With pubs due to re-open on Saturday – albeit with some pesky restrictions – all eyes will be on those establishments with decent beer gardens.
But with space somewhat of a premium, London isn’t always known for its beer gardens. Nevertheless, here are eight pubs that should do the trick:
Herne Tavern, SE22
Sitting right opposite the lush greenery of Peckham Rye, the Herne Tavern is everything we’ve always liked about a good pub: a stylish and rustic boozer with plenty of space for quiet conversations.
While it might take a while for the Tavern to get fully up-to-speed – pre-Covid the pub was a popular wedding venue and a hub for live music – it’s still one of the biggest and best-kept pub gardens in all of south London. Expect them to do a roaring trade this summer.
The Canonbury Tavern, N1
One of the most fashionable Islington gastropubs, this pub has sat on Canonbury Place – just a short walk from Highbury & Islington station – for the best part of 400 years.
It’s also one of several London pubs that claims to have been a favoured drinking spot of George Orwell. Although it at least has a stronger claim than many: it’s known that the author lived in Canonbury Square around the time of writing his novel 1984.
Once you’ve finished your drinks, head down to New River Walk – one of the most serene spots in Islington.
The Wood House, SE26
The perfect reward for schlepping all the way up Sydenham Hill on a sunny day, The Wood House is one of those classic English pubs the size of a decent country manor.
Even better, a fenced-off beer garden surrounds most of the pub, complete with chalets, picnic tables and an outdoor burger shack (offering its own gastropub take on that classic hangover-buster, curly fries).
The pub has always prided itself on being child-friendly, so expect the same village green feel when it reopens.
The Castle, SW17
Functioning like a magic enclave away from Tooting’s busy high street, The Castle has long been a popular spot for Sunday roasts and outdoor drinks.
But while every pub under the sun will be offering takeaway pints, The Castle’s advantage is its large backyard. With its long-strength of apres ski-style huts, this backyard space (it’s too paved to be a garden) has almost been perfectly designed for socially-distanced drinking. But with lots of thirsty locals, you might want to book your visit as soon as possible.
The Albion, N1
While south London might just have the edge when it comes to beer gardens, The Albion deserves credit for doing its bit to keep the north competitive.
The Albion’s stylish garden fits in perfectly with its elegant surroundings, which contain some of the best Georgian and Victorian architecture in all of Islington. Escape from the summer glare by sitting under the shade of one of the trees or come later on for that balmy evening feel.
Will The Albion’s charming private dining rooms be ready for a post-lockdown return? We can only hope so.
Watson’s General Telegraph, SE22
Proudly boasting an all year round beer garden, Watson’s has become a favoured spot for outdoor drinking in an area ripe with stiff competition.
It helps, I suppose, that Watson’s is known as a funky independent that takes special pride in offering the best beers from London’s craft breweries. With 20 options on tap, beer aficionados will be counting down the days until reopening – little wonder then that the website appears to be already taking bookings.
Though let’s hope they won’t need those fire pits – which keep smokers warm in the height of winter – for a good few months yet.
Magic Garden Pub, SW11
Calling itself ‘a festival in a pub’, the Magic Garden has long enjoyed a reputation for providing a healthy dose of hedonism. What it will look like post-lockdown is anyone’s guess (although if anyone’s going to throw a party when it’s safe to do so, it will be these guys).
What you can depend on, though, is that the beer garden – complete with fairy-lights, a large hippy canopy, abandoned sofas and a rehomed black taxi – will be one of the more colourful places to be this summer.
If you’re still sore about missing Glastonbury, this should just about do the trick.
The Crooked Billet, E5
Famous locally largely for its gourmet take on Carribean cooking, Clapton-hotspot The Crooked Billet also has a mighty good beer garden – not something you often find in these parts of east London.
Like many loved food establishments, the Billet team have spent much of the lockdown working their hardest to deliver a takeaway kitchen service to appreciative locals. From next Saturday, punters will be able to return the favour – by popping in for a round of their favourite drinks.