We at the Londinium Project love a good pub (and we’re both card-carrying CAMRA members). We call Southwark home though, and have settled in on a few favourites that we’d like to share. This crawl will start near London Bridge tube and finish up near Southwark tube, to keep distances manageable. We’re deliberately trying to avoid the more visible pubs in the area – the ones listed in all the tour guides (e.g. The George on Borough High Street). Nothing against such spots, but we’re hoping to highlight some places a bit off the well-worn trail.
The Rake – we’ve written about this one before, and it is one of our favourite little spots in London. It is tucked into the parking lot in Borough Market near the cathedral, though is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Friendly, knowledgeable staff, and a ton of interesting beers – mostly imports (even a few high quality Belgian lambics, some occasional on drafts). It gets crowded quickly, but is perfect on off hours or early in the week.
The Horseshoe Inn – a quaint local tucked away in the streets behind the Shard and Guy’s Hospital, pushing towards Bermondsey street. We popped in here on Sunday afternoon for a quiet pint over the summer, and found a group of locals in the back garden sitting at a table with guitars and a mandolin singing tunes. It is that type of place – lovely.
The Brittania – we’d been by this one a few times before ever stopping in, until one of us – a whisk(e)y fan – read about its selection on another spirit-centric blog. And boy, do they have a selection! There’s a few cask ales as well, but this is nice spot for a quality dram or two.
The Rose – this is a recent find for us, but we feel it is worth a pitstop on the walk. Warm, cozy pub with interesting decor – a mix of traditional, modern, and whimsical – and a bit of a younger crowd and a fun vibe. The food looks quite good as well.
The Royal Oak – this is a gem of a neighbourhood local hiding just off Borough High Street near the Borough tube stop. It is one of the few pubs in London owned by Harvey’s of Sussex, and serves their range of ales in immaculate condition. Don’t miss the Harvey’s Mild – a real treat. The food is also quiet good.
Boot & Flogger – this is an unusual place where we’ve been spending more and more time. It’s a wine bar that looks far more like a cozy country pub. Dark corners, leather chairs, and lots of wood and knickknacks abound – plus some very good food and friendly staff – make for a very interesting little spot to hide with a quiet bottle of vino. It also largely hides in plain sight, just off Southwark Road, and is mostly spared the pub crowds frothing around the edges of Borough Market. It is also larger than it seems – keep an eye our for the steps behind the far end of bar and you’ll find another floor of seating as well as comfortable courtyard.
Bonus: check out the Cross Bones graveyard directly across the street from the entrance.
The Charles Dickens – this is our proper local. It can be a little rough around the edges, but a constantly rotating batch of cask ales, friendly staff, and a generous mix of locals and after-work crowds give it a nice vibe. The Dickens theme is alive and well inside, but go for the beers. There’s also a small outdoor seating area in the back.
The Lord Clyde – another cozy, traditional pub on a backstreet alley just off Southwark Bridge Road. Warm and invited, with a few well-kept beers (like Hogs Back TEA) and some outdoor seating for nicer weather make it a nice destination for a few tipples with friends and without too much interference from the outside world.
The King’s Arms – this is, in our opinion, the best traditional pub in the area, nestled on a backstreet just off the Cut (and about equidistant from Waterloo and Southwark tubes). They constantly rotate a selection of around 10 cask ales – with some very interesting choices popping up regularly – and draw a fairly constant crowd of commuters and locals around weekends. Catch it on a quiet early weeknight or weekend afternoon to soak up its atmosphere, and be sure to check out both sides of the bar. Thai food is served in the back room as well.