Despite a refurb in November 2012, this renowned hostelry can still feel like something from the days of the Raj. The Victorian ceilings are airily high, and wide windows let plenty of light into the bar. Chesterfield-style sofas surround huge tables, ideal for families and groups of friends, though the umbrella-covered outdoor tables are most coveted from spring on.
This is rugbyland, and you can expect plenty of turned-up collars and white shirts with roses on, but the spread of customers is wider than you might imagine. Beer is the great leveller: there are eight ales on offer at the mahogany bar, among them Harveys Sussex Best and Jaipur IPA from the Thornbridge Brewery in Derbyshire, while the glorious list of bottled brews is particularly strong on Belgian and American beers.
Regular beer festivals usually come with a tight focus, with May’s London Beer Festival and November’s Old Ale Festival well worth marking in the calendar.