We've rounded London's best beer gardens, some included for their bucolic atmosphere and fine foliage, some for their summery drinks or irresistible barbecue food, some for their riverside locations – and even a couple for their water features. We’ve organised them by compass points (North, South, East and West), or for a quick and easy overview, check out London's best beer gardens – ‘the map’.
Best beer gardens in West London
This handsome Parsons Green public house is well known for its smart and spacious beer garden (not to mention its smart crowd: they don’t call it 'arrogant house' for nothing). A line-up of crowd-pleasing beers, plus cider, Sharps Doom Bar and a regularly-changing guest ale, is one attraction, as is the popular summer barbecue.
On a fine stretch of riverbank between Hammersmith and Putney bridges, in shouting distance of the Michael Jackson statue at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, this big Victorian boozer was gastrofied a couple of years back. On a sunny day locals can be found in their droves enjoying some of the nicest waterside drinking in the city, a gorgeous, gigantic beer garden bedecked in wood and stylish shrubbery. The seats under the weeping willow deserve especial mention. Inside, at a big lounge bar furnished with deep leather banquettes, weighty wooden tables and a smattering of stools you can sup a daily-changing roster of ales, or a couple of ciders. As befits a chalk-board clad boozer, the wine list is extensive, while the food offering includes simple summer barbecue fare, or a slightly dearer dinner menu.
The Eagle on the fringes of Ravenscourt Park is a great escape. It’s a Geronimo Inns establishment, so the wine list is well chosen, the interiors are luxurious and the grub is reliably good. The star, however, is the back garden – a vast lawn for stretching out on beanbags on a summer’s day, swing chairs for couples to sway at sunset, and tables for dinners with friends. At weekends on warm days the garden bar is open and the barbecue gets fired up.
The Drayton Court Hotel is really a pub with rooms (albeit 27 rooms), so don’t feel like you need to be an overnight guest to enjoy drinks here. Come summer, the huge landscaped gardens come into their own, offering ample seating on picnic tables set either over the verdant groomed lawns, or over a stylish decked area. Lagers and ales come courtesy of Fuller’s (who own the building), and there is a perfectly pleasant range of pubby food if you’re hungry.
The tree-fringed deck, overlooking the languid curves of the Thames, is probably one of London’s best spots for getting a cold-one outside. There’s an appealing selection of simple pubby food but the big attraction in summer are the barbecues, held every weekend, weather permitting. The alfresco area is split into a fully covered, heated terrace, and a more open balcony. There’s also a less formal section featuring ten picnic tables.
Once known as the Phene Arms, The Phene enjoyed a wonderful garden refurb back in 2010. It’s a good-looking space filled not only with comfy seating, a water feature and patio heating, but with exceptionally well-heeled customers, which makes it great for people-watching. Be warned that this is not the place for a lively knees-up – the security staff ensure drinkers don’t make too much of a racket, and also that they leave the garden by 10pm sharp – part of the licence agreement in this very well-to-do residential area.
This is a leafy, lederhosen-slapping, stein-swaying, pretzel-munching Bavarian beer garden perched right on the Richmond riverside overlooking the Thames. A selection of unfeasibly large sausages is the ‘wurst’ they can do, while the Bavarian beers, available in towering 1 litre steins, include the golden Helles from Paulaner, Erdinger weissbier and, in bottle, the delectable dark Erdinger Dunkelweiss. There’s a small children’s play area too. In spring and summer, if the weather’s good, it’s open noon until 10pm daily. There’s a branch at Kingston (again, overlooking the Thames), too, that’s open even later.
Sweltering in central London? Then jump on the 94 bus heading west and don’t get off until it stops. Within seconds, you can be sitting in the dappled light of The Swan’s lush and leafy 30-table garden sipping well-kept cask ales from one of Chiswick’s best-kept secrets. As the local hero, Fuller’s ales are ever-present at the pumps. Table service keeps things civilised, as does the tempting gastropub menu. There’s a strong wine list too, and super-friendly staff.
Perched on the corner of Parson’s Green, this popular pub takes barbecuing seriously. Every summer weekend from noon (plus sunny weekdays from 6pm), the pavement jams with eager drinkers queuing to rip into char-grilled burgers and sausages. Alternatively, there’s gastropubby food from the kitchen. There’s limited outdoor seating (with only 16 tables), but at least heaters and brollies help guard from inclement weather. You can expect plenty of turned-up collars and rugby shirts here, but the spread of customers is wider than you might imagine. Beer is the great leveller: there are usually eight ales on offer, with Hobson’s Best Bitter, Adnam’s Broadside and Oakham JHB making regular appearances, and the glorious list of bottled brews is particularly strong on Belgian and American beers. Of the pub’s four regular beer festivals, those most apt for alfresco boozers are May’s London Beer Festival, the American Beer Festival around Independence Day and August’s Belgian Beer Festival.
The interior of the White Swan has seen better days, but this doesn’t matter. You’ll be sitting outside at one of the dozen or so picnic tables across the road on the sun-drenched riverside terrace with the Thames lapping at the slipways either side of you, and views of boaters and weeping willows stretching either way. On the pub’s terrace, a gas-fired barbecue does simple barbie dishes on sunny weekends. Cold refreshments include Peroni, Asahi and Orchard’s cider, while the regular ale (Sharp’s Doom Bar) is supplemented by four regularly-changing guests.
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