There are some seriously old-school pubs to discover in Holborn – from taverns hidden down the backstreets to former Victorian gin palaces, there’s plenty to please tourists and locals alike. But Holborn also hosts its share of forward-thinking drinkers within craft beer pubs and places with a modern gastro menu. Whether or not it’s historic pubs you’re after, you can guarantee these boozers will be buzzing as soon as the clock strikes five – so soak up that atmosphere.
RECOMMENDED: Find more fun in the neighbourhood in our Holborn area guide
The best pubs in Holborn
This authentically dingy, wobbly and warren-like pub is the kind of place in which to film a period drama. The main room is lined with conspiratorial dark wood alcoves, with old barrels over the long bar and framed portraits from Vanity Fair c.1870. Get your cheap booze fix from a range of Sam Smith beers on draught.
The High Holborn branch of Craft Beer Company still holds London’s record for the most keg lines and cask pumps – a total of 30 and 15 respectively. Crowd in at the bustling bar and work through beers brewed in obscure parts of the world. You’ll spy the pub in summer from its ever-crowded pavement.
The Draft House’s formula of brash, neon decor and more beer options than you can shake a stick at is a popular one, and one that suits the after-work crowd near Chancery Lane pretty nicely. With 13 beers on tap and countless bottled brands, knowledgeable staff more than happy to help you out with a taster and the opportunity to drink by the third-pint, beer lovers are spoilt for choice.
What does a pub look like in 2019? That’s the question posed by the owners of the recently reopened The Devereux, which first came into being in 1677 as The Grecian Coffee House. Although the decor hasn't changed much in 343 years, the uber-woke pub now champions Toast Ale – a London brew made from bread that would otherwise be binned – and hollowed-out tubes of dry pasta in favour of plastic straws.
Decked out with scuffed wooden booths and painted an eye-watering rhubarb colour, The Duke is a throwback with a heart. The drinks selection is limited at best – don’t expect much more than San Miguel and Becks by way of lager – but they’re served with a smile. Food is firmly of the pie-and-mash variety, but is priced accordingly.
With its tiny size and its cracking range of beer, The Holborn Whippet can see crowds on its courtyard out the front, especially at clocking off time. Force your way to the bar and you’re greeted with a tantalising array of ales on draught.
The Lady Ottoline has recently been taken over by the same group that operates Newman Street Tavern, The Princess Victoria and The Henry Root, so expect an upmarket gastropub with a sturdy gin list.
This Sam Smiths pub and former Victorian gin palace is one for your London bucket list, if only to hide in one of its frosted-glass booths for a moment. The pub is still beautifully ornate and it won’t cost you the earth to drink in such old-school opulence.
Located behind the Royal Courts of Justice, the tiny, charismatic Seven Stars still sees its fair share of baristers through the doors. They’re charmed by landlady Roxy Beaujolais and her quirky ways – which sees cartoon strips on the wall, a menu of retro bar snacks and a pub cat roaming freely and often dressed in a ruff (seriously).
It’s a splendid little pub, this, with a young, international clientele drawn in no small part from the nearby London School of Economics. They’re treated to a decent selection of ales on draught and a seriously traditional menu of pub grub (soups, ploughman’s and chunky sarnies).