The alchemy of pub atmosphere

For us, the  pubs with the best atmosphere sit in a sweet spot between characterful and grotty.

Some pubs are so clean, so perfumed, varnished, polished and ‘on-brand’ that they start to feel they’re made of plastic. Others (often, sadly, some of those with the greatest commitment to decent beer) have torn carpets, ripped seats, grimy walls and smell like stables.

The pubs we’ve enjoyed most in the last year or so have been clean without being buffed to a shine. They’ve been lived-in but not soiled. They’ve shown evidence of being run by a human being — hand-written signs, personal mementoes– rather than by a Regional Quality and Brand Manager.

11 thoughts on “The alchemy of pub atmosphere”

  1. And if anything is subjective, it’s this! One man’s ‘character’ is another’s ‘grot’.

  2. I want to agree because it’s one more way for me to justify not getting that upholstery on our banquettes redone. But I’m not sure I do. Surely the best all-round situation is for a smart pub that’s also independently run and individual.

  3. My favourite pub in Soho is the Blue Posts on Berwick/Broadwick street. Ticks all my boxes in terms of knockabout, organic ‘character’, with that fast-vanishing Soho grubiness. Their ale (a solitary Directors) is undrinkable though.

  4. Jeff — smart’s good, as long as it’s not so smart you feel like the landlord is going to put newspaper down under your feet or make you sit on a plastic bag, like Hyacinth Bucket. ‘Lived in’ is probably the phrase I’m after. I think your banquettes are fine. And I never thought I’d find myself saying that to another man.

    TIW — how many Blue Posts are there in Soho/Fitzrovia? I reckon I’ve spotted three.

  5. There used to be another ‘bloop’ on Tottenham Court road about where Muji is now. It was a bit rough, and for some reason decorated like a log cabin. I think it only had one floor.

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