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Few things are as synonymous with the UK than the Queen, fish ‘n’ chips and pubs – the latter arguably being the most important. Whether you’re partial to a historic tavern, a gastropub serving Michelin-starred meals, or a watering hole that specialises in Scottish folk music, we’ve got the pub for you.

The Camberwell Arms London

Good drink and great food go hand in hand at The Camberwell Arms. Much like its interiors of maroon walls and chalkboard menus, the food here is unfussy and ebullient; highlights include pork fat and scotch bonnet on toast, and dry-aged pork chop with swede. It’s a delectable experience that feels more at home with a pint of lager in hand than a glass of merlot (although they do pour a great house red). There’s no sticky carpet but The Camberwell Arms is well loved and well lived in, something attested to the almost always busy (but never overcrowded) nature of the place. This pub’s motto is ‘All’s Well’, and when here feasting on a Sunday roast, you’d be hard pressed to disagree.

  • +44 20 7358 4364
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  • 65 Camberwell Church St
    London
    SE5 8TR

The Tickell Arms Cambridge

Cambridge abounds in clichés: winding cobblestone streets, punting along the River Cam, a university body that plays Scrabble in Latin and an old-timey pub culture that is as stereotypical as it is beloved. As quaint in name as in nature, The Tickell Arms welcomes guests with its duck-egg blue facade, pointed doorways, church-pew seating – and cold beers. Pull up a stool for a quick drink among locals and students or book a table in the conservatory-cum-restaurant, elegantly decorated but still delightfully homely. Most of the beers are local – a swig of silky smooth Brewster’s Hophead is the perfect accompaniment to the venison haunch with rosemary and potato croquettes.

Sandy Bell’s Edinburgh

Whether it’s the kilt-clad man playing the bagpipes to the delight of tourists or the towering castles that house their fair share of ghosts, tradition runs deep in the streets of Edinburgh – and Sandy Bell’s is a manifestation of that. Pouring pints since the 20s and championing Scottish folk music (it’s fun, we swear) since the 60s, Sandy Bell’s is an Edinburgh institution as embedded into the landscape as Arthur’s Seat. The live music is best experienced sitting at the carved wooden bar with a steak-and-ale pie in front of you, a Scotsman chatting your ear off, merry locals dancing a jig and a pint of beer followed by a whisky… just don’t ask for a mixer.

Lamb & Flag Oxford

Oxford’s best pub is university-owned, with profits going towards funding doctorate student scholarships, so you can polish your halo while downing a pint. As storied as they come, The Lamb & Flag dates back to 1566 and has since seen monumental history made or – at least written – beneath its low beamed roof. The pub was the regular meeting place of The Inklings, a literary group which included C S Lewis; the site where Thomas Hardy is thought to have written much of Jude the Obscure; and where JRR Tolkien first read out chapters of The Lord of the Rings. Old fashioned in a good way and progressive in even better ways, the Lamb & Flag is proudly LGBTQ+ friendly.

  • 12 St Giles'
    Oxford
    OX1 3JS

The Fordwich Arms Kent

Just 10 months after opening, The Fordwich Arms was awarded a Michelin star. As with any establishment awarded the coveted accolade something’s got to give; the pub’s community vibes and loyal group of locals have been largely replaced with discerning diners ooing and ahing at Chef Daniel Smith’s modern British fare. Yet with food this good, we’re okay with letting the alcohol take a backseat. Although this isn’t a pub that makes the list for atmosphere, the sweetcorn panisse perched on corn chowder is more than enough justification. Easily accessible (a little over an hour from St Pancras to Canterbury West), The Fordwich Arms is easily incorporated into a Kent day-trip – although we’d allow for a three-hour window post meal to account for the inevitable food coma.

The Punchbowl London

Storied and star-studded, The Punchbowl may date back to 1750 but the old-timey pub remains a steadfast contender for UK’s best. After being bought by Guy Ritchie in 2008, the pub fast became a haunt for A-listers, but rest assured the likes of us welcome here too. On a Sunday we’re partial to a snug seat by the fire on the cosy ground floor; for a more upmarket affair or special occasion, the second and third floors offer a side of elegance alongside the cracked leather. Like any pub worth its salt, The Punchbowl dishes up a first-class fish and chips, or rather heritage-ale-battered haddock, minted pea puree, hand-cut chips and tartare sauce – if you’re feeling fancy.

Summerhall Edinburgh

At Edinburgh’s Summerhall it’s Fringe all year long; a home to art exhibitions, live music, swing classes and some of the capital’s best ceilidhs. The culture hub’s motto is “opening minds and opening doors” and one such door belongs to The Royal Dick. While its proximity to life-drawing classes and world-renowned art is definitely an allure, this pub is a destination in its own right too. Housed in the former small animal hospital of the Dick Vet School, it’s decked out with a bric-a-brac assortment of old fittings and contemporary furniture, with a sprinkling of art plastered on maroon walls. The alcohol offering, however, is much more considered, featuring a brewery and gin distillery on-site. Good times, guaranteed.

The Crabtree London

We’re always on the hunt for a good beer garden – and expectedly so is everyone else. When the mercury surpasses 20 and you’re rushing to your local, it seems that everyone has managed to get to the pub before you. If you stand a chance at snagging a seat in any al-fresco drinking spot on a summer’s day, it’ll be at The Crabtree. Perched on the river between Hammersmith and Putney Bridge, this Victorian pub is home to several outdoor spaces (our favourite is under the weeping willow looking out towards the Thames). Despite being a well-to-do pub in a well-to-do part of London, The Crabtree has a community vibe that’ll make you want to hang about for another round long after the sun’s gone down.

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