WHAT’S IT LIKE? Visitors to this Victorian gem in Bloomsbury tend to be either regulars or the determined. Situated down a small side street, and despite being very close to Russell Square tube station, it is a well-kept secret among the pub-lovers of London.
The striking green tiles at the front of the building are quaint and inviting and, once inside, the horseshoe-shaped bar is very easy to stay by. It’s small, intimate, and perfect for spending long evenings with friends. For the smokers, there’s a secluded back patio with seating, and the quiet streetside area at the front.
The walls are decorated with original sepia prints of the half-forgotten stars from nearby theatres and music halls, and if you search among the faces, you can find the illegitimate son of Winston Churchill. The pub itself also feels comfortingly half-forgotten, and has remained unchanged since the 1960s. Come here to forget about 21st-century high-speed living and listen to the delicate tunes of an old polyphon music machine (the staff will make it play if you pay a small donation to their charity of choice).
THE DRINKS: As a Young’s (local brand) pub, it serves a good range of beers and ales, including the wonderfully named Waggledance. This is brewed with a touch of honey and a healthy dose of hops, which gives a delicious balance – it’s a real connoisseur’s beer.
WHAT’S INTERESTING? Around the bar, the original 19th-century etched glass “snob screens” are still to be found. These were used by gentlemen of high standing to shield their identity, all the better to spend time with women of “dubious distinction”. It’s also a place for solving writer’s block – rumour has it that local resident Charles Dickens did some of his best work here.
CONTACT: 94 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1, UK, tel 44 207 405 0713. Open from 1100 (except Sundays, from 1200) till late.