Starting our round-up of the pubs with the best beer gardens in London is this Clapham favourite - which actually has not one, but three outdoor drinking areas. Part of the Renaissance Pubs empire, the Avalon has a front and side terrace for barbecues and a huge beer garden around the back (complete with novelty fountain) which is open throughout the summer from April to October. Smokers will be pleased too - there's an outdoor heated area for them to chuff away in through the winter. Indoor, it's atypical gastropub glitz with bespoke chandeliers, leather banquettes, a stag's head, huge bespoke Victorian mirror taking up the back wall of the dining room and Victorian newspaper illustrations within the white tiled walls. The selection of real ales is impressive - including Wandle, Timothy Taylor and Doom Bar - and the summer cocktail list is not bad either. Food highlights include the Wright's Brother's oysters, traditional roasts with all the trimmings, steak (hung in-house) with hand-cut chips and béarnaise sauce, and a 10-hour slow cook lamb shoulder with anchovy and caper sauce, and the apple and blackberry crumble with cinnamon ice cream.
London's Best Beer Gardens
Clapham favourite boasting three outdoor areas for summer drinking
16 Balham Hill, South Clapham, London, SW12 9EB
Tube: Clapham South Station
Haven of calm off the beaten track in Islington
10 Thornhill Road, Islington, London, N1 1HW
Tube: Angel Station
Tucked away in the heart of Georgian splendour that is tranquil Barnsbury - and seemingly far from the hustle bustle of Islington's cosmopolitan Upper Street - The Albion is a bastion of British pub gloriousness. Even on a wet, winter's day, there's enough to keep you coming back: creaking wood floorboards and faithfully restored panelled interiors with nooks and crannies galore, a great selection of beers and ales on tap, a punchy wine list and delicious fare coming from the kitchen (The Albion is a previous winner of the Observer's best Sunday roast award). But in the summer, the French windows open onto over 450 square metres of wisteria-filled English country garden boasting 20 tables, a covered veranda and lots of stone furniture (the beer garden closes at 10pm). The pub's in a miraculously quiet spot and so even if the back garden is too busy, you might bag one of the picnic benches out front alongside the sleepy Thornhill Road. If you catch The Albion when it's not too busy, this is one of the nicest places in the area for a summer drink.
Old school boozer with superb views over the Thames
108 Wapping High Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1W 2NE
The real magic of Wapping's riverside Captain Kidd pub is outside on the L-shaped patio. The Thames is rather narrow here and so the action seems all that closer as the water laps against the moored ships and the setting sun is reflected off the mirror-like walls of nearby Canary Wharf. If you ever get the chance to be here when it's not busy, you'll be amazed with the tranquillity of it all - it really is a breath-taking place to enjoy some summer night pints. As a Samuel Smith establishment the choice in beers, lagers, ales, cider and wine is naturally rather limited, but prices are ridiculously low, making up for the lack of variety. Bar food is rather stodgy and simple (nothing costs more than a tenner) but if you want something a bit more upmarket, head upstairs to The Gallows restaurant. If the terrace gets too busy, do take care because there's nothing but a small, low wall separating customers from a dicey drop into the Thames. While the Captain Kidd does not seem like much from outside - there is but a dainty sign hanging above a doorway and a small courtyard to be traversed before you enter the threshold - do persist because the exposed brick warehouse-style interior is quite something, and a trip through to the riverside terrace is a must for anyone living in or visiting London - especially if you've passed the pub before on a boat to or from Greenwich.
Arguably the best riverside terrace in southwest London
Rainville Road, Fulham, London, W6 9HA
Tube: Baron's Court Station
A welcome addition to the riverside pub scene between Fulham and Hammersmith is the newly renovated iconic Victorian pub the Crabtree Tavern. In the summer, it's a delight, with its huge, verdant beer garden, outdoor BBQ and prime spot beside a small cove in the shade of an elegant weeping willow. Inside, the place has been given a smart sprucing up, maintaining its previous elegance while adding some edginess (non-matching lampshades) and much comfort (deep armchairs and soft cushions). The sheer size of the main room can make it seem rather empty in the cold, wet, winter months - but service is friendly, there's a good selection of beers on tap and wines in the cellar, the facilities are clean and it's all very warm and welcoming. Food is high-end gastro fare with a constantly changing seasonal menu. The Crabtree has proved a popular spot for spectators of the annual Boat Race, as well as cultured football fans on their way to Fulham matches at Craven Cottage. In the summer, the beer garden acts as the ideal pit-stop if you're ambling down the river towards Hammersmith or Bishops Park.
226 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
After serving two queens and a king, surviving The Blitz and enjoying a period as a notorious strip club, The Crown and Shuttle sadly closed its doors. Now, twelve years later, the much-loved venue has been given a new lease of life - and a new lick of paint - and reopened its door to the public. With the interior and garden designed by local scenery and paint effects specialist Aimee Paton, the pub now has exposed brick walls, inviting fuchsia chairs, mismatched furniture and, as described by the pub itself, a bloody lovely garden. There are also some quirky hidden features: if you look closely at those rustic walls in the back bar, you'll notice they are not as they seem and the doors around the garden walls are actually folly. The garden is so large it holds a shuttle bus which serves street food style food from its wood burning oven, and boasts table football and a ping pong table. Diners can choose from spicy pork ribs, chicken wings, scampi and the pub's homemade wheat beer and poppy seed flat bread, which has a number of topping options. While the drinks menu provides a vast selection of tap, cask and bottle beers, spirits and wines.
Behemoth of a beer garden with BBQs and DJs in Brixton
204 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London, SW9 8AG
Tube: Brixton Station
Inside, this Brixton boozer it's a fairly traditional wooden affair with some tidy long tables and sink-into-me armchairs. Weekend nights see DJs perking up clusters of young ones, office workers and locals - but the real draw though is the absolutely MASSIVE beer garden. Crammed with wooden tables and hay bales, peppered with leafy trees and seething with youngsters, the Duke of Edinburgh is a real crowd-puller in the summer months. There are heaps of gas heaters scattered across the garden and every weekend the sweet smell of sausages sizzling on the pub's BBQ pervades the air. On balmy nights, it really is a great place to chat to your mates, sink a pint or two and soak up the infectious summer buzz.
If Carlsberg made beer gardens...
215 Askew Road, London, W12 9AZ
Tube: Ravenscourt Park Station
The home of one of west London's finest beer gardens, The Eagle has had an amusingly potty redesign by Geronimo Inns that has turned a shabby old Shepherd's Bush boozer into a riot of odd sculptures, patterned wallpaper and funky mood lighting. It works surprisingly well, with a cheery but still pub-like atmosphere, and a lovely terrace (heated, covered and complete with striking cast-iron railings and giant Victorian lanterns) overlooking the trim garden. Here there remains a small grass lawn at the end of a wood-decked area covered in the odd pine table and the latest in contemporary outdoor furniture, including a trio of specially made tables which rock back and forth without spilling your pints. Unfortunately, the outdoor area - which is clearly the pub's trump card - closes at 10pm. But if the outstanding beer garden wasn't enough to bring you to an up-and-coming strip of Askew Road that also includes a Ginger Pig butcher, then an excellent bar menu (well-presented, tasty gastropub fare, if a little expensive), an interesting wine list, a decent selection of beers and a slightly quirky atmosphere should do the trick.
Party vibe, shabby sofas, beer garden buzz in Camden
56 Mornington Terrace, Camden Town, London, NW1 7RT
The large beer garden at the Edinboro Castle - big enough to accommodate 200 people - is the main draw here and makes this pub something of a Camden institution. The concreted garden and wooden tables are quickly filled as soon as the sun comes out (despite the location sandwiched between the congested Delancey Street and noisy train tracks). Packed with trendy twenty-something Camdenites who flock here in large numbers to show off their skinny jeans while sharing a post-work drink on a summer's evening, the place has a buzzing, party vibe. In the colder months it's less hectic and the smaller inside space, decorated with shabby gilt-framed mirrors and worn sofas, provides a good place to get a drink. Do make sure you're not in a hurry though - service can be painfully slow unless you're the drummer in a local indie band.
Village charm, BBQs and outdoor heaters in Highgate
77 Highgate West Hill, London, N6 6BU
Tube: Highgate Station
One of the cute villages lost to London's urban sprawl, Highgate does at least retain a modicum of rustic charm, community atmosphere and a fine local boozer. The Flask is one of the original village buildings and still the hub of social activity for local residents. The beautiful building which dates back to the early 18th century has all the low ceilings, wooden floors, panelling and small interconnecting rooms you could want. It might not be as olde worlde as it once was - sturdy wooden tables and chairs have given way to low tables and leather sofas - but it still has a pleasant, traditional air about it. This all becomes totally irrelevant in the summer as customers shift outside into the large, attractive beer garden which comes complete with a handy undercover heated area. Getting a table can be troublesome but, fear not, the surplus spills innocuously out over the road onto the grassy knoll opposite. And as of last year, a new outside bar serving classics such as Sol, Bulmers, Peroni and Pimm's means you don't have to head indoors to order your beverages. There's also a new barbeque with sizzling sausages and meaty burgers to fill the gap between pint number one and a night on the town. So if you fancy a bit of village ambience without having to leave the capital, head to north London's next best thing.
Gateway to Hampstead Heath has a suitably large outdoor drinking area
14 South End Road, London, NW3 2QE
Tube: Belsize Park Station
A short two-minute walk from Hampstead Heath, the Garden Gate is a big venue with a lively vibe and a hugely impressive beer garden - its crowning glory. Pretty pot plants, trellises, sofas and plenty of covered areas make this outdoor space exceptionally popular. In summer they've usually got the barbeque cranked up and popping out well-received charcoal-encrusted fare accompanied by tasty extras - grilled halloumi, tabouleh and salads. Inside it's fairly formulaic in terms of decor - sofas, wooden floors, low lighting, lower tables - but perfectly nice. Throughout the days it welcomes a mixed clientele, from heath dog-walkers to canoodling couples and buzzing, up-for-it groups. It comes into its own in the summer but is still a safe bet throughout the rest of the year.
Mock Tudor facade, a view of the river and village cricket in Kew
82 Kew Green, Richmond, London, TW9 3AP
Tube: Kew Gardens Station
Kew in the summertime is pretty special - and not only for the Royal Botanical Gardens and the delightful Thames Path. Back open after a period of up-in-the-air ambiguity is The Greyhound pub on Kew Green, the smallest of the three or four pubs dotted around the green but perhaps the best. The place was going through a rough patch before closing its doors in 2009. Having reopened under the old ownership, the Greyhound has been subject to a much-needed sprucing up. With a much-improved menu, it's now made the successful step up to gastropub status - but without marginalising the casual beer drinker (there are four cask conditioned ales on tap including new guest ales each month). There's a fair sized beer garden around the back (covered and heated in the winter) which is used for BBQs in the summer. A much better option, however, is taking out your drinks and sitting out the front of the mock Tudor exterior on the edge of the Green. If you fancy getting closer to the cricket pitch on the weekends then cross Kew Bridge Road and try the nearby Rose and Crown pub. All in all, if the sun's out Kew Green is a splendid area to while away the hours.
Get that upmarket village pub feel in Wimbledon
6 Crooked Billet, Wimbledon Common, London, SW19 4RQ
Tube: Wimbledon Station
In the warm summer months faithful punters from the Hand in Hand buy their pints before crossing the road to drink on the large swathe of grass or under the shady trees of Wimbledon Common. Like the neighbouring Crooked Billet pub, this unpretentious, rustic public house is run by Young's the brewery and is ever popular with both locals and transient passers-by. In fact, it's such an experience that people come from all over London to have a drink here in the heart of Wimbledon Village. The setting and ambiance is why people keep returning: the cosy, low-ceilinged rooms are an ideal haven in the winter months, while in the summer, beside the common, there's a charming courtyard for al fresco drinking. Staff are welcoming, pub grub is honest (speciality pies are scrummy) and there's a strong selection of beers, ales and wine. There's even a range of entertainment evenings, including Monday night poker. During Wimbledon fortnight it is known to bring in some of the big-wig presenters from the BBC as well as up to 300 tennis aficionados. It really is ace.
Lavish beer garden designed with children (and their parents) in mind
538 Garratt Lane, , London, SW17 0NY
Tube: Wimbledon Park Station
Out of the way, way down south in Earlsfied, the Leather Bottle is a gem not often visited by people not from the area. Those coming from further afield, however, won't be disappointed. The 18th-century building is still in amazingly good nick, replete with iron hoops outside to tether your horse. The Leather Bottle was once a village pub for the hamlet of Garrat, before it was swallowed up by London's middle-aged spread. Now it's a beacon of that rural past in swathes of surburbia. Inside the low-ceilings, stuffed animals and fireplaces add to the rustic charm. Naturally, in the summertime everyone with an ounce of sense will be heading outdoors and here the Leather Boot holds a trump card. The spacious beer garden is equipped with a barbeque which rarely stops grilling burgers and sausages, as well as a handy outside bar so you don't have to miss a minute of sunshine. There are plenty of tables - plus a whole area designed to keep the kids happy - with a sand pit and various other playground toys. There's even a row of sheltered wooden huts to escape into if the rain comes down.
Cool music, a canopied roof terrace and leather banquettes in Camden
35 Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AJ
Tube: Chalk Farm Station
Camden's Lock Tavern has become the mainstay setting for summer celebrations and merriment. Punters can guzzle cold beer on the cobbled stones of the beer garden or sip Pimm's up on the canopied roof terrace. A few years ago, it was nothing but a dingy little hovel. Under the watchful eye of its proprietor, DJ Jon Carter, the establishment has blossomed into something of a super-pub. Inside, it's spacious and stylishly furnished with polished leather banquettes and swivel armchairs. Effortlessly cool, fiercely independent, and infectiously laid back, it attracts a rather friendly, jovial sort who loyally pile in every weekend. Unsurprisingly, the music is staunchly good and summer Sundays traditionally kick into gear early with the hedonistic Sunday Best parties. Cheap food and booze are available all day and there's a hugely appetizing pub BBQ as afternoon sessions regularly attract an appreciative crowd.
Events at The Lock Tavern
Saturday 8th March 2014 - 8.30pm-1am | Free
Sunday 9th March 2014 - 8pm | Free
Thursday 13th March 2014 - 8pm | Free
The alternative four-piece performs. With support from Dios Mio, Ijomojo and Adam Cleaver.
Friday 14th March 2014 - 8pm | Free
Gaz Diabloz plays music from the 1960s, indie, soul and Motown.
Saturday 15th March 2014 - 8pm | Free
Resident DJs play house and disco.
Hammersmith heavyweight presiding over the Thames
25 Upper Mall, London, W6 9TD
Tube: Ravenscourt Park Station
It may get a lot of bad press for being an over-expensive gentrified gastropub whose main heartbeat is rowing and the Boat Race, but there's no denying that the terrace of The Old Ship overlooking the Thames is a rather magical place to enjoy a pint of a summer's afternoon. Those lucky enough to get a table on the outdoor terrace or on the first floor balcony will not rue their decision to walk down to this tranquil stretch of the river beyond Hammersmith Bridge. But fear not if you can't get a perch for there's a public path in front of the pub onto which sun-seeking drinkers flow and gather. In fact, if you're really hard-up there's no stopping you bringing your own booze and drinking it by the wall overlooking the river - you'll just feel a bit of a cheapskate and won't benefit from the wonders of ice. Due to its immense popularity, fine setting and summer BBQ, The Old Ship can get rammed in the summer so if you don't fancy waiting an eternity for a beverage, you could try one of the other riverside pubs in the area, such as the much-feted Dove - which would make this list, were it not for its meagre outdoor area.
Art, outdoor terrace, bits 'n' bobs and beer in Camden
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, London, NW1 8AH
Tube: Chalk Farm Station
Located in a 200-year-old Grade II listed horse hospital, Proud Camden certainly has a bit of history. Since a refurb, the place, a photography gallery by day, has fast become one of Camden's most popular live music venues, with gigs each night seeing Proud build up a cult following and several celebrity fans. The outdoor terrace café offers guests the chance to escape the indoor gig madness and take in the epic views over the Camden rooftops as the sun sets on a summer's evening. Peppered with deck chairs, there's a Glastonburyish vibe going on - and it's a welcome change to many of the more run-of-the-mill beer gardens in town. Inside, there's lots of weird art and bits 'n' bobs strewn around the whole place, the photography on the walls is pretty cool (and you can buy it if you have a hundred quid burning a hole in your pocket), and there aren't too many glassy-eyed celeb-spotters frantically trying to decide if you're the bassist from Friendly Fires. The re-opened Hawley Arms over the road may have got the young locals excited again - but roof terrace of Amy Winehouse's former drinking den is terrible cramped in comparison to that of Proud Camden, which is reeling in the punters.
Events at Proud Camden
Saturday 8th March 2014 | phone for prices
Scottish-born indie-rock and pop singer-songwriter and guitarist currently located in Leeds.
Saturday 8th March 2014 | £10, adv £5, Free before 9pm
Resident DJs play house, funky disco and R&B.
2nd November 2013 to 30th March 2014 | phone for prices
Sunday 9th March 2014 - 12noon | Free
A chance to enjoy a relaxing meal and watch sports on television, plus DJs. Live music provided by Tina Toplak, Rabbit Foot Spasm Band and The Ralph Wyld Band.
9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th Mar 2014 - 7pm-1am | Free
House music courtesy of Freight Train, Lazune and J Kid.
Monday 10th March 2014 - 7pm | Free
Guest acts take to the stage for an evening of laughter.
3rd February to 26th May 2014 - 6.30pm-12midnight | Free
Decking, park setting, football screens and family-friendly pub near London Fields
19 Martello Street, Hackney, London, E8 3PE
Tube: Bethnal Green Station
Perched overlooking London Fields this is one of the finest pubs in the East in which to spend a summer's afternoon. Outside the Pub on the Park there's a large section of decking and plenty of tables where you can catch some rays and admire activity taking place in the park opposite (cricket matches are a regular feature in summer months). If there's no room on the decking, the bar staff are happy to pop your pint in plastic so you can wander off into the park. The pub houses a healthy mix of people ranging from young families and locals who've been there for years to the new generation of Hackney's young professionals. The assortment of beers reflects this with a blend of well-kept traditional bitters, run-of-the-mill lagers and nouveau Belgian brews. The interior of the restored Victorian building is smart and simple. The landlord is a football fanatic, which means there are a few screens for fellow fans. A chilled-out, well-balanced boozer - although complaints have been made recently about the poor service.
Events at Pub on the Park
Tuesday 1st April 2014 - 7.30pm-10.45pm | Free
Water-side drinks in iconic setting in London's most famous park
Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
Say what you like about the food from its newly transformed restaurant but there's no denying that the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen is an idyllic spot for a drink in the summer. Located on the eastern end of the Serpentine Boating Lake in Hyde Park, the place has a huge outdoor waterside terrace which enables you to sit out in the sun and gaze over the lake towards the Serpentine Bridge as the ducks, geese and swans swim by. As The Sunday Times says, the view is "achingly lovely" and it's an ideal spot for al fresco drinks after work on a summer's evening, or throughout the weekend (perhaps even after a bracing swim in the lido). The restaurant has been revamped by the brothers behind Benugo, serving largely British and seasonal food with Italian touches. There's an ambitious fish and seafood section, with some pizza options as well as British classics, salads and some snacks including a daily roast meat sandwich. You can also have both breakfast and tea as well as lunch and dinner. But it's not for the food that you should come: it's all in the setting. Sit back in a deck chair and enjoy a gin and tonic, glass of wine or cold beer ("proper" brews such as Sharp's Doom Bar and Cornish Coaster stand out from the usual lagers) while taking in the quintessentially London view. There's an outdoor bar too - the Gin Bar - which is run from a matt-grey retro 1940s Citroen H Van. It's pretty much right on the water's edge so you don't even have to venture indoors to top up your glasses.
Ever popular riverside beers and BBQ favourite in Wandsworth - with Pimm's on tap
41 Jew's Row, , London, SW18 1TB
Tube: Putney Bridge Station
Nestled on the edge of the Thames a stone's throw from Wandsworth Bridge and (strategically) just around the corner from Young's brewery, The Ship is often top of people's outdoor drinking lists in southwest London. In fact, it's so popular, The Ship has become something of a Sunday afternoon destination in its own right. With its large decking for up to 400 punters, Pimm's available on tap from one of the outside bars, a humongous barbeque on which sausages are a mere hors d'oeuvre and the prospect of live jazz on Saturday afternoons, The Ship makes up for its slightly salubrious surroundings by ticking all other boxes available. Located seemingly on a slightly industrial no-man's land near the unsightly Wandsworth roundabout and overlooking what could not be described as the prettiest stretch of the Thames, The Ship rides any potential storm by pulling in the crowds, providing everything any customer would want and being generally a place where anyone would happily while away an afternoon. Put simply, it is a welcome enclave of endearment in a carbuncled desert of drab chaos. The outdoor BBQ offers a "pimp your burger" option but really comes into its own by offering king prawns, tuna steaks, monkfish and halibut skewers and surf 'n' turf.
Sip on pints with Turpin's ghost under the shade of a huge cherry tree
Spaniards Road, London, NW3 7JJ
Tube: Golders Green Station
Ideal for alcoholic refreshment after a weekend tramp on Hampstead Heath, the notorious Spaniards Inn dates back to 1585 and is doused in history. But you really not interested in the pub being mentioned in Dickens's The Pickwick Papers or Bram Stoker's Dracula, or the fact that it was an old hideout for the infamous English rogue Dick Turpin. What you really want to know is: how's the beer garden? Exceptional, since you ask. In fact, during the summer months the action seeps from the cavernous crannies indoors and takes place in the extremely large back garden where, under the shade of a majestic vine-entwined cherry tree, a labyrinth of Pimm's-laden tables weaves across a paved terrace, welcoming guests all afternoon and long into the night (when little lights gets the garden glowing). A well-stocked outdoor bar and regular summer barbecues makes this a must-visit watering hole for any discerning Londoners. What's more, the current French publican knows a thing or two about wine - and puts on a special Tuesday evening wine club with bottles from as little as £10.
Pop in for refreshments along one of the prettiest stretches of the Thames
11-13 Thames Road, Chiswick, London, W4 3PL
Tube: Gunnersbury Station
If you find yourself on the pretty Strand-on-the-Green path on the north side of the Thames then you're spoilt for choice with numerous watering holes outside which you can while away the hours besides the river. Walking from Kew Bridge, the first you come to is The Bell and Crown, a Fuller's pub with good, simple food and loads of seating by the river. It's the largest and busiest of the three, but like The Bull's Head, there seems to be a strong emphasis on dining rather than drinking. The latter has a great riverside location, just by the railway bridge and opposite Oliver Island, where Oliver Cromwell once stopped over. It's run by Chef & Brewer and has a real olde worlde pubbe feel to it. While tables are often reserved for diners on the weekend, you can take your drinks and sit on the river bank when the tide is out. The third pub, The City Barge, attracts a fair few tourists and ramblers, but retains the atmosphere of a genuine local pub - probably because it's the most out of the way. There is a glass-roofed conservatory and some tables out in the car park, but this Fuller's pub really comes into its own when you bag one of the dozen riverside tables out the front, a couple of which gather the shade of a sprawling tree. Of all the pubs, The City Barge is the most relaxed and peaceful, really making the most of the exceptionally attractive stretch of the Thames. So sit back, watch the boats go past and make sure you've got some Factor 20 - with the white-washed walls on one side and the water on the other, it's a real sun trap. A new pub menu (which is very appealing and extremely good value for money) features a selection of salads, wraps and burgers, including a tasty vegetarian Red Leicester and spinach burgers.
A massive beer garden is just one of the many things pulling in the punters at this Stokey favourite
69 Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 8EL
Tube: Manor House Station
Stoke Newington's extremely likable White Hart caters for just about anyone, but the unique selling point is the enormous beer garden around the back. More like a mini park, this ramshackle drinking area mixes trees, grass and a terrace, and with ample space, shade and seating, it's a veritable hive of activity during the summer months - especially when a barbeque is fired up and the sun's beating down. Inside, The White Hart is spacious and comfortable, with low-slung sofas and comfy chairs the order of the day (plus pinball, quiz machines, pool and table football). On match day, two big screens show live football and rugby, while on weekend evenings there's a late licence as live DJs and bands play sets. During the week, it's a relaxed neighbourhood pub with a well-stocked bar, the odd comedy and cabaret nights and extremely friendly staff. The Gents (although rather stinky) has a black board and chalk so bursting/relieved chaps can write salacious musings and scribble infantile doodles on the walls. The pub menu is simple, honest and inexpensive, with classic pub grub (including an excellent Sunday roast for under a tenner) favoured over pretentious gastro fare, although a separate restaurant upstairs now caters for those who prefer a proper sit-down meal over bar snacks.
Bustling Parson's Green tribute to fine beer is more than just a haven for Hugos
1-3 Parson's Green, London, SW6 4UL
Tube: Parsons Green Station
It may get bad press for being the "Sloaney Pony" but there's no doubting that the award-winning White Horse is one of London's top boozers. Besides the fact that it's widely considered as the best beer pub in Britain, that its food is delicious and that it boasts a fine Victorian interior that makes you feel like part of a period drama, the real selling point of this Fulham establishment is its large beer garden, which fronts on to Parson's Green and is packed every evening and throughout summer weekends. There are enough tables to ensure that, if you hover long enough, you'll be rewarded at some point with a perch - but as it's set back from the pavement, drinkers can gather as they will, pint in hand, and chatter away about polo, hunting, the latest in Barbour fashion - you name it. Depending on the weather, a huge barbeque grills sausages, burgers and steak for ravenous Ruperts, wafting its ambrosial aroma around the whole of this delightful corner of SW6. Despite its reputation as a Sloane shelter, the clientele is often quite eclectic - from 18-year-old students in mufty to 80-year-old pensioners in tweed, from football-shirted Fulham or Chelsea fans to your fair share of Hooray Henrys in their whites following a spot of tennis at the Hurlingham.
Winding lanes, waterside drinks and dramatic island views in Twickenham
Riverside, Twickenham, London, TW1 3DN
Tube: Richmond Station
With probably one of the most idyllic settings of any of London's pubs, the White Swan is well worth a visit if you're in this neck of the woods. On a quiet, winding country lane, right on the edge of the Thames and opposite Twickenham's historic Eel Pie Island, the main body of the pub is elevated to minimise risk of flooding - a steep flight of steps needs to be mounted before you'll stand any chance of ordering a pint. Built in the 17th century the interior remains relatively untouched with lots of wood and open fires. You will, however, notice a somewhat unhealthy proliferation of rugby-oriented memorabilia - a hint towards the pub's support of the game that Twickenham's mammoth stadium has made its own (be warned the place gets understandably packed-out by loud chaps in rugby shirts on match days). Directly outside the pub there's a small veranda, while opposite, across the lane, there's a larger terrace (also owned by the pub) right on the water. Venture here in the summer months and combine your trip with a walk along the river or a visit to nearby Marble Hill House. Prices are said to be significantly higher than other boozers in the area, but there's no doubting the lure of the location and setting which, most would say, warrants the added premium.
Cloistered history, greenery and ivy in Notting Hill
114 Campden Hill Road, Kensington, London, W8 7AR
Built in 1835 and untouched since then, the Windsor Castle is a cavernous pub decked in timber. Inside it's a creaking wooden wonderland, full of cosy alcoves, wooden benches, panelling and hidden rooms. If you're below four foot in height you really have to stoop to access much of the pub because certain compartments are only accessible through tiny, Alice-in-Wonderland-style doors. In many ways the quintessential cosy winter pub, the Windsor Castle's dark and musty interior hides a secret for hidden out the back there's a large, ivy-clad beer garden which, adorned with delicate fairy lights, creates a peaceful idyll on long, warm evenings. Flagged with vast, cool stones and eclipsed by a fabulous plane tree mushrooming out from the centre, the small and shaded beer garden is ideal for those people for whom getting a tan is not the be all and end all of alfresco drinking. If this puts you off, there are a few tables basked in sunlight at the front of the pub, which is located atop the rise just south of Notting Hill. Food is simple and honest - good, solid, high-quality British fare such as sausages, mash, pies, roasts - while there's a good selection of beers and ales on tap, and a roaring trade in large jugs of Pimm's during the summer.
Popular Bermondsey haunt with large garden around the back
98 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB
Tube: London Bridge Station
One of the numerous decent pubs and bars on Bermondsey Street, the Woolpack is always busy - especially in the summer, when crowds flock to populate the dozen or so tables on the leafy outdoor terrace around the back (and adorned with vintage road signs). It's a more relaxed and pubby alternative to The Garrison, the swanky gastro titan opposite, and there's a good selection of beers (including Kirin and Leffe), ales and wines. Downstairs there's a wonderful stone floor and the seating is separated into compartments while the upstairs area has a more of a bar feel to it, with sofas, comfy chairs, a chandelier and TV showing live sport. But it's the beer garden which is the real attraction of The Woolpack, and pulls in the punters during the summer. The kitchen's £10 burger is also popular with the regulars, while the delightful bar girls certainly attract the gaze of much of the male clientele.
8th March 2014
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