Although not strictly the closest pub to my home, I still think of this place as my 'local'. It's cosy and traditional, with comfortingly simple and tasty pub grub. The staff are all really amicable, and always acknowledge their regulars, making you feel at home even when you arrive before the rest of your friends (which happens to me a lot - my friends all seem to have a punctuality problem!). There is a huge pile of assorted games in the corner, from Connect 4 to Jenga, and more obscure ones to boot. We've been frequenting this place since we became regular participants in (and fairly regular winners of) the weekly quiz (Thursday nights, from ). Sunday roasts are particularly recommended - the portions are so generous, I've never been able to finish one yet!
The Lion and Lobster,
I used to live practically opposite this lovely, buzzy hang-out, which manages to maintain a 'locals' vibe, despite its central location. There is regular live music, of which Thursday night Jazz is especially good, and the food is pretty tasty as well. The decor is entertainingly eccentric - lots of old showbiz pictures and pages from magazines pasted all over the walls, and an assortment of random ornaments. Since they extended it around the back, there are plenty of dark and seedy hideouts for romantic trysts. I've also used it as overspill accommodation for parties etc (they have rooms upstairs), and am told that it's very comfortable. What's more, they throw in Sunday lunch if you stay there on a Saturday (presumably no-one gets up in time for breakfast!).
Tucked away in a quiet backstreet, The Basketmakers thankfully escapes the onslaught of retail tourists who flood the
The Regency, Regency Square
The phrase 'Camp as Christmas' comes to mind when thinking about The Regency, and indeed the festive season is probably the best time to visit in order to fully appreciate the flamboyance of this legendary establishment. Decked out in faux-regency style furnishings, including in the ladies' (I can't speak for the gents', but am told its decor is also rather unique), it has traditionally become something of a pantomime set around Christmas. I sincerely hope that this custom will continue under the new management, since the departure of the fabulous former landlords. It's a great place for 'holding court' on a birthday or special occasion, and I always seem to get drunker than I mean to if I spend a whole evening there.
Although not particularly atmospheric, this one had to make the list purely by virtue of being the only all-vegetarian pub in
Coming soon, 'Top Five Cocktail Bars', meanwhile: