Pubs, taverns, inns – whatever you call them, they are the unsung heroes of this land. Every town and city (and most villages) boast a tavern or two, serving as the hub of the community where minds meet and stories are shared. The pubs of London’s East End are no different, steeped in history and offering hospitality, just waiting to be discovered. Thankfully, pub focused excursions operated by East End Tours allow you to rediscover the city beneath the London you think you know, with stops at all of the best and most interesting establishments. The crème de la crème of society often lend their names and titles to our watering holes, so it would be prudent to start by looking at the royal stops flying under East London’s radar.
Set between Petticoat Lane and Spitalfields markets, The Duke of Wellington is a favourite with the locals and is a particularly popular thanks to its much beloved beer garden. With a selection of draught and real ale drinks and a comfortably cosy interior, this pub is understated in the best sense of the word. The name suggests all the opulence of royalty but the reality is much more homely, making it a fine place to enjoy a pint (or two) en route around the East End.
The Princess Alice sits neatly on the corner of Commercial Street and since its 2005 refurbishment it has been exactly what a pub ought to be. Far from the darts dominated bar it was from the 1980s when it was renamed and rebranded as The City Darts, the new Princess Alice has embraced its wooden furnishings and some of its original features bringing it closer to its former glory. The addition of some new soft furnishings and other refurbishment features gives a subtle nod to the redevelopment that is working its way down from Spitalfields to Commercial Street. Thankfully, the renovation work has not caused The Princess Alice to lose its pub ambience and identity, which would have been a shame due to its significant role in the East End’s history and its claim to fame as the frequent haunt of notorious Londoner, The Leather Apron.
The final royal appearance on the tour is The Kings Stores pub and it is a true treasure for the real ale drinker and those in search of a hidden gem. A stone’s throw from Spitalfields Market, The Kings Store has a chicly decorated interior with a touch of the pub tradition; the establishment offers fine beverages on the ground floor – everything from homemade lemonade and elderflower cordial to fine wine and top real ales – to good old gastro food in the dining area and the restaurant upstairs. This really is the perfect place to stop by if you are looking for somewhere where comfort meets class.
By choosing to join a tour when exploring the East End and its fine establishments, not only do you benefit from the in-depth research done on the route and the surrounding area, you are also able to enjoy the way the guide shares the stories and scandals, bringing them to life as you enjoy your pint.