London's best Irish bars and pubs

Guinness, whiskey and dancing – get a hit of craic at one of the most authentic Irish pubs in London



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In theory, if not in practice, anyone can pour a pint of Guinness. But if you're looking for a pub that's Irish-owned, stocks Irish ales and whiskeys, or often hosts traditional music, food and even dancing, then look no further. Our critics have rounded up the best Irish pubs in London.

Auld Shillelagh

Known for its exceptional Guinness, always poured with care, and occasional raucous entertainment. It's the kind of pub where the wine list runs to 'red or white', and the staff are so matey and hospitable that they'll offer to bring your Guinness over to your table.

  1. 105 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UD
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Blythe Hill Tavern

Three tiny, dark, wood-panelled rooms, with a bar in each housing framed jockey portraits. The pumps have four regularly changing, well-kept guest ales (including Hepworth’s Old Winter Ale, Harveys Bitter and Dark Star Hophead on our visit – not Irish, but good). There’s Guinness, of course, a fair few Irish whiskeys and Irish music on Thursdays. Smart, tie-clad bar staff are knowledgeable and friendly.

  1. 319 Stanstead Road, SE23 1JB
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Boston Arms

This huge, resolutely ungentrified Victorian boozer is a popular and sometimes raucous Irish pub located just opposite Tufnell Park tube, with Irish music on Saturday nights.

  1. 178 Junction Road, N19 5QQ
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A cosy slice of (faux-)Irish pubbery in hip Notting Hill, known for its good oysters and Guinness. The Cow is a rural Irish pub as imagined by Disney – all cutesy cottage-style net curtains, Guinness adverts and glossy 1950s Technicolor paintwork.

  1. 89 Westbourne Park Road, W2 5QH
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As the first London venue to win the Camra National Pub of the Year accolade, this diminutive Covent Garden pub pumps ten regularly changing real ales and has casks of scrumpy behind the bar. Irish landlady too.

  1. 47 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HS
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A Covent Garden outpost of the Dublin brewery, this cavernous hostelry has an impressive selection of own-brewed ales, including three stouts – the An Brain Blásta, at 7%, lives up to its name. Bottled beers are a global lot.

  1. 21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
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Royal Exchange

An Irish-run pub that's within walking distance of Paddington station. It serves two kinds of Guinness, staff are a friendly bunch and it's pleasingly down to earth.

  1. 26 Sale Place, W2 1PU
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Sir Colin Campbell

Two neon-lit rooms in Kilburn, filled with thick accents and sessions three nights a week. Unpolished, perhaps, but utterly genuine.

  1. 264-266 Kilburn High Road, NW6 2BY
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This slender, centuries-old pub on Fleet Street is billed as the first to serve Guinness this side of the Irish Sea. It still serves a decent Guinness, of course, or choose from the stellar range of 16 Irish whiskeys.

  1. 66 Fleet Street, WC2 7NA
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This never-changing Soho pub could easily be mistaken for a Guinness museum: publicity posters for the black stuff cover the walls, overlooked by a trio of toucans. The Toucan is a bit faded and frayed around the edges, but it does a mean Black Velvet.

  1. 19 Carlisle Street, W1D 3BY
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Users say

The Man on the Street
The Man on the Street

I assume Authentic Irish Drinking experience means piss up - in which case, I nominate The Toucan as the best of the bunch. Pavement scene there is a better vibe than most bars can create inside or out.

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