Raise your tankards, London’s history beckons you! Venture on a charming traipse through the heart of our vibrant city’s character – a Soho pub trail. Discover the rich heritage, imbibe in the ambience of a bygone era, and enjoy a cheeky pint or two!
Here’s your chance to step into a world of wood-panelled rooms, open fires, and timeworn tales. Our journey spans over ten of Soho’s oldest, most illustrious pubs – each holding secrets as heady as their ales. Delve into an extraordinary past, where literature and libations mix, where Churchill pondered and Dylan Thomas dawdled.
Whether you’re a pub connoisseur, history buff, or simply out to enjoy good company, there’s a stool and a story waiting for you. Gather your friends and embark on this spirited expedition, brimming with anecdotes of mischief, creativity, and good ol’ British camaraderie.
Are you ready to experience this unique blend of history and hops? Time, gentlemen, please! Let the Soho top ten pub trail begin! Cheers to adventures, laughter, and a pint of the good stuff!
The John Snow
Situated on Broadwick Street, heart of Soho, stands The John Snow pub, an establishment that’s more than its aged walls. Opening its doors in 1705, it’s named after the trailblazing physician who curbed the devastating 1854 cholera epidemic. True to its name, this traditional English pub offers not just a stellar line-up of beers and hearty food, but also a glimpse into a significant slice of London’s history.
While you’re enjoying a drink, don’t be surprised if you feel the presence of John Snow himself. Rumour has it, he still frequents his namesake, albeit in ghostly form. But fear not, he’s apparently quite the affable spectre, often seen taking a leisurely stroll around the pub.
Delving deeper, John Snow wasn’t just a doctor; he was a data-driven detective. By meticulously tracing the cholera outbreak to a single water pump on Broadwick Street, he changed public health forever, saving countless lives. The pub stands as a testament to his incredible work, making it not just a place to wet your whistle, but also to appreciate a pioneer’s legacy. In search of a traditional English pub with a tale to tell? The John Snow awaits.
The King’s Arms
In the bustling heart of Soho on Poland Street stands The King’s Arms, a gem dating back to 1706. Through its age-worn doors, you’ll be stepping into a space that has served Londoners for over three centuries.
But here’s the crown jewel of its history: it’s said to be named after King Charles II, who, during his French exile days, found solace and perhaps a pint or two within its walls. A traditional English pub through and through, it boasts a fine array of beers and classic British grub that would make even a king nod in approval.
And speaking of tales, did you know Charles, a notorious gambler, once lost so badly at this very pub that he pawned his crown? Yes, the crown was retrieved, but the legend lives on, recounted with gusto by regulars.
So, if a mix of history, spectral royalty, and the authentic British pub experience intrigues you, The King’s Arms promises just that with every pour. Cheers!
The Leicester Arms
Tucked away on Glasshouse Street lies The Leicester Arms, a classic English pub that has been a cornerstone of Soho since 1720. Its moniker pays tribute to the city of Leicester and, more notably, the Earl of Leicester, a renowned arts patron of his time. This establishment embodies a harmonious blend of art and ale, offering a sanctuary for enthusiasts of both.
Warmly welcoming locals and travellers, The Leicester Arms boasts an extensive range of beers and traditional pub grub like the quintessential fish and chips. History aficionados will revel in knowing that literary giant, Oscar Wilde, once claimed a regular spot in the pub’s back room. Rumours abound of Wilde’s spectral presence, still penning his thoughts in the very room.
Soho’s bustling streets provide ample people-watching opportunities, making The Leicester Arms an ideal spot for relaxation. Its historical significance is further underscored as the inaugural gathering place of the Young England Group, a coalition of reform-driven politicians, including luminaries such as Benjamin Disraeli.
For those yearning for a touch of history with their pint, The Leicester Arms beckons as a treasure trove of tales, traditions, and timeless charm. Cheers to Soho’s enduring legacy!
Located in the famous Dean Street, we can find the Golden Lion, which was licensed in 1728, stands as a testament to both history and architectural elegance. This corner pub, it proudly showcases remnants of its original Younger’s design. Notably, the ornate plasterwork gracing its ceiling and cornices whispers tales of its storied past.
Inside, an array of high tables and window shelves furnished with upholstered bar stools greet visitors. The modern touch is evident, with multiple screens and a sound system enhancing the ambiance. For those seeking a quieter or perhaps more intimate setting, additional seating can be found upstairs.
Golden Lion’s past patrons list reads like a who’s who of history and infamy. The acclaimed playwright, Noel Coward, was once a familiar face here, enjoying its unique atmosphere. However, the pub also holds darker tales; in the 1980s, it unwittingly became a hunting ground for the notorious mass-murderer Dennis Nilsen.
The Golden Lion is more than just a pub—it’s a tapestry of times gone by, interwoven with the present. For those yearning for a sip of beer infused with tales both illustrious and ominous, this historic haunt beckons.
The Coach & Horses
In Soho’s buzzing heart on Greek Street stands a beacon of history and hospitality: The Coach & Horses. Established in 1731, its very name reminisces about the coaches halting for passengers to switch horses, symbolising the spirit of adventure.
While it has evolved since its initial days as ‘The Red Lion’, its essence as a hub for diverse souls remains unchanged. Immerse in its quintessentially British atmosphere, complemented by a broad range of beers and delectable dishes.
Stepping inside is akin to leafing through a rich tapestry of tales. Imagine sharing the bar with Norman Balon, the gin-loving, no-nonsense landlord who graced this establishment for over six decades. Or perhaps eavesdrop on the Soho Arts Club, where luminaries like Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon once exchanged thoughts.
But it wasn’t just artists who found solace here; the pub’s walls could narrate tales of spies from World War II if they could talk.
As you lift a pint and people-watch in this bustling locale, remember that The Coach & Horses isn’t merely a pub. It’s a living relic of Soho’s past and present. For those seeking tradition mixed with tales, this legendary establishment awaits. Cheers to history in every sip!
The Crown & Two Chairmen
Dean street host The Crown & Two Chairmen in the charismatic neighbourhood of Soho, this classic spot has been serving patrons since 1736. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?
Ever wondered about the rather unusual name? Well, legend has it that back in the day, this pub was a favourite haunt of sedan chair carriers – you know, the chaps responsible for carting the wealthy about town before the advent of cars. Apparently, two of these gents got into a bit of a disagreement over a fare and voilà, the name was born. Interesting, right?
Now, while the story behind the name is quaint, the pub itself is a blend of traditional British charm and contemporary Soho flair. Whether you’re after a cosy nook to enjoy a quiet pint or a lively space to chat with mates, this place has got you covered.
And here’s a fun tidbit for all you history buffs: it’s whispered that King Charles II sometimes snuck in for a cheeky drink. Talk about a royal endorsement!
Tucked away on Brewer Street in Soho, London, stands the Crown — a quintessential English pub with doors that first swung open in 1737. Its name is inspired by the regal crown emblem once painted on its façade, symbolising majesty and might, with legends suggesting it bestows luck upon its patrons.
Being at Soho’s epicentre, Crown is a favoured spot for both locals and tourists. It boasts a welcoming ambiance, an array of beers on tap, and traditional delights like fish and chips or bangers and mash.
Fun fact: Esteemed German philosopher and economist, Karl Marx, once found solace within its walls, penning iconic works such as “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital” in a quiet corner. Moreover, its historic significance is underlined by the fact that the pub stands on the grounds of the erstwhile Hickford Rooms — London’s prime concert halls where a young Mozart, at just nine, once played.
For those seeking a pint paired with rich history, Crown Pub is a Soho must-visit.
Soho’s Denman Street is home to Queen’s Head, a venerable English pub, which first greeted patrons in 1738. Taking its name from the then-reigning Queen Anne, the establishment stands as a tribute to its royal heritage, reflecting an era where diverse crowds toasted to the monarchy.
Nestled at Soho’s core, Queen’s Head has, over the years, emerged as a beloved haunt for both locals and tourists. With its congenial vibe, an extensive array of beers on tap, and quintessential pub grub — think fish and chips or bangers and mash — it offers an authentic British experience.
The pub also holds a cherished link to the arts. Celebrated English artist, William Hogarth, was known to frequent Queen’s Head, sketching its many patrons. His time here was profound, inspiring iconic works like “The Rake’s Progress” and “The Harlot’s Progress”.
Steeped in history and tales of old, The Queen’s Head promises a pint with a side of the past!
The Blue Posts
Located on Rupert Street, The Blue Posts is a Soho icon, having opened its doors in 1739. Its unique name harks back to the blue posts marking Soho Fields, once a royal hunting territory. Though the posts disappeared in the 18th century, the pub retained the moniker, becoming a Soho staple. Step inside, and you’re greeted with authentic British ambience: oak panelling, a rich selection of beers, and classic British dishes. But there’s more to this pub than meets the eye. Whispered tales suggest a friendly ghost of a past landlord still lingers. And for literature aficionados, there’s a delightful nugget: Charles Dickens is rumoured to have written sections of “Oliver Twist” here. In essence, The Blue Posts isn’t merely a pub—it’s a living slice of London’s history. If you’re seeking a genuine English pub experience rich in stories and charm, this establishment is a must-visit. We have to mention there are others two branches of “Blue Posts” Pub in soho, yet we find this to be in our top ten.
Nestled on D’Arblay Street in Soho’s pulsating heart is The George, a time-honoured English pub that has welcomed patrons since 1740. A nod to King George II, its monarch-inspired name echoes an era when locals raised a glass to their reigning king.
Beyond its beers and classic pub delicacies such as fish and chips, The George is steeped in history. Imagine sipping your drink where Charles Dickens, once a regular, penned his masterpieces in a secluded back room. Rumour has it that Dickens’ spirit still lingers, busily scribbling away in that very room.
It’s not just literature that marks The George’s legacy. The infamous Hellfire Club, an assembly of British high society known for their decadent escapades, held its inaugural meeting here. Their audacious tales of revelry remain a testament to the pub’s vibrant past.
With its storied walls having seen the likes of Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones, The George isn’t just a place to quench your thirst. It’s a living memoir of Soho’s rich tapestry. For those drawn to tradition and tales, The George awaits with open doors and a frothy pint. Cheers to history and heritage!
The White Horse
Tucked away on Newburgh Street, the heart of Soho, stands The White Horse, pouring tales and ales since 1743. A nod to the emblematic white horse painted on its facade, rumoured to sprinkle good luck on its patrons.
You’d be in celebrated company sipping here; Oscar Wilde once held the floor, waxing lyrical about art and literature. This very spot witnessed the Bloomsbury Group’s inaugural meet-up. Picture Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and their intellectual ilk, brainstorming over a pint!
Though it began its journey as The Cock and Bull, The White Horse quickly found its identity and became a magnet for the greats. Think Jimi Hendrix strumming a tune or The Rolling Stones mulling over lyrics.
Today, while it retains its old-world charm, expect a mix of tourists and locals, all eager to soak up some Soho spirit (and spirits). For a taste of authentic English pub culture, a dash of literary legacy, and a splash of rock ‘n’ roll, The White Horse beckons. It’s not just a pub; it’s a slice of Soho’s soul.
Embarking on the Soho pub trail is akin to opening a chapter of London’s rich tapestry, allowing us to embrace the charm of age-old stories with every pint. From spectral figures of renowned personalities to intriguing historical snippets, each pub is a tribute to both Soho’s vibrant past and its lively present. As you journey through, remember that the details presented here are meticulously sourced from the official websites of these establishments, trusted sources like Wikipedia, and valuable archives of CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale and whatpub. As you raise your glass, you aren’t just toasting to an age-old drink; you’re commemorating centuries of history and countless tales that shaped the heart of London.
- Which is the oldest pub on the Soho pub trail? The John Snow, opening its doors in 1705, holds this honor.
- Do any of these pubs have links to famous historical figures? Yes, figures like Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and Jimi Hendrix frequented them.
- Is there any paranormal history associated with these pubs? Several pubs, such as The John Snow, claim ghostly patrons from the past.
- Which pub has ties to King Charles II? The King’s Arms, named after him, once hosted the king himself.
- Where can one find stories of both art and ale combined? The Leicester Arms offers a harmonious blend of these two worlds.