Our personal pick of the best outdoor drinking spaces in west London.
Leafy west London is home to some of the capital's most remarkable beer gardens. This is the quadrant to drink in if you want to get marooned by the tide (White Swan), sit on a canal towpath (Grand Junction Arms), or enjoy a unique view that contains no other buildings (The Old Orchard). Here, too, you'll find claimants to London's oldest pub (The London Apprentice) and its largest beer garden (Drayton Court Hotel). The remainder of our list might lack curious claims to fame, but they're all top-notch places to visit for an outdoor pint.
So here are 13 of west London's best beer gardens. If we've missed your favourite off this list, then you may well find it over on our map of all London's best beer gardens.
See also: North London's Best Beer Gardens
The Black Lion, Hammersmith
After Wapping, Hammersmith has perhaps the best run of memorable riverside pubs in the capital. The Black Lion marks the westernmost outpost in this string of pearls and — being farthest from the town centre — is often the most relaxed. The pub itself is charming, historic, supposedly haunted and contains a rare skittles alley. But we're here for the beer garden. Set back from the river, it can't boast the same views as the other pubs in this stretch, but it works its magic in other way. The garden manages to feel as cosy as the interior, thanks to a walled perimeter overhung by mature trees. The centrepiece — a unique feature in our experience — is a circular fire pit that adds an orange glow to the yard of an evening. Perfect for telling ghost stories, and the Black Lion has a corker.
The Dove, Hammersmith
Like its namesake bird, the Dove's beer garden is small but perfectly formed. A floral bounty awaits drinkers lucky enough to secure a seat in the riverside garden, with planters and hanging baskets galore. Still scarcer are seats on the upper-level decking, which commands views towards Hammersmith Bridge. The inside of this Fuller's stalwart is also a charmer, with plenty of snug corners and what is reputedly London's smallest bar.
Drayton Court Hotel, Ealing
And now to the other extreme. According to the Fuller's website, this hotel-pub has "the biggest beer garden in London". We'd have to raise an eyebrow at that claim, having seen some behemoths on the edges of London. Judge for yourself with either the online street view, or preferably by paying a visit. Not just noted for its size, the garden also contains a ping pong table, its own bar and various other outdoor games to keep the party swinging.
Duke of Sussex, Chiswick
The Duke of Sussex is a handsome fellow. We're not talking about Harry, but a pub named after his 19th century namesake, which overlooks Acton Green Common. The arts-and-crafts-style building is a pleasure to visit in itself, and the place is particularly noted for its food — but the roomy beer garden is arguably the biggest asset. Plenty of covered and heated tables provide outdoor space even in grotty weather.
The Eagle, Ravenscourt Park
Just off Goldhawk Road, the Eagle of Ravenscourt Park is about as avian a name as you'll find, and the pub's epic beer garden has long been a place to watch the creatures of the sky. The space was recently tarped over to provide rain-proof outdoor seating for the masses, which will either increase or decrease its appeal depending on what you're after. Either way, the cosy beach huts around the perimeter remain a much sought-after option.
Grand Junction Arms, Harlesden/Park Royal
You're spoilt for choice at the Grand Junction. As the name suggestions, the pub nudges up against the Grand Junction Canal and, indeed, spills onto it. A dozen or so tables line an otherwise disused part of the tow path, while further semi-outdoor seating can be found on the enormous balcony level. Then there's the partly-covered beer garden to the rear, which is vast and could probably seat half of Harlesden.
The Grange, Ealing
No shortage of good beer gardens in Ealing. Pretty much any of the larger places will offer you a more-than-decent outdoor pint. Pick of the bunch, in our opinion, is The Grange, up against the common. The riot of colour and abundant palm trees give this compact space a tropical feel. Yet it's also a good bet for a rainy British afternoon, with numerous gazebos, big umbrellas, and the half-in-half-out option of a conservatory.
The London Apprentice, Isleworth
What's London's oldest pub? The age-old controversy is usually answered with famous places like Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese or the Prospect of Whitby. But this beefy Greene King pub also has a shout, with claims that Henry VIII was a patron (the current building is a Georgian rebuild). The beer garden isn't huge, but gets our nod for one reason: it occupies the outer curve of a sharp bend on the Thames, which means you get to see more river from this spot than perhaps any other west London pub.
The Marlborough, Richmond
The Richmond waterfront has no end of outdoor dining and drinking options, but head inland, and uphill, for this classier affair. The Marlborough's garden is, we think, the largest in the area with plenty of covered and heated tables. The pub is heavily geared up to the gastro clientele, but this is also a perfectly amicable place to linger over drinks. On the way home, be sure to stop off at the nearby Roebuck for a cheeky chaser. It wouldn't win a beer garden contest, but the views from its front door are among the best from any pub in London. Except perhaps for...
The Old Orchard, Harefield
Extreme west London enjoys many large beer gardens catering to a mostly local clientele. Unless you live out there, you're unlikely to make the trek. The Old Orchard should be an exception. It's a smashing pub, inside and out, with one of the roomiest beer gardens anywhere — and with plenty of diversions for the kids. What truly sets it apart, though, is the view. No other pub in London, we reckon, can claim a vista that is completely free of buildings or structures. Not a house, tower block or even a pylon can be seen from this beer garden, only trees and a lake. It is idyllic. Throw in superior pub food and an extensive range of ales and you have one of the best pubs in west London — albeit in the middle of nowhere.
The Phene, Chelsea
The swankiest beer garden in our list is, unsurprisingly, in the residential back streets of Chelsea. It's an area with many a bijou beer garden, but this one merits inclusion because... well, just look at it. Needless to say, The Phene is a gastro-focussed beauty, with upmarket prices, but nevertheless a local jewel if you're after something a little classier than a wooden bench and brolly.
Queen's Head, Brook Green
Brook Green is the well-to-do fault line where Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush quietly collide. The Queen's Head on its southern edge has a modern-yet-rustic feel on the inside, which is amplified by a colossal beer garden out back. This Fuller's house caters well for families, and there's even a miniature playground at the end of the beer garden.
The White Swan, Twickenham
London's most thrilling beer garden is perhaps that of the White Swan at the edge of Twickenham. At first blush, it looks like a pleasant, leafy space beside the river. A little out from the centre, it's also a bit quieter than some of the other gardens in this list. But watch out for high tide, which swamps the place. If you are going to sit in the garden, make sure you've got a double-round in to help you wait it out. Alternatively, claim the raised balcony seats beside the pub's front door, from which you get a better view and a guarantee of dry feet. The White Swan isn't the only pub to flood. The White Cross in nearby Richmond also has a pleasant (if often crowded) beer garden that is susceptible to the tides.