Did you ever go for a pint in the Harrods pub?
On 21 November 1973, the Knightsbridge department store opened up its own boozer. The Green Man — or to use its full title 'Under the Sign of the Green Man' — was a rather splendid little drinking hole; a Jacobean-inspired wood panelled hideaway with leather upholstered chairs and stools, and — by the looks of it — a real fire, too.
In short, the perfect spot to put up your feet with a brew, after a frantic morning shopping for fancy perfumes and baby elephants.
The name, Harrods tell us, was a reference to the green-suited door people who continue to oversee the store's entrances today — and surely also a play on the traditional 'Green Man' pubs synonymous with London and much of the UK.
Selling a range of real ales, ploughman's lunches — even afternoon teas — the space had originally been a plush waiting room for the Harrods barbershop, opening in 1930. One punter described finding the Green Man by 'descending a gloomy staircase' — which if we're honest is the way most of the best bars manifest themselves — and Gordon's Wine Bar we're looking at you.
The Green Man didn't quite have the heritage chops of a place like Gordon's, though; one visitor in 2010 described the Green Man as "the sort of genuine Olde English Inn you only find in the USA, all wood panelling and fitted out in a sort of cod-baronial way but, given it isn't in the USA, remarkably pleasant all the same." Another observed: "It feels like a film set, and is like no pub I have been in outside of Harrods."
There was table service — and decently done too, by some accounts — although in 1999, journalist Christopher South called in to the "much-vaunted" boozer, ordering two glasses of chardonnay, only to be told they "didn't have any glasses."
And when punters did get their drink, they were often knocked sideways by the bill; one visitor in 2008 remarked that, even though they knew it was going to cost an astonishing £4.50 (!) for a pint of London Pride, "it was still quite hard to hand over so much cash for a pint." (My, how times have changed.)
As Harrods noted on its Facebook page in 2019, the Green Man is thought to have been the first pub to open in a department store, though it certainly wasn't the first department store where you could wine and dine in style; from the lavish barrel-ceiling restaurant of Peter Robinson on Oxford Street (today an IKEA), to Kennards of Croydon with its restaurant fitted with a pipe-organ, there were already plenty of those. Fast forward to 2023, and Fortnum & Mason is saying "hold my G&T" — it's about to open an in-store distillery at the flagship store.
The Green Man closed to make way for the Gentlemen's Lounge in 2010, and thus vanished a London pub that many Londoners never knew existed in the first place.
Do you have memories of drinking in the Green Man? Feel free to share them in the comments, below.
All images taken from Harrods, with permission. With thanks to David Risley for first making us aware of the Green Man pub.