Step inside, and you'll be transported back in time with dark panels, low beams, and a captivatingly spooky atmosphere. While the menu has evolved into gastro heights, offering smart beer pairings for every dish, its charm remains intact. The Spaniards Inn's walled beer garden provides a perfect suntrap for al-fresco dining during the summer months, but be sure to book your table in advance, as this haunt of literary giants tends to get super busy! As you raise your glass here, you'll be following in the footsteps of literary luminaries and perhaps even the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, who is said to have favored this very spot.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

A cozy pub interior featuring a fireplace and a long wooden table surrounded by chairs. The room is adorned with dark wood paneling, framed artwork, and curtained windows, giving it a rustic and historic atmosphere. The dim lighting adds to the warm ambiance.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Official via Facebook

145 Fleet St, London EC4A 2BP

Step into the enchanting world of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub that easily wins the prize for the best-named establishment on this list. With an air of mystery and intrigue, this pub truly feels like one of London's oldest, dating back to 1667, but with roots that trace as far back as 1538. Its gloomy atmosphere and Victorian crime thriller setting, complete with sawdust-covered floors and high-backed church pews, offer a captivating experience. Despite the lack of natural light, literary legends like Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mark Twain found inspiration within these historic walls. With its rich history and literary connections, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese remains a gem amongst London's oldest pubs, inviting visitors to savor a pint and immerse themselves in a bygone era.

The George Inn

A historic two-story building with white walls and black accents features a series of balconies with hanging flower baskets. Below, there are large windows and a cobblestone courtyard lined with wooden picnic tables and green plants. The sky is overcast.

75 Borough High St, London SE1 1NH

Step into history at The George Inn, one of London's oldest pubs, with roots dating back to 1583. Frequented by literary giants Dickens and Shakespeare, this galleried coaching inn has witnessed many famous faces and even hosted Shakespeare's plays in its courtyard. Protected by the National Trust, The George Inn has retained its charm and heritage, with galleries from 1583 still intact. Today, visitors can indulge in a menu filled with pub classics like Scotch eggs, deviled whitebait, and fish and chips, all while sipping local ales and craft beers. The courtyard remains a popular attraction, where you can enjoy G&Ts beneath the shadow of The Shard. Whether you're a history enthusiast or just seeking a quintessential London pub experience, The George Inn promises a delightful journey through time, where you can raise a toast to the literary legends who once graced its historic halls.

Ye Olde Mitre

A narrow, dimly lit alleyway with tall brick buildings on either side. The alley leads to a brightly lit pub area decorated with hanging signs, flower boxes, and a black chalkboard advertising ice drinks. A vintage-style street lamp hangs overhead.

1 Ely Ct, Ely Pl, London EC1N 6SJ

Tucked away in the heart of London, Ye Olde Mitre claims a slightly dubious title as one of the oldest pubs in the city, thanks to a land issue that once made it part of Cambridgeshire. While its exact age is a subject of debate, this charming pub has historical significance dating back centuries. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I danced around a cherry tree outside, adding to its illustrious past. Its hidden location in Ely Court makes it a challenging find, but the effort is rewarded with a true traditional pub experience. With a wealth of real ales on tap, including the aptly named "London Pride," and homemade bar snacks like pasties and toasted sandwiches, Ye Olde Mitre delights visitors seeking authentic pub-keeping. Whether it was built in 1546 or 1773, there's no doubt that this pub exudes history and offers a warm and welcoming ambiance amidst its wood-paneled interior. So, follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth I and indulge in a boogie with your ale of choice at Ye Olde Mitre.

The Guinea

A traditional pub exterior with dark wood panels and windows adorned with hanging flower baskets. Signs read The Guinea Grill, Restaurant, and Est. 1675. Red curtains are visible inside, creating a warm ambiance. A post box and lamppost are outside.
The Guinea Grill via Facebook

30 Bruton Pl, London W1J 6NL

The Guinea pub boasts a legacy that dates back to 1423 when an inn first stood on this site, earning its place among the oldest pubs in the city. While the current building was constructed in 1720, it retains a timeless charm and historical significance. Today, The Guinea has gained fame as a steakhouse, serving up mouthwatering grass-fed Scotch beef steaks, making it 'London's original steakhouse since 1952.' However, the quality and award-winning pies on the menu provide delightful alternatives for discerning diners. Despite its rich history, The Guinea has kept up with the times, offering the best of British beef and locally sourced fish, ensuring a memorable dining experience. So, whether you savor the delectable steaks or indulge in their renowned pies.

Hoop & Grapes

A historic pub named Hoop & Grapes with a black storefront and white upper facade adorned with flowers. In front, an outdoor seating area with a few tables and chairs. To the right, a green storefront labeled satyrio with a sign indicating an Italian restaurant.
Hoop & Grapes via Facebook

47 Aldgate High St, Greater, London EC3N 1AL

Step into Hoop & Grapes, a remarkable survivor from the Great Fire of 1666, making it one of the few timber buildings that escaped the devastating flames, reportedly stopping just fifty yards from its door. With a touch of divine intervention, this City of London pub has retained its historical charm, preserving its 17th-century character for visitors to enjoy. Not to be confused with its slightly younger namesake in Farringdon, Hoop & Grapes stands as a fine old boozer, offering a traditional British menu featuring classics like fish and chips and burgers, complemented by a range of beer, wine, and spirits. With its tilted interiors adding further character and charm, this establishment invites patrons to savor its seasonal specialties, particularly its outstanding beer selection.

The Old Bell

A cozy pub interior with wooden fixtures. The bar has stools, various bottles, and hanging glasses. A sign above the bar reads, This week's ale range. A small seating area with chairs and a table is visible. Walls are adorned with framed pictures and art.
The Old Bell Pub via Facebook

95 Fleet St, Greater, London EC4Y 1DH

Step into the awe-inspiring architecture of The Old Bell Tavern, a pub with a historical significance like no other on this list. Built by the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren for his masons, who were busy reconstructing St Bride's Church after the Great Fire of London, this pub stands as a testament to his brilliance. Alongside nearby Ye Olde Watling, also rumored to be in Wren's portfolio, The Old Bell impresses with its classic ales and exceptional ambiance. The stone floors and stained glass windows pay homage to Wren's other architectural masterpieces, creating a captivating setting for patrons to enjoy. Located near Fleet Street and London Bridge, this pub should undoubtedly be on every history lover's list. While you're in the area, don't miss a visit to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a remarkable pub rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, still exuding its 17th-century charm and history.

The Mayflower Pub

An English pub named The Mayflower adorned with red flowers and hanging plants. A sign on the building reads Rotherhithe Street S.E.16, and a rustic sign features a ship illustration. The pub's exterior is charming with a mix of brick and floral decor.
The Mayflower Pub via Facebook

117 Rotherhithe St, London SE16 4NF

Nestled in the heart of Rotherhithe, The Mayflower pub boasts a rich history dating back to the 1550s, making it one of London's oldest and most historic establishments. Its name pays homage to the famous ship that moored next door before embarking on its journey to the New World in 1620, carrying the Pilgrim Fathers who would go on to found the USA. This hidden gem offers a traditional English pub experience, complete with low beams, dark seating areas, and a cozy candle-lit restaurant with stunning views of the Thames from its outside decked jetty. With a warm ambiance and an open fire, The Mayflower invites guests to imagine the historic figures who may have occupied their seats four centuries ago. Proving its commitment to history, the pub maintains a book of Mayflower Descendants, inviting those with family ties to the voyageurs to leave their mark. While The Mayflower claims to serve the best fish and chips in London, that debate remains open for exploration. Today, the pub has evolved into a wonderful gastropub, offering a delightful selection of food, including an excellent cheese menu.