Can a woman drink alone in a London pub?

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Mar 7th, 2001, 07:39 PM
  #1
Foggy Bottom
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Can a woman drink alone in a London pub?

My apologies if I've repeated this post topic... I'll be traveling alone to London for a week and am really looking forward to having a bite to eat and maybe a few pints in a pub at the end of a walking day. I'd love to have advice (especially from Londoners) on how comfortable I'll feel as a solo (American) woman. My hope is to be able to keep to myself, not that I'm unfriendly, but I'm not AT ALL "looking for action" or even conversation. Any advice? Would I be better off sticking to a traditional restaurant or my hotel? I'm in my late 20s, usually comfortable traveling alone, and don't wear anything that would draw too much attention. I'd also be grateful for any guidance toward particular pubs (esp. in the Covent Garden, Bloomsbury, Kensington, Knightbridge areas) that might be friendly to folks like me who just want to sit in the corner, have a few, maybe read a book or just watch the crowd... Thanks so much - I can't wait to get there! (P.S. I can hold my liquor -- not a worry!)
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 08:31 PM
  #2
lurker
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No a woman definitely cannot drink alone in London pubs. Any woman that dares to enter any pub in that whole city will be jumped by a bunch of Benny Hill lookalikes. If you must drink alone you are advised to go at least as far as Kew Gardens.
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 08:43 PM
  #3
elvira
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Yes, you can drink in a pub alone. Use your same common sense you'd use at home: if a pub/bar looks iffy, skip it. Just like at home, you'll see a crowd that looks comfortable - a mix of guys in suits, a couple of groups of women, a few couples, etc. Some pubs are belly-up-to-the-bar sorts where you order from the barkeep; other places will have servers. There's usually a full range of taps, so if you see your brand, just order a pint or half-pint. If nothing looks familiar, ask the publican; s/he will recommend something that suits you. And if you like stout, it'll be a wait - there's an art to drawing a stout correctly.

I've been in several pubs around the city, but I have no idea the names, something like xxx and the Rose or the Lion and the xxx. You can always ask at your hotel for recommendations.

Wes posted a pub-crawl itinerary a long time ago that I copied and used. If you do a search on the forum, you might find it (it was at least a year ago, maybe longer).
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 06:10 AM
  #4
Beth Anderson
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Hi Foggy - let me guess, you live in G'town?

anyway - I should think you'd be fine in many a pub - take Elvira's advice. I would also say, skip clubs as a meat market is a meat market no matter where you are.

The Lamb and Flag seemed like a good place to hang out - edge of Covent Garden - Rose Street, off Long Acre. around the corner is a GREAT mexican resto (not chain) called Cafe Pacifico if I remember correctly - on Langley street. (Time Out mentions these too btw)

whatever you do DO NOT just sit in your hotel. there are so many places to sit and have a bite while you people watch.

one thing I did notice - the Fleet Street, Bank/Monument areas did have a fair number of pubs, if just for the folks at the end of a hard day at work. I only went in to one (to meet some friends who work there) and it was fine - a bit slow (Monday night) but we sure had fun (beer will do that, go figure

enjoy London!

Beth

do try Indian food while you are there, there is nothing like it here in DC. There are some good places near Liverpool street station, but I am sure you'll stumble across many in your wanders.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 06:25 AM
  #5
Katja
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Just remember that usually you will get a strange look if you are a woman and order a full pint of beer. Many occasions female friends of mine have been seen as "heavy drinkers" because they ordered a pint. They will happily serve you a half pint though and it doesn´t matter how many of those you drink ;o)
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 06:27 AM
  #6
stacey
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Foggy -

I travel alone often. Above comments about using common sense and getting a feel for a place before settling in are great. I always bring a book and try to sit at the bar. I find it much more confortable than sitting at a table alone. If you're reading, for the most part people will usually leave you alone. (especially if it looks like a 'work' book) If you decide you feel like a chat, put the book down and look around and make eye contact with people, you're bound to end up in conversation, at the very least with the barman. As said above, don't stay at the hotel if you can help it. People watching is great anywhere and excellent in London.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 08:29 AM
  #7
kate
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I strongly disagree with what Katja says about not drinking pints if you're a woman. That may be the case in some very remote parts of Cornwall but it is certainly not the case in London, where anything goes. I wouldn't dream of drinking halves!
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 08:38 AM
  #8
stacey
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I completely agree with Kate regarding pints vs. half pints. The only time I (or my female friends) order half pints is when we're sitting outside and it's very hot and don't want our drinks to get warm.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 12:53 PM
  #9
Patrick
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Maybe this pint/half-pint thing has an age restriction? My good friend Viv is a daughter of pub owners just East of London. Viv and her husband Brian settled in Florida and opened and run a true "British" pub here. One year I spent nearly a week with Viv in London. She absolutely will not drink a pint as it is "totally unacceptable". Of course, she drinks three or four half-pints while I drank one full pint, but she would not be seen in a pub with a full pint in front of her. Viv is about 60 however and I certainly do see a lot of younger women enjoying their full pints.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 01:40 PM
  #10
Thyra
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A couple of good sources for "where to find a good pub" info are your hotel desk person, or B & B owner, who usually have a place or two to recommend just give them your criteria.. Also, believe it or not taxi drivers at least in London.. maybe it's just us, but everytime we've asked a London cab driver where to drink or eat, they always produce the most wonderful reponses and have never let us down, even when I was travelling as a 20 something single female with a backpack.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 02:34 PM
  #11
Beth Anderson
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hey, what Thyra said - it also goes for late night restaurants - much harder to find than you would think, believe it or not. ask a cabbie where to get food late, if you don't already know.

for Indian food - Brick Lane is supposed to be good. (I didn't make it there AGAIN this trip though - sorry Ben, after all your good advice! next time, to be sure!!)

Beth
 
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Mar 23rd, 2002, 01:22 PM
  #12
helpful Hannah
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topping for Amber
 
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Mar 23rd, 2002, 02:09 PM
  #13
Kavey
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Patrick, you have hit the nail on the head.

Some time ago it wasn't socially acceptable for "nice" women to drink pints.

It hasn't been that way for years though and most younger women (up to 35 at least) are perfectly comfortable ordering a pint.

Kavey
 
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Mar 23rd, 2002, 02:31 PM
  #14
bu
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Russell Square Tube stop, exit and turn left, in a few yards you see an alley/close, turn left and you'll see the welcoming sign of THE FRIEND AT HAND. Another nice little pub is the MUSEUM TAVERN straight across the way from the entrance to the British Museum.
 
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Mar 24th, 2002, 01:51 AM
  #15
Julie
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Hi F.B.,

The web site www.pubs.com gives very nice descriptions of historic pubs, including their interesting decorative elements and whether or not they serve food. You can search it by postal code. I was going to mention the Museum Tavern, too.
 
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Mar 24th, 2002, 02:40 AM
  #16
Sheila
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Just a minor social comment on the pints/halves thing.

My mother who was born in 1919 used to tell about how, when she started to go out with here sister in Stratford upon Avon after the war (pubs were, at that time, pretty exclusively male in Scotland) the query about a drink would be "What will you have a half of?" A jok, but accurately reflects what Patrick said
 
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Mar 24th, 2002, 04:04 AM
  #17
older
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I'd say that a lone woman would be better going to a wine bar rather than a pub.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 05:52 AM
  #18
Keith Legg
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Another half pint story...

There used to be a pub in St Andrews in Scotland which was owned by elderly sisters (The West Port Bar on South Street) who would ONLY serve half pints, and would refuse to serve more than two at a time! They retired a couple of years ago and the pub is now a "trendy wine bar", so to speak.
 
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