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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