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The top ten bars and pubs in London

You've seen our list of the 100 best bars and pubs in London, now find out which ones made the top ten

By Euan Ferguson
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We've already served up our top 100 bars and pubs in London. Now it's time for last orders. Here's Time Out's Euan Ferguson with his selection of the ten best bars and pubs the capital has to offer. Don't forget to take a look at the bars and pubs you voted as champions in the people's top ten bars and pubs in London.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best bars and pubs in London

The top 10 bars and pubs in London - Earl of Essex
© Charlotte Mayhew

10. Earl of Essex

Bars and pubs Craft beer pubs Islington

A craft beer bar that gets everything right, from the very cool changing tap list that takes pride of place on the wall, to the genuinely wide-ranging selection (mild-mannered milds to wild IPAs) and staff who seem to really care about what you’re drinking, and even a microbrewery set up behind the bar.

The top 10 bars and pubs in London - The Prince
© Celia Topping

9. The Prince

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Stoke Newington

Pub refurbishments happen all the time in London, but they rarely work as well as this. A brilliantly reinvented local in a resolutely residential neighbourhood, the Prince manages to do top-notch food, passionately poured craft beer (there's a cellar microbrewery on the way) and unpretentiously cool décor while still giving the impression it's not trying to be any more than a great local pub.

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8. The Mayflower

Bars and pubs Pubs Rotherhithe

Thamesside pubs are one of our greatest assets, but here’s one that only the most intrepid tourists would stumble across, and one that rewards Londoners with some of the best river views in the city. Inside it’s ancient and peaceful, and the deck overhanging the water looks out to Wapping and the City in the distance. 

The top ten bars and pubs in London
© Ed Marshall

7. Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Spitalfields

Spitalfields or Air Street – both branches let you drink without having to tuck in to the (admittedly incredible) steaks. The cocktails here are always spot-on, and the staff serving them are too: Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, made with gin, ginger, lemon and beer, is probably my favourite cocktail in London.

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6. Zetter Townhouse

Hotels Boutique hotels Clerkenwell

Few bars in London put so much effort into their looks as this Clerkenwell beauty, although it never feels try-hard. It’s stuffed with antiques and ephemera in a feast of maximalism that most designers would shy away from attempting; the cocktails are incredible too. 

5. French House

Bars and pubs Pubs Soho

When people get misty-eyed about the salacious Soho of the twentieth century, this is what they’re talking about: a tiny and raucous little bar populated by the sort of bohemian drinkers who seem to only exist within these four walls. Even if I only visit a few times a year, it’s still a reminder that once upon a time, London was a lot more fun.

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RailwayTav_BrittaJaschinski.jpg
© Britta Jaschinski

4. Railway Tavern

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Dalston

A London transport theme is subtly carried through the design of this refurbished midcentury pub on the Hackney and Islington borders. There aren’t many better places to sit and sup a pint of something dark and inviting whilst doing a crossword of an afternoon, but come evening time it takes on a lively buzz that draws locals from miles around.

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Southampton Arms © Ed Marshall

3. Southampton Arms

Bars and pubs Pubs Gospel Oak

All the things that are great about pubs, boiled down into their very essence, are present in the Southampton Arms, which manages to somehow draw on a golden age of drinking while providing a blueprint for the future. The beer is brilliant, the food is mainly scotch eggs and pork pies, the decor’s austere yet cosy, and the coal fire adds an old-time atmosphere that mostly disappeared with the end of the three-day week.

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The top 10 bars and pubs in London - Pride of Spitalfields
© Charlotte Mayhew

2. Pride of Spitalfields

Bars and pubs Pubs Spitalfields

A visitor from 50 years ago would run screaming from Spitalfields and Brick Lane, so unrecognisable is it from the working-class mass of rag shops, tailors, breweries and street markets that the area used to be known for. The time-traveller from the ’60s could seek solace in the Pride, though, which is happily unaffected by the changes of the intervening decades. That means a carpet, a cat, some real ales and some normal people having a drink.

Olivia Hemingway Photography
© Olivia Hemingway

1. Wenlock Arms

Bars and pubs Pubs Hoxton

It’s unlikely you’ll ever stumble across the Wenlock Arms, plonked as it is on a side street in that area-with-no-name between Islington and Shoreditch. The local brewery that gave it its name is long gone, but the dedication to great beer lives on, as does its unquenchable local spirit and unpretentiously welcoming atmosphere. Seek it out: if you don’t like it, I’ll probably never buy you a pint.

See the full list of 100 bars and pubs

Vote for your favourite bars and pubs

The top 10 bars and pubs in London - The Prince
© Celia Topping

The Time Out Love London Awards 2015

Things to do

It’s time, once again, for you – London’s beautiful, general public – to champion your favourite bits of the city you call home. That’s right, after inspiring more than 250,000 of you to get passionate about your postcodes last year, the Time Out Love London Awards are back for 2015. 

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