The Dover Castle Pub
Most pubs in central London are either expensive, heaving with tourists, or both. So it's a delight to find the Dover Castle - a cosy, atmospheric spot for a quiet drink just north of Oxford Circus.
Marylebone, Central London
Very sadly the Dover Castle Pub is no longer - it closed its doors for the final time on September 23rd, 2016. It'll be missed!
Not a pub you are likely to just stumble upon... The Dover Castle is tucked away in a quiet mews street.
The Dover Castle is tucked away in Weymouth Mews, a cobbled mews
between Portland Place and Harley Street. The building dates back to the mid-19th century, but there seems to have been a licensed pub on the site since the 1770s, so there's plenty of drinking history here. It's a fine example of a 'proper' traditional pub, thankfully with no electronic games machines, television, or piped music to mar the atmosphere.
This used to be our 'local' (we lived just around the corner), so we've spent many a happy evening here. It's a comfortable, unassuming place that rarely gets too busy - it's not the kind of pub you find in passing, you really need to know where it is! But it is well worth hunting out for the satisfying feeling that you have found somewhere a bit off the beaten track (albeit in central London), and certainly well off the tourist trail.
The Dover Castle is located in cobbled Weymouth Mews, Marylebone, between Portland Place and Harley Street.
Weymouth Mews isn't the most scenic of Marylebone's many mews, but it has a minor claim to fame in that it (and nearby Duchess Mews) featured in several episodes of cult 1960s TV series, The Avengers
. The Dover Castle looks especially inviting after dark when the wooden frontage is brightly lit by its original 19th century lantern, and the warm glow from the windows shines out onto the dark mews.
Before you step in, take a quick look at the two sets of entrance doors (one no longer used) with their etched glass panels marked 'Bottle Room' and 'Retail Entrance' rather then the more usual Tap Room and Saloon Bar. Inside there is a handsome wooden bar with its original fittings and traditional décor with wood panelled walls, a patterned carpet and Victorian painted embossed anaglypta wallpaper (and ceilings!).
To the rear there is a dining room - a good place for a bit of privacy if the bar area is busy - and a small yard with a few chairs. It's not an especially attractive outdoor space as it has high walls on all sides, but it might appeal on a warm evening... or if you're a smoker.
The impressive wooden bar and fittings are original, dating back to the mid-19th century.
Back in the bar area, a curiosity is the long narrow ceiling mirror that runs from the bar to the entrance. There would originally have been a partition here, separating working men at the bar from people of 'quality' in the saloon. The mirror apparently was to enable the coachmen to keep an eye on their masters, so that they could have the carriage ready at the front of the pub for the masters' departure.
Wood panelling, sporting prints and a patterned carpet give the pub a cosy traditional feel.
There are photos and prints on the walls (check out the 'sporting heroes' and the photo of regulars 'shortly before D-Day'), a smattering of old books and bric-a-brac on the shelves, and a real fire in winter. There's a selection of board games always available - have a rummage around in the cupboard under the glass display case to the left of the bar. There are chess and dominoes, of course, plus Jenga, backgammon and a big games compendium of other favourites.
Samuel Smiths' Oatmeal Stout is one of our favourites.
The Dover Castle is a Samuel Smiths
pub, so expect the usual beers, plus our favourite Oatmeal Stout
and a few more unusual choices such as organic fruit beers
. Food is served at lunch and in the early evenings, and the Sunday lunch is worth a visit if you're in the area. We haven't eaten there for a while, but last time it was good standard English pub food - shepherds pie, fish and chips, sausage and mash etc. Nothing particularly special, but tasty enough and reasonably priced.
Dover Castle, pictured on the pub sign, was constructed in late 12th century for King Henry II.
As with most London pubs, the Dover Castle is busiest at lunch times and early evenings when it's a popular meeting place for people who work locally - including many from the BBC Broadcasting House just across the road on Portland Place, and medical staff from nearby Harley Street.
Local lore has it that rock band The Who
used to drink here while recording at the Portland Studios on Portland Place - there were stairs from the back of the studios out into Weymouth Mews, just opposite the pub. 70s rockers Slade
were also regulars. The odd famous name is still known to pop in following an interview at the BBC. So who knows, you may even spot a celebrity or two.
A game of chess - a great way to keep the kids happy!
We used to regularly take our children here when they were babies, so we were quite put out when, a few years ago, an unfriendly 'no children' sign appeared on the door. Happily this has changed again (new management?) and children are once more welcome. It's actually a good option if you are with kids but fancy a pint, as there are several rooms and a small outdoor space, plus board games to keep them busy.
Essentials: The Dover Castle Pub, Marylebone
Address: 43 Weyouth Mews, Marylebone W1G 7EQ
Nearest Tube: Regents Park, Great Portland Street, Oxford Circus