Have you explored Paddington Basin yet?
Over the last few months we've brought you glimpses of its amazing bridges, shared Secrets of Paddington station, presented the family-friendly Pawprint Trail, the Paddington Art Trail and the Asian Amble foodie tour. But perhaps you've been holding out, waiting to see how you can discover Paddington through its pubs? Wait no more.
Start: The Royal Exchange, 26 Sale Place W2 1PU
Just a short walk from Edgware Road station, this is a traditional pub in a tranquil street where the landlord will receive you with a warm welcome. The Royal Exchange makes you remember what pubs used to be like — un-renovated and with no gastro-stylings. That said, a tempting pile of pasties was sat in the oven behind the bar when we visited and we're told the Sunday roasts are tasty, and very reasonable. On the bar there's Brakspear Bitter and Greene King IPA on cask, plus a very decent range of the usual tipples. The pub sign features the Shakespearen Richard III quote "A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!", a 'royal exchange' that hadn't occurred to us before.
Walk back towards Praed Street and cross over, entering Paddington Basin. Admire the Fan Bridge as you walk across it. Head left towards Sir Simon Milton's sitting statue and, if you dare, through the Water Maze. Proceed over Thomas Heatherwick's rolling bridge (in its flat state, otherwise you won't get far), past St Mary's on your left and cross the canal at Station Bridge, which takes you into Paddington Station via Platform 8. Say hello to the statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel on your way to The Lawn area and up the escalator. Pick up a Pawprint Trail map in the Paddington Bear Shop before taking another escalator up to the next stop.
Pub two: The Mad Bishop and Bear, 1st Floor Paddington Station W2 1HB
You don't normally expect much from a station pub but The Mad Bishop and Bear has more to recommend it than an interesting name. It's a Fuller's gaff with a selection of interesting ales and lagers and Cornish cider on tap. The pub feeds hordes of rail passengers with scrummy pub food and serves up afternoon tea for just £4.50. It's spacious (it needs to be), bright and grand, harking back to Victorian times and the glory days of the railways.
Once you're suitably quenches, leave the pub behind and head up Platform 1. Beneath the clock you can pose with a bronze Paddington. A bit further along, pause at the affecting statue of the Unknown Soldier (where you can pick up a Paddington Art Trail map) before going up the steps to exit the station and rejoin the canal towpath, heading west. Duck into Sheldon Square to see what's going on in the amphitheatre and spot more public art, including a noticeably blue Paddington Bear. Carry on up the tow path and take in the beauty of Little Venice.
Pub three: The Bridge House, 13 Westbourne Terrace Road W2 6NH
Just to the left of the towpath you'll see The Bridge House, right next to the canal bridge, which looks like a big Edwardian house. Inside it feels like you're in someone's living room and there are quirky décor touches which nod to the theatrics of the Canal Cafe Theatre upstairs, home of the famous, long running NewsRevue. There's a tantalising selection of drinks on tap — we partook of Camden Hells lager and Harviestoun's Afterglow on our visit — and the burger and a drink for £9 deal was tempting. But we had one more pub to visit.
Easy to get to, this one. Cross the bridge, waving at the waterfowl on the way. Turn left and immediate right.
Final pub: The Warwick Castle, Warwick Place W9 2PX
Wood panels, stained glass, marble fireplace and pint jugs, The Warwick Castle is another pub that has resisted modernisation and gastrofication. It even attracts morris men, look! Food and drink are thoroughly decent, what you'd expect from a neighbourhood boozer down a quiet street. A jolly fine place to finish our pub tour of Paddington and just a minute's stroll to Warwick Avenue tube station.
Other watering holes to try in Paddington Basin:
The Grand Union, West End Quay for a menu of 45 cocktails
KUPP, Merchant Square for bottled beers and cocktails
The Union Bar and Grill, Sheldon Square for interesting bottled beers and good lagers on tap
Other ways to explore Paddington:
Foodies: Asian Amble
Families: The Pawprint Trail
Culture seekers: The Public Art Trail