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A visit to London just isn't complete without a drink – a pint ideally – in a traditional pub. The following are some of the best around.
You can hear the crowd of drinkers that congregates outside The Lamb and Flag long before you turn the corner into the Covent Garden alley the pub calls home. From the narrow downstairs snug, a rickety staircase leads up to a dining room-style first floor with comfy leather banquette seating. As well as a range of beers and ales on tap, there are a large number of whiskies to choose from, making this a cosy place for a warming winter tipple.
City of London
The most impressive feature of Fleet Street drinking den Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet Street; 020 7353 6170) is probably its vaulted cellars, but the higgledy-piggledy corridors, ancient panelling and snug sittings rooms are worth a mention too. Rebuilt just after the Great Fire of London, the pub boasts a remarkable roster of literary patrons, including Charles Dickens and Y.B. Yeats.
The Spaniard's Inn is the perfect place for a pick-me-up after a long walk on nearby Hampstead Heath. It's one of London's oldest pubs, dating back to the 16th century. The wood-panelled interior has a homely feel, or you can relax in the sunshine in the enormous beer garden.
Tucked away down an unremarkable looking Southwark side street, The Boot and Flogger (10-20 Redcross Way; 020 7407 1184) is the sort of place you don't find unless you're looking for it. Some might argue that Southwark is in central rather than South London, but as this eccentric place is a true hidden gem and it's technically south of the river, I'm including it here. The abundance of wooden barrels behind the bar evoke The Boot and Flogger's past as a wine merchant, as do the range of wines on offer by the glass.
The Dove manages to combine trendiness with traditional charm, its exciting international beer offering and cool staff making a nice contrast to the old school interior – all dark wood and nooks and crannies. There's no garden but drinkers spill out onto the pavement of Broadway Market all year round. Punters playing board games make for a convivial atmosphere.
The grandparents of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill used to frequent this Kensington pub, which was renamed in his honour after the end of the war and is now full of fascinating Churchill memorabilia. Dozens of hanging baskets adorn the exterior of The Churchill Arms, creating a blaze of color on the corner of picturesque Kensington Church Street.