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Pub/Bar of the Month July 2018: Princess Louise, London, UK

Princess Louise, Holborn, London, UK

The Princess Louise is one of London’s most celebrated boozers.

Princess LouiseExperts on pub architecture will always point you in the direction of this magnificent, 19th-century establishment – named after one of Queen Victoria’s daughters – to show you just how pubs used to be, so stunning is its historic interior.

Two doors on a splendid, Corinthian-columned façade provide escape from the grimy traffic on High Holborn and lead you into a succession of little snugs, each beautifully separated from the world by sparkling etched glass.

Dark panelling – inlaid with ornate, ceramic friezes – lines the walls, contributing a rather sombre air that the large plate-glass windows onto the street and the subtle lamp lighting never quite fail to alleviate.

Chequered floors, bold fireplaces, burgundy banquettes and a wealth of gilded mirrors add to the character, while giant marble columns support a high, intricately decorated ceiling. This pub is a feast for the eye.

Separating the two sides of the interior is an island bar with a magnificent central counter, complete with its own mini clocktower. It is from there that drinks from the pub’s current owner Samuel Smith are supplied.

Good Custodian

In usual Sam’s fashion, there’s just the one cask ale – Old Brewery Bitter – but a good range of the company’s other ales and lagers are also available in keg form or from the bottle. Prices, for the area, are very keen.

Sam’s has been a good custodian of this pub. Shortly after acquiring the premises in 2008, the company restored much of the late Victorian layout, bringing back those little snug areas and the corridors that run past them, righting hideous wrongs that had been done in the name of progress in the 1960s.

With its many corners and alcoves, the pub is the sort of place in which to sit and sup idly alone or to join with friends in commandeering one of the little areas. If it’s busy – and it certainly can be during rush hour – then there’s a dining room/lounge upstairs for overspill.

Oh, there’s one further reason why those in the know will send you to the Princess Louise. That’s to spend a penny. Yes, a trip down the winding staircase to the gents is well rewarded by the chance to make good use of some remarkably well-preserved urinals.

The Princess Louise, you see, is no bog-standard pub.

Princess Louise, 208 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EP
Tel. (020) 7405 8816
Opening Hours: 11–11; 12–11 Saturday; 12–6.45 Sunday

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