London is a big draw for Stag Parties, offering a little bit of everything from world-class sport to seedy strip clubs. However, it’s also notoriously expensive and, if you’re unfamiliar with the place, you can end up traipsing around Leicester Square at 2am with a headache and an empty wallet wondering how on earth that round of below-average banana daiquiris cost you two hundred quid. So, if you’re operating on a budget and on the hunt for cheap bars in London, is your dream of a Stag Do in the capital doomed to failure…?
Not necessarily. We’ve scoured the Big Smoke for a list of pubs and bars that are easy on both the wallet and the eye – and don’t involve a two-hour tube journey to Zone Eight. Enjoy…!
The Chandos (Trafalgar Square)
The Chandos may not be the prettiest pub in the world, but the excellent and affordable beers on offer – not to mention the incredible location – more than make up for any visual shortcomings. A stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square (if you’ve got a decent throwing arm on you), The Chandos is best known for its cheap and delicious Alpine lager, and is one of the few places in the West End where a pint will leave you change from three quid.
The Angel (Shaftesbury Avenue)
You might think that tracking down a cheap beer anywhere near Shaftesbury Avenue would be a fruitless endeavour, but we have evidence to the contrary. At The Angel, just off the north end of this famous road, you can enjoy original Victorian features and comfy armchairs while saving pounds on the price of your pint.
The Gatehouse (Highgate)
OK, so it’s a Wetherspoons, and you didn’t come to one of the most sophisticated cities in the world to hang out in a Wetherspoons. But this infamous building is in fact the oldest pub in the area, and rich with history – over the years it has been both a courtroom and a folk club, for example (Paul Simon once played a gig upstairs). So there. And of course the beer is dirt cheap.
O’Neills (Muswell Hill)
OK, so it’s an O’Neills, and you didn’t come to one of the most sophisticated cities in the world… (etc etc). But we thought it was worth a mention – maybe best enjoyed several stages down the pub-crawl chain when all you want is a round of cheap Guinnesses and a massive vat of cheesy chips.
The Eagle (Battersea)
This one is a proper undiscovered gem; in fact, so much so that I’m slightly reluctant to even tell you about it. But there you go. This isn’t a pub that you’d just stumble across either – it’s an old-fashioned drinking hole off the beaten track where everyone knows your name. The amazing thing about The Eagle is that with its roaring fire, dog-friendly policy and cosy atmosphere it has the feel of a country pub (in truth, it’s more ‘country pub’ than most country pubs these days because it hasn’t gone gastro or been turned into a Thai restaurant). Always a tremendous range of ales at affordable prices… just don’t tell anyone else.
The Anchor Tap (Bermondsey)
Bermondsey may not be first on your London to-do list, but if you’re south of the river you could do a lot worse than The Anchor Tap. Just yards away from Tower Bridge, it’s cosy, quirky and will serve you a pint for under £2. Yes, you read that correctly…
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (Fleet Street)
The Cheshire Cheese is a perennial favourite with Londoners, thanks to its impressive location and tremendously fair prices. The vast labyrinth of rooms provides ample opportunity for shenanigans, and traditional English pub grub will soak up the affordable ale at necessary intervals. Apparently many, many royals have supped and/or imbibed here – there’s a list on the door – although I doubt you’ll find Harry & Wills haunting the corridors these days (probably a good thing as far as you’re concerned).
Ridley Road Market Bar (Dalston)
Be warned – if you haven’t been before, Dalston is one of The Trendy Parts of London. The pattern in this city is that, once the hipsters get bored of wherever happens to be cool at the time, they move on to a new area, preferably down-at-heel and bereft of nightlife, and colonise it. This happened in Dalston a few years back and, although word on the street is that this East London fashion-magnet is now too popular to be cool, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a cheap night out there. The Ridley Road Market Bar will serve you Red Stripe straight from the can, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. The decor is bizarre but the vibe is laid-back, and the relative proximity to Shoreditch means a late-night curry definitely isn’t out of the question.
The George Tavern (Stepney)
Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys and Geoffrey Chaucer all mentioned the legendary George Tavern in their writings and, while we can’t be certain of this, we suspect they wrote mainly on the subject of how affordable a drinking hole it is for marauding Stag parties. Cheap booze, old-fashioned pub atmosphere and a healthy supply of live music, too. Lovely.
The Champion (Fitzrovia)
West London may be one of the hardest places in the capital to find a cheap pint and, while this place only just counts as west (to be honest it’s pretty much central), we reckon we’ve found a worthy contender in Fitzrovia’s The Champion. It’s a Sam Smith’s pub so prices are low, despite the fact that it’s nestled right by one of London’s most popular shopping districts. Famed for its unusual stained-glass windows.
The Swan (Hammersmith)
Hammersmith lacks the glamour of Fitzrovia (to say the least) but is rather kind on the pocket compared to many parts of the city. The Swan, a former coaching inn with a rich history, is a Nicholson’s pub – which, as with Sam Smith or Wetherspoon’s, suggests you won’t be served foie gras and olives but you will be able to avoid instant bankruptcy. Which is nice.
The Havelock Tavern (Kensington)
A gastro-pub that nevertheless remains unpretentious, The Havelock may be situated on the leafy streets of Kensington but it also boasts a fine selection of real ales at really rather decent prices. Voted ‘London Dining Pub Of The Year’ by The Good Pub Guide in 2011, the food itself isn’t exactly cheap but would go down splendidly with a lunchtime tipple.