Pop your head into The Toucan just off Soho Square for an experience that can only be described as “Guinness galore.” Lean against walls covered in Guinness posters overlooked by a trio of the busy tiny Irish pub’s namesake toucans, drink in hand, or perch on a stool designed to look like a pint of the black stuff. Guinness aside, the Irish bar also offers a good choice of whiskies.
Probably one of the biggest Irish pubs in London, The Porterhouse in Covent Garden is also well-known for its large range of beers, stouts, ales and porters, all lovingly brewed in Dublin and exported to London. Beyond its home-brewed fare, the Irish bar’s serves up a range of bottled beers from across the globe. You can also find live music in the basement bar on Sunday afternoons after filling up on a great value Sunday lunch.
Set in the West End, the cavernous Waxy O’Connor’s is a sight to behold. The rabbit-warren of four bars over six floors ranges from the gothic Church Bar to the fairytale Tree Room, but you can still find a cosy spot by the fire in the Cottage Bar. Wherever you manage to find a seat, the Irish pub’s lively clientele are eternally welcoming.
Waxy’s Little Sister
For a quieter experience, try O’Connor’s sister bar, Waxy’s Little Sister. With armchairs and an open fire, the Irish bar offers traditional Irish hospitality and food away from the hustle and bustle of the older pub. The upstairs sofa bar has great views over Wardour Street, and there is even a dumb waiter (a small lift for carrying things, especially food, crockery, and in this case beer between the floors of a building) so you don’t have to run downstairs for that second round. The perfect place for a catch-up with friends or family.
Many believe this Stoke Newington stalwart is “the” Irish pub in London, and for good reason. Auld Shillelagh's staff serve an exceptional pint of Guinness in a very Irish atmosphere; the narrow space is usually packed, high-spirited and full of laughter. The staff are so hospitable that they might even bring your well-poured pint of Guinness over to your table.
You might be surprised to find that London’s oldest Irish pub is actually nestled away on Fleet Street in the City. The Tipperary was probably the first pub outside Ireland to serve draught Guinness – a process it still does very well. While the real draw is the Irish bar’s fascinating history and unexpected location, the cheap and cheerful Irish food is also enjoyable.
Stuck for a place to celebrate Patrick’s Day after the St Patrick’s Day Parade in London? With venues in Soho, Carnaby Street, and more, the O’Neill’s chain of Irish pubs and bars always plan something special for the Irish festival. Head to O'Neill's Kings Cross, for example, for live music and Irish dancers from 5pm.
Blythe Hill Tavern
The Society For The Preservation Of Beers From The Wood voted Blythe Hill Tavern the best pub in London last year; which is no surprise when you take into account the huge selection of ales that the Irish bar has on offer. But the tavern is even more famous for its friendly staff, who man the three tiny wood-panelled bars in shirts and ties. With a large garden and a children’s play area, it’s great for groups and families too.
While this might not be the most traditional Irish pub, The Cow in Notting Hill is known for fantastic oysters and great Guinness. You’ll still be in for a real Irish welcome though, and the upmarket gastropub’s fish-orientated fare is delicious.
The Faltering Fullback
Just a stone’s throw from Finsbury Park station, The Faltering Fullback is the best Irish Pub in north London – according to locals anyway. In good weather, the lovely garden is an early afternoon suntrap, while the rest of the time, the tall, split-level Irish bar is cosy yet accommodating. While not as obviously Irish as some of the others on this list, the Guinness is still good.