Wetherspoons: love them or hate them, you actually love them. Not only does the prodigious pub chain keep many of the city's historic buildings intact, apparently it does cheap drinks too...
1. The Crosse Keys, The City
A real London flagship, The Crosse Keys on Gracechurch Street sports marbled columns, coffered ceilings, a Victorian Baroque façade and a drinking space large enough to house a whole fleet of Routemasters. It's the kind of place you can lord it up with an actually-affordable glass of vino.
If you're not happy with Wetherspoon converting flashy old banks like this into pubs, know that The Crosse Keys was an ancient coaching tavern, on this spot long before the bank came along.
9 Gracechurch Street, EC3V 0DR
2. The Mossy Well, Muswell Hill
One of the newest additions to the Wetherspoon London dynasty, The Mossy Well dispels the image of manky carpets and sticky tables; it's fair to say this is the London Wetherspoon that looks least like a Wetherspoon. The former Express Dairy has been transformed into a fresh, contemporary space — gastropub meets Antic boozer if you will.
Interestingly, this pub brings the company back to its roots: as Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin explained to us, he set up London's first Wetherspoon in the 80s, just around the corner.
As for the name: not flagrant innuendo, but a nod to the origins of the area's name: Muswell=mossy well.
The Village, 258 Muswell Hill Broadway, N10 3SH
3. The Knights Templar, Chancery Lane
If the wealthy Edwardians who came here to bank could see this place now, they'd probably need a stiff drink. Though the Knights Templar retains its grandiosity (gold-topped columns, palatial ceiling), it's become a boisterous arena of booze. If it's not the City types knocking back lagers, it might be someone celebrating their verdict at the neighbouring Royal Courts of Justice.
Though we rather like the rowdiness, it can be eluded: head to the upstairs balcony, where it's less noisy and there are ample sockets for freelancers. Or grab yourself a cubicle in the decadent toilets.
95 Chancery Lane, WC2A 1DT
4. Hamilton Hall, Liverpool Street
Need a 7am pick-me-up? You won't be alone at Hamilton Hall. In this Wetherspoon that's part of Liverpool Street station, we're reliably informed some City workers keep thirst locked up till lunch, with a breakfast of four or so pints. It's also where travelling football fans drink off pre-match nerves on a Saturday.
Like the Knights Templar, the atmosphere is juxtaposed with aesthetics that wouldn't look out of place in the court of the Sun King (it was a ballroom after all). And it scores top marks for preservation: Wetherpoon tell us this place remained empty for 40 years, and that many of the fittings, now reinstated, had just been left here in bags.
Liverpool Street station, Bishopsgate, EC2M 7PY
5. The Ice Wharf, Camden
If you've got a 'thing' about being seen in a Wetherspoon, The Ice Wharf could solve your problem. Order your drink at the relatively ordinary bar, then distance yourself from it by perching on a lock outside. The downside is that they might make you slurp your pinot grigio from a plastic beaker. If you want to sober up, it's neighbours with one of London's most interesting Starbucks.
Camden Wharf, 28 Jamestown Road, London NW1 7AP
6. The Rocket, Putney
Continuing our theme of boozing by the water, The Rocket in Putney has an outside space overlooking the Thames, and — importantly — Putney Bridge. Like The Ice Wharf, the pub itself isn't all that, so save this one for clement weather. Putney Bridge happens to be the starting point for the Boat Race; if you're banking on a seat for this, get there about a week early.
The Rocket, Putney Wharf Tower, Brewhouse Lane, SW15 2JQ
7. The Capitol, Forest Hill
No prizes for guessing that The Capitol is a former cinema. Making way for the screen is a blockbuster of a bar, selling the usual range of well-kept beers, chilled wines from the tap and so on. OK, so it'd be nicer if this place was restored to an actual cinema (they still have the old seats installed in the higher tier), but this is second best. You'll have to be quick though, as it's one of eight Wetherspoons in London earmarked for sale or closure.
Some of you probably prefer The Coronet in Holloway — another erstwhile Art Deco cinema — which is absolutely fair enough. We tend to avoid The Montagu Pyke, in Charing Cross, which is flooded with tourists.
11-21 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3TW
8. The Rochester Castle, Stoke Newington
Open since 1983, The Rochester Castle is the oldest surviving Wetherspoon pub in London. Although the carpet's been changed a couple of times since then (we hope), it's got that 'classic' Wetherspoon vibe (fruit machines, mixed clientele). It's a favourite of the Wetherspoon founder too — so if you fancy having a beer/Brexit chat with him, your luck could be in.
More than anything, The Rochester Castle completes Stokey's holy triumvirate of great Irish pub (The Auld Shillelagh), great craft beer pub (The Jolly Butcher's) and great Wetherspoon.
145 Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0NY
9. The Ledger Building, West India Quay
While Canary Wharf's nightlife is mostly about shiny new buildings, The Ledger Building (where the ledgers of the West India Docks were kept) is a lovely exception to the rule. The best thing about it is indisputably its large cobblestone terrace, overlooking the moored up boats. Save for the summer.
It's also neighbours with the Museum of London Docklands. Make a day out of it.
4 Hertsmere Road, Poplar, E14 4AL
10. Wetherspoons, Victoria station concourse
In no way helping the Wetherspoon/Wetherspoons/Wetherspoon's debate is this Victoria station boozer, named simply 'Wetherspoons'.
We cannot possibly comment on whether we've used this place more times for a cheap eggs benedict or a free wee (although that's no longer relevant). But truth be told, if you're waiting for a train — or just looking for a decent pint in an area that's hardly flush with affordable bars — this is a fine spot for watching stressed-out commuters scuttle below.
Victoria station, Victoria Street, SW1E 5ND
11. The Beehive, Brixton
Did we hear someone yelp out in incredulousness? We submit that The Beehive is neither one of London's most historic, nor modern, nor spacious, nor comely Wetherspoons. Neither is it a waterfront venue (unless someone's doing something they shouldn't outside). But there's a real atmosphere in here — good, largely. "It's a bit," one Wetherspoon person told us, "like Cheers. Where everyone knows your name."
We might not want to eat dinner here but it's somewhere to order a pint and tune into the surrounding dialogues. Disagree? There's a Craft Beer Co. round the corner. Off you pop.
407-409 Brixton Road, Brixton, SW9 7DG