The Harp

The HarpThe Harp
The HarpThe Harp
Bar, Eatery

47 Chandos Place
London, England, WC2N 4HS
United Kingdom

+44 20 7836 0291 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 33
Photo of captaincoffee
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

I loved this place when I first came to London. However, it always tends to be crowded as soon as work lets out, and the atmosphere isn't that great. Mostly good beers, but it seems they have a mix of not-so-great beers in there as well lately. Vibe is that of a cheap boozer, although it isn't a cheap boozer of course. If you are in the area, I would still highly recommend a visit, but I think is just isn't as good as it used to be.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

Love this place. What you can imagine a traditional old boozer would be like - full of blokes drinking, basically no food served, quite a small layout with the traditional (to London) awkward staircase. Always a good selection of cask and a couple of kegs too. Mostly London stuff.

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Photo of Hayley_86
3.54/5  rDev -15.1%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75

To be honest we were here on a friday late afternoon/ early evening. It was very very crowded, which makes it hard to give it a fair rating. At another time it might be a complete different experience.

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Photo of Mark
4.73/5  rDev +13.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

Small but tremendous pub just a short walk from Trafalgar Square. Street level room is long and narrow, a tight staircase leads to the uppr level and additional seating. Very well kept beer and friendly employee's. A tremendous real ale pub that should not be missed.

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Photo of spointon
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Visited the Harp with my wife on a recent trip to London.

There are basically three spaces to this pub - main floor, upstairs, and out in the back alley. The main (street) level is a narrow and deep traditional pub room with the bar running about half the length of the room. Seating other than bar seating is clustered right in the front door and near the back. Upstairs, there is a room that feels like a Victorian era parlor, painted pink (!), with a scattered collection of seating and small tables. On the night of our visit, there were also a fair number of people standing outside in the alley drinking and smoking.

We initially sat downstairs on stools in the front window area, but we were somewhat cramped and uncomfortable. We then moved upstairs and found a couple of nice seats.

Beers were fresh and well poured and the selection was outstanding. I had some boundary pushing hoppy ales on cask that were amazing.

Prices were usual and normal for London. Service (at the bar only) was excellent and friendly.

Overall, I would recommend this place to anyone. Super pub atmosphere and super selection.

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Photo of withliterature
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

This is an excellent pub, especially for its very central location. It's very near to The Chandos, and a decidedly better choice.

The atmosphere is the best part. I came here twice on my most recent trip to London, and found two other foreigners on the first visit and none of the second. Conversations here were fun to eavesdrop on. Obviously popular with London suits, as well as with retirees and a few younger working people. A cozy, comfortable dark wood interior with a large open front window that encourages sitting at the window-ledge stools or standing on the sidewalk if the weather permits. There is an upstairs room, but it looks like a pink, frilly tearoom and was deserted on both of my visits. I would guess that it seats people on crowded evenings.

I found a nice selection of cask beers, most of which I don't think I encountered in any other pubs I visited. Two originals that I wrote down were an Elderflower Blonde Ale and Boggart Ray of Sunshine. Everything was poured nicely, and prices were average.

I didn't try any of the food here, but there are daily specials and the locals seemed to order the daily special sausage plates very consistently.

The service, in my experience, was average. Barkeeps talked amongst themselves, and while I did see the owner briefly, she didn't spend any time behind the bar. No complaints, but nothing particularly positive about the staff.

Highly recommended "boozer," as TimeOut London would call it (they seem to favor bars over pubs). I spent several very pleasant hours here.

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Photo of jgasparine
4.36/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I tight and cozy pub-- it was packed with local patrons when we were there, so tightly that we could barely squeeze past the bar to the stairwell in the back. Regardless, the crowd was friendly-- and many of them were there for the great beer and cider. The worn wood throughout the pub told of a long beer history, and it felt good to be a part of it.

All cask ales I had were served at perfect temperatures and poured without a sparkler. All tasted as fresh as can be, and were served in proper (and clean) glassware. Top notch.

In general, the speed of service was decent considering the size of the crowd... and despite the crowd, the bartendress was willing to help explain about each beer and guide our selections.

A free house, this pub had a nice selection (8 beer engines IIRC) of session ales ranging from light to dark and from mild to hoppy. At the time there were no stouts or porters available, and certainly nothing over 5% abv. They did, however, also have a nice cider selection. I had two of their ciders, which both exhibited a substantial brett note. Overall, this was one of the better selections of real ale I found on this trip to London.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.64/5  rDev +11.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

With all of the excellent pubs throughout London, this is one of the gems to visit many times over on your trip to London without feeling you're missing out some other potentially great pub.
Owner and manager, Binnie Walsh knows her cask ales and was willing (enthusiastic) to explain her excellent offerings, although she was shy about having her picture taken.
Harp has a narrow, yet comfortable bar area downstairs with leather seating and a wide shelf to rest your ale and food upon. Stained glass windows and mirrors lend the illusion of a bigger space.
Up the round staircase is a small, but well-spaced lounge area with an eclectic mix of antique chairs sofas and tables.
Try to land the window seats if possible.
Speaking of eclectic mix, the crowd was from all walks, and all friendly and warm.
The Men’s room is oddly placed half-way up the stairs. Fortunately the door opens inward. Unfortunately, you may find yourself waving hello to passerby’s with your free hand.
This pub gathers its share of CAMRA and Cask Marquis awards and gets high marks from the local London Guides.
Eight handpumps serve a delicious range of cask-conditioned ales. The Sambrook’s Wandle, Twickenham Original and The Dark Star Winter Meltdown were all perfect! Sadly, it was early in the day and my wife had a schedule for us to keep for the rest of the day and evening. The rest of the day, by the way, seemed to float merrily along.
Just a very solid pub!

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Photo of bosox941827
4.63/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Had this place targeted based on reviews here and the fact that it had just been named CAMRA's pub of the year in January of '11. The happy realization that my hotel at Trafalgar Square was a 5 minute walk away didn't hurt either. Checked into my hotel at 9pm after flying out of Boston that morning, freshened up and was at the Harp by 9:30; best Tube stop is Charing Cross for those coming from other parts of London.

Was a bit crowded when I arrived but manageable and quickly snagged a spot by the bar so I could survey the tap handles. Unless you get an actual spot at the bar, however, the front or back of the room is best for standing as the path past the bar is quite narrow. At the far left and right of the bar are your standard-issue taps; Guinness, Guinness Extra Cold (!) and maybe a Smithwick's or something along those lines. It's the middle 8 taps where the action happens. These prized spots are occupied on a rotating basis by greater-London breweries, including Harvey's, Sambrook and DarkStar.

Clientele (at ~10pm) seemed to be a mix of dyed-in-the-wool regulars, and after-work young crowd. I suspect this Yankee stood out a bit, but no one seemed to care. Atmosphere is homey and welcoming, overall.

There are pub towels scattered over every flat surface in the place, as the imperial pints are poured right to the rim by the expert bar staff. There are a few sausages available here and there, updated daily on the blackboard, but don't come here expecting much in the food department, as this place is all about beer.

I was so impressed with this visit, that I decided to come back the following evening, which was unfortunately St Patrick's Day, as I had a few hours before dinner. It was absolutely packed, but I counted no fewer than 7 staff behind the bar pulling pints. And the great thing about London pubs is the option to take your pint outside upon obtaining it, which I did - along with literally ~100 others - after battling my way to the bar.

All in all, I can't recommend this place highly enough for a "real" London pub experience and great selection of cask ales.

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Photo of thepeter
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Every time I am in the area I make it a point, excuse or outright lie to get myself over for at least a half pint (but usually more). The place is a bit small and almost always pretty crowded as it is no secret as to how good it is. The beers are all top notch with 8 handpumps that range from local Sambrooks to almost always having a couple darkStar's amd many other regional brews as well. Service has always been amazing in my experience I have never had to wait more than a couple minutes, and am always greeted with a smile. I have only tasted the cheese plate but hear the sausages are fantastic. Prices are really good for the area, it is an absolute GEM!

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Photo of RobBeer
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is my regular hangout in the West End, so you may call my review bias, but I drink there for a reason. There are certain things that make a pub great; the landlord/landlady, the service and the beer.

This pub ticks all the boxes. Binny, the landlady, is an excellent host. The bar staff are on the ball and you will never wait too long to be served, even when it's busy. And then there are the beers, 8 handpumps with rotating beers from Dark Star, Sambrooks and regional guests. I know when I go in for a beer I am either going to find something new or an old favourite. As well as the beer, there is also about half a dozen real ciders and a selection of single malt Scotch whiskies.

With the exception of a few packaged bar snacks, the only other food available is a selection of sauages from he O'Hagan Sausage Company during lunchtime.

Other pubs (and pubcos) could learn a lot from the Harp, this is what a pub should be; an honest gimmick free down to earth boozer with a good selection of beers. Winner of CAMRA London Pub of the Year 2010 and in the final four for National CAMRA Pub of the Year.

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Photo of alfrantzell
4/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Not bad for what is essentially a felt lined corridor. The bar boasts a number of handpumps, from which I tried the Dark Star Old Chestnut, Saison, and Hophead. They all tasted good after trekking through throngs of tourists in Covent Garden. A wide open window allowed us to watch the passersby through the bottoms of our pint glasses.

It does have its idiosyncrasies, like a wall saturated with centuries old portraiture. Less dignified is the restroom, which is less a room than a cranny. Using it when someone else is there is an exercise in male bonding.

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Photo of JohnW
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Just a few minutes walk from Covent Garden area, or Charing Cross Station, this little pub is a real gem! Small frontage, though a bit bigger inside than expected. Traditional Victorian style, and made very welcome by the friendly landlady. Lots of beer pump clips on display showing beers past and present! Seven hand pulls on at time of visit, with beers from Brains, Timothy Taylor, Sambrooks, Adnams etc and those we tried were first class and reasonable prices for central London.

Lively but relaxed atmosphere, mainly locals and a few tourists like us, no loud music, just good beer, well served and a really great place, atmosphere a little reminicent of Ye Old Mitre, off Hatton Garden.

Definitely worth a visit when in that area.

B'ham UK Nov 2009

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Photo of austin
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

This is a typical, old style pub you'd expect to find in central London,just minutes from Charing Cross tube. It's a small,narrow pub with 4 casks including Black Sheep and T.Taylor Landlord. Had a pint of the Landlord and it was one best bitters I had in London. Landlord on cask is worth seeking out.

Lots of pictures of famous people on the walls,all of which I assume have raised a glass at The Harp.

Could only get sausage on a bun for lunch, which was ok, but don't look for any selection.

This is a good pub for atmosphere and to sample T.Taylor's Landlord.

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Photo of JohnfromDublin
4/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is a brilliant little pub in the Covent Garden area, just around the corner from the Salisbury. In the door revealing a narrow room (corridor) with the bar running down the left. Good selection of casks, including Black Sheep (£2.80 a pint in April 2007) served by pleasent staff. No TV, just people having conversation and beer, maybe the pinnacle of civilisation! Plenty of portraits in the walls. Gents toilet halfway up narrow stairs, ladies upstairs as is a non smoking room. I could have stayed all day.

Footnote added Jan 2008: The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood has just voted The Harp as its London pub of the year.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

How do pubs this small, manage to survive in London? I asked myself as I found this bar (using no map and only a CAMRA Good Beer Guide).

On entering I realised. It was heaving with humanity, all talking and drinking (in between smoking) like men possesed. Most had been drinking for some time, you can tell can't you? There must have been 50 or so people in the place. They were all over each other, trying to let people pass or get to the bar, all good natured and obviously normal for The Harp.

On a quieter day, it is wide enough for two to pass each other along the bar area and past that it widens out a little, but it can't hold more than 20 people without it spilling into the street, which I have done on numerous occassions since I have discovered this place. That first visit however was great fun, as everyother one has also.

Beer choice and service are not an issue here, both top notch, this is a serious beer drinking pub which is well run and a joy to have in this part of tourist London.

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Photo of surfadelic23
4/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Hit this pub on a Friday afternoon and it was PACKED. They have a very good selection of real ales on. I started off with a pint of the Tim Taylor Landlord which was in great condition. For my second round, I went with the HomeWrecker but in requesting in called it the Wifebeater which had the friendly and very cool barmaid laughing and asking if I wanted either Magners cider or Stella! I then noticed the name was Homewrecker... oops. We ended up sitting upstairs with a bunch of BAs, very good time and cool to put names to faces! The stairs can be difficult to negotiate, especially with three full pints, but I managed it nicely. If in this area, by all means check out this pub.
revisited again Oct 2009... still a great spot... they also have pig snacks and good sausages apparently...

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Stop #8 on a lively Saturday pub-crawl of London was a real find, and a bigger surprise! By now RichLightWeight was working overtime to keep us (me!) on track, for I could have stopped in every single one of the last seven pubs for more than the one Pint that we had, and the ‘The Harp’ was no exception either.

Now I could have happily wandered right past The Harp and I would have been penalized for my prejudice in thinking that this was “just another faux Irish pub”. Far from it, though the exterior hints little at the fine selection of Ales inside.

The frontage does have a classic Irish Pub appearance to it, the sign that spreads across the ~15ft width of the Pub is a painted glass one, the words ‘The Harp” are in gold and black text set against a dark green background. Carved black painted wooden fittings outline the ground floor frontage. The door sits to the right of what appears to be one large window above a wooden lower frontage - these in turn all sit below a row of small windows just below the Pub sign. All the windows are leaded ones comprised of colored glass rectangles, and the main window to the left of the door folds away to open up the frontage above the lower wooden portion. Against this lower wood paneled frontage two chalkboards advertise the Real Ales on sale. When I visited the main door was wedged open and the main window folded back to reveal a serving like hatch frontage. A pair of large antique street lights and pink and yellow flowers in five large hanging baskets complete the presentation. The overall appearance is one of great pride and personal stake holding, this is definitely not a chain pub.

The inside is not very big, a single main room has the bar area down the left hand side. Décor is traditional, dark woods and thick carpets lend a very homely and comfortable feel. Lots of pictures adorn the walls, I’m not sure that there is much room left on the walls for any more.

A warm welcome awaits anyone who steps foot in here. Immediately we entered I recall the woman behind the bar catching our eye and was ready to serve us, sadly we were unsure which of the many beers to order so we paused for a while, not often that happens! Service was genuinely friendly and always with a smile.

Others mention 5 beers, but I counted Six (6) Handpumps serving; Smiles Zing Ale (4.3%), Caledonian Nectar (4.3%), Mordue Workie Ticket (4.5%), Black Sheep Best Bitter (3.8%), Timothy Taylor’s Landlord (4.3%) and Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%). Also had a real Cider, Malvern Magic Cider from Herefordshire. The usual keg taps make up the rest of the bar fittings. I don’t recall balking at the prices so they seemed to be reasonable. Quality of the beers was excellent and the Landlord was some of the best I tried down South.

Deep in the Covent Garden area, this is a nice change of pace from the usual faceless high end bars and soulless corporate chains. This is a real pub run by real people serving a fine range of well kept real ales.

A small place that you could oh so easily not give a second glance to when walking past, but do not make that mistake, this is a superb locals bar serving high quality Real Ales that you really should not miss when in WC2!

Last Visit: Saturday 24th June, 2006.

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Photo of wl0307
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

This is arguably the best real ale pub (freehouse) in the Covent Garden and Trafalgar Sq. area (at least for me). From the outside it's hard to pinpoint what kind of drinking place it is, as the semi-transparent glass windows obstruct one's probe, and the green-background font of "HARP" could even make one suspect if it's an Irish pub? (see the pix for yourself.)

Pushing open the door, one's in a cosy, lively, real ale heaven. The interior space is small, if not tiny, with a single-room layout, and the decor is "colourful" with plenty of authentic as well as ersatz portraits arranged very closely on the walls (as if connected to the nearby National Portrait Gallery?). Most punters sit on tall stools by the sides or stand by the bar, rather than half-lying on comfy chairs/sofas as the kind of luxury other pubs in the same area tend to focus on.

The bar is equipped with 5 handpumps, serving Black Sheep's Best Bitter, Harvey's Best Bitter, and Timothy Taylor's Landlord as regulars, plus two other real ales as guests. The quality is, dare I say, consistently high and simply unbeatable in that area... The Landlord tastes next to none in London and Harvey's Best at the same high level as Royal Oak. The service from the regular staff is friendly and professional; one of the regular barmaids always responds positively to one's doubt/opinion of the real ale quality, and would even change the barrel straight away if she's found out something dodgy about the ale (right before my eyes twice). For those peckish after a pint of great ale in the pub, a wide selection of sausages comes in handy and delicious, although most punters enjoy a quick pint here after work or before carrying on with fantastic night life in the same area.

All in all, a "local"-type of real ale gem it is, not so hard to find, but very easily overlooked. If you're a real ale fan, this is the sort of place for you right beside the Trafalgar Sq.

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The Harp in London, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4.17 out of 5 with 33 ratings