25 of the Best Beer Gardens in South East London

From colourful courtyards in Deptford to picnic tables by the Cutty Sark and lush, family-friendly green gardens in Sydenham, The Resident picks out some of the best beer gardens in south east London…

Lead image: The Old Brewery, Greenwich © Joe Lord/Archant 

When are the pubs reopening?!
Most pubs are due to reopen their outdoor spaces on 12 April, but those with no or limited outside space will have to hold on till 17 May. Reopening dates, where we can find them, are listed below…

1 Dulwich Wood House, Sydenham
The Dulwich Wood House in Sydenham is a lovely, sprawling pub with a huge leafy beer garden and decking area. There’s plenty of room to sit – either in the shade of the trees or to lap up the sun – and for the kids to stretch their legs. It’s a Young’s pub with a good selection of wines from around the world, a good selection of craft beers and award-winning ales, fresh juices and coffee.
39 Sydenham Hill SE26 6RS;
Reopening date: 12 April

2 The Old Brewery, Greenwich
Originally the home of Meantime Brewing, The Old Brewery became a Young’s pub back in 2017. The cafe, restaurant, bar and microbrewery has a lovely walled alfresco courtyard, bedecked with foliage, and if it’s quiet you can catch the faint notes of piano or cello practice from Trinity Laban students at the adjacent Old Royal Naval College. As well as Meantime’s own locally brewed beers and a selection of the world’s best lagers, you can also enjoy a chilled glass of fizz or wine.
Pepy’s Building, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich SE10;
Reopening date: 12 April

3 The Brookmill, Deptford
The Brookmill, sister pub to The Great North Wood in West Norwood, has a fantastic beer garden. The fact that the pub is a little off the beaten track, nestled by Brookmill Park between Deptford Bridge DLR and St John’s rail station, makes it feel like one of those secret discoveries that you want to shout about yet are loathe to share. The pub displays displays art by local artists, and in the colourful, labyrinth-like courtyard beer garden, there’s a garden mural created in partnership with Deptford Does Art. Do try the scotch eggs.
65 Cranbrook Road SE8 4EJ;
Reopening date: 12 April

4 The Guildford Arms, Greenwich
The large sunken garden at The Guildford Arms in Greenwich has long been a secluded oasis of calm surrounded by white birches, tall grasses and kitchen herbs, but after a very recent refurb (what else to do during a global pandemic?), the garden is looking glorious. Beautifully landscaped, the large, contemporary patio is full of trees, planters and trellises to create little nooks to enjoy lunch or dinner with your nearest and dearest. The wine list travels Europe and the New World and you’ll find Greenwich-brewed Meantime beers alongside seasonal guest ales on tap. And the food? This ain’t pub grub – it’s top-notch restaurant-style dining.
55 Guildford Grove SE10 8JY;
Reopening date: 12 April

5 The Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village
The iconic Crown & Greyhound was been fully restored a couple of years ago with glorious gardens to the front (great for people watching) and rear (leafy and relaxed). It’s a great spot for hungry folk, with a menu of contemporary British pub offerings from sharing plates to fish and chips, a good weekend brunch (everything from scrambled eggs with avocado and smoked salmon on toast to sausage butties) and Sunday lunch options. This grand old neighbourhood watering hole even has 20 boutique hotel rooms, should you need to rest your weary head.
73 Dulwich Village SE21 7BJ;
Reopening date: 12 April

6 The Half Moon, Herne Hill
The Half Moon, the once legendary live music venue that hosted everyone from Sinatra to U2 and La Roux, had had a rather middle-class makeover a couple of years ago, but we’re not arguing. The menu is full-on Fuller’s Kitchen gastro and the beer garden – with kid-friendly astro-turf and giant Connect Four – is lovely. There is still scope for the pub to host live music and cinema screenings in a rustic-looking outbuilding called the Workshop, so all is not lost on the events front. And as is the new norm for fancy new pubs, it has hotel bedrooms too.
10 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9HU;
Reopening date: 12 April

7 The Alma, Crystal Palace
The Alma is a really lovely pub. Another one built way back (1854) yet with a thoroughly modern approach, The Alma offers a relaxed, contemporary place to catch up with friends over a nicely priced Picpoul de Pinet and a Sunday roast… or a BBQ. Step outside to the rear and you’ll discover a huge beer garden with room for pretty much the whole of Crystal Palace. Summertime is when the BBQ menu comes into its own, offering all sorts of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.
95 Church Road, Crystal Palace SE19 2TA; 
Reopening date: 12 April

8 The Dial Arch, Woolwich
With all the familiar qualities of a Young’s pub – good ales, strong wine list, a mixture of restaurant-style seating, cosy booths and slouchy sofas, as well as board games to while away a lazy Sunday – this historic building has a large terrace just a stroll from the Thames. In fact, you should probably just move to Woolwich and make this your local – nestled within the new Royal Arsenal Riverside development, this is an area to keep an eye on as the buzz around Crossrail builds. Dogs welcome!
Number 1 Street, The Warren, Royal Arsenal Riverside SE18 6GH;
Reopening date: 12 April

9 The Sail Loft, Greenwich
Peaceful waterside dining is a pretty rare find in London, but you’ll find it at The Sail Loft in Greenwich. This new Fuller’s pub serves up a brilliant brunch, with the likes of black pudding hash with fried hen’s egg, plus roasted field mushroom, spinach, butternut squash and sourdough on the menu. If the weather turns, head indoors where you can still enjoy a view of the Thames from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
11 Victoria Parade Greenwich SE10 9FR;
Reopening date: 12 April

10 The Royal Standard, Blackheath
Elegant yet cosy, this pub has not one but two gardens where you can enjoy craft beers (check out their tap takeovers) and top-of-the-range fare. The main menu offers a superb selection of freshly prepared food using quality, seasonal ingredients along with a selection of light bites and classic favourites. The pub also serves up brunch and great Sunday roasts, and do look out for their brilliant special events, from open mic nights to live DJ sets.
44 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath SE3 7JQ;
Reopening date: 17 May

11 The Rye, Peckham Rye
The Rye is a friendly local with a lovely beer garden complete with a lush lawn, picnic tables and a handy garden bar with Pimms on tap. You can chow down on the usual kitchen menu in the garden or enjoy the seasonal BBQ, fired up on summer weekends. There’s also table tennis and a petanque court, as well as Slushy and Mr Whippy machines to help you indulge your sweet tooth.
31 Peckham Rye SE15 3NX;
Reopening date: 12 April

12 The Herne Tavern, East Dulwich
The Herne Tavern has one of the largest pub gardens in south London. Following a revamp a few summers ago, it’s now filled with luscious fruit trees, which helps the kitchen keep things sustainable with a good supply of produce straight from the garden. With enough space for the kids to run about, regular summer BBQs and spot-on Yorkshire puds and slow-cooked pork belly on the Sunday roast menu, it’s definitely a spot you’ll want to frequent.
2 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich SE22 0RR;
Reopening date: Unconfirmed

13 Richard the First, Greenwich
Richard the First on Royal Hill has been a favourite since 1923, but its decor, drinks and ethos are very much of the teenies. The beer garden is a beauty, with a touch of the great British seaside about it thanks to pastel shade sheds dotted around the periphery. And if the weather turns, just head indoors to the beautiful conservatory. As well as Young’s award-winning ales, craft beers, wines and spirits, there’s also a thoroughly decent menu. Oh and it’s right next door to Meantime’s Greenwich Union pub (which also has a beer garden), so if you fancy a bit of a pub crawl, that’s your first two stops right there.
52/54 Royal Hill, Greenwich SE10 8RT;
Reopening date: 12 April

14 The Princess of Wales, Blackheath
As the team at the Princess of Wales correctly point out, ‘Blackheath itself is one big pub garden’. As well as the courtyard out front, from where you can nod your calm approval over the expansive Heath, the pub also has a substantial courtyard out back with plenty of seating, as well as covered and heated areas. Drinks-wise, choose from at least 20 speciality beers and ciders on tap and a world of wines. But this is not just a lovely pub for a roast and a pint, The Princess of Wales is something of a legend, since it served as the changing room for the first-ever England-Wales rugby international, which was played on the heath.
1a Montpelier Row, Blackheath SE3 0RL;
Reopening date: 12 April

15 The Crown Tavern, Lee
The Crown Tavern in Lee had a fantastic makeover a few years back and it looks great. Indoors, the spacious bar area hosts various styles of seating from ‘quick drink’ to ‘Sunday slouch’, there’s a bright, airy dining room to the rear, but it’s the beer garden that’s the show-stopper. Huge and colourful, with astroturf-style grass, chunky colour-block picnic benches and spacious covered booths for those seeking shelter, it’s the perfect beer garden. It’s family-friendly, too, with fencing the whole way around to keep those little ones safe.
117 Burnt Ash Hill, Lee SE12 0AJ;
Reopening date: 12 April

16 The Tankard, Kennington  
Formerly a Grand Union venue, this great pub on the corner of Kennington Road and Brook Drive by Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park now belongs to the expanding Draft House craft beer chain. They have a good range of strange and wonderful brews, as well as hearty food to match (snacks include Foot Long Pork Scratchings, Jalapeno Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls and Veggie Scotch Egg, as well as the likes of Beer Battered Cod, Chicken Schnitzel and Veggie Burgers). Draft House decided to re-gift the pub its original, Victorian era name – The Tankard – and it has has an awesome roof terrace with picnic benches and pergolas.
111 Kennington Road SE11 6SF;
Reopening date: 12 April

17 The Gipsy Moth, Greenwich
The Gipsy Moth’s pub garden, with room for 200 people, offers front-row views of the majestic Cutty Sark. Kick back and enjoy a perfectly mixed Hendricks G&T, a cool pint of Pilsner Urquell or sturdy Doom Bar, chill out with a Brothers Festival Pear Cider or select from the varied wine list. There’s also a large retractable cover to keep the weather at bay and in the summer they fire up the BBQ.
60 Greenwich Church Street SE10 9BL;
Reopening date: 12 April

18 The Lord Northbrook, Lee
The Lord Northbrook in Lee underwent a total transformation in 2011 and is now a smart, popular gastropub with a fantastic decked garden – perfect to linger over a couple of jugs of Pimm’s with friends – and great bar food such as homemade Scotch eggs and cheese and anchovy straws. There’s also a fab selection of ales from small local breweries and an extensive wine list.
116 Burnt Ash Road SE12 8PU;
Reopening date: 17 May

19 The Crown, Blackheath
This one’s roadside, which normally keeps beer gardens off our favourites list (nobody loves sharing their prosecco with petrol fumes), but The Crown can’t be ignored for its sheer vibrancy. Located right at the top of Blackheath Village, a stone’s throw from the rolling greenery of the Heath, there are plenty of seats for you and your chums to gather and get a little giddy pre-sunset. Plus, the circular picnic benches mean nobody’s stuck on the end all on their tod.
49 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath SE3 0BS;
Reopening date: Unconfirmed

20 The Faber Fox, Crystal Palace
This rather lovely by the Livelyhood group, which has lots of pubs in south west London but just the one in SE, has a gorgeous sunken beer garden that really traps the sun. Little pergolas provide shelter for those who can’t take the full glare of the sun on those three days a year it graces us, and there’s also a small terrace at ground level for those who can’t hack traipsing up and down the stairs to order more rose. The food is cracking too.
25 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace SE19 1TQ;
Reopening date: 12 April

21 Walker Briggs, Crystal Palace
Pub crawlers rejoice! Crystal Palace is one of those rare ‘hoods that has managed to retain a wealth of pubs, and with Walker Briggs located right next door to The Faber Fox, you’re off to a flying start. The beer garden here is similar to that at the Faber, but not quite as well preened. Still, it’s a top spot to enjoy some local brews and a great pub menu. If you like this pub’s style, you should visit its legendary sister pub, Westow House, which also has a generous beer garden. 
23 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace SE19 1TQ;
Reopening date: Unconfirmed

22 The Dolphin, Sydenham
The perfect spot to soak up the sunshine and summer twilights, The Dolphin’s beer garden is a contemporary take on the Tudor-style garden, complete with a pergola~d perimeter walk. There’s a central water feature, flanked by trees pruned into a pretty, top-heavy canopy. Out front, the courtyard has been revamped with smart rattan sofas, and they now serve delicious wood-fired pizzas by Wandercrust.
121 Sydenham Road SE26 5HB; 020 8778 810;
Reopening date: 12 April

23 The Commercial, Herne Hill
The secret beer garden at the back of The Commercial had a refurb a couple of years back and is now home to fresh plants and twinkling lights. It’s compact, but it’s a really a decent sun trap, and it provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Station Road, especially when the market’s in full swing. Isn’t a crisp glass of white wine or a refreshing pint just the antidote from a busy day of nibbling your way through the farmers’ market?
212 Railton Road, Herne Hill SE24 0JT
Reopening date: 17 May

24 The Rose Pub & Kitchen, New Cross
Right across the road from New Cross Gate station, The Rose offers a pretty sizeable beer garden. The perfect solace from that, to be frank, God awful New Cross Road (you’re taking your life into your hands crossing it, cycling it, or even breathing anywhere near it), the colourful beer garden serves pizzas, spritzes and Camden Hells – all the ingredients for a perfect summer weekend.
272 New Cross Road SE14 6AA;
Reopening date: 4 July

25 Westow House, Crystal Palace
We have been too mean for too long, keeping Westow’s beer garden off our list of favourites. Thing is, we really don’t like sitting next to busy roads, which is what you get with this one. Plus the odd person walking past yelling. But still, this is one of our summer ‘go tos’ and we return time after time, like moths to the flame… Its proximity to the park makes for a great post-roast Sunday stroll, it’s always lively at the weekends, it’s a great watering hole for Lycra-clad cyclists after they’ve climbed that huge hull and – the biggest plus – Westow has finally sorted out its loos after a huge refurb. There are, we must capitulate, just about enough plants around the periphery to shelter you from that infernal traffic.
79 Westow Hill, Upper Norwood SE19 1TX;
Reopening date: 12 April


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