There is something so quintessentially charming and unique about pubs in Britain. I always look forward to visiting new ones whenever I'm in the UK, or, more accurately, whenever I'm allowed into the UK.
I really enjoy spending time in the pubs, drinking the beer of course, and hanging out and generally just enjoying life. I was pondering exactly what makes them so special, as compared to bars all over the world, and I came up with some defining characteristics of what I think mark a classic British Pub.
Simple white candles in charming old liquor bottles adorn the tables. Likewise, simply arranged and colorful fresh flowers, also in charming old liquor bottles, sit next to the candles, completing the very relaxing and picturesque classic little still-life for you to enjoy on your table. You'll also often find twinkling strings of christmas lights (called fairy lights in the UK) that always give off a certain whimsy and charm.
The furniture is often made of up a smattering of worn-in, mismatched tables and chairs but everything seems to go together perfectly in a shabby chic kind of way. You can find huge comfy chairs to relax in and large cozy couches that you sink down into and can easily hang out in for hours. And let's not forget those beautiful long old carved wood original bars. Solid, wooden snakes that not only stand the test of time, they get better with age.
This goes for the friendly patrons of the pub as well as all the staff. I find that there are so many pubs that often there is one for every neighborhood, so they are mostly filled with locals and neighbors who know each other, giving it that real homey-type of feel.
And I just adore British bartenders. Extremely knowledgable about their craft, yet not taking it too seriously at the same time. I find them welcoming, relaxed, polite, and charming. And my personal favorite, they know how to properly pour a pint!
Also, manners! Noone is loudly or obnoxiously answering their cell phone in a pub. It's just not done.
properly poured pints
This is very nearly an art form in this country. And no art is complete without the proper frame, which in this case, is accompaniment by the matching brewery's beer glass. And not just matching just the brewery; but also matching THE glass designed specifically for the particular beer you are drinking, to enhance the flavor and help to ensure that you experience the beer the exact way the brewmasters intended.
I don't know how they always manage to get it right every single time, but it is darn impressive. The logistics make no sense to me. And now when I order a draft beer in any other country, I experience a slight tinge of disappointment if it's not served in its matching glass. I know. Beer snob, much?
There is almost always a large old medieval-looking heathen stone fireplace and in the winter months, or whenever it's chilly (hey it is Britain afterall), it'll have a huge roaring fire in it that you can cozy up to and also which seems to keep the entire place nice and toasty, no matter what the weather is outside.
All the pubs allow dogs and you often see dogs lying about on the floor or under the tables. I think it’s sweet that people can take their pets with them while they eat, drink and socialize instead of leaving them at home by themselves. And I love meeting dogs.
Spending time in a British pub is quite like hanging out in a friend or family’s living room for a chat. People hang out in pubs all day long. Day drinking has no stigma here! You can go at noon, early evening, late evening, it doesn’t matter. Anytime’s a good time to hang out.
There's even a coat rack by the door for your outer costs. It's such a welcoming and homey touch. As an American, I find it completely astounding that everything left on these hooks isn't stolen as soon as you turn your back. And I like the whole Mr-Rogers-neighborhood vibe you get by walking in the door, taking off your jacket and hanging it up. But don't start singing.
Unlike the rest of the country, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have fast unlimited wifi in most pubs. For those not in the know, wifi is even hard to find in some coffee shops and restaurants in Britain. And good luck to you if you're looking for wifi on any bus or train in the country, too. It's not happening. So, stick to the pubs. That's what I do.
I love discovering the hilarious chalkboard signs they put out on the sidewalks. Maybe I'm a sucker for corny jokes (ok I'm definitely a sucker for corny jokes) but I love the light-hearted fun these provoke and they make me snicker every time I see them. Also, apparently I have to instagram them, too.