The Canonbury, Islington
Tucked away from the bustle of nearby Upper Street, the Canonbury is a discreet piece of London literary history. A regular haunt of George Orwell, the Canonbury was one of the pubs the author amalgamated for his classic 1946 essay the The Moon Under Water. Living just a stone’s thrown away in Canonbury Square, the author valued the pub – sadly now modernised inside – for the protection that the walled garden offered his young son from the bomb-damaged tenements outside. The huge spreading chestnut tree that still stands outside was inspirational for Orwell during his writing of Nineteen Eighty Four.
• 21 Canonbury Place, N1, thecanonbury.com
The Dove, Hammersmith
The Dove’s vantage point over the Thames offers something akin to a shortcut to a different city. It’s shoebox-like on the inside – the public bar is minuscule – but the waterfront terrace provides temporal escape. London’s chaos has gone, replaced with a Home Counties quiet. Owned by the Fuller family for three centuries, the Dove is steeped in pub lore – legend has it poet James Thomson wrote the words to Rule Britannia here, and in the 1940s the Dove became a regular haunt of Alec Guinness, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway.
• 19 Upper Mall, W6, dovehammersmith.co.uk
The White Hart, Stoke Newington
From the street – the grimy stretch of the A10 that connects hip Dalston to the boho, foodie end of Stoke Newington – you’d never guess that the White Hart hides a sprawling two-tiered terrace at the back. While the downstairs bar is the sort of dimly lit dive you could imagine yourself losing whole days in, the garden is a gloriously rough-and-tumble plot that manages to repel most of the more irksome denizens of the pub’s neighbouring streets. An unfussy selection of well-kept beers makes this green space the perfect place to sit and sup.
• Stoke Newington High Street, N16, antic-ltd.com/whitehart/index.html
Barely more than a well-aimed javelin shot from the Olympic village, the Britannia is one of the nearest pubs to this summer’s action. It is blessed not only with a huge garden but one of east London’s most beautiful green spaces – Victoria Park – just beyond the fence. A rotating beer selection that always features local East End breweries, and a huge outdoor barbecue area that gets fired up whenever the weather suits, makes this the ideal escape from the Olympics if the McFood and the ?7 cooking lager get too much.
• 360 Victoria Park Road, E9, thebritanniapub.co.uk
With weather ever an uncertainty in the capital, the Betjeman offers the best of both worlds. A huge terrace – occasionally featuring a temporary outdoor bar – offers drinkers plenty of seating space under the magnificent arc of St Pancras’s glass ceiling. For trainspotters, there are uninterrupted views of the Eurostar trains gliding home; for beer enthusiasts, there’s a specially concocted Betjeman Ale from Cornwall. Best of all – should the sun miraculously appear, you can quickly nip out the front with a pint and pretend you’re a resident of the opulent St Pancras hotel next door.
• St Pancras International Station, N1, geronimo-inns.co.uk/thebetjemanarms