London's best riverside pubs and bars

Few things in London beat a pint by the river (or, indeed, canal). Here's our guide to the city's best waterside pubs and bars

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City Barge (Kew)

  • Rated as: 3/5

Beside a muddy but peaceful stretch of the Thames, facing a little island straight out of Arthur Ransome, this higgledy-piggledy pub offers tranquillity both inside and out. The honking of multitudinous geese all but drowns out the regular passing of Heathrow-bound aircraft; the nearest bridge welcomes trains only rarely, and you’re just as likely to see an oarsman breaking the water. Artefacts related to the location – sepia waterside scenes of yesteryear, an old wooden ‘Beware of the Weir’ sign – decorate the raised main bar area, leading to the back terrace.

  1. 27 Strand-on-the-Green, (Kew), W4 3PH
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Crabtree (Hammersmith)

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Situated on a fine stretch of the riverbank between Hammersmith and Putney bridges, this vast Victorian venue is within shouting distance of Craven Cottage, the homely home of Fulham Football Club. It's been given a grandiose, gastro-tastic going over, and is the latest feather in the bow of posh boozer specialist Realpubs. The locals approve of the remodel, it seems, and on a sunny day can be found in their droves enjoying some of the nicest waterside drinking in the city. The seats under the weeping willow deserve especial mention. As well as a restaurant bathed in white linen at the rear, there’s a gorgeous, gigantic beer garden, bedecked in wood and stylish shrubbery, which flows down to the riverfront.

  1. Rainville Road, W6 9HA
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Dove (Hammersmith)

  • Rated as: 3/5

Several pubs stand amid the rowing clubs, dog-walkers and strategically placed park benches on the Upper Mall embankment upriver from Hammersmith Bridge; this one is perhaps the best (and certainly a prime spot from which to watch the Boat Race). Inside, it’s basically a classic duck-your-head heritage pub experience, but most drinkers come here to sit in the vine-entangled conservatory or the riverside terrace overlooking the houseboats.

  1. 19 Upper Mall, W6 9TA
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Duke's Head (Putney)

If you’re a fan of rowing (and rowers) make a dash for the Duke’s Head, where the lads and lasses of the nearby LRC (London Rowing Club) can often be found quenching their thirst. To watch them in action, simply tell the bartender you’re going outside, and they’ll give you your pint (Young’s, plus guest ales from the likes of Meantime and Dogfish), in a plastic cup, allowing you to lean against the railings and cheer on the crews. No training on? Pull  up a pew in the dinky patio area, and drink in the views. Of the river, we mean.

  1. 8 Lower Richmond Rd, SW15 1JN
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Old Ship (Hammersmith)

  • Rated as: 4/5

It’s a long walk from Hammersmith Bridge along a lazy bend in the Thames, a world away from belching buses and snarled-up traffic, but if you bypass a few pubs in favour of this one, you’ll be pleased you’ve made the trek. The boathouse feel of the airy building is continued in the maritime-themed decor of sailing paintings and iconography. Depending on which areas have been hired out, you should have a choice of outdoor seating upstairs or down, or a spot in the classy main bar/restaurant.

  1. 25 Upper Mall, W6 9TD
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Ship (Wandsworth)

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

This great Young's local, founded as a waterman's inn around 1786, shines like a riverside beacon. The peaceful and relaxing front bar is ideal for reading or quiet conversation, whereas the much larger conservatory by the Thames attracts a lively mixed crowd, which means seats are always at a premium; an excellent garden overlooks Wandsworth Bridge. The pleasant dining room serves an ambitious seasonal menu that comes - like the list of entertainment (including an informal Irish session on Tuesdays) - printed on a surreal image of a sea captain with a ship for his head and fish for his hands.

  1. 41 Jew's Row, SW18 1TB
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Waterfront (Wandsworth)

  • Rated as: 3/5

Its appearance in keeping with the swish, neutral look of the show apartments and community facilities of Battersea Reach (‘defining riverside living with style’) around it, this well-conceived place is atypical of the Young’s stable. It feels 21st-century, for a start, with floods of natural light coming from the river-facing floor-to-ceiling windows, beyond which is a decked terrace. Regrettably, the opposite bank is an eyesore. Even so, tucked far away from a busy Wandsworth roundabout, between two Thames bridges, this seems like a world unto itself.

  1. Baltimore House, Juniper Drive, SW18 1TS
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Ye White Hart (Barnes)

  • Rated as: 3/5

Right on the river, this capacious barn of a bar makes best use of its prime location. It’s a Young’s pub, so it’s well looked after, providing the usual range of ales from the brewery stable, as well as reliably satisfying steak pies and Sunday roasts. What really brings in the punters, though, is the chance to sink into a chesterfield by the fire, or find a spot to stand on the river-view first-floor veranda, down a pint and talk about the rugby match that’s just played out on the big screen.

  1. The Terrace, Riverside, SW13 0NR
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