London’s best riverside pub, running along the Thames from south east London, through the Docklands, Embankment, south west London and finally, west London
Lead image: The City Barge, Chiswick
South East LONDON
Anchor & Hope, Woolwich
A pub like no other, the Anchor & Hope is one of those stumble-upon-gems that you’ll never forget. An essential stop-off point if you’re cycling the Thames path, this place seems to have karaoke spilling out of the pub no matter the time of day, and there’s a tree growing inside the place. There’s also an astro-turfed beer garden on the riverfront and a seafood vendor selling prawns, crabsticks, cockles and other salty treats.
The Cutty Sark, Greenwich
The Cutty Sark (the pub, not the ship) sits on the banks of the Thames at Ballast Quay, with a small but perfectly formed beer garden right by the water’s edge. If you can’t snag a table, there’s usually room on the wall, where you can sit and take in the view of the O2 Arena across the river. The pub serves plenty of good beers and good fish and chips, as well as other great pub staples.
4-6 Ballast Quay, Greenwich SE10 9PD; cuttysarkse10.co.uk
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; 020 8222 9310; sailloftgreenwich.co.uk
Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich
A legendary local pub, ‘The Traf’ has just had a huge refurb to keep it at the top of its game. Indoors there are huge bays windows, thrown wide open in summer, so you can stay in the shade yet still enjoy the river breeze. Outdoors there’s a beer garden, watched over by Lord Admiral Nelson, plus additional picnic benches that stretch around the corner offering unspoilt, expansive river views.
Park Row, Greenwich SE10 9NW; trafalgartavern.co.uk
The Salt Quay, Rotherhithe
The Salt Quay has a spacious beer garden that sweeps around the circular, Thames-facing side of the pub, and it always seems to be heaving when I cruise past on the Thames Clipper of a weekend. Another Greeneking Pub, the old, warehouse-style building hosts weekend BBQs during the summer and also serves a decent carvery, steak and seafood.
163 Rotherhithe Street SE16 5QU; saltquay-rotherhithe.co.uk
The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
This beauty of a pub – the oldest on the river Thames, apparently – is a typically English pub surrounded by cobbled streets, with a decked riverside terrace and cosy candlelit restaurant inside. You can even see the original 1620 mooring point of the Pilgrim Father’s Mayflower ship. Order yourself a craft ale, some fish and chips and catch the sunset
117 Rotherhithe Street SE16 4NF; mayflowerpub.co.uk
The Gun, Docklands
The Gun is a riverside foodie-haven with a restaurant terrace and pub garden that features views across the Thames. The pub garden even has its own bar, with an substantial gin selection that’s carefully paired with garnishes grown in their own herb garden. You can also order from the acclaimed Modern British menu, whether sitting inside or out.
27 Coldharbour, Poplar E14 9NS; thegundocklands.com
The Grapes, Poplar
The Grapes, established in 1583, has seen its fair share of history: Sir Walter Raleigh set sail for the Americas, Dickens danced on tables and, in more contemporary history, Sir Ian McKellen fell in love with the place (he now co-owns it). Indoors there’s a traditional Victorian long bar, but it’s the terrace, hovering over the Thames, that you want to make a beeline for.
76 Narrow Street, Poplar E14 8BP; thegrapes.co.uk
The Narrow, Poplar
The Narrow, by the rather lovely Limehouse basin, has a sweeping conservatory with river views for those looking to dine on some quality Gordon Ramsay cuisine, as well as a riverside terrace for those just looking to chill with a drink and the breeze in their hair. This whole area is ideal for those who love to be near the water.
44 Narrow Street, Poplar E14 8DP; gordonramsayrestaurants.com
The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
The Prospect Of Whitby, a Greeneking Pub, is in hot contention for the title of London’s oldest riverside pub with The Mayflower in Rotherhithe (although it looks like The Prospect, dating back to 1520, might just have squeaked it). A favourite with celebrities over the years, the pub has a ground-level beer garden, as well as a few terrace options, providing fab views of the Thames.
57 Wapping Wall, St Katharine’s & Wapping E1W 3SH; greeneking-pubs.co.uk
The Old Thameside Inn, London Bridge
Once an old spice warehouse, The Old Thameside Inn continues its foodie association with its proximity to Borough Market. The riverside decking area is a great spot to watch the Thames traffic, or to cast your gaze over the full-scale replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famous ship, the Golden Hind, which is right next door to the pub.
Pickfords Wharf, Clink Street SE1 9DG; nicholsonspubs.co.uk
Anchor Bankside is a great weekend spot for a pint after exploring Borough Market – if you can find a space on the raised, Bankside beer garden, that is. Perpetually busy of a weekend, this historical pub is the very spot that Samuel Pepys watched the capital burn to a crisp during the Great Fire of London in 1666. There’s also a first floor balcony terrace that’s a great spot for diners.
34 Park Street SE1 9EF; greeneking-pubs.co.uk
The Founders Arms, Bankside
Perfect for art lovers, The Founders Arms is just by the Tate Modern. The Thameside beer garden usually heaving in the summer months, with drinkers spreading themselves generously along the riverside. Find a spot and keep your eyes out for a table, should you be hoping to dine on the very decent Young’s pub grub here. Or just rest your gaze on St Paul’s, just across the river, and make do!
52 Hopton Street SE1 9JH; foundersarms.co.uk
Once fondly dubbed ‘the pie pub’ (by me) for its fantastic range of pies, this vast pub is a great spot for South Bank strollers. Sadly, the pie menu is much more conservative these days, but its still an old favourite. Named for the Doggett’s Coat and Badge – the oldest rowing race in the world – it has some great vantage points over the Thames, from the riverside terrace to the newly renovated roof terrace.
1 Blackfriars Bridge, South Bank SE1 9UD; nicholsonspubs.co.uk
Tattershall Castle, Embankment
The Tattershall Castle isn’t fancy, but it is fun. One of our got-to boat bars, it’s handily located near Embankment and Westminster tube stations, has a good menu of pub favourites – plus a fish and chip shop on deck and a snack shack serving sandwiches and ice creams – great views of the London Eye across the water and a comedy club downstairs.
Victoria Embankment SW1A 2HR; thetattershallcastle.co.uk
South West LONDON
No 29 Power Station West, Battersea
Since the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, Battersea has been blessed with a whole host of new riverside locations. No 29 Power Station West, by Darwin & Wallace, is a smart new local with a great food offering. It’s perfect for a Sunday lunch by the river.
29 Circus West, Battersea Power Station SW8 4NN; no29powerstationwest.co.uk
The Duke’s Head, Putney
Recently refurbished, this Grade-II listed pub is known as a great spot to watch the famous Oxford-Cambridge boat race. The riverside sun terrace is a great spot for something to eat, and the bar now serves a great range of local craft beers and cocktails, including the aptly named Sea Monster Mojito.
8 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN; dukesheadputney.com
The White Cross, Richmond
‘The Cross’ is a cyclists or dog walker’s dream. This landmark pub on Richmond Riverside has a lovely, large riverside garden affording views of one of the leafiest stretches of the Thames. Perfect for lunch, mid-walk refreshments or sundowner drinks, it has great ales and home cooked food.
Riverside (off Water Lane), Richmond, Surrey TW9 1TH; thewhitecrossrichmond.com
The White Hart, Barnes
As well as a stunning interiors offering beautiful views of the Thames, there’s a pretty garden as well as benches on the towpath right on the water’s edge at this first-rate Young’s pub. As well as a strong selection of ales, there’s formal dining in the Terrace Bar upstairs, and pub fare available in the downstairs bar.
The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes SW13 0NR; whitehartbarnes.co.uk
The Crab Tree, Fulham
The Crab Tree is an iconic, old Victorian pub situated on the quietest and most picturesque stretch of the Thames between Hammersmith and Putney bridges. The Thames dining room spills out onto an alfresco outdoor restaurant with beautiful views of the river and additional riverside seating.
Rainville Road Fulham W6 9HA; thecrabtreew6.co.uk
The Blue Boat, Fulham
Another fab stop along the Thames Path is The Blue Boat, a more modern restaurant/bar/pub with a sprawling outdoor terrace patio on the approach to Hammersmith Bridge. Head here for dinner – the menu here at this Fuller’s establishment is better than the average pub – and stay for the sunset.
Thames Path, Hammersmith W6 9GD; theblueboat.co.uk
The Dove, Hammersmith
This historical Fuller’s pub has been a fixture in Hammersmith for centuries, and continues to offer good beer, great food, and a warm welcome. Another one that’s famous for its vantage point during the boat race, its usually heaving at the first hint of sunshine, so arrive early to bag a table.
19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TA; dovehammersmith.co.uk
The Old Ship, Hammersmith
The Old Ship in Hammersmith had a major refurbishment earlier this year. Its expansive Thames-side terrace has plenty of seating, plus there’s a conservatory opening onto the river courtesy of bi-fold windows and a relaxed lounge. There’s fantastic food, with traditional English dishes as well as a weekend brunch and Sunday lunch, plus cask-conditioned ales.
25 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TD; oldshipw6.co.uk
The City Barge, Chiswick
The City Barge, around since the 14th century, and has also undergone an extensive refurbishment. There’s outside seating on both sides of the building, but it’s the riverside which is usually standing room only come summer. The food is just as important as the drinks at this stylish, historical riverside tavern.
27 Strand-on-the-Green, Chiswick W4 3PH; citybargechiswick.com