Where To Drink The Best Pints Of Guinness In London

10 spots for a great pint of the black stuff.
Where To Drink The Best Pints Of Guinness In London image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Guinness wars rage on. On one side, people who’ve made the stout their entire personality, on the other those that couldn’t care less about the size of the head and think it’s all a bit much. Whichever side you fight for, it’d be nice to be able to drink a great pint of Guinness in London. Whether that means keeping things simple and moodily sipping your pint like the main character in a Martin McDonagh film. Or, getting technical and lecturing the bartender who just tried to fob you off with a 47-degree angle pour. 

Not to get all Oprah, but the perfect pint is the one you enjoy best. Having said that, there are some things we looked for when putting together this guide: 

  • The two-step pour. You’ve got to let the pint settle before you finish pouring.

  • A slightly domed head peeking just above your Guinness glass. Yes, Guinness glasses only.

  • You should be able to slightly tilt your pint without any spillage—a watery pint and a porous head is a sad thing.

Here are all of our favourite places to get a perfect pint, when you can’t be arsed with hopping on a Ryanair flight for the real thing.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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The One For A Pint And Good Food

This is a real ‘treat yourself’ pint, best enjoyed in The Devonshire’s handsome upstairs dining room while eating a plate of lamb hotpot and mopping up leftover gravy with duck fat chips. You can blame your flushed cheeks on the open fire where chefs finish off hulking cuts of meat, not the two pints you just sank. Not eating? The downstairs bar is a charming, crowded place with the kind of wood panelling and burgundy paint job that feels very Mad Men-meets-Dickens. 

The One From The Movies

Disappearing into The Toucan for a couple of pints of excellent Guinness is one of the best ways to spend time in Soho. The two levels of this characterful, old-school pub are plastered in memorabilia—there are toucans emerging from walls, fraying posters, green tinsel that’ll inevitably end up around your neck, and bar mats emblazoned with 'Don’t Worry Drink Guinness’. There’s a bar at street level but that fills up fast, so we prefer taking the narrow staircase down to the cosy basement. 

The One For Trad Music Fans

Howl At The Moon in Hoxton is all heart. Be it a World Cup rugby match, a Sunday trad session where families and pets pile in for roast dinners and fiddle-playing, or quiz nights—it’s a big, broad smile of a pub. While it might be proudly Irish, the Victorian pub aesthetic is alive and well in the wooden booths, panelled bar, and painted columns. Come with a group, pet a needy cocker spaniel, and whatever you do, get involved in the smooth, creamy pints of Guinness.

The One We Tell All Our Friends About

When we visited Gibney's, the person next to us practically instigated a crowd surf to propel us to the front of the queue. It’s that kind of place. Perfect strangers spill their holiday plans at the bar—Cork, tomorrow morning, an early flight, it was a mistake—and pints are lined up with precision. The screens at this Old Street spot are massive, and if there’s football or rugby on, they’ll be showing it. But there are snug wooden booths to crowd into if you’re not a ‘yay, sports!’ person. These are some of the best pints of Guinness we’ve ever had: they’re creamy, smooth, and taste a bit like coffee and a bit like chocolate. And unlike us after drinking several, these pints are perfectly balanced. 

The One We Keep Coming Back To

From unforgettable St Patrick’s Days to quiet Sunday afternoon pints, The Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington has seen us through it all. And always with an exceptional pint of Guinness in hand. To say these guys know what they're doing would be like saying we watched Tom Hardy’s CBeebies bedtime story once—a massive understatement. Just know that this long, narrow spot fills up quickly. But the runway between seats—lined with football jerseys and signs reminding you that you’re “off the leash and on the lash”—leads to a charming garden.

The One To Convert You To Pints

Ah, Covent Garden. There are the street performers you’re desperately avoiding eye contact with. Rickshaw drivers with fluffy dice blasting Jason Derulo. And gilet-clad office workers crowding the pavements outside pubs. But the Coach & Horses will restore your faith in these streets—it’s an unpretentious pub that’s as welcoming to old boys having solo pints on rickety stools, as it is loud gaggles of friends who probably don’t need another pint. Padding across the soft carpet and sitting opposite a Rose Of Tralee poster, you’ll hear yourself saying “this is a proper pub” as you take a long sip of your creamy pint. 

The ‘Rugby Is My Personality’ One

The Faltering Fullback is catnip for a certain Guinness-drinking, rugby fan. Put it this way, if Johnny Sexton would be one of your dream dinner party guests, you’re going to love The Faltering Fullback. On match days you’ll be hard pushed to find a seat, as every inch of the pub is covered in people trying to sing ‘Ireland’s Call’ louder than their neighbour. But visit in the afternoon, on a day when the rugby isn’t on, and you can see every charming inch of this Finsbury Park pub. 

The One That Feels Like A Cosy Tavern In Hobbiton

If the last Guinness you had was a watery soup of regret, the creamy, smooth pints at The Woodbine will make it better. If you can, grab a high stool in the middle of the room, underneath the Guinness toucan, so you can soak up the atmosphere of this crowded little Highbury bar. In the evening, stools and wooden booths quickly fill up as candles are dispatched to tables and the twinkling fairy lights illuminate the walls. Magical stuff, especially after a few pints. 

The One Where You Go For A Quick One

We’re beginning to think there’s something in the name for pubs called the Coach & Horses and great pints of Guinness. We’re basing that after conducting a very scientific experiment based on precisely two pubs: the Greek Street one and this Wellington Street one. This corner pub is a charming spot for a quick pint after work, but only if you don’t mind standing. It’s busy with local workers spilling out of offices and face planting straight into these consistently great Guinnesses. It’s also a dependable spot for drinks before dinner, and really anytime you can make an excuse to get a swift pint in. 

The One For Anyone Missing The Home Of Guinness

The amount of memorabilia The Sheephaven Bay has on their walls is only rivalled by our mum’s shrine to the time we won our local swim meet. There’s a canopy of signed football shirts and flags that gently flap above the head of Guinness drinkers, framed photos of famous visitors, and the kind of chaotic ‘let’s hang everything’ approach to wall art that we appreciate. If you’re planning on staying a while, sink into the squishy sofas and order an Irish stew. But this Camden spot works just as well for loud Friday nights where you want to throw a few darts and sink some of the city’s finest pints too. 

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