The Wenlock Arms

The Wenlock ArmsThe Wenlock Arms
The Wenlock ArmsThe Wenlock Arms
Bar, Eatery

26 Wenlock Road
London, England
United Kingdom

+44 20 7608 3406 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 18 | Ratings: 19 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

What can I say about the Wenlock Arms that has not already been written, reported, eulogized and passionately retold in so many BeerFly’s before!?

I kept my original BeerFly below, it sums up how I felt at the time I posted it and it all stands 101% today. But I felt the need to add an update even though my BF scores remain unaltered I thought it important to refresh them.

The Wenlock Arms is quite simply a London Institution, maybe even an Institute such is its following (yes that’s an English language joke!). A visit by our small group of BA’s - in alphaspaghettical order - LondonPorter, RichLightWeight, TheLongBeachBum, and wI0307, was just one of those great occasions that had to be recorded. 3 local BA’s and not one of them could get us here!! I suspect the quantity of previous libations had something to do with that. Needless to say the Bum had to take full control of the situation and flag a Larndarn Cab down with a road launched NYC Taxi body stop even though we were close by.

Soon we were there, the hairs on the back of my neck were raised such was my excitement to return here. Inside, the sunshine still managed to produce a mellow feel evoking a calming daylight which streamed through the windows and managed to change the appearance of airborne dust to that of golden washed motes, this in turn inducing a serene calm and peace to the Wenlock Arms. Yes it was bloody good to be back!!

Beer range is wide-ranging, a Dozen or so Real Ales including many guests, and as ever, a top draw portfolio of choice. Real Cider and Perry too. Great pub snacks, excellent service and fantastic people, it’s all about the people and beer here.

Entertainment was live music, a skiffling jazz quartet comprised of some old dudes with a Double Bass, Piano, Electric Guitar and Trumpet; utterly fabulous, you couldn’t make this shit up.

Now a few of us were well on the way to being nicely lubricated when we left here, and the night was but young, but I really did hate leaving the Wenlock Arms, it just feels so much like home.

This is my kind of boozer; Down to Earth, a fantastic well-kept range of Real Ales and supporting craft libations, full of real characters – local and out-of-town, Real Ale fans and CAMRA crawlers, pub lovers, music lovers and people lovers…..yeah I love this place!!!

Highly Recommended. A rare treat these days. Do NOT Miss.

Last Visit: Friday 23rd June, 2006.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Established in 1835, the Wenlock Arms was reopened in early 1994 by CAMRA enthusiasts - and it showed. Immediately winning North London CAMRA Pub of the Year in '95 and '96, and a variety of awards ever since. Brilliant layout, a centrally located "island" bar that offers a very friendly welcome to Visitors. No "fixed" range 'per se', it offers an ever changing range of (10, I think) cask-conditioned beers on Handpump, which always includes a Mild. Gained the Cask Marque, so the beers are always "Top Drawer". Also sells a Real Cider and/or Perry, try them if you have not done so before. Food is limited to Bar Snacks, but it sells a wholesome Beef "Sandwedge" that goes really well with Dark Ales. I immediately fell in love with the Wenlock Arms the very first time I frequented this establishment. I had been to the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, and it was full of other Real Ale fans from all over the UK. They were very busy, but the Bar Staff were unflappable and talked courteously, even under pressure. Fantastic atmosphere. I always visit when I can. A Real Corner Street London "Boozer", where I guarantee you will not want to leave until you have at least tried each of the beers on offer!! Visit their excellent Website, get a Map and Directions, and see the list of beers that they have served since 1997.
bf review id: 1319 / 10-03-2002 19:54:20

Jul 03, 2006
More User Reviews:
Photo of Stakebone
Stakebone from North Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Place has been throwing up distress calls for more than five years. Glad I made it there more than once and introduced friends to its charm. Can understand why owners would want to cash in, but there's no other true freehouse in London. Had some unique herb beers there and milds like nothing I've tried in the US, and the only beer I've had that tasted more like grapefruit juice than beer from incredible hopping technique somewhere in the brewing process. Meat pies hit the spot too.

Jan 03, 2016
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joelambic from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Jun 18, 2014
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RobBeer from England

4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is not so much a review, more a heads up. A planning application has been filed with the local council by a property company (Wenlock LLP) to demolish the Wenlock Arms and replace the current two story pub with a five story building consisting of appartments and a retail ground floor.

If the application is passed the pub will be gone very soon. It is a shame that the two owners (both long time CAMRA members) are willing to sell out and see an historic, successful and popular local pub be demolished.

You might want to pay a visit soon, before it's too late.

Oct 11, 2011
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ketwi from France

4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Went there on a thursday evening for the Quizz.
Had a great time, with nice beers : E.L.B Foundation Ale, Haworth Steam Austerity, Hoggley's Mill Lane mild, Fox Kanook, Thatcher's cheddar valley cider, Banks's tetley bitter, Newby Wyke peterboro gold, Redemption Trinity were available for 3,3£/pint max

Bar tender was fun as she was trying to talk to me in French, and other customers were friendly as well ! The surroundings of the pub is nice, with the regent canal near. We almost ended up last on the quizz, but nevermind...

Sep 28, 2011
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ikats from New York

4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Let me start my review by saying that I would consider a trip to London just to visit this pub. And on my next visit I would definitely look into a hotel, or an inn, or a B&B in its vicinity. I think this puts my biases and impressions right up front. Loved this place!

I was at The Wenlock Arms during my overnight trip to London. Stopped by on Thursday at around 2:30 pm. I was one of two customers at the place at the time. Kind of hard to judge the atmosphere in those conditions. It was very inviting empty and has a great potential when filled up with locals and occasional visitors. If I had to describe my kind of neighborhood spot, The Wenlock Arms would be it. It's a lovely old, worn down pub (and I am saying this as a compliment). The focus here is on atmosphere, good ale and enjoyment of both.

The U shaped bar is at the center. The bar is decorated with knickknacks, old pictures, posters, a few Stone bottles. I even noticed an empty Shiner's bottle. There is a TV in the corner, but it's not a flat screen (which is nice). The place had about 10 cask ales. The quality of the three that I tried was excellent. I've had a pint of Dark Star HopHead (excellent ale) and half-pints of Mighty Oak Sand June (decent) and Magic Rock Dark Arts (very good).

I look clearly out of place, but the bartender, an older woman, was friendly and patiently answered my clumsy questions. Some of the ales I had were her recommendations. However, I am not the one to hold long conversations with strangers (bartenders including), so I care about friendly and prompt service and it was top notch at The Wenlock Arms.

I have not been to a lot of places in London, but this pub would definitely be on my must return list.

Sep 20, 2011
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DaveHS from California

4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

A great old pub in the Old Street area, specializing in small production cask ales. Unfortunately, they seem to be in danger of closing, and they are no longer making their legendary salt beer sandwiches, which were the best drinking food around. The pub itself is very old and has a comfortable, worn-in feel. Patrons are mostly older guys in caps and woolen sweaters. Barstaff is friendly, and they have free Jazz on Saturday nights. I saw an empty bottle of Stone Double Bastard proudly displayed above the bar, suggesting I'm one of many Americans to have discovered this wonderful little pub, which has one of the best selections of cask ale in London. The beers they choose are esoteric, and tend not to be along the lines of the traditional English bitter. If you are in London and care about beer, you cannot afford to miss this place.

Jan 11, 2011
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StJamesGate from New York

4.64/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Buried down a residential side street near Wenlock Basin; Angel is the nearest tube stop.

Corner location that draws whatever sunlight there is to be had into U-shaped room, centered around the bar.

Upon entry, I was met with a strange sight - half full at lunchtime with 8 or a dozen solitary sippers taking up many of the nooks and snugs, yet utterly silent, nobody saying a word. Except for the music, which was blasting Led Zeppelin and the Clash. It was like being in a punk/metal library. You'll end up whispering, too, trust me.

The barman was taciturn but looked like he knew his stuff. Selection was stunning - 8 or so handles of uncommon brews, plus a cider. I had Lord Quench, a blonde by some brewers called Sherborne who are so under the radar I can barely find anything online about them - they seem to be two guys in the back of a chip shop, as far as I can tell. Says good things about this pub to make the effort to stock them.

Decor, such as it is, is newspaper clippings, plaques, personal photos, empty bottles, and pump clips. The beer paraphernalia screams "beer geek" - and not just British - if you know enough to read it as such. With all the personal touches, reminds me of the real neighborhood bars you might find in, say, Pittsburgh.

Can't speak about the evening, but this is a supremely mellow and genuine place for an afternoon pint, and the evident beer knowledge and passion is even a step above the other accomplished real ale/CAMRA spots around London. Worth the detour.

Aug 24, 2010
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.56/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

After trekking through approximately two kilometers of London's center city and another kilometer of desserted streets in a residential neighborhood northwest of central London, my father and I arrived at The Wenlock Arms late on a Thursday evening. After seeing many closed pubs along our journey, we expected the Wenlock to be closed as well. As we got closer to this seemingly mysterious destination, we heard the sweet sound of clinking of glasses and quiet banter. The weathered sign out front greeted us and we quickly made our way to the beautifully worn mahogany bar.

In a city filled with proper ale houses at nearly every corner, it seemed that The Wenlock Arms was truly heads and tails above the rest. Dark oak tables and wood trimmed, green velour chairs lined both side walls of the bar. Local patrons (all of whom were coincidentally men) sat and drank pints with such an air of comfort that one might think it was their own living room. Empty bottles (many of which were American craft beers) lined the moulding on the right wall. Apparently some Yanks had come to the Wenlock Arms bearing gifts.

On the night we visited, The Wenlock was pouring from nine hand pumps and four draughs. My Dark Star Summer Solstice was spot on - served in a proper pint glass at the correct temperature. It was exactly what I needed after our long journey.

Our waitress was incredibly friendly and gracious. We chatted about beers for a bit before offering my father and I three samples each. Talk about service. After we finished our beers, she also helped us find our way back to a bus station.

At only £3.25 a piece, pints were quite a bargain. If only beers in the states could be so reasonable.

Getting to The Wenlock Arms can be quite a feat. However, for those wanting to experience a taste of true British ale house culture, there is no better place to visit.

Jul 05, 2010
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alfrantzell from California

3.86/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

At first I wondered why bring recommended me a bar full of fogies, then I remembered he's a fogey himself.

Dusty premises, mean age of 45, dour bartenders.. a four piece jazz band had somehow ensconced themselves in the already cramped establishment, but their music was worth the odd misplaced elbow and trampled foot.

Nine casks of quality, four taps of crap, walls adorned with cobwebbed bottles including such far flung selections as Stone 12th, and Lost Abbey Red Barn. Most of the décor dates to the 70s.

You have to march through fifteen minutes worth of suburbs to get there from the Old Road Tube Station, but if it's crustiness you're after then this is the place for it.

Apr 21, 2010
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

4.72/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

This bar had high ratings, especially on the site, so I decided to stop by on a recent trip to London.

I visited The Wenlock on my first day ever spent in London. I bought a London A to Z and decided to map out how to get here on the tube. I found the closest stop ans set off on my journey. I wandered around the area and through some random residential neighborhoods until I found it. This place is off the beaten path but well worth the trip)adventure in my case).

I walked in there during the early evening probably around six o'clock and it as like stepping back in time. Very dark and dank with a large bar in the center of the building, surrounded by a seating area that wrapped around the building with booths and high top tables. On the top of the bar and on a shelf wrapping around the building there were very old vintage bottles of different beers from around the world. These bottles were covered in dust and cobwebs adding to the romanticized surreal atmosphere of this place.

There is a large chalkboard of the real ales available and in the front of the bar there is a line of handles for the casks, probably ten different real ales. There was a live band but unlike any live band I've seen in a pub/bar. It was three old men playing sea shanties and old folk songs. One was playing a piano, barrel-house style, one on washboard and one playing a trumpet. This music just added to amazing atmosphere of this odd neighborhood pub.

Another characteristic that adds to the atmosphere of this place were the local patrons. I pulled up to the bar and soon was surrounded by the oddest assortment of people I've ever been around. Lots of crusty blue collar neighborhood people, fishermen, a schizophrenic babbling Irishman who would blurt something out and then start cackling and a dwarf. As soon as I sat down some tall toothless blonde haired man looked at me and exclaimed, "I'm fuckin' pissed" in a cockney accent. Later on in the evening I watched him waltz with the dwarf who I met earlier. This place had so many colorful characters that it almost seemed like a dream to me. It was like something Bunuel and Dali would put in one of their early films.

The service at this place was excellent. All of the bartenders were very young but very attentive and knowledgeable. The one bartender was very friendly and asked me a lot of questions about the American craft beer scene and if real ale was served in a lot of places. We talked for a good while and he didn't seem phased at all by the insanity ensuing around him.

I don't know if they serve food but I did sample a bunch of the real ales. They had a very good variety of bitters, milds, stouts, esbs, etc. They had at least ten beers on cask as well as the standard Kronenbourg, Guinness, Fosters and the dreaded Guinness Cold. The variety was good but I didn't check to see if they sold bottles. The only problem if you could call it that was that it mainly focused on domestic beers and not much from outside of the UK.

I absolutely loved this place and if I knew my way around the city I would have stayed all night. I was staying near the London Bridge which is pretty far away so I left somewhat early. This was definitely the best pub I visited in London and possibly my favorite drinking establishment in the world. I wish I could go back there tonight. Anytime I'm anywhere near London again I will make it a mission to revisit this place. I could not recommend this place any higher!

Oct 12, 2009
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soulgrowl from England

4.16/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

This place is a gem. Nine hand pumps, if memory serves, including at least one mild at any given time and also one or two real ciders/perries. Plus, they're always stocked with a majority of microbrews and/or seasonal beers. Expect to find some very pleasant surprises here, like real lagers, porters, and American-style pale ales. Last time I went I got a real lager and a mild brewed with chocolate and mandarin. And, I should add, the casks are kept very well; the beers tasted fresh and robust.

Service is not so friendly, although they do let you sample ales. The atmosphere is a bit odd; it's kind of a run-down shack of a place, although it's got a lot of charm with its dark wood furnishings, island-style bar covered in hundreds of pump displays, and big, sunny windows. The clientele is just a lot of older working-class dudes, not really a beard-and-sandal crowd, more of like an drunken-curmudgeon crowd. People are eccentric and chatty (sometimes a bit irritatingly so), and every now and then there is a dog here!

But basically, this place is all about the ale, and on that front it will not disappoint. It's kind of difficult to find, but if you get off the tube at Old Street, it will be easier to get to than if you alight at Angel.

May 13, 2009
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BlackHaddock from England

4/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Pain in the arse to get too, cold windy St Patricks Day evening, too mean to get a taxi, so its a long walk from Old Street tube station for my wife, son and myself.

Jazz band (three old boys, who knew how to play) in the far corner from our enterance, one stool left in the whole pub, by the big fridge near the toilets, the wife gets that.

Helpful chap behind the bar, I had three different pints, all in top order, my son and wife had others, all impressed.

The only food we had was some Pork Scratchings, but they were OK too.

Is this the best beer bar in London? I don't think so, but I don't know which pub it is either. This place could do with a good scrub, not enough to lose any character or attributes, just a spring clean type tidy up.

Mar 19, 2007
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Mark from California

4.09/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

Finally made it to this real ale haven, though not too crazy about the location. Made a wrong turn at Wenlock Street instead of walking a bit further to Wenlock rd. Found ourselves in a slummy looking area but people on the street were friendly and showed us the way. Pub is small with an island horseshoe bar. Small drinking areas are around the bar and there is a tiny semi enclosed room back by the toilets where we sat. Excellent range of ales from various breweries, including the Champ beer of Britain, Crouch Vale's Brewers Gold. All I tried were in excellent shape and there did not appear to be any lager boys here. The women pulling the pints were uncharacteristically not all that nice. No biggy, I get all my cheers, loves, and mates at other pubs. Can be very smoky, might be a real haven to sample many fine beers when the ban stars. It's a great place now. Closest tube is Old Street. A bit of a walk from there but fairly easy to find, just don't turn on Wenlock Street.

Feb 17, 2007
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surfadelic23 from Florida

4.16/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This was the third stop on our London Pub Crawl and by far the one of the most interesting. They have 8 ales on cask and a cider to boot! This place is kind of difficult to find but well worth the endeavor. I tried a wonderful mild and a very tasty bitter here. It just amazes me how fresh cask ale tastes! I only wish I could get my homebrews to this level of complexity. Lil sister had a 1/2 pint of the cider (she was getting a bit silly by this time). and Pops had a mild and a brown ale that was great. I really dug the atmosphere here as well and the toilet with the wall urinal reminded me of my alma mater which has this feature in the football stadium. By all means check this place out. It is well worth the effort to find it.

***Second Visit 26th October 2007***
We were here for the fall beer festival! After the five hour trainride from Edinburgh with 2 screaming kids right beside me, the Wenlock was just what the doctor ordered and with a festival to boot! They had about 5-6 casks on in their upstairs room. As if that wasn't enought, there is the usual fantastic selection downstairs. All beer were in wonderful condition, the highlight of the evening being the Adnams tally-ho (thanks Rob)!

Feb 15, 2006
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wl0307 from England

4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Revisited this pub last week. Nothing changed with its rather local and slightly hot atmosphere. The beer range is slightly shorter, with 7 real-ales (incl. a mild) and a real cider. But those nice bottled continental beers were gone, with Lindmann's Kriek and Bitburger Premium Pils on tap along with other crap lagers.
Real ales are generally in good form, though I found their regular Pitfield's ESG a bit shaky. The overall performance is dragged down slightly, but hey, this is still a serious real-ale chapel.

(22/04/05, A: 4.5, Q: 5, Ser:5, Sel: 5, overall: 4.94)
Have been to this pub for several times ever since I moved back to London last year. It's humble on the outlook, situated at a remote, quiet corner in a residential area and totally unpretentious at all.

When entering the pub it's easy to see why it has been voted many times as the CAMRA pub of the year for North London branch. Along the three sided bar all 9 (or 10?) handpumps for real ales are deliberately arranged on just one side, to impress the incoming customers I suppose (I was impressed at the first glance anyway). The beer range is very good, selected from all over this country they say, and London Pitfield Brewery's organic beers usually occupy one to two handpumps there. They have some very decent continental beers on draught as well, while one real cider and one mild are (constantly) on offer. All the beers I've tried there are well-kept and carefully looked after by the apparently not extremely sober cellarman, to whom I once had a nice conversation. He appears surprisingly dismissive of the recognition/awards by "Cask-Marque" and it's easy to see why. Judging from his own devotion and efforts, which you can easily detect with just one sip (free-taste) of each beer, the Cask-Marque award really is nothing essential there.

The atmosphere is quite friendly, with smiling and helpful bar-men/maids. There was once a bunch of young American fellas came in and sat beside me, cheerfully ordering some lagers and ales straight from the seats without knowing that they might have to do it at the bar. But there came the beers carried by the barman, and they paid at the seats without causing any commotion, given just a polite reminder by the barman in the end. That's what we call service innit?

As regards the clientele, it's quite mixed but you can easily spot the locals although they do not tend to be overly "curious" or "attentive", as a foreign student like me often finds in some remote countryside/backstreet pubs. But sometimes it's very crowded and noisy in the evenings and on Sat., Sunday afternoons.

Overall, this is certainly one of a dozen pubs top on my list which I would strongly recommend any ale-lovers and pub-goers to visit when they are in London, albeit with one tiny caveat. The thing is that, I, as a non-smoker, only wish the extensive smoke ban could come into effect sonner rather than later. For, regardless of all strong arguments from the anti-ban side as debated in CAMRA's newspapers (What's Brewing), smoke is the killer of flavour and senses after all.

Apr 22, 2005
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UncleJimbo from Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I visited the Wenlock Arms on Thursday, November 4, 2004. It is located on Wenlock Road at Priestwood in a blocky building on a corner. It is reasonable walk from the Old Street tube station.

When I arrived on this thursday evening (around 8:30 pm) the Wenlock Arms was very busy, bustling with locals. At first I was a bit put off because I could barely get inside, and then I had to elbow my way to the bar, but after I had my first pint, and moved off to one side where there was some room to breathe, I began to like the Wenlock Arms more and more.

The pub itself is not overly large. There are some tables off to the left as you enter, and a few more to the right front, and more in the rear to the right. The bar itself is like a horseshoe-shaped island at the center of the pub. There is the usual large dose of beer coasters all over, and there is only one TV in the pub that I saw, and there is a fireplace. They have a chalk board with the current tap and cask selections including name, brewery, price, and ABV%, a much appreciated touch. During my visit they had 9 cask beers on hand pump and 11 other taps which included a couple of lagers and ciders along with the ales. The selection was quite nice, with a few from local brewery Pitfield which were tasty and fresh.

The people at the Wenlock arms were friendly. It was trivia night, and I joined in by helping a team of regulars in my vicinity. There was also a lottery for a pound entry, but, alas, I did not win the 100 pound prize (which also required the winner to answer a trivia question). The service at the bar was good and relatively friendly to this visitor. There was no food being offered on that evening at the time of my visit, and so I cannot judge the food.

I highly recommend a visit to Wenlock Arms, a comfortable, unpretentious pub with a great selection of real ales. And when in the neighborhood, you should also consider a stop at The Beer Shop, nearby, on the other side of the Old Street tube station.

Feb 02, 2005
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francisweizen from Alaska

4.95/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This old Londo pub is hidden off of a main street and down into a residential section of London. The atmosphere is wonderful. The place looks very old and magestic from outside. Inside it is all dark wood, and a wonderful "island bar". Good old fashioned music plays as locals and tourists look for their spot. The beers here are excellent and all over the board. They had some from pitfields, archers, caledonian, and more when I was there last. The quality and prices for the beers are excellent and they make a killer fried egg sandwitch to boot.

A wonderful place, deserving of praise!

Nov 06, 2003
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saltydog from New York

4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Wonderfully atmospheric real ale pub in the north of London. A way-above average selection of real ales, all in excellent shape. The feel of the place is exceptional as well. A little hard to find, though; if you think you've gotten lost, you're probably heading in the right direction!

Oct 07, 2003
The Wenlock Arms in London, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4.4 out of 5 with 19 ratings