From the oldest to the smallest, we round up some of the record-breaking pubs of London.
Oldest pub building
There is no definitive 'London's oldest pub', as we've argued previously. It depends how you measure. In terms of bricks and mortar, though, the Seven Stars on Carey Street has one of the best shouts. Large chunks of the building are 17th century, and a date mark declares 1602.
That's in central London. If we look to the suburbs, then still older inns might be found. The King and Tinker in Enfield, claims to be partly from the 16th century, though Historic England reckons a bit later. Meanwhile, the Queen's Head in Pinner has verified 16th century staircase and panelling. There are, no doubt, other contenders, which we'd love to hear about in the comments.
Drury Lane's White Hart doesn't look particularly old (it isn't), but it does claim to have London's oldest licence to sell alcohol. "The Old Bailey archives reveal this corner to be the first and oldest licensed premise in London, dating back to 1216," it reckons. This is impressive, though also something of a cheat. The present White Hart is a Victorian building, on a site adjacent to the one mentioned in 13th century records.
The Dove in Hammersmith holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest bar. The accolade is proudly displayed in situ, just on the right as you enter. This fun-sized snug holds just three bar stools and can be inspected on Google Street View — because you've very little chance of actually getting it to yourself in real life.
While the Dove claims the smallest bar, it is just one serving space within a larger building. If we instead consider the smallest pub, then the famous Rake in Borough Market immediately springs to mind. Unbeatable for craft beer, very much beatable for space to sit down.
Zander Bar in the St James's Court Hotel claims to have the longest bar in London, at 36 metres. But that's not a pub, so its thrusting dimensions can be ignored. Instead, we turn to the eye-catching Falcon in Battersea, whose epic counter loops around the interior. Can we get served, though?
The Only Running Footman, in Mayfair, was often said to have the longest pub name. It's now truncated to simply The Footman, and another one of London's quirky joys has gone. In any case, Kensal Green's Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, with 31 characters, easily outpaces the footman. Still longer, potentially, is Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners, though this is often shortened with an ampersand or @, or simply called Zeitgeist.
Still longer, if a little generic, is the Great Northern Railway Tavern in Hornsey, which is indeed great, and relatively northern, as well as close to the rail line that lent its name. The longest we've found so far, via Diamond Geezer, is the Jack Beard's at The Hope and Anchor in Poplar. Including punctuation and spaces, that sums to 35 characters. Can anyone beat that?
Ye Olde Cock Tavern on Fleet Street reckons to have 'the narrowest frontage of any London pub'. It should get out more. The King's Head on Borough High Street looks decidedly narrower to us. But the winner of this little-fought-after accolade must surely go to The Old Ship in Mare Street, Hackney, whose frontage is little wider than an ironing board and perhaps half the size of Ye Olde Cock. And, yes, we are aware this is turning into a comparison of cock sizes.
We can't find any hostelry that claims to be London's most elevated, so we've had to do the legwork ourselves. Using a topographic map, it's possible to get approximate heights above sea level for any point in London. The loftiest pubs you're likely to have heard of are The Spaniard's Inn in Hampstead and The Flask in Highgate, both at 430ft (the nearby Gate is still higher, but less well-known). Both are trounced by a number of pubs on London's southern fringes. The most impressive we can find is the Aperfield Inn (pictured), south of Biggin Hill, which stands at 728 feet.
Most northerly, southerly, etc.
We've covered this one before. London's most northerly pub is the The Plough in Enfield. The south has The Fox in Coulsdon. West is the King's Arms in Longford, while the east has the Old White Horse in Upminster.
While you can still get a pint for under £4 (or even £3 in certain establishments), it's now standard to be charged well over a fiver for a pint of keg beer. The demand for exotic craft beer has prompted many pubs to import rare, high-alcohol tipples. These come at a price.
The Rake in Borough Market has more than a few premium ales among its vast selection. In 2017, a pint of Cloudwater’s North West Double IPA would set you back an eye-watering £13.40. We should point out that this isn't representative of the Rake's prices in general — it's a fine place where we drink often.
The record, however, currently lies with the Craft Beer Co's branch on Old Street (which happens to be the Londonist local). In the summer of 2018, this preposterously well-stocked venue was offering AleSmith Speedway Stout at £22.50 for a pint. The price reflects its rarity, its high alcohol percentage (12% ABV), and the intention that you should really buy it as a third-of-a-pint. Still, it's your round, I think.
All London's pubs are equally haunted, because there is no such thing as ghosts.
Best pub in London
Everyone has a different answer, but our selection of the top 500 can be found in our pub database.