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 Marble Arch Inn
Photograph: Marble Arch Inn

The 24 best pubs in the UK

From city-centre boozers to idyllic rural gastropubs: these are the absolute best pubs in the UK

Ella Doyle
Written by
Lucas Oakeley
Ella Doyle

There are an awful lot of things to moan about in the UK, but pubs are not one of them. Pubs are for your friendly catch ups, your Sunday roasts, and your mid-summer sun traps, and we love it all. We really do. 

Everyone’s got a favourite (probably the one closest to the end of your road), and so do we. But some pubs are really good for food. Others are great for craft beer. The very best pubs do it all. With that in mind, here we are: the best pubs in the whole of the UK. Happy drinking, folks. 

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Best pubs in the UK

1. Laurieston Bar


This Glaswegian bar is somewhere I hope everyone will get to have a pint at least once in their life. Everything about it – from the Formica-topped tables to the horseshoe-shaped bar – has remained unchanged since the 1960s. Even the big red ‘BAR’ sign outside fits with the old-school aesthetic. The Laurieston Bar is a proper drinking den and a living, breathing embodiment of the sort of cultural curios and historic spaces that cookie-cutter pub chains are robbing us of.

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Lucas Oakeley
Contributing Food Writer
  • Bars and pubs
  • Canonbury


The Compton Arms is a pub and ale house on Compton Avenue in Islington. A favourite with Arsenal fans local to the area, this bolthole of a pub pulls great pints and serves them alongside some even greater plates of food. The kitchen is currently doing magical rustic Italian dishes thanks to chef Dara Klein's Tiella project. 

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3. The Marble Arch Inn


The first time I went to the Marble Arch, I was told the (possibly apocryphal) story of the regular who got so wasted he fell down and rolled all the way from the door of this pub to the bar. As well as some of the most glorious tiling you've ever likely to see in a boozer, this Grace II-listed pub does indeed have a rather noticeable incline on its sloping mosasic floors. If you're able to traverse it, then you'll be rewarded with excellent ales from the pub's own Marble Brewery. I like it because it's slightly set away from the bustle of the Northern Quarter, but also because I can order a pint of their very good Pint. Which never stops being a fun thing to say.

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Leonie Cooper
Food and Drink Editor, Time Out London

4. The Basketmakers


I don’t know what it is about The Basketmakers, but despite its slap-bang city centre location, it retains an old-fashioned, neighbourhood vibe that makes it hard to believe you’re not miles away in a cosy village somewhere. It has all the hallmarks of a classic British pub – cask ales, fish ‘n’ chips, punters who are basically part of the furniture – but there are some secrets here too, just have a snoop in all the tin boxes that are affixed to the walls.

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Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer

5. Harbour Inn

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Harbour Inn sits on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, so is an ideal stop-off if you’re beach hopping along the Welsh coast. The pub overlooks the harbour, is dog-friendly and serves some bangin’ cauli wings (although, who doesn’t these days?). It also serves award-winning cask ale and often runs drinks offers, things like bagging yourself two pints of Moretti for £7. What’s not to like?
Jessica Phillips
Social Media Editor

6. Bacchus Bar


Bacchus Bar is minutes from Birmingham’s New Street station, but I wouldn’t suggest the place for a swift pre-departure drink. A legendary pub in the basement of the centuries-old Burlington Arcade, once you’ve descended into this underground warren of medieval archways and themed seating areas (don’t miss the Egyptian room), you can say goodbye to your phone signal and all track of time. Ideal for whiling away the hours sinking some real ale, not so good for catching your train in good time, the Bacchus Bar is just what pubs should be. The frescoes along the staircase are a bit naff, but it’s all part of the fun.

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Grace Beard
Travel Editor

7. Sunflower Public House


The first thing you’ll notice about this Belfast boozer is that it’s got a cage in the front. While it’s no longer needed for security purposes anymore, that cage was introduced following a shooting during the Troubles and it remains there today to remind all who see it of the city’s rebarbative history. The Sunflower has seen Belfast through thick and thin and it remains an excellent spot to drink a pint of Yardsman (the local draught stout on tap) and listen to live music.

8. The Harp Inn

Old Radnor, Powys

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the ​​Radnor Valley, the Harp Inn might be one of the most idyllic pubs in the whole of the UK. There’s no more scenic spot to sip cask-conditioned real ale and reminisce about a time before the internet existed – an age where a ‘minion’ was simply a derogatory term used to define a servile underling and not something you’d find plastered all over children’s clothing. They’ve even got guest rooms here so you can spend the night if you’re so inclined. It’s peaceful and perfect. Go.


9. The Dagda Bar


Lively atmosphere, cold pints, dog friendly. Those are the three main draws of The Dagda Bar and, honestly, what more could you ask for from a pub? You’ll mainly find this place full of locals but it’s well worth seeking out if you’re in Edinburgh on a day trip and gagging for a pint. The tap selection is fairly interesting and they’ve got a range of whiskies you can explore, too. Be warned, however: the pub quizzes get extremely competitive.

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10. The Canny Man’s


Keeping things in the family since it opened around 1860, The Canny Man’s is a family-run public house that’s been a faithful servant to Edinburgh’s drinkers since day one. It’s an intimate operation and – as a result – you can expect to be treated like a long-lost member of the clan when you drink here, too. Rick Stein once called it the ‘best pub in the world’. And it’s hard to argue with that.

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  • Pubs
  • Soho
  • price 1 of 4


For me, the absolute best time to visit Soho's most storied pub is in the afternoon. I like to skip the chaos of the evenings (when getting a seat is nigh on impossible) and instead mingle with the locals and regulars; an endearing collection of Soho flâneurs, artists and writers. I do my best to keep a handle on my saytime debauchery by only ordering half pints, which is all they serve here – only on April Fool's Day do they offer full pints. Food upstairs is so good that it's made our Best Restaurants in London list. The last time I was there I ended up dipping french fries into cheesey, creamy aligot – a potato-on-potato serving suggestion I can heartily recommend.
Leonie Cooper
Food and Drink Editor, Time Out London

12. The Boat Inn

Penallt, Monmouthshire

The Boat Inn is a small but bustling pub that provides the community of Penallt in Monmouthshire with a welcome escape from the world. The River Wye is right opposite and sitting outside you can hear the pleasant gurgle of running water tickle your ears as you sip on a sharp and refreshing cider. During winter, it’s best to stay inside where hot toddies and arguments about the greatest Welsh rugby tries to have ever been scored come thick and fast.


13. Pen and Wig


Blessed with an Edenic beer garden, the Pen and Wig in Cardiff made the cut for this list because it does exactly what a pub should do. It’s the ultimate crowd-pleaser – a location with enough obscure real ales and bog-standard lagers that no one in your friendship group will have any qualms about being here on a Friday night. The inside is fairly traditional (the pub used to be a Victorian terraced house) while the buzzy outside is where you’ll want to be whenever any large sporting event kicks off.

14. The John Hewitt


Pubs that are named after famous poets are, from personal experience, nearly always very good. The John Hewitt is one of those pubs. And it’s very good indeed. Not only is this a reliable place on Donegall Street to find a well-poured pint but it’s also Belfast’s only social-enterprise pub. The rotational pump system means there’s reliably an interesting beer on tap from a local producer and the live music nights are always grand. Mumford & Sons actually played their first-ever Northern Ireland gig here. But don’t hold that against The John Hewitt.


15. Skehans


Self-described ‘purveyors of craic’, Skehans is a proud Irish pub and part of a dying breed of independent family-run free houses in an area of South London that’s fast becoming gentrified. It’s a crying shame considering just how much fun a night at Skehans can be. If darts and pool aren’t your bag then there are jam sessions, quiz nights and even karaoke to pique your interest. A really solid boozer.

16. Dirty Duck


Stratford-upon-Avon is Shakespeare country and there’s no public house more steeped in the theatrical traditions of the town than the Dirty Duck. Smack-bang between two separate  Royal Shakespeare Company theatres – as I said, this is Shakespeare country – the pub is often frequented by actors nursing a few pints after a night’s performance. According to Wikipedia, Kylie Minogue also once pulled a pint during a visit. So it’s got that going for it, too.


17. The Gurnard’s Head

Zennor, Cornwall

Perched on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast between St Just and St Ives, The Gurnard’s Head is a perfect spot to stretch your legs and feel the sea spray on your face. A single glance at the striking yellow exterior and you’ll quickly realise why we’ve ranked this as one of the best pubs in the UK. Formerly a coaching inn, the historic building has been kept in good nick by the ownership and the hospitable staff will make sure you’re well looked after, too. The food is simple and seasonal, and a dinner will definitely have you debating whether you should stay the night in one of their lovely rooms. One for the Poldark obsessives.

18. Myles K. McCanns Bar

Omagh, County Tyrone

Myles K. McCanns Bar is a pub with bags of character. If the idea of sitting in a quiet Irish pub with a pint of Guinness and watching the world go by sounds good to you, then this is the pub you need to make a pilgrimage to. Unless it’s one of the nights they’ve got live music on, in which case it’ll be anything but quiet. There are no airs and graces to this watering hole – but why would you want there to be any?


19. The Pipe and Slippers


Pubs should be cosy. Pubs should be friendly. Pubs should have a lively atmosphere but still be quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. The Pipe and Slippers has got all of the above. Popular with students and locals alike, this Stokes Croft pub is a real community hub. The ale selection is sturdy but – if you’re having a large one – then ordering one of the lethally strong Pipedreams should be on your agenda. What’s in that cocktail? A shot of Kingston 62 white rum, two shots of Appleton Signature, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, lime juice, orange juice grenadine, Wray and Nephews, and absinthe. Welcome to Bristol.

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20. The Moorcock Inn

Norland, West Yorkshire

Beer is one of the main reasons people go to pubs and, whether you’re one of those Untappd fanatics or simply someone who wants nothing more complicated than ice-cold lager, The Moorcock Inn will have something for you. A keg selection of always-changing quality craft beers, four cask beers and a large selection of Belgian beers round off the offering in this gorgeous Yorkshire bolthole. Food-wise you’ll find seasonally-shifting plates and there are even plenty of alcohol-free beers available, too. No stone has been left unturned at this hugely popular country pub.


21. The Sportsman

Whitstable, Kent

If you’re after a pub with sticky tables that does decent fish and chips then The Sportsman is not the pub you want to be visiting. If, however, you’re in the market for a glorious five-course tasting menu comprised of small, seasonal dishes which showcase the local Kentish produce then The Sportsman is exactly the pub you want to be visiting. The food at this pub by the sea puts just about every gastropub out there to shame. Not just one of the best pubs in the UK, but one of the best restaurants too.

22. The Garrick Bar


The Garrick Bar is an excellent pub smack-bang in Belfast city centre. Stop by for a swift one post-work and you’ll invariably end up staying a couple of hours chatting to the bartender and encountering an assortment of friendly folks in the premises. It’s a real classy joint, and one of the oldest in Belfast, with dark wood panelling and leather banquettes giving it a sophisticated feel that’s increasingly hard to find nowadays. The portion sizes are friendly when it comes to food but the real reason you’re here is for the craic.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Camberwell


When it comes to pubs that do food, they don’t get much better than The Camberwell Arms. Expect plenty of classic Britsh plates on the menu (the scotch bonnet pork fat on toast is an enduring icon and a must-order) and whatever’s scrawled on the specials board to be cooked to perfection. Coming here for a drink is a great idea but coming here for a drink followed by a bang-up meal is an even better one.

Uppermill, Lancashire

The Church Inn is unique in that it’s a pub that’s right next door to a neo-Gothic church. Yeah, there aren’t many of those knocking about in the UK. And if there are, I doubt there are any doing it as good as the Church Inn. Home to Saddleworth Brewery, Church Inn offers a range of traditional beers, all hand-brewed in small batches with a variety of speciality malt and imported hops. The interior is warm and inviting and it’s impossible not to be charmed by all that this stone-walled public house has to offer.

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