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The Strand pubs

Generous promenade that once marked the river's edge, but is now a home to top hotels, theatres and dodgy restaurants. Bookended by Trafalgar Square and Aldwych, with Covent Garden not far away, the Strand still retains some of its fin-de-siecle glamour.

The Coal Hole, 91-92 The Strand, WC2R 0DW
The pub's location, on the main drag and embedded in the corner of the Savoy Hotel building make this a very popular venue. The name is said to derive from the fact that this used to be the place where the hotel stored all its coal and it must have taken a heck of a lot of the black stuff to heat the place in the old days judging by the size of the pub. It is certainly spacious, but soon gets rammed full on most evenings with office workers, tourists and people after a cheeky one before going to the local theatres. Its popularity is understandable as being a Nicholson's pub it serves an excellent range of ales and has plenty of character including decorative friezes, tapestries and lots of wood. Unfortunately there were some signs the pub was becoming a victim of its own success on our visit. Firstly, the standing room required to drink your pint is extremely confined due to the volume of people, secondly the sit-down toilet was out of order and finally there was a strong smell of vomit emanating from the fireplace. This combined with the suspect-looking residue on the fire grate made our visit less pleasant than it ought to have been. Standards have clearly slipped and they need to sort it out.
Reviewed by Paul Melton, Nov 2007
Telephone: 020 7379 9883
The George, 213 Strand, WC2R 1AP
The George, 213 Strand
This attractive pub has its fair share of history. As with many other London pubs it started life as a coffee house, although the present half timbered building only dates back to the late 19th century. There is some uncertainty over the origin of the name. One theory is that the name is derived from the reigning monarch at the time, King George III. However the original owner was also called George and it is likely that the place was named after him instead. Like many other pubs in the area, it is said that Samuel Johnson used to frequent the establishment. At one stage it is said that he even used the place as his postal address for a short time. No historically rich pub is complete without a ghost and it is said that a spectral cavalier wanders the cellar. As you sit and enjoy a drink here, the sumptuous wood panelled walls make it feel older than its true age. Nowadays the pub is run by Nicholsons and the beer is up to their usual high standards. This review coincided with the post-work rush, but it never got overly crowded. This was a pleasant surprise. At busier times there is a bar available upstairs which may also be hired for functions. It's certainly worth popping in here for a cheeky one (or five) on the way home.
Reviewed by Paul Melton, Mar 2006
Telephone: 020 7427 0941
The Lyceum, 354 The Strand, WC2R 0HS
The Lyceum, 354 The Strand
The best pub on the Strand (although that's not difficult). Booths downstairs for hiding in, and a sumptuous leather and wooden upstairs for showing off in. As it only serves Samuel Smith's beer, it can cause occasional consternation (especially amongst stout drinkers).
Reviewed by Fred Flange
Telephone: 020 7836 7155
Nell Gwynne, 1-2 Bull Inn Court (off Strand), WC2R 0NP
Tucked away in an alley off the busy Strand this place is easily missed. Named after the Merry Monarch's most famous mistress, this pub must be the smallest in London. If there is half a dozen people in here it feels full. Worth a vist just for the sheer novelty of it.
Reviewed by Paul Melton, Nov 2003
Telephone: 020 7240 5579
The Savoy Tup, 2 Savoy Street, WC2R 0BA
A popular post work drinking den just off The Strand which is especially popular with recruitment consultants and the odd structural engineer. It serves all the usual corporate stuff, a small selection of ales and some wine which is enough for most people who want to take the edge off a rough day at the office. It can get seriously rammed on Thursday or Friday night. This is fine in the summer as the crowds can spill out onto Savoy Hill. There is an upstairs bar which is sometimes open but only if there isn't a private party going on.
Reviewed by Paul Melton, Nov 2011
Telephone: 020 7836 9738
The Wellington, 351 The Strand, WC2R 0HS
I gaze slack-jawed at the crowd spilling out onto the pavement beside the pub. Apparently it is only Tuesday. Despite the crowds I propel myself bar-wards with surprising ease. The choice of beer on offer is good as befits its status as a Nicholson’s pub and the bar staff seemed to cope quite well despite the throng. It’s pricey, but not as bad as I had been warned. Surprise, surprise there is nowhere to stand let alone sit either inside or out and given the howling gale I am not tempted to try the second option. I chose instead to cram myself between a fat man in a suit and the cigarette machine. I stand, pint in hand and marvel at the steady tide of people flowing into the pub: office workers, tourists, theatre go-ers and more tourists. The tourists are the type that are in search of that authentic British pub experience, yet can’t be arsed to look beyond the main drag. I feel the oxygen being squeezed out of my lungs as more and more people pile in and fill the remaining voids. Feeling like an antelope being hugged by a python, I down my pint and leave. As I leave I notice the Lyceum Tavern just two doors away and enter confident in the knowledge that I am going into a better pub.
Reviewed by Paul Melton, Mar 2008
Telephone: 020 7557 9881

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