There is plenty to see and do in London, and with hundreds of pubs and cafés round every corner, you're never far from a cosy place to rest your feet after a long day of sightseeing. But did you know most of these pubs have their own unique, fascinating history? We were off to find out by joining the Walking Pub Tour Of London, organised by the brilliant Mind The Gap Tours.
Meeting at London Bridge station, 14 of us were guided along a short walk to our first pub. Our tour guide, George, was thoroughly knowledgeable and gave us a delightfully enthusiastic history of iconic London landmarks on the way.
The first pub on the tour was The George, and I was astounded by the size of it. The George was in an ideal location just off Borough Market, and the ales were divine! I sampled two of the IPA's; my favourite being the Goose Island which had a refreshing fruity twist. Finishing our pints we headed to the next pub.
George continued to divulge us in unique facts about London as we headed towards the Thames. We walked across the infamous 'Harry Potter' bridge (AKA the Millennium Bridge) and I happened to notice everyone taking pictures of their feet... Or were they? Looking closer, there were tiny paintings on the ground! George informed us that it was the work of Ben Wilson, an artist who simply paints chewing gum he finds on the ground. He avoids doing anything illegal by painting on top of litter which is already there - very clever!
The next pub we went to had my favourite name – The Cockpit. George informed us it was called this colourful name because there used to be cock and dog fighting matches around the area in the 17th century. The pub was very 70's authentic; you could almost see the cigarette smoke still floating around the red-velvet seats. Fun fact – Shakespeare used to live upstairs! Following The Cockpit, we headed to The Blackfriars, one of the first Art Nouveau pubs in London. The dining room was ecclesiastical in design, it was absolutely beautiful - and the drinks were good too!
Afterwards, we headed to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese that was just incredibly unique – to a non-Londoner anyway. Those who are over 5ft 5" might struggle a bit with the stairs, but it's definitely worth it. Considering we were sat in what was essentially the cellar, it was lovely and warm.
The next pub on the tour was called The Seven Stars and was dramatically busier than the others, mostly because we were approaching after-work hours. George informed us that the owner, Roxy Beaujolais, was cat-crazy – he wasn't wrong. The first thing I noticed was a beautiful black and white cat taking up a whole chair with about 30 other people standing around! It had a ruff around its neck, which made it only more adorable! But enough about the cat. This pub was considerably smaller than the other pubs we had visited but had a bubbly and lively atmosphere. We could have continued on to a couple more pubs, however time was a restriction for us, so our pub adventure had to unfortunately end there.
The London Pub Tour is an exciting way to explore London, passing many historical elements and guided by an incredibly enthusiastic tour guide. It was a truly enjoyable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. If local, it is a brilliant way of getting to know the pubs around you! If you're a tourist, it is a unique experience of London which gives you the freedom to wander about the pubs, perfectly combining educational elements with social frivolity - and of course a lot of drinking!
Check out the video here!
*Tour has been updated since the blog was originally published.*