These 12 UK pubs are officially ‘perfect’, according to National Geographic

The travel mag has revealed a definitive bucket list for pub purists

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee
Contributor, Time Out London and UK
Blisland Inn, Cornwall
Photograph: Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB /

What makes a perfect pub? Tasty pints? A characterful building? Amenable regulars? If you ask us, pubs come in all shapes and sizes – but you always know a good one when you’re in it. Fittingly, our lists of the best pubs in the UK and the finest boozers in London celebrate pubs of all kinds. 

According to National Geographic, however, there’s a very strict set of criteria for top-tier pubs. The travel mag reckons that great pubs haven’t got ‘fancy’ foods or Sky Sports and absolutely don’t have QR codes. They also specify that nuts and crisps should be available.

If you consider yourself a ‘pub-purist’, or if your taste in pubs is the same as your grandad’s, their roundup is probably as close to a bar-bible as you’re going to get. Here are the 12 pubs they consider ‘perfect’. 

  • The Bell Inn, Aldworth
  • The Oxford Bar, Edinburgh
  • The Southampton Arms, London
  • The Dyffryn Arms, Cwm Gwaun
  • Ypres Inn, Rye
  • Pride of Spitalfields, London
  • Basketmakers, Brighton
  • The Blisland Inn, Cornwall
  • The Magnet, Stockport
  • Birch Hall Inn, North Yorkshire
  • Queen’s Head, Cambridgeshire
  • Sunflower, Belfast

To National Geographic’s credit, oftentimes ‘best in the UK’ means ‘mostly London with a bit of everywhere else if we’re feeling kind’, so kudos to them for remembering the existence of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – even if they were a bit old-fashioned in their methodology.

If you’re a pub-lover then consider this a pilgrimage and try a pint at each of these sacred locations. Now that’s a road-trip to tell your grandkids about. You can find out more on the National Geographic website here.

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Plus: Britain’s best Sunday roasts have been revealed.

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