London is the best place for theatre in the world and no trip to the West End is complete without a pre-show tipple.
The city is full of fantastic theatre pubs, waiting to serve punters before the evening shows – and to pour out a drink for the show bands who rush in for refreshment during the interval.
Whether you’re after a pint before a night at the Pinter, or a gin and tonic before an evening at the Globe, these are the best places to go.
To beer or not to beer — heading for a pre-show drink is a real treat by the Globe, which is just along the river from the Anchor. The Greene King spot is one of the busiest pubs in the area, but the drinking terrace out the front is a buzzy place to enjoy a pre-show tipple in the summer. The Swan bar and restaurant is linked with the theatre, and it’s a nice spot to enjoy a glass of wine or two right by the Thames – Allan Pickett’s menu is likely to tempt you to return sometime, too. The Globe is also close to Borough Market, which is blessed with great pubs like the Market Porter and craft beer specialists the Rake.
21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT, shakespearesglobe.com
The Old Vic, The Young Vic
The Fire Station — a gastropub found a stone’s throw from both the Old Vic and the Young Vic — is always good for a quick drink before a show. As the name suggests, The Stage Door found just round the corner on Webber Street is a theatre pub which is teaming with arts lovers before and after shows. Likewise, the Duke of Sussex — closer to the Old Vic than the Young Vic — is a reliable shout, as is the Anchor & Hope, which sits on the Cut. For something a little bit different, head to Vaulty Towers on Lower Marsh. The pub is one of the quirkiest in the city, featuring fantastic decor all made using recycled props from nearby art space the Vaults.
The National Theatre
The Understudy, housed right underneath the National, is the best place to head before a show. Craft ale fans are well catered for, with 10 beers on tap, and there are plenty of good wine and spirit options to enjoy overlooking the Thames too. The Mulberry Bush is another comfortable spot, which is found a short walk away towards the Oxo Tower. The bar at Sea Containers is also close by, and if you get the chance to visit the extraordinary Dandelyan before it closes, make sure you do.
Upper Ground, Lambeth, SE1 9PX, nationaltheatre.org.uk
The Pinter Theatre
The recently refurbished Comedy Pub on Oxendon Street, which has more than 15 screens showing sport, is a solid option in close proximity to The Pinter Theatre. Slightly further afield you’ll find the dainty little pub the London Beer House by the Royal Opera Arcade, which is ideal for a pre-show pit-stop. The Chandos — found just past the National Portrait Gallery — is one of Sam Smith’s best London pubs and the perfect setting for a swift Taddy Lager before a show.
Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN, pinteratthepinter.com
Victoria Palace Theatre, Apollo Victoria Theatre
The Shakespeare opposite Victoria station is decidedly unglamorous, but perfectly decent for a quick drink before heading to either the Apollo Theatre or the Palace Theatre. Greenwood is a good option for sports fans, but the best overall option is the characterful Grade II listed Plumbers Arms on Lower Belgrave Street, just a few minutes’ walk away from both theatres.
Lyceum Theatre, Adelphi Theatre
The Lyceum Tavern is a Sam Smith’s pub ideally located next door to the Lyceum Theatre, offering the usual mix of affordable drinks in a comfortable setting. Those visiting the Adelphi should try the Coal Hole right across the road for a pre-show shandy, or head down the hill to Gordon’s Wine Bar by Embankment station for something a little more sophisticated.
21 Wellington Street, WC2E 7RQ, thelyceumtheatre.com
Palace Theatre, Apollo Theatre
Both the Apollo and the Palace theatre are found within short distance of two legendary Soho boozers. The Coach and Horses on Greek Street is the subject of countless drinking stories, and the fully vegetarian pub is one of the most comfortable places for a drink anywhere in the area. Soho institution the French House is also just around the corner — the historic spot is full of character, and famously only serves beer in half pints. The Lyric on Great Windmill Street is also a cosy spot with a range of unusual ales.
113 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, W1D 7EZ, palacetheatrelondon.org
Noel Coward Theatre, Duke of York’s Theatre
If you’ve got time on your hands before a visit to the Duke of York’s Theatre or the Noel Coward Theatre, your first port of call should be the Harp on Chandos Place, which is always worth tackling the crowds for. This beautiful pub might be small, but the bar is stocked with one of the best beer selections in the city, and the stunning stained-glass windows make this an endlessly charming place to spend time. Mr Fogg’s Tavern just up the road is a quirky spot for a beer or one of their excellent cocktails too.
St Martin’s Lane, WX2N 4AP, noelcowardtheatre.co.uk
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