Travel experience: London pub

//Travel experience: London pub

Travel experience: London pub

I am not a heavy beer drinker. Yet, one of my most enjoyable experiences in London involved a visit to a neighborhood pub.  

With only 48 hours in London, I had to make the most of my time there. I was hoping to squeeze in seeing the city’s celebrated architecture (the Tower Bridge is remarkable) and exploring neighborhoods where people live and play. Not an easy task, but possible if you get up early, stay up late and wear comfortable shoes throughout the day.

I already had a plan for the major sites, and the other part was made easy by a fellow city travel blogger – and Londoner – Duncan of Urban Travel Blog. He happened to be in town at the same time as me, and invited me to join him at a friend’s birthday party in the Crystal Palace neighborhood.

This was my chance to see a residential area in South London – and take one of the longest subway rides on the trip. Despite running late, and then having to climb some steep hills and ask for directions, I managed to reach the Grape & Grain pub while the party was in full swing. Before long, I joined the conversation and found myself… trying a pint of local beer.

Pub entrance

Drink menu

Seeing the large selection of ales on tap, I wasn’t quite sure what to get. Thankfully, the owner was helpful and made a good recommendation. Even though I’m a very slow beer drinker and could in no way keep up with the veterans, I was glad to be a part of the English pub culture, if only for one night.

Beers on tap

More beers on tap

I enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere, fun décor (beer labels arranged to look like a wallpaper border) and the overall welcoming feeling. The patrons seemed to be people from various walks of life, likely area residents who stopped by the place to socialize, have a bite or even sit alone and read a magazine.

Beer labels on the wall

Inside the pub

I wished that I could stay longer, but the trains were not running anymore and I had to hurry to catch the last bus to the hotel. After saying my good-byes, I headed to the nearby bus station and hopped on an N71 back to Central London. The pub outing may have ended, but my London sightseeing continued that night – from the second floor of the red double decker.

Have you been to a pub in England (or any other country)? How was your experience? Share in the comments box.

See also:
Enjoying pints in London [photo]
Jetting Around’s guide to Chicago on Urban Travel Blog


By | 2016-06-28T10:01:18+00:00 March 10th, 2012|STORIES|29 Comments

About the Author:

Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.


  1. avatar
    Cathy Sweeney March 15, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I haven’t been to The Grape and the Grain, but I’ve had some very enjoyable time in London pubs. I’m not a big beer drinker either, but it just seems like the right thing to have sometimes.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around March 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      That’s exactly how I feel. Thanks for stopping by, Cathy! :)

  2. avatar
    Marianne Schwab April 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    The Grape and Grain looks like a quintessential London pub experience. Pubs were one of the only places I’d eat when visiting London since the food was good and relatively inexpensive, plus such a festive environment – My big thrill was at the Sherlock Holmes Pub since I’m a big fan of the books! Love your pub photos – I can almost taste the ale!
    Marianne Schwab recently posted..Santa Fe Art Gallery in a Starbucks?My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 6, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Hi Marianne – I’m glad you like the photos! I didn’t go to the Sherlock Holmes museum, could have been fun.

  3. avatar
    CityTrip Planner April 12, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Pubs in the UK can be amazing places to spend a few hours, especially local ones – they’re great environments in which to people watch or make new friends over a pint or three!

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Definitely! I’d love to experience this some more. :)

  4. avatar
    Mary Anne December 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I love a great pub and a good pint with old friends or new. Thanks for sharing

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      You can’t go wrong with that!

  5. avatar
    @mrsoaroundworld December 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I LOVE PUBS! I didn’t before I moved to the UK almost 5 years ago. My favourite one? My village pub. The sense of community is amazing. And they have lovely wine!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..The Luxury Travel Blog Network – December 2013 EditionMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      The community feel is exactly what I noticed during my visit. The place was just so laid-back and comfortable.

  6. avatar
    the lazy travelers December 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    ahhhh want to be there right now. something about a warm, cozy, english pub that just screams winter bliss.
    the lazy travelers recently travel required: #frifotosMy Profile

  7. avatar
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) December 21, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I so want to experience the pub scene in London! I just want to experience London – period.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      I hope you get to do both sooner rather than later! And I wouldn’t mind meeting up for a pint or two. :)

  8. avatar
    Leah December 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I adore London pubs, especially in the winter. They’re so cozy and fun. The beer (and cider) always tastes better in one.
    Leah recently posted..Hong Kong Market Hopping with Kensington ToursMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Hmm, cider! I should try that next time.

  9. avatar
    Traveling Ted December 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I have enjoyed a few ales at a few London pubs when I last visited. I kind of remember being disappointed they close so early. The atmosphere is incredible. There are a few Chicago pubs that have a similar ambiance. Great that you got an opportunity to go to a party there. That is the great part about blogging. I had a similar time in Kuala Lumpur with local bloggers.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..The Strait of Malacca Sunset – Penang, MalaysiaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Yes, I remember them closing too early. That’s my only complaint.

  10. avatar
    lola December 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    pubs are so much fun and such a big part of English culture. i wish we had more of these in the states.
    lola recently posted..New York City – One of My Favorite City BreaksMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      They’re definitely fun, even for those of us who don’t drink a whole lot of beer. :)

  11. avatar
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) December 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Love the pub scene anywhere but it has to be especially fun in London!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..2013: A Year in Food and BeveragesMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      For sure. I once did a Google search for pubs in London and the results were CRAZY! Every single corner, and then some! ;)

  12. avatar
    Lance | Trips By Lance December 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I love pubs. I love London pubs. Want to know what I love more? Village pubs. The smaller the better. My wife’s family lives in and around Norwich, and my favorite pubs are the ones in outlying villages. Our cousins lived in a village not far from Norwich city centre. They had two pubs: The posh one and the dodgy one. I thought it was hysterical that she didn’t like going to the dodgy one. I visited both during our one-week visit in 2005. I visited both frequently. Stopping in for a few pints, a quick visit when all we had time for was a half pint, a nice meal; I think I could live in the English village pub.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Celebrating Christmas Travel TraditionsMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      I would love to explore England’s countryside – and village pubs would definitely be on the itinerary!

  13. avatar
    Erin at The World Wanderer December 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    SO excited that I’ll be back here in just a few days!! Will definitely be spending some time in the pubs. ;)
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Holiday Songs.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around December 26, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      That’s a great way to experience some of the London vibe. Enjoy, Erin!

  14. avatar

    […] with Duncan. We had previously hung out in his native England, where he showed me the traditional London pub experience. Coincidentally, this get-together would also take place over an adult […]

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