London’s pubs are so varied and wonderful that they deserve an entry all of their own - and, in fact we have several, including ones notable for their signs and their names. The ones listed here have interesting architecture (there are more here); for ones good for drinking, see this page.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Public Houses

Ye Olde Watling

This rambling old pub is said to have been built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1666 for workers on his St Paul’s Cathedral and constructed with wood from old ships timbers. Although it looks ancient enough, it was restored in 1901 and again after the Blitz of World War II.

29 Watling Street EC4
Tel: +44 (0)20 7653 9971
Tube: Mansion House/St Paul’s

Williamson’s Tavern

Much rebuilt in the 1930s, in the 17th century this was the site of the residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Before that, it was the site of the home of Sir John Oldcastle, on whom Shakespeare is said to have based the jovial sherry-loving character of Falstaff.

Groveland Court, Bow Lane EC4
Tel: +44 (0)20 7248 5750
Tube: Mansion House

The Argyll Arms

This Grade II-listed building dates to 1897 and its gleaming mahogany, etched mirrors and embossed ceilings are the height of Victorian design. The curved bar opens into a set of snugs that make up a scene from a Hollywood movie’s ideal English pub.

18 Argyll Street W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 6117
Tube: Oxford Circus

Prince Alfred

The Prince Alfred opened in 1863 – at the height of the British Empire - and its magnificent decor reflects the ethos of the times. It retains the original Victorian wooden partitions which divide it into five snugs. And it has been voted one of London’s best gastro-pubs.

5a Formosa Street W9
Tel: +44 (0)20 7286 3287
Tube: Maida Vale

The Black Friar

Built in 1875 near the site of a 13th-century Dominican Priory, the interior of The Black Friar is a work of art noveau extravanganza. The walls are covered in green red and cream marble, and there’s a church-like bar with good real ale on tap.

174 Queen Victoria Street EC4
Tel: +44 (0)20 7236 5474
Tube: Blackfriars

The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun public house was built in 1896 by Treadwell and Martin. A remarkable Victorian exterior and refurbished interior houses an average pub - though Revolutionary Karl Marx drank here on pub crawls when he lived nearby.

Tottenham Court Road W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7636 6530
Tube: Goodge Street