he pub is officially back – but no surprise, space is looking tight.
Boris Johnson confirmed this week that “outdoor hospitality of all kinds” will be permittedfrom April 12. With even the Prime Minister himself gunning for a drink – Johnson said next Monday he’d be found at the pub “cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips” – London’s best beer terraces and pub gardens are already looking full to bursting.
While social distancing measures will remain in place and drinkers will have to stick to the rule of six, the good news is that there will be no curfews and no requirement to eat while drinking, so no-one need ever mention scotch eggs or attempt a measure of what makes a “substantial meal” ever again.
Bookings are unsurprisingly keenly underway, but hope of a drink in the sun is not in vain. Most of the pub chains and many independents maintain a rule to leave room for walk-ins, so it should be possible to wander in somewhere off the street.
Still, planning ahead is the only way to guarantee a pint. If local favourites are looking crammed with no space in site, book up somewhere big – no surprise the largest spots are often those with the most space.
If you’re a landlord planning to reopen your beer garden, or know of a place that is spacious enough to operate under social distancing rules, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pub on the Park
A favourite with bigger groups before the lockdown, there are fantastic views of London Fields to be had from this smart pub garden, which was buzzing when it opened under social distancing last July. If it seems a little busy, grab a takeaway pint and head into the nearby park.
19 Martello St, E8 3PE, pubonthepark.com
The Isle of Dogs is, strangely, something of a no man’s land when in comes to pubs, with only a handful left. Run by the reliably good Hippo Inns, the George is a smart spot with a large conservatory opening onto a large, leafy wooden deck which benefits from being tucked just off the road. The umbrellas come in handy here, no surprise.
114 Glengall Grove, E14 3ND, georgepub.co.uk
The Sun of Camberwell
This pub boasts a big selection of beers, an impressive food menu and – best of all – a lovely big beer garden, which they’ve covered to see off the unpredictable British summer weather. Brixton is spoiled for choice for boozers normally, and this is one of the best.
Coldharbour Lane, SE5 9NS, suncamberwell.com
People’s Park Tavern
One of the biggest and leafiest pub gardens in east London is back in business. Bookings are still available through the summer but if things get too busy, punters can always grab a few takeaway pints and find a spot in Victoria Park next door.
360 Victoria Park Road, E9 7BT, peoplesparktavern.pub
The Red Lion
As well as being one of the nicest boozers in east London, with plenty of great stuff on offer from the kitchen and a good selection of real ales, this smart pub opens up out the back with a spacious courtyard. They’ll open with covers, too, in case of rain.
640 High Road Leytonstone, E11 3AA,theredlionleytonstone.com
Truman’s Social Club
A huge venue that launched last year with the boast of being the“biggest socially distanced pub and garden” in the UK, this one was a hit when it launched just off Blackhorse Lane. Besides Truman’s on draft, the spot serves 20 different beers, with street food on tap too. Keep an eye out for their events schedule, too.
1 Priestley Way, Walthamstow, E17 6AL, trumansbeer.co.uk
The Leyton Star
Come May, enter this characterful local favourite and you’ll see a lovely central bar, with a decent space for drinking and dining. For now, it’s out the back where things comes alive, with a surprisingly spacious paved beer garden with plenty of benches and places to sit out in the sun.
116 High Road Leyton, E15 2BX, leytonstar.co.uk
The Duke of Edinburgh
Tucked away from the main Brixton bustle, this lovely local with a truly enormous garden creates practically rattles with atmosphere. The paved courtyard is wonderfully leafy, and White Men Can’t Jerk are still in residence providing, you guessed it, finely done jerk chicken and other Caribbean-inspired dishes.
204 Ferndale Road, SW9 8AG; dukeofedinburghpub.com
The White Horse
Sitting on the corner of Parsons Green Road, the garden of this buzzing Fulham local is well positioned for sitting and watching the world go by – hence its popularity with the well-heeled residents who gave it its ‘Sloaney Pony’ nickname. It is also renowned for its superb range of 150 bottled and 20 draft beers.
1-3 Parson’s Green, SW6 4UL, whitehorsesw6.com
The Hope and Anchor
Brixton clearly is full to bursting with top beer gardens, and the Hope and Anchor is no exception. This one is a beautiful spot – the hanging flowers and fairy-lights see to that – and has a reputation as one for a Prosecco-fuelled party. The outdoor cabins help when the heavens open.
123 Acre Lane, SW2 5UA, hopeandanchorbrixton.co.uk
The Crabtree Tavern
Sitting on the stretch of river between Hammersmith and Putney bridges, this grand Victorian pub has several outdoor spaces, and views across the Thames to Barnes and the London Wetland Centre. Try and grab the seats under the weeping willow and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the rowers breaking a sweat on the water. A personal favourite.
Rainville Road, W6 9HA, thecrabtreew6.co.uk
The White Swan
It’s one of the most idyllic places in London, andone of our favourite pubs in the capital. The outdoor veranda and sitting areas feel like a different world to the busy city, and they’re some of the best places to spend a summer afternoon. You’ll probably be lucky to get a spot, though.
Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DN, whiteswantwickenham.co.uk
The White Hart
Another gem in the Antic pub chain roster – who also own the Sun of Camberwell, above – The White Hart is an unsung favourite in Stoke Newington. The massive pub garden is a sun-trap packed with inviting tables. The food here is decent, too.
69 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 8EL, whitehartstokenewington.com
It’s probably one of the most versatile venues in the city, the Prince’s pretty dining room can be transformed into a huge beer garden with a retractable roof at this popular spot in Earl’s Court. Expect it to be packed.
14 Lillie Road, SW6 1TT, theprincelondon.com
Found right in the middle of one of the most tourist-friendly areas of London, this pub on Bankside – a few minutes from Borough Market and the Globe – is blessed with plenty of space outside the front. Ideal for a pint or two right by the Thames, and walk-ins are welcome.
34 Park St, SE1 9EF, greeneking-pubs.co.uk
The Duke of Hamilton
Found a short walk in the direction of the heath from Hampstead station, this charming pub is one to make a trip for in north west London. The front garden has a limit of 25 people and the back garden has a capacity of 40, so the landlords are asking customers to book ahead, though walk-ins will be permitted. A new awning has been added in case of bad weather.
23-25 New End, NW3 1JD, thedukeofhamiltonnw3.com
This Shepherd’s Bush pub is all about the snazzy garden, which makes for one of the best outdoor pub spaces in west London. It’s huge, with plenty of comfy chairs and its own bar, and the entire space is covered and filled with heaters, too.
215 Askew Road, W12 9AZ, theeaglew12.co.uk
The Canonbury Tavern
Historic Islington pub the Canonbury is worth a visit all year round, but the garden helps it come into its own in the summer. It was also one of the pubs frequented by George Orwell, who wrote parts of 1984 while sitting in the garden back in the Forties.
21 Canonbury Place, N1 2NS, thecanonbury.co.uk
A Balham Hill stalwart, the Avalon caters for long leisurely lunches and big groups, and is family friendly to boot. It boasts not one but three outdoor spaces, made up of a courtyard, a terrace, and a beautiful main garden. A local favourite for good reason.
16 Balham Hill, SW12 9EB, theavalonlondon.com
Afternoons easily slip into long evenings at this lovely little bolthole, tucked away behind Mornington Crescent. It has a good-sized garden covered in welcoming foliage, with the added bonus of a convenient mini-marquee, heaters and fairy lights for when the evening chill descends.
57 Mornington Terrace, NW1 7RU, edinborocastlepub.co.uk