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Earl of Lonsdale, Notting Hill

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user reviews of the Earl of Lonsdale, Notting Hill

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

As usual Sams Smiths have done a very good job on restoring it to its former impressive interior after it had the guts ripped out of it in the 1960s. And as a consequence this is a very characterful place to have a beer and a bite to eat, especially in the side lounge room when the large open fireplace is going on a chilly winter lunchtime.
Sadly it's the rest of the package that is not up to the interior and spoils this as a truly enjoyable pub experience.
It's location on Portabello Road means most of the clientele are single visit foreign tourists who are very unlikely to ever return, so the pub doesn't really need to work to attract people back and consequently in this ones case SS doesn't bother to even try.
Firstly the Sam Smith beer range is poor at the best of times, and especially if the draught version of OBB is not available, as is the case here. Fortunately being Christmas there was a couple of stouts available and the extra stout when taken with food is usually passable.
Secondly, we did eat here and the food we experienced was edible but average at best. The Steak and Ale pies are now £9 plus and I was expecting something better than a clearly microwaved pie for that.
And thirdly the service left a lot to be desired. Nothing against the hard-working barmaid and the young lad running around trying to dispense the meals and clean up the carnage left by previous diners, but two young staff only in a busy pub like this just isn't enough to avoid the frustrating queues forming at the bar.
This pub could be a really great pub, if only the rest of the experience was up to the interior. Still worth a visit to see the interior if you are in the area.

Gann - 25 Jan 2017 14:38
Nice enough pub, but be warned it's one of Sam Smiths pubs that only serves keg ale.
Alfnoax - 17 Nov 2012 09:26
It's quite hard reviewing pubs that follow a similar pattern in it's chain, and with this Sam Smiths pub there is no exception.
Cheap food and cheap drink made by their own brewary which is all great. Nice mix of snugs and open areas along with a really decent sized beer garden. Usually fairly quiet when I've been in, but Saturday daytime was hugely busy with tourists visiting Portobello Road market.
If it was just a tiny bit closer to where I live, I would be spending a lot more time in here
Roydwin - 30 Oct 2011 17:58
I first visited this pub by chance a couple of months ago when I was looking for a new regular for myself and some friends, who generally stick to the South Ken area. I was delighted to find such a lovely pub with an amazing dining room, fireplaces and a huge pub garden. The staff were very attentive and made us feel very comfortable so we ended up spending the whole day there. I now drop in at least twice a week as I'd rather go a little further than my traditional local pubs for the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that the Lonsdale provides. Not to mention, great value drinks! Definitely recommended.
apubfan - 21 Dec 2010 12:51
I am also a regular here. My opinion is that this pub has improved since new management have arrived. New friendly faces behind the bar. The pub is much cleaner. Yes a couple of people I believe have been asked to no longer drink there, I for one am pleased. The Lonsdale is a local pub on portobello road but only for a handful of locals that come in each day, most of who are very pleasant. A couple are not. There are far more people now coming in two or three times a week, younger faces and even greater numbers of tourists. I agree the beer is cheap. If you are pleasant and friendly with the staff and management here they are very friendly also.
newone1 - 20 Dec 2010 18:00
Being a regular expectations were high with a new couple taking over recently. Unfortunately, 'moving on' old people with opinions doesn't enhance the atmosphere. One was told to try elsewhere simply for questioning the short measure he was given. A plus side of most Sam Smith pubs, apart from cheap drinks, is the level of customer service. The present management hasn't yet learnt the words 'hello' and 'goodbye'. At it's best the Lonsdale, despite being on the busy Portobello Road, is a community pub with plenty of regulars. It's awful when new people come along and destroy this. Luckily, there's still enough old characters in the place to justify a visit, ar least for the time being.
badsanta - 14 Dec 2010 15:59
Visited this pub this week and now it will be my pub of choice. A new couple have recently moved in to manage. there is a lovely atmosphere now. very friendly. food is better. some of the old moaning blokes have been moved on which has encouraged a number of people to return. there is a good mix of ages. Has 3 real fires. I would highly recommend this pub to anyone who enjoys a relaxed atmosphere and probably the best value alcohol in London.
mylocal1 - 1 Dec 2010 20:40
Recently went into this pub for a quiet drink to read a book. The pub has extremely dingy lighting, I could hardly read. The staff were extremely rude, because it was so quiet in the pub were more than happy to chat amongst themselves very loudly about what they got up to at the weekend. What they got up to cannot not be mentioned on here, but in future I will not be visiting this pub again. This is a shame as it has such great potential and in a great location, just terrible staff.
gdogg - 8 Sep 2010 11:41
A friend notified me of this site and was shocked to see a negative comment about this really laid back pub. I've been a regular to this pub for a couple of yrs and have always found the staff to be a really friendly and the manager and his partner to be very welcoming. I have noted one comment regarding the staff and manager and i do believe that around the time the comment was made the manager was on holiday. I feel that anyone who has had a bad experience in this pub are unfortunate, i do understand that relief managers that come to this pub do find themselves under pressure from time to time especially on a Saturday, but this still does not give them a reason to be rude to anyone. To anyone that wants to visit this pub please do it has a really great beer garden, lovely character and fab beer
iceandslice - 24 Jun 2010 20:39
Sorry to hear about your experience firsttimewalker. When i drank in this pub on a regular basis(admittedly over ten years ago), it was a most inviting boozer indeed with pleasant and efficient staff behind the bar. It boasted two handpumps serving the obb and the much rarer museum ale.

How times change!

nokegthanks - 6 May 2010 14:40
Nice enough pub and can't complain about the beer, however, when I asked for my pint to be filled to the line I was told that "this is the way we serve beer here" - I pointed out that the bottom of the head of my pint was well below the line and was again told that was how they served beer here. A request to speak to the manager was met with "He's in the kitchen" so a further request to ask him to come to the bar had to be made. The manager was possibly the rudest person I've had the misfortune to meet in a pub to date - he tipped my glass so that the bottom of the head was on the line and said there you go it's on the line - I told him that was unacceptable and that at the least the bottom of the head should be on the line when the glass is flat at which point he snatched the glass from me added the smallest extra splash of beer, slammed the glass back down and walked off. Obviously in this neck of the woods bar staff are under the impression that the number of tourists which frequent their pub mean that they can act like ignorant morons to anyone who questions them and not loose custom - and I'm sure the fact that I will never again darken their door will matter not one iota to them but I wanted to leave this comment as a warning to anyone contemplating visiting here.
firsttimewalker - 6 May 2010 13:36
I seem to write the same thing about every Sam Smiths pub I visit: nice pub, shame about the beer. The same applies here. In a little more detail, this is a nice pub for two reasons: (a) in one of the most poncified bits of London, it remains resolutely a traditional boozer, attracting a varied crowd, and (b) the interior is worth a look. The main body of the pub is divided into four snugs by wooden partitions with doorways that you have to crouch to step through - there are not many London pubs which still retain partitions like that, and it's worth a look. However, as ever, the Sam Smiths drinks are by and large awful, and from what I could see there was no real ale on handpump here.
grecian - 26 May 2009 11:52
Nice enough pub,food fairly good & cheap for the area.I like the way they've put back the old partitions,MORE PUBS SHOULD DO THIS !My only gripe is the lack of real ale.What is it with Sam Smiths London pubs ? Why do the majority of them have only keg beers on offer ? Can anyone enlighten me ? Ex-employees tell me the owner is an oddball.
boundsgreenboy - 18 Apr 2009 02:24
Excellent Pub right off Portabello Road. The pub has been remodled closer to its original conditon (which seems to really confuse some neophytes). The beer is Samuel Smiths. A great bitter here and an excellent cider. The Saloon is a great place to sit and people watch on a Saturday when the market is open. I am not a local and the staff has always been most helpful and friendly.
detroiter - 11 Apr 2008 01:38
Visited this pub Saturday lunchtime 10/11/07.
Difficulty getting served unless you are a local.
Stood at the bar waiting to be served for quite a time when 'local'reached over my shoulder,called the barmaid by name,and was served immediately.
Can't tolerate rude and ignorant staff and customers.

malkit41 - 15 Nov 2007 20:40
My wife and I got engaged in this pub back in 1987
, the 15th of October actually. We were heading home on a bit of a pub crawl and I popped the question in the corner facing out to the street. The pub still holds fond memories for us because of this. We live back in New Zealand but will get back one day.
taranakiale - 16 Oct 2007 04:25
The snugs in the Earl of Lonsdale are really rather special and they are original (they were ripped out in the 1960s but have only recently been put back in due to the careful attention to detail and high standards from Samuel Smiths). There are not that many pubs in this part of london with such character and certainly none where you can get a top quality pint of real ale for 1.78!
chris2 - 7 Sep 2007 21:17
Only sells Sam Smith liquor which makes a change from the usual cast list.

However, the Earl has a slightly odd feel about it.

Extremely drunk elderly men are known to totter about in here on rainy saturday afternoons, just managing not to decapitate themselves on the "snug" wooden features. This is when they are not making slurred negotiations with bar staff that they are not inebriated and don't need to leave. The bar staff are normally correct.


terenced - 20 Jul 2007 10:14
To be honest, weird pub

Ok, some may like the Samuel Smiths, and I only tried one, but wheat beer is a bit horrid on my taste buds...

Also, whats with the low doorway type alcoves you have to get through? We all elves or something? Or is this a prove your not too pissed ploy?

Not my cup of tea, tho the eating room did seem nice
the_original_rawnsleys - 18 Jun 2007 16:14
Hi there found this pub today 18/03/07 on my travels with my son and found the staff very friendly and helpful,had a sunday roast which was very nice in the non smoking room.
Also found this pub very clean all over and the best toilets i have seen in time lovely and fresh,would recommend this pub to others and will be going back next time im up there and prices are very good and enjoyed the sameul smiths bitter very nice mmm.
manfromherts - 18 Mar 2007 20:10
Supposed to be the cheapest place around? Interesting interior?.Yes. Pleasant safe atmosphere?.No.

A friend arranged to meet me here, I arrived early took one look at the clientele and decided I would rather meet somewhere else. Didnt have time to try any alcohol as this place is just to dam scary!!

persia - 23 May 2006 14:16
A real locals pub. Loved the Cockney lass who confined hereself to a single adjective.There are different rooms; a bar, a non smoking saloon and a dining area.Nice old fashined pub, pity about the range of beer.One curiosity, the very clean toilets which they like to moniter closely.
tinsoldier - 19 May 2006 21:16
Nice reasonably traditional Sam Smiths pub not too far from the market. The low inter connecting doorways are rather reminiscent of the Windsor Castle in Campden Hill Road, Kensington, although the ones there are original.
Reasonable pub in an area where there aren't too many, sadly
JohnBonser - 31 Jan 2006 13:27
Nice pub, with little snugs and drinks at great prices. You've got to try the Sovereign Best Bitter - it's such a nice drink. Nice to have a bit of character in a pub with the decor and to have quality beers. The only thing is with the beer being the cheapest in the area it does tend to draw in the lower end of the market - there are a few boozy old men and women on a night
chris2 - 22 Jan 2006 11:19
Had a couple of pre-Christmas ones there : I like a Sam Smith's pub but this one has recently been refurbished so hasn't got the scruffy charm of, say, The Angel or Chandos. Not yet anyway.

THe bar is divided up into snugs with little four-foot high doors between each section, which got a bit condusing. Good for a pint or two though the Portobello Star is the good, scary locals pub.
MrScott - 3 Jan 2006 11:36
Lovely pub, great beer garden and really nice back room, cheap, quiet, classy, excellent for a quality night out before going home for a sing-song.


matthewturner - 16 Sep 2005 15:21
It's quite, its cheap and its not full of Nathan Barleys like all the other pubs on Portobello.
beebee - 16 Sep 2005 15:09

This is a Sams Smith pub so no point discussing the beer. The refurbishment must have cost a fortune, pity Sams Smiths managers have no business sense the place has been ruined. I used to have the occasional drink here on a Saturday afternoon when it was run by a less than sober Scotsman and his loud Polish wife and I thought it was awful then. But with the the Refurb it has got worse. The staff are pointless, the low partioning appears to be designed to crack your skull open and the clientele resembles an Addams family reunion. All in all a rubbish pub run by a rubbish brewery.
anonymous - 11 Sep 2005 14:43
Not bad now. But if you remember what it was 20 years ago and come in now you'll want to weep.
realalesnob - 15 Jun 2005 15:46
Absolutely ruined it! Why did they waste their money to re-open it like this! They were better off leaving it they way it was 10 years ago when there was live music in the back room and the best Sunday Roasts in Portobello Road. The beer is still awful as is the no-name spirit stuff! A definite NO to this pub!
delboy - 13 Jun 2005 18:09
Perhaps not a place for serious drinking, but it's a welcome haven of tranquility in the midst of busy Portobello Road (especially on a Saturday). The huge lounge is muzak-free (bliss!) and non-smoking, making it eligible for our high rating. There's a beer garden for smokers. The menu is limited, but the quality is good - the batter on the decent-sized pieces of fish (served with mushy peas, chips and salad) was light. The beers are Sam Smiths and a range of better-quality lagers, but the choice of wine was limited. Also nice to see the panelled snugs around the main bar.
Enigmatist - 5 May 2005 11:00
0/10 because of the disappointment. Sam Smiths were renovating this place at vast expense for 6 months to open up beginning December 2004 and its terrible. A dark wooded lacquered gin sty serving up fizzed up lager and shitty gin and tonics in small glasses with no lemon. This pub is all that is wrong with the brewing industry in this country. Why spend all this time and effort to accomodate a couple of smelly, hairy geezers and a bull dog (seriously). rip out the interior, open up the bar space, get some decent food on and get a better clientele. Its Portobello road for gods sake.
simonb22 - 16 Feb 2005 14:13
Beautiful spacious traditional pub, criminally wasted. Nothing but cheap nasty nitrokeg beers and expensive lagers on offer. Someone at Sam Smiths deserves to be shot for deciding to rip out all the hand pumps. No wonder the place is almost deserted. Ye Gods, this is Portobello Road! Whatever were they thinking of?
foxski - 23 Jan 2005 22:57
nice quiet pub - nice cheap sam smith's beer - Lemmy from Motorhead playing on the fruit machine.
andy - 17 Sep 2003 13:44
I think this pub is a very high standard pub and I am pleased every time I go thereand it must be a good pub if Mandy Moore eat a fish and chips there!
Kerry Coulson - kerrycoulson@yahoo.co.uk - 23 Aug 2003 16:03
After ten years of searchihg out Sam Smith in London I have found my home. I will return frequently to support this pub.
bobo - 20 Aug 2003 07:11
A pub with a lovely atmosphere with lovely food especially on a saturday. Can highly recommend the lamb shank. A friendly bunch of bar staff. top marks for the sam smiths beer.
jodi - 15 Aug 2003 15:55
Great beer and food
But watch out for the moody barmaid on saturday motnings
Scott - 25 Jul 2003 14:15
A lovely pub with staff just as lovely! The food is of a good quality and indeed the beer is cheap! The beer garden is certainly a bonus in the Summer - the only one I have seen in the area. I will continue to frequent this pub!
Morag - 25 Jul 2003 12:14
A nice pub and one of (if not the) only 'pub' in the area. Excellent food and the cheapest drinks in the area. There's an irish lady at the bar who's been there as long as the pub! Well worth checking out especially on saturday when the food is instant and tasty!
Jimmy - 25 Jul 2003 12:05
Quite a "nice" pub in a lovely part of London. Rotten shame there's no hand pulled cask ale any more, due to Sam Smith's policy (now repealed) of removing all cask ale functionality when refurbishing the pub. The food LOOKED good I didn't eat there as I had just come across the road from the Gold where we had lunch! A nice venue for lager, stout and keg drinkers, but a no-go area for anyone after a cask conditioned pint, hence my 5 out of 10 rating!
lad_newton - 24 Feb 2003 18:05

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