An exceptional pub is a hard thing to find. Southeast London’s Lewisham Borough is often overlooked for the likes of Peckham and Greenwich by everybody from tourists to Londoners, but it is home to some of the best pubs in the city.
Because the bar is set so high across the area (pun definitely intended), it feels necessary here to provide a list of honourable mentions, which is not exhaustive by any means. Apologies to those who’ve been missed out. The Chandos (SE23) has one of the best craft beer selections around and tasty sour dough pizzas.
The Capitol (SE23) will likely cause controversy as it’s a Wetherspoons, but its location inside a former cinema with gorgeous art deco is worth a look, if not a little sad that the original use is lost. Meanwhile new kid on the Lewisham block, Suttons’ Radio (SE13), has won plenty of fans since turning a long since dilapidated property on the high street into a respectable watering hole. And now, the list of technically four Lewisham pubs and one nearby, that are the region’s best.
The Ivy House
Although this pub isn’t in Lewisham Borough, it is located just outside. But it deserves a position at the top of this list nonetheless, and here’s why: Not only is it a gorgeous pub with a stage, wooden furnishings, quaint bar stools and a great beer selection, The Ivy House is a co-operative too. Back in 2012 the original pub here had been sold off to a property developer and, like so many other pubs, was about to be consigned to becoming generic apartments. Then a group of empowered locals banded together, got the place listed as an Asset of Community Value (a first for a UK pub) and raised a million pounds to buy the freehold. It is an incredible story and reason alone to have a drink there. Add to that the community vibe, live music nights and great beer and food.
40 Stuart Road, SE15
Blythe Hill Tavern
Winner of CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale’s) most recent South East London pub of the year award, the Blythe Hill Tavern is unlike any other pub in the area. It feels as if time has stood still there and, rather than trying to keep up with the latest fad in British public inebriation provision, has stuck with the tried and true. Three homey wood panel rooms are arranged around a central bar, through which one must pass to get from one room to another. Out back there is fantastic beer garden with a novelty oversized deck chair, an excellent Catford Cat mural and a play area for the kids. On Thursdays, Irish folk musicians gather in the back room and add an extra dose of charm to the already delightful atmosphere.
319 Stanstead Road, SE23
Catford Constitutional Club
The lofty ceilings and open-plan layout of the Catford Constitutional make for an excellent atmosphere at busier times. The club is another great example of a local initiative to reclaim a building falling into disrepair and imbue it with a community purpose. There is a pub quiz every Tuesday, a rotating menu of cask ales and ciders, and a separate section reserved for diners, who come for the Sunday roasts or a la carte offerings like portobello mushroom and goat cheese burger, or Barnsley lamb chops.
Catford Broadway, SE6
The Royal Albert
With a playful, cosy interior that screams shabby chic, with its faded bar stools, velvet, tassels and wooden floorboards, the Royal Albert might just have the best staff in London. The atmosphere is very laid back, but the service is en pointe. There is a great kitchen too, and a separate seating section for diners, with a decent range of vegetarian and meat options and a classic Sunday roast lighting up the menu. There is a good selection of drinks across the board and an outdoor seating area.
460 New Cross Road, SE14
The Prince of Wales Pub
Another good pub for local craft beers and decent ales, the Prince of Wales Pub exudes a great family vibe; something that is a lot less common in London than you may generally find in less urban environments. The pub is noticeable for the giant boot sculpture affixed to part of the roof, which is one to ask the landlord about. The building itself is mock-Tudor and there’s a small beer garden around the side of the building. Although not a huge pub, it is cosy and great food is served from Thursday to Sunday.
52 Perry Rise, SE23
By Paul Stafford