Swimmer at the Grafton Arms

Bars and pubs Holloway
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Swimmer at the Grafton Arms
© Ming Tang Evans

A large front terrace enveloped by branded umbrellas gives way to a classic, high-ceilinged pub, with one end dedicated to an open kitchen manned by a commendably grizzled southern Italian.

Rump steak with chips is all well and good, but most customers are here for what the sign over the counter advertises as ‘handpumped cellar-cooled real ales’. The likes of Butcombe Bitter and London Pride are complemented by Litovel, Leffe and Früli, with bottles of Duvel and Corona chilling in the fridge behind.

Comfortably sparse, the interior features a fireplace surrounded by gilt-framed mirrors and swimming memorabilia: photographs of Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe and the White City pool of 1908 (the first time the Olympic sport wasn’t held in open waters).


Venue name: Swimmer at the Grafton Arms
Address: 13 Eburne Road
N7 6AR
Opening hours: Open 5-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-11pm Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun. Food served 6-9pm Mon-Fri; noon-3pm, 6-9pm Sat; 1-5pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Holloway Road tube, or Finsbury Park tube/rail then bus 29, 253
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:30
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
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This pub fully deserves all of the Timeout accolades (that it proudly displays). The pub is just off the main road so it never gets too busy, it's gorgeously, homely and really puts other traditional pubs to shame. In the winter there's an open fire, heat lamps, and blankets for the outside area to really up the cosy feel. 

Everyone that comes here loves it - whether it's the location, the decoration or the staff (or a combination of all three) it's working out well for this little gem. 


A local welcoming pub in a quiet neighbourhood, just a few steps away from the busy Holloway road. Friendly staff, wide selection of beers and excellent dishes/fingerfood to company your drinks.


This is a gorgeous little pub, and perfectly located for the Holloway cinema nearby. It's cosy, with traditional features, has a great looking menu (though sadly haven't tried yet) and an amazing red wine called Helter Skelter Merlot. There's a pile of games, waiting to be played on a rainy Sunday and it's got a real juke box to as well! Can't really improve upon that.....in fact I'm only with-holding the fifth star as I've not sampled the grub. Yet. 


Lovely little quiet pub off the main streets (surrounded by Holloway road and seven sisters road) ideal to catch up with friends in an intimate atmosphere where you can actually talk to each other! 

The atmosphere is super friendly, the staff is very helpful and the prices are reasonable!
Unfortunately, I've only seen the food (looked amazing, mostly traditional pub food, burgers and roasts) but couldn't try it because the kitchen closes at 6pm on Sundays (good to know!).

Nicest staff, lovely atmosphere, amazing beer garden, big portions of food, great selections of drinks. The best local, ever.

The swimmer is great and very welcoming I look forward to the mulled cider

A proper local! Great range of beers that changes regularly and great home cooked food made in an open kitchen, monopoly and of course friendly staff.

zim zimma, who got de love for da swimmer? amazing and enormous 2 for 1 burgers on a monday - the spicy lamb burger is fantastic! good beers, board games, quiz on a tuesday, what's not to love?

Feels like a proper community pub. Great juke box. Great craft beers, gins and wines. Amazing 2-4-1 burger night on Mondays.. such big juicy delicious burgers. And the owners are super lovely. Eradicates any guilt I feel about going to the same place all the time in London when I feel like I should be exploring.

Best pub for miles and miles. Great booze, good food, lovely people, free jukebox, beautiful inside or out

The coolest boozer in Holloway N7. home cooked food ' epic Burgers' wide and interesting drinks selection very friendly staff, fun Quiz night every Tuesday ...and more ! This little pub got so much to offer :)

P.S I just like to mention if that's ok that the informations/photos you have about the swimmer needs updating on your site . Thx


The Swimmer was off to a good start as we were served up a light, crisp bottle of rose and picked a picnic table in their well sized outside area. Ordering salad in a pub is always a bit risky, but we'd read decent reviews of the food here, and the £12.50 price tag for the chicken and avocado offering kept our expectations high. Needless to say, when the undressed plate of mixed greens and cherry tomatoes topped with pre-cooked packaged chicken slices arrived, we wished we'd stuck to burgers. 

Great pub; friendly staff, good (free) juke box, good (not free) food and range of ales and lagers. Nice ambiance and everything that a pub should be.

Wonderful pub with great staff and the food is excellent all freshly cooked with a varying menu!

Fabulous. John and Leila and their staff really know how to run a pub. Good range of beers and wines, great ambiance. Excellent food. This is what a good local pub should be like.

No question an absolute gem hidden in the quiet backstreets of the madness of Holloway, great Belgium beers food is fabulous and the staff are great..check it out.

moderatorStaff Writer

Friendly landlady, cheap food, good booze and a really fun pub quiz. Holloway could not want for anything more from this gem of a local.


Love this pub. The pew seats aren't that comfortable if they had cushions it would be a 5. Have only eaten once and it was good. The atmosphere is nice and the beer selection is not bad.

Probably the best pub I've been to in London. The food is excellent and the burgers are especially phenomenal! Reasonably priced too. Well done!

This is a great pub. Lovely hamburgers (incl veggie ones, and on Mondays they do a whole hamburger menu), great fried goats cheese and an extensive wine list. Super helpful staff. Cosy and the volume is never so high that you can't carry out a conversation. And they have a jukebox. Friendly staff.

Too many pubs wanting my money to put up with poor food and lousy riude staff at this one.

5* sunday lunch roast sirloin fresh veg lush and a fine pint of london pride