The Best Pubs Near London's Train Stations

M@
By M@
The Best Pubs Near London's Train Stations

What's the best pub to go to when meeting someone near one of the big stations in London? We've chosen our favourites for all 14 of London's main termini. Each is within a five minute walk of the mainline platforms, at least for those able to walk at 'busy Londoner pace'.

The best pub near Blackfriars: The Blackfriar

The Blackfriars; noted for their crazy paving and stupid ears.

Blackfriars has London's best unofficial waiting room in the jolly old shape of The Blackfriar. This gorgeous wedge of a building stands directly opposite the station. The Blackfriar rejoices in one of the capital's most unusual interiors. It's dripping with mock-monastic embellishment, from stained glass windows to rock-hewn friars. Be sure to check out the ceiling in the dining area, whose gaudy opulence would make a Franciscan cry out in horror. The beer choice is equally splendid, with seven or eight cask pumps that'll put the pist back into trappist.

Bar to platform: 2 minutes, if the pedestrian crossing works in your favour.
Further afield? Why bother. This pub is arguably the best in the Square Mile. But if you want something more down-to-Earth, try the Cockpit on St Andrew's Hill (5 mins).

The Blackfriar, 174 Queen Victoria Street EC4V 4EG.

The best pub near Charing Cross: The Harp

Drinkers in The Harp.
Prue Leith and Michael Fish are regulars. Possibly.

Nothing in or adjacent to the station is worthy of praise, so head one block north of Strand to The Harp. Famed for its range of cask ales, and a regular winner of CAMRA awards, this is probably the best traditional pub in the West End for those who like hand-pulled tipples. The selection has diminished a little since Fuller's asserted ownership, but this is still a notch up from its nearby rivals. If the narrow downstairs bar is packed (which it will be), try the delightful sitting room upstairs.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: The nearby Chandos on St Martin's Lane has a gorgeous interior, though lacks exciting drinks... and a website (it's a Sam Smith's). Again, try the upstairs room for the best seats.

The Harp, 47 Chandos Place WC2N 4HS

The best pub near Cannon Street: The Olde Wine Shades

It does get busier than this. (Image via The Olde Wine Shades.)

Cannon Street station now has its own pub, courtesy of relative newcomer the Sir John Hawkshaw (named for the chap who designed the station). While it has a good beer selection, the Hawkshaw lacks charm (and space), so doesn't make our cut. A series of short shifts through City snickleways brings the discerning drinker to The Olde Wine Shades — often touted as one of the oldest pubs in London. It's styled more as a wine bar these days, an outpost of the El Vino group, but it retains a pubish character and serves real ale in an environment that shouts out 'worship me, for I am old'.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: We're already at our notional limits, but if you want to explore a little further, or start a pub crawl of contrasts, the Hydrant on Monument Street is the exact opposite of the Olde Wine Shades — brash, modern and shouty (but fun).

The Olde Wine Shades, 6 Martin Lane EC4R 0DP

The best pub near Euston: The Euston Tap

"S'cuse me! Mate. Don't suppose you have any Carling?"

Lucky old Euston boasts three above-average pubs within its purlieus. 2018 newcomer The Signal Box presides over the concourse, while old favourite the Doric Arch continues to trade beside the bus station. Easily the best option, though, can be found in the twin lodges that front Euston Road. Here, spread between two buildings, can be found the Euston Tap. With over 40 lines of craft ale, this place is among the best stocked bars in London — remarkable considering how small these spaces are. Head up the precarious spiral, wrought-iron staircase to find more seating and the capital's most bijou loos.

Bar to platform: 4 minutes.
Further afield: Sadly, the much-loved Bree Louise on Cobourg Street has fallen to the spade of High Speed 2. The Exmouth Arms on Starcross Street is bags of fun, and seems to have picked up some of the Bree's trade. It doesn't possess the same beer range, but nor does it have the smelly carpet and toilets.

Euston Tap, 173 Euston Road NW1 2AX

The best pub near Fenchurch Street: Draft House Seething

Draft House Seething.
Catch it quick before the final storey sinks into the London clay.

The Square Mile's eastern terminus is overburdened with unmemorable pubs, typified by The Fen and The Windsor at its periphery. Our tip here is to head south a couple of blocks to Seething Lane, thence to find the Draft House Seething. Like other branches of Draft House, the vibe is somewhere between that of a pub and a bar, with a dozen or so interesting kegs served from a shiny metallic counter. It gets a bit suity in the evenings, but the crowds have thinned out a little since a behemoth of a BrewDog opened nearby.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: It's only another minute's walk away, but the aforementioned BrewDog offers a similarly keg-focussed plenitude, with bonus shuffleboard and seating for about 97,000 people.

Draft House Seething, 14 Seething Lane, EC3R 5BA

The best pub near King's Cross: The Parcel Yard

You can tell that most of these punters are waiting for a train back to the North. Proper Londoners only wear black. Image via the Parcel Yard.

Six stations in, and we finally feel confident enough to recommend a pub that's actually within the station. The Parcel Yard, at the northern end of the concourse, is always bustling but comes with a number of advantages. 1) It's so large, you can almost always find a table. 2) A big range of Fuller's ales. 3) It has a small beer terrace from which you can laugh at the poor souls queueing up at Platform 9 and 3/4 for photographs. It's a good all-rounder, and infinitely better than the old Duke of York — a fading memory of a pub that once graced Platform 8.

Bar to platform: 1-2 minutes.
Further afield: Relatively, it's a bit of a trek, but the King Charles I ain't that far, and offers unparalleled quantities of backstreet-boozer charm.

The Parcel Yard, King's Cross station concourse

The best pub near Liverpool Street: Hamilton Hall

The 'Essex Embassy' as some people call it.

Once again, we're happy to recommend the station's in-built pub, Hamilton Hall. It's a fine example of an A-list Wetherspoon — a former banking hall converted for boozing. Yes, the place has the perma-reek of battered cod and vinegar, but just look at that ceiling. Like the mega-chain's other outlets, you can expect an excellent range of ales, competitively priced. The best time to catch it is 7.30am (yes, AM), when it's full of City boys necking pints to help them through the day. And we wonder why the economy tanked.

Bar to platform: 2 minutes.
Further afield: Cross over Bishopsgate to find the humbler Water Poet — which contains a fine collection of characterful room, the Square Mile rarity of a beer garden, and a tragic history of flammable bears.

Hamilton Hall, Liverpool Street concourse.

The best pub near London Bridge: The George Inn

The George Inn.

'Shakespeare's Local' is a bit of a trek from the mainline platforms, but its proximity to the tube entrance on Borough High Street allows us to include it. Most readers will be aware of the George. As London's last-remaining galleried coaching inn (a seemingly obligatory phrase that all guide books include), its fame is widespread both with Londoners and tourists. Inside, a series of crooked rooms and open fires put us firmly in the 'Dickensian' category. The best seats, on a warm day, are in the courtyard, from where you can admire the traditional architecture while chewing over how the coaching trade was put out of business by the nearby train station*.

Bar to platform: 4 minutes to the tube (6 or 7 for mainline station).
Further afield: The Horniman at Hays is often dismissed as an unmemorable Nicholson's pub for tourists, and there's some truth in that. However, this riverside views of the City skyscrapers, London and Tower Bridges, and HMS Belfast are simply stunning. Worth reconsidering.

The George Inn, 77 Borough High Street SE1 1NH

The best pub near Marylebone: The Globe (but not that one)

Those plants may not be real. Nor the bricks.

You could do worse than the Victoria and Albert pub within the station. If you're after a quick half before your train departs, then it's up to the job. To up the ambience, head around the corner to The Globe (and be sure it's the one on Lisson Grove, not the better known sports bar opposite Baker Street station). This once-traditional boozer recently got a makeover to something not unlike a Draft House (see Fenchurch Street), but it still feels welcoming and characterful. The tidy range of keg beers and friendly bar staff make this one a keeper.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: Head the other way to Baker Street, where the Wetherspoonian Metropolitan Bar is a gorgeous temple to the Met line.

The Globe, 47 Lisson Grove, NW1 6UB.

The best pub near Moorgate: The Singer Tavern

Don't worry. We know him. He won't be offended. His face always looks like that.

Yes, Moorgate does count as a terminus. The oft-forgotten Northern City line concludes its rickety journey in from Hertfordshire at this station. Almost directly above, a grand old corner house (also) called the Globe is a tempting nomination, particularly given its associations with Keats, who was born here. For something more modern, and interesting, head north to the Singer Tavern, whose glazed-tiled walls recall the tube stations of Leslie Green. This is another place big on its craft ales; or head downstairs to a rather nice cocktail bar, if you've had enough of the beer.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: About the same distance south lies the Old Doctor Butler's Head. This curiously named pub has traded from the site for centuries, and retains an 'old boozer' feel unique in this part of the City. It could hardly be more different from the Singer.  

The Singer Tavern, 1 City Road, London EC1Y 1AG.

The best pub near Paddington: The Mad Bishop and Bear

A recent refit removed the dated facade panels in favour of 1990s hotel sauna chic.

To be honest, we're blinded by the name. Any pub combining a deranged clergyman and a marmalade-loving ursine has to be some kind of winner. And, it turns out, the MB&B is a thoroughly pleasant pub — perhaps because it's raised several levels above Paddington concourse so doesn't suffer from an off-putting deluge of customers like some other station pubs. A recent refit has stripped out some of the naff furnishings and breathed some new life into a place that was beginning to look a bit tired. It's a Fuller's house, so you can expect the usual run of beers and better-than-average food.

Bar to platform: 2 minutes (if you walk down the escalators).
Further afield: A plus-size branch of Draft House brightens up the Paddington Basin development a short walk up Praed Street.

Mad Bishop and Bear, upper floor, Paddington station W2 1HB

The best pub near St Pancras: The Betjeman Arms

Everybody admires a thick, crimson column.

Until the late Noughties, 'station pub' was a dirty phrase in London. Not one of the station concourses, with the possible exception of Liverpool Street, could claim a drinking establishment of any quality. Then came the Betjeman Arms at St Pancras. This handsome pub from the Geronimo franchise combines traditional architecture with modern fittings — a good match for the wider station. The main bar area is smart enough, but head to one of the three back rooms for the most comfortable seating, and excellent food. Otherwise, sit 'outside' to admire the station's famous roof and watch the Eurostar trains come and go. The recently opened Barrel Vault (a Wetherspoon pub) at t'other end of the station has more tables but lacks the style.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes (3 for the tube)
Further afield: The Somers Town Coffee House is equidistant between St Pancras and Euston. It is not a coffee house, but a reliable and popular booze house.

The Betjamen Arms, St Pancras station upper level.

The best pub near Victoria: Market Halls

Look, there's the pub bit to the left. The staring bloke isn't always there.

Sorry Victoria commuters — we simply can't find a pub of excellence within five minutes of the station. The two Wetherspoon pubs are serviceable at best. The Beer House, meanwhile, has a little more character, but would hardly find its way onto anyone's 'must visit' list. CASK is brilliant, but too far away. Instead, we're going for a bar with pub-like characteristics. Carefully make your way across the bus stands to the new (as of 2018) Market Halls — an indoor collection of eateries a bit like you find in shopping centres, but with more swagger. The two bars here serve a decent selection of craft beers in a convivial atmosphere. You'll pay a whack more than at Wetherspoon's, but it's worth it. And the toilets have to be seen to be believed.

Bar to platform: 4 minutes.
Further afield: An even better (and much cheaper) option is to walk a bit further and enjoy the gloriously old-fashioned interior of the Windsor Castle... so long as you're happy with Sam Smith's beer.

Market Halls, 191 Victoria Street SW1E 5NE

The best pub near Waterloo: The King's Arms

More stools than a coprologist's logbook. Image via the King's Arms.

One of our favourite pubs in inner south London, the King's Arms is two venues in one. Out front is a fine, traditional boozer, which stands amid the filmset-ready terrace housing of Roupell Street. Head through a narrow portal to the back of the pub, and you find yourself in a grand conservatory that's served bloody good Thai meals for as long as we can remember.

Bar to platform: 5 minutes.
Further afield: The Understudy, beneath the National Theatre is a surprisingly good bar given the tourist hotspot location. Exemplary beers served alongside chilled indie music ensure this place draws its fair share of beards and MacBooks.

The King's Arms, 25 Roupell Street SE1 8TB


*Note for pedants: We know you like to insist that people write 'railway station' rather than 'train station', but we simply won't have it. We regard this as a pointless anachronism long superseded by common usage. So there! [Pulls raspberry face.]

Last Updated 07 January 2019