London’s Best Pub Gardens
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
There are few better ways to while away a summer afternoon than relaxing with friends in a pub garden (and your favourite tipple). London is rammed with them but not all beer gardens are equal, so we’ve chosen 20 classic outdoor drinking spots with lots of space to get you started.
The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead
On the edge of Hampstead Heath by an old tollhouse, this pub is one of London’s oldest – and claims the ghosts to go with it. It’s cosy inside, but the vast garden is one of the best around. Lovely and leafy with plenty of seats, it’s like an extension of the Heath. But with beer, Bloody Marys and excellent Sunday roasts to hand.
Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, NW3 7JJ
The Flask, Highgate
The Flask is best known for its historic wonky interiors, resulting from bolting together various bits of building over several centuries. But on summer days the best part is the front garden. Unlike many other pub frontages which look onto roads and leave you with a lungful of diesel along with your pint, The Flask is in a quiet part of Highgate Village and is shielded from the street by a tall hedge. It’s a Fuller’s pub these days, so you know the beer will be decent.
The Flask, 77 Highgate West Hill, N6 6BU
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
This Irish pub expands as you go further back. It finally opens out into a garden that’s not really a garden, more a series of terraces festooned with ivy and flowers. The effect is stunning and it’s a rightly popular place to hang out. There’s a covered area, and watch out for the miniature Moai statues. Drinks are standard and food is Thai, but when you’re in surroundings this crazy-beautiful, who needs anything other than a cold lager and spring rolls?
The Faltering Fullback, 19 Perth Road, N4 3HB
The Edinboro Castle, Camden
There’s space for 300 drinkers in this garden, which on the one hand: fantastic, lots of space. On the other hand, it still gets rammed which means queues at the bar can be epic – even the one that opens outside in summer. Still, it’s a bonny little spot within throwing distance of both Regent’s Park and Camden Town (which explains its popularity), and perhaps best enjoyed while throwing a sickie on a legitimately booked afternoon off work.
The Edinboro Castle, 57 Mornington Terrace, NW1 7RU
The Albion, Islington
Make sure you visit The Albion during wisteria season. The purple blooms hang down through the slats of the garden’s pergola, and while it’s not on a par with Japan’s famous wisteria tunnels, it’s still something to behold. The pub itself is Georgian and its walled garden is charming and peaceful even without the flowers. Food is on the gastro side, and the spirits list is a wonder in itself.
The Albion, 10 Thornhill Road, N1 1HW
The Canonbury Tavern, Islington
This is a pub garden for grown-ups. Rattan furniture, squishy cushions, white sunshade umbrellas – you could be on a veranda in the Riviera, or at the very least enjoying an aperitif at the country home of someone who earns far more than you. But you’re not, you’re in Canonbury. Quaff your Little Bird Gin and tonic and admire the minimalist interior when you go in for the next round.
The Canonbury Tavern, 21 Canonbury Place, N1 2NS
London Apprentice, Isleworth
There’s been a pub on this site since the Tudor period; the current building dates from the early 18th century and comes with a Grade II* listing, now run by Taylor Walker. Its lovely terrace hugs a bend in the Thames, offering an even lovelier view of the river and trees on the other side. It feels like it’s been transplanted from the countryside. We might go so far as to call it bucolic.
London Apprentice, 62 Church Street, TW7 6BG
Drayton Court Hotel, Ealing
This Fuller’s pub claims to have London’s biggest beer garden. It also claims that Ho Chi Minh used to clean its toilets, so make of that what you will. The garden certainly is extensive and includes a children’s playground, ping-pong tables and giant garden games, as well as places to sit and relax. It’s a bit overlooked by houses so not one to get away from it all – take the kids and let them amuse themselves while you have a drink.
The Drayton Court Hotel, 2 The Avenue, W13 8PH
The Marlborough, Richmond
It’s a bit like being in someone’s back garden, this. A big back garden, with lovely rattan furniture, giant Connect Four, blankets, heaters and twinkly lanterns, but a back garden all the same. Possibly it’s to do with the residential area and the general homely atmosphere. Add to that an extensive wine list (as in, more than 50 to choose from) and a serious menu that includes brunch, this might be the best back garden you’ll ever visit.
The Marlborough, 46 Friars Stile Road, TW10 6NQ
The Crabtree, Fulham
Bang on the riverfront between Hammersmith and Putney bridges (it does a big Boat Race party every year), The Crabtree is all about its garden. They’ve even named it: The Orchard. And rightly so. There’s lots of green, including a lovely weeping willow and some wisteria, and decking that goes right up to the water’s edge. A posh outdoor BBQ runs spring to autumn and they put on a hog roast on particularly sunny days.
The Crabtree, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
The Dolphin, Sydenham
This garden used to be the preserve of those ‘in the know’, but now the secret’s out. It’s Tudor-themed, to go with the pub’s frontage (it’s not a Tudor pub, just pretending), all low-rise box hedges, circular seating areas and a pergola. A real oasis, it’s very easy to accidentally spend all day soaking up the rays with a bottle of reasonably priced rosé. The bar’s got an excellent choice of craft beer on tap, too.
The Dolphin, 121 Sydenham Road, SE26 5HB
The Castle, Tooting
Not content with having merely a beer garden, The Castle has built eight little wooden huts, all heated – two of which have their own fires and drinks fridges. If you don’t manage to bag one of those (or have forgotten to reserve one), there are the usual seating options in the open air and beneath a semi-covered patio. Two tanks of fresh Meantime lager sit behind the bar, and the dessert ‘shots’ instead of normal puddings look adorable.
The Castle, 38 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RG
The George, Southwark
There’s a lack of greenery to this pub garden unless you’re counting the lovely hanging baskets, but we couldn’t discount the courtyard of London’s last remaining galleried coaching inn. With a history that goes back to Chaucer – at least – it’s a crooked delight inside but an unbeatable open space for central London. Grab a picnic table, pretend you’ve just stabled the horses and down a flagon of ale.
The George, 75-77 Borough High Street, SE1 1NH
The Duke of Edinburgh, Brixton
You practically need binoculars to see to the other side of this pub garden. Tucked away down a side passage, this vast outdoor space is so unexpected it’s like entering into Narnia. Possibly. With a BBQ pit on weekends, food served out of a wooden hut and pop-up japes like mini crazy golf, we almost don’t need to mention the decent cask ales and comfy sofas inside. But we will, because they’re also important.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 204 Ferndale Road, SW9 8AG
The Ship, Wandsworth
The Ship has managed to pack just about all the various elements of modern London pub gardens into one huge deck. Outside bar? Check. Heated cabins? Check. Riverside view? Check. Covered area? Check. Adjacent cement works? Er, check, but let’s not worry about that. Within sight of Wandsworth Bridge, this place is very popular – particularly when the rugby’s on. Add fresh Meantime lager and a conservatory for when things get really wet and windy and our checklist is complete. Check.
The Ship, 41 Jews Row, SW18 1TB
The Old Brewery, Greenwich
Set in the grounds of Greenwich’s historic Old Royal Naval College, it’s hard to know where the pub terrace ends and the manicured lawns begin. You can see the Thames, the buildings, the grounds, all from the patio – or find a more secluded, hedged spot for some privacy. Despite being a Young’s pub, the emphasis here is on craft beer, cocktails and brunch. A delightful place to spend a sunny afternoon.
The Old Brewery, Pepys Building, Old Royal Naval College, SE10 9LW
Fox on the Hill, Camberwell
Yes, we’re including a Wetherspoons in this list. The beer is good, approved by CAMRA, and very reasonably priced for zone 2. More importantly, there’s a big garden out the front – an old school, grassed over, picnic tabled garden. Oh, and a view over London. Did we mention the view? The view is everything.
Fox on the Hill, 149 Denmark Hill, SE5 8EH
Old George, Bethnal Green
The Old George may be pub chain Antic reaching its peak, by which we mean distressed walls, your granny’s furniture and decorated by having gone to the nearest car boot sale and buying everything in sight. Still, the beer works and there’s a pub cat. The garden is a walled affair with much trailing greenery to soften the vibe, and one of the largest you’ll find in the area.
Old George, 379 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN
People’s Park Tavern, Hackney
Protruding into Victoria Park, this is craft beer heaven. Not only is there a Laine’s microbrewery on site, there are around 70 different beers from all around the world to choose from. But we came here for the garden, didn’t we? As we say, it’s right on the park, with merely a set of railings separating the pub from the rest of it. There are little beach huts for if it rains, and in winter they cover and heat the whole shebang. Ask anyone about London’s best beer gardens and this place will always come up.
People’s Park Tavern, 360 Victoria Park Road, E9 7BT
The Crooked Billet, Clapton
Coming hard and fast on the heels of regeneration, here we have a pub that’s doing its best to respect the local heritage but with its craft beer-on-cask, summer food truck and ping pong, you know you’re in new east London. There are covered booths for chillier days, picnic tables amid the planting for sun lovers and the occasional deckchair for when you want to make like your grandad. The food looks a bit of alright, too.
The Crooked Billet, 84 Upper Clapton Road, E5 9JP