Drinking in pubs is a joy for many, and there are few places better to grab a pint than London.
A new book, Great Pubs of London — written by George Dailey and distributed by Prestel Publishing — provides a guide to the best places to drink across the pond. Great Pubs of London was released in November with a price of $25 — a great gift for those with friends looking to go overseas.
The 240-page book features photos (by George Dailey’s daughter, Charlie Dailey) of the gorgeous pubs spread across London, as well as historical tidbits to keep it interesting. The tome even comes with a foreword by the great Sir Ian McKellen.
Here are a few of the bars Dailey details in depth. If, by the end of it, you’re not planning a trip to London (or at least your local watering hole), maybe give it another read through.
Cittie of Yorke
Owned by Samuel Smith Brewery, the Cittie of Yorke is a renovated pub with roots back to the 1400s. If the rumors are true, Dailey writes that it would make the Cittie of Yorke the oldest pub in the city. However, it was not always a alcohol-serving establishment; the building it is housed in once contained a coffee house. The bar is full of ornate wood ornaments and warm light, as well as a triangle fireplace in the middle of the taproom.
Built in 1875, The Blackfriar greets patrons with a high, arched mosaic ceiling replete with marble columns. “Historians will tell you it is the finest pub interior anywhere in London,” Dailey writes. The pub is built on the site of London’s Dominican friary, and the bar is full of artistic depictions of the friars performing a variety of activities.
The Prospect of Whitby
Few places can date back as far as The Prospect of Whitby. Originally named The Pelican and built as a wood building around 1520, it is speculated that many great historical personalities have downed a drink while at this pub. Dailey writes that enjoying a pint at the first-level, pewter-topped bar “alone is worth the visit.” Once a home to cockfights and bare-knuckle fights, this place is also know for attracting artists and sailors.
The George Inn
There’s only one pub that can claim to have Charles Dickens’ life insurance policy on the wall: The George Inn. Dickens was a regular at the bar, which was a welcome sight for many people because it was near the London Bridge — the only bridge across the Thames at the time. Much of the pub is the same as it was when it was built in 1679, meaning the (likely creaky) wood seats once sat in by Dickens and other great writers can be sat in today. (Think of the Insta-likes you’ll get!)
Sitting on a site that’s hosted several pubs since 1550, The Mayflower garnered its name because of its connection to the Pilgrims, who made their initial trek to North America just steps from the building. The historic voyage was paid tribute when the pub was renamed The Mayflower in 1957. Any patron who can provide proof of a relation to a Mayflower passenger is allowed to sign a “descendants book” and, according to Dailey, a “bonanza” is planned for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s trip (that’d be 2020, in case you were curious). Also serving as a maritime post office of the time, The Mayflower is still one of the few places one can find English and American stamps.
If you’re planning a trip to London, went a decade ago and miss the scene, or just want a really pretty coffee table book about booze, then Great Pubs of London is for you. Need to find a way to London? This jet will get you there in three hours.