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Nags Head, Covent Garden

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user reviews of the Nags Head, Covent Garden

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

McMullens do make great ale, the Country Bitter being an old favourite of mine, but I increasingly find the pubs they run somewhat boring and not unlike going for a pint at a hotel rather than a proper pub. The neighborhood community pubs (none left in London) are a different story except McMullens keep closing them. I don't bother with the Nag's Head anymore since there are several better pubs within meters away and I don't like their policy of closing several pubs elsewhere to turn them into flats.
Richard_ReadingFC - 6 Jul 2016 16:16
The main thing I like about this pub is that it is very big with a lot of seating so even when it is busy (and it gets very busy) you have a chance of finding a seat. It's got a nice bustling atmosphere, isn't more/less expensive than the other pubs in the area, is extremely convenient for the tube and has well kept (if limited) variety of stuff on tap.
TwoFourTwo - 20 Apr 2016 13:17
Nice looking pub with a perfect location, close to the Royal Opera House. Decent pub grub. With such a great location and all, you’d think that McMullens should be able to come up with something more exciting than their standard range of pedestrian ales. Alas ... Still worth visiting if you need the ticks.
Sigmund - 14 Jun 2015 18:22
For the more discerning pub-goer, and certainly ale-drinker, the Nags Head cannot compete with some of its more worthy nearby neighbours, and is highly unlikely to be a 'destination' venue for this kind of customer.

Saying that, it is also not a place which I imagine punters of any taste and preference would actively seek to avoid, as besides its obvious convenience of location bang in central Covent Garden, it does offer some redeeming if not exactly alluring features.

The building which houses the pub is charming, set in one of the nicely-preserved terraces which happily one still finds frequently in the neighbouring streets. The interior has seemingly been lovingly maintained by McMullen's brewery, and it is what one would hope for upon arrival - clean, traditional, comfortable, and suitably spacious for a pub which regardless of its perceived merits is bound to attract a vast number of passers-by eager for a drink and possibly a meal.

The atmosphere is not entirely moribund, if only because it is nearly always heavily-populated by the kind of mixed clientele that characterises modern CG - male, female, old, young, local, tourist, employed, jobless - you name it, you're likely to find a broad sweep in an average 24-hour period here. Nevertheless, arguably the Nags is a little too mixed, to the extent that it lacks any obvious discernable identity. Its hard to see it as anyone's hard and fact 'local' and so in that regard there is a passive, transient feel about it.

Beer-wise, the usual raft of tapped and gassed products are available from what I recall, and only a limited number of cask offerings on pump. Being a McMullen's house - a rare thing even though it's only a county further south of its heartland - the ales featured are from their portfolio, which is somewhat restrained and very traditional. Notwithstanding this, the regulars - AK and Country Bitter - aren't bad, and for the less-demanding palate they represent pretty sessionable options. The visits I've made to the Nags suggest they're usually well-kept here, though inevitably overpriced.

Food remains a mystery to me as I've yet to have cause to sample any - not because I've heard any adverse rumours of its quality but simply because the options in the area restaurant-wise usually tempt me in if I need sustenance, even if I have a drink in a pub before or after (popped into nearby Maxwells last Friday for example). So I can't say any more about the grub offered here. I do just hope it eschews the all-too-prevalent "high-price, indifferent quality" formula that so many CG outlets get away with.

All in all, an average but consistent boozer in a vibrant and bustling district. If you just want a quick pie or pint then it may do you, but the fussier and more adventurous the person, the greater the reward of walking on to a more rarefied venue.

TWG - 3 May 2012 17:40
£3.95 for a pint? Jeez! Still the beer and the surrounding was enjoyable. With the Harp not far away, I'd prefer to go there though.
Paul_Rochdale - 23 Mar 2012 08:35
A rare outlet for McMullens Hertfordshire beers and a very busy pub as you would expect from its location. I've had better examples of their beer but in general it is OK and it's always interesting to see the tourists get confused by the range of ales we offer in our pubs - sadly many of them simply opt for a well-known lager or a pint of black stuff (bar staff - promote the brewery products a bit more!!) Worth a visit but I would probably only have the one pint as there are so many other pubs to visit in the area..
mcroyal - 5 Jan 2012 12:32
Good ale; very crowdy
ilfaccino - 24 Oct 2011 15:41
Called in here before going for food in Covent Garden. Good atmosphere as was pretty full - staff seemed on the ball so not too long a wait at the bar. Would visit again if in the area
sussexboy - 20 Mar 2011 21:27
Have been in here several times over the years. place never seems to change that much. It's really a post-work sort of pub, good for summer beers on the pavement outside for an hour tops, then move elsewhere. McMullen always astounds me that a family brewer with a pretty loyal clientle and pub-base produces such lousy beer. AK is harmless. The old Gladstone was excellent, but Country is ordinary and their seasonal ales just not all that great. Pub a tourist trap, but that's Covt. Garden for you!
mally_drinker - 6 Jan 2011 15:41
Decent beer and good service but it can get heaving with tourists in summer and you may have to wait for a seat if you're going to eat.


Dan137 - 28 Aug 2010 09:38
Great " Proper " London pub .. good beer and friendly staff.
charlieFarnsbarnes - 20 Jul 2010 16:34
Have to agree that anytime I get the chance to pop in, normally every 6-8 weeks, the service and beer has been excellent. Standing at the bar can get busy, as you would expect in this area, but nothing to bad. Certainly one of the better houses in the area for a decent pint.
MT10 - 11 Jun 2010 16:37
Always visit the Nag`s wnen in town never disappoints good pints of McMullens ans AK reasonable price for the area
lilscse - 28 May 2010 20:40
Nice pub that deserves a visit. Near to the White Lion. Good real ale at a fair price for London.
Roberttherailway - 20 Feb 2010 21:01
It's a place you'd meet at then move on really, serviceable for a pint or two but you wouldn't go out of your way to go there. Very touristy, averagely well kept (in my view) Mc Mullens. 6/10 kind of place.
mps77 - 16 Dec 2009 17:39
As rexrattus states below, this is a tourist trap pub in a tourist trap location. Its still decent though, and it gains novelty value for its McMullen's beers which were in good shape. Standing room only on a sunday evening; Staff were efficient and the beer decent but it just doesn't feel like a place you'd want to spend a lot of time in.
ChrisP87 - 9 Dec 2009 22:31
This is a McMullen’s house. I had my favourite – Country Bitter, which tasted great, and at £3.20 or so a pint pretty much the going rate for the area I suppose. It’s smack bang in the middle of the tourist hell that is Covent Garden. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against tourists – I am one myself on occasions – I just don’t much like the areas that they create, especially the pickpockets and other miscellaneous miscreants that prey on them.

Anyway, this remains a pretty decent enough pub. It’s a high-ceilinged, one-room affair now, that still behaves like a pub. Being on a corner, it has glass windows to the ceiling on two sides making it very light inside. There’s some really attractive floor tiling around the bar, and the furniture is comfortable enough. The decor is minimalist, but with the high windows, and McMullen’s mirrors on the back wall, there isn’t much wall space left to decorate. The fact that they serve McMullen’s ales, thus representing a welcome change from the usual suspects, makes this one of the better Covent Garden pubs.
RexRattus - 27 Aug 2009 22:39
Large single bar Victorian style pub situated on a street corner just a stone's throw away from Covent Garden tube station.

The carpeted comfortable interior has a fine traditional feel, enhanced by the Mc Mullens etched windows, mahogany bar, Victorian light fittings and Corinthian columns.

Even at 11.15 on a Saturday morning, it was quite busy, with a mixture of well-behaved Arsenal and Glasgow Rangers supporters and shoppers and tourists.

It's a rare Central London outlet for McMullens of Hertfords beers and the AK at £ 3.02p per pint was a pleasant, if unremarkable pint. The Country Bitter - not sampled - was £ 3.24p and the imaginatively named Cask Ale was also available.

In conclusion, this is a pleasant enough pub in that typically impersonal London style. It's Central London location and proximity to the Tube Station make it a convenient meeting up point
JohnBonser - 3 Aug 2009 13:03
Good London pub that can get very packed with tourists due to location. This Friday early afternoon saw plenty of empty tables for a change (didn't last long). Enjoyed well kept pints of McMullen's AK and Cask Ale.
BobOs - 3 Nov 2008 00:14
I didn't think much of McMullens' beer when I first stumbled upon it in the Castle at East Finchley a while back, and I didn't think much of it when I had it here either. I didn't like the very touristy and 'West End by numbers' nature of the pub either, although I'd accept that midnight on Friday evening wasn't the best time to see it!
grecian - 24 Aug 2008 10:38
went here on a lovely friday evening, looks as tough it is going to be busy inside because there is always a huge crowd outside but inside was nice and quiet with plenty of seats and good fast service at the bar.
Great atmosphere
donnadoo - 2 Jun 2008 12:51
Managed to get a seat for once, and enjoyed a nice pint of McMullen Cask Ale (which has plenty of hop flavour for a light 3.8% beer) in a traditional London pub which is usually just to close to Covent Garden for comfort.
rpadam - 21 Apr 2008 22:03
Perma-rammed corner boozer an Orang Utan's throw away from Covent Garden.

Have to admit that I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised - there was a decent range of the McMullen's ale on, and served fairly well. Also the interior and exterior retain some nice olde worlde touches.

Worth a stop if you can find a seat.
Quinno - 2 Apr 2008 23:31
Far too packed for my liking - took ages to get served. Probably alright at quiter times
JessSlade - 14 Mar 2008 12:35
Gets very packed with crowds of all ages

Can be awkward to get a seat. Fair range on tap. Would re-visit but depends if you want a quiet drink or in more of a flamboyant atmosphere mood as to when your come back
the_original_rawnsleys - 28 Jan 2008 12:37
Depends what you think about McMullen's beers... they're alright but this large boozer was rammed up with people who might want to go to Yates for a bottle of something water melon flavoured.

Might work for a larger group visit should that be your thing....

The beer was ok... but nothing here demands a return visit.
terenced - 28 Jan 2008 08:43
nags head is an excellent pub.... staff very good... and tony what a legend...put it on a tab......
gods - 20 Dec 2007 20:45
Very busy pub - as you would expect in Covent Garden, serving McMullen's beers. Nothing special to warrant a second visit.
hoppy123 - 12 Dec 2007 12:52
good pint of McMullens reasonable price for the area...never miss this place when I`m in town
lilscse - 2 Aug 2007 16:15
Was expecting something nasty and commercial given the location, and was pleasantly surprised instead. Not very big, and thus busy, and the music a bit too loud. But this was made up for by decent beer and friendly - and yeah, pretty attractive - staff.
anonymous - 24 Mar 2007 17:27
There's nothing good about this pub apart from it's close vicinity to Covent Garden tube. It has no endearing qualities. It's too small and crowded. Use it as a meeting place, then move on.
dlatchana - 12 Mar 2007 16:23
Good but packed ....the seating arrangements seem to have been designed by South West Trains ???
W980501 - 2 Feb 2007 09:42
A rare opportunity to enjoy McMullens beers away from their home turf. Very busy, as you might expect given its location, but worth the effort. Conveniently located by Covent Garden tube station.
fromedrinker - 31 Jan 2007 15:14
I can but agree with previous post, (the author of which has to my mind imppecable taste in both beer and barmaids!)
Norealaleinorpington - 9 Jan 2007 16:53
Popped in on Boxing Day, actually hoping to see some football. Nothing doing unfortunately. The screen was even covered up with a blackboard displaying the menu.

My disappointment was very short-lived, however, as they had a super-delicious festive stout on tap (with a hint of chocolate). As a fan of Young's Chocolate Stout, I have to admit that this brew is superior. It was so good that it took three whole pints to explore every nuance of it.

I know this seems to be my theme, but where do they get all these drop-dead-gorgeous barmaids from? This tall, willowy blonde girl (who MUST have a modelling contract) walked in to be greeted with the predictably swivelling heads (mine included, obviously) and then she turns up behind the bar pulling pints of Country! Back in the summer they had a stunning Swedish girl behind the bar who I ran across in October serving in a bar in Sydney. Small world, huh?
redrover - 27 Dec 2006 22:32
It's fine, you won't do much better round here. Beer spot on. Most of the pub crawlers only stop for one drink due to lack of what some term atmosphere - Sky Sports and loud music - so you will get a seat if you wait a while.
nickdavies - 7 Dec 2006 23:26
As usually tends to happen when a relatively small brewery has a pub in london (think Royal Oak at Borough, Ship+Shovell, Sultan, Shaston, etc) this is an excellent pub with very good beer. For the sake of pedantry, note that the two previous posters mean Hertford Best and McMullens County. If anything, the pub is a victim of it's own success, as you can struggle to find a place to even lean if you go in at a busy time (pre-show).
ChrisF - 4 Dec 2006 22:41
Walked past this pub so many times over the years and finally ventured in a few weeks ago. Wish I'd ventured in sooner! It's very roomy with loads of seating and does a wicked pint of Hereford Best, which I'd never heard of before but which was really tasty. Prices were good too for central London. Only problem was it does get very smokey but I suppose we won't have to worry about that soon :) I'd recommend stopping off with your shopping and soothing your tired feet awhile in this place.
Cleversaz - 13 Oct 2006 14:21
Popped in for a couple of pints at lunchtime today. Great pint of McMullens Country which I would recommend. Not too busy for a lunchtime and plenty of seats at 12.45 before slowly filling up. Friendly efficient staff and prices OK. I understand trasker's comments about something missing from the place but it is worth a visit nonetheless.
MartinRAF - 11 Aug 2006 14:36
smashing pub ....nice pint of McMullens....average priced for London....been in quite a few times now and never disappointed up to now.....can be very busy but the crowd seems to ebb and flow ..because one minute there are no seats ,then next the place sems empty...before gradually filling once more.....will always make a point of visiting whenever in town
lilscse - 1 Aug 2006 16:38
McMullens beer is a plus but far too many people are allowed in of an evening making it claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Unless you get in early enough, you face an evening of being constantly jostled which is aggravating.
johnkn7 - 8 Jun 2006 13:31
Nice pub staff friendly worth visiting if you're in that neck of the woods.
juzza - 1 Jun 2006 17:22
Intresting to find a pub selling McMullen's beer in this area, that coupled with the fact it's one of the few pubs in the area which doesn't have Young's or Fullers on tap makes drinikng here a bit of a novelty. Much bigger than the White Loin across the road, so better for big groups.
anonymous - 1 Jun 2006 17:19
This place is an enigma to me. There is nothing wrong per se but it just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s the area, maybe it’s the smoky atmosphere or maybe it’s those seats that block the route to the toilet, whatever it is I cannot bring myself to like this place.
Shames really as the staff are fine and the beer selection good. Oh well.


anonymous - 28 May 2006 10:51
I touristy Covent Garden this pub stands out....only went in for a quik one but stayed for lunch and most of a now hazy afternoon....good food albeit standard stuff....nice pint of AK....well served
lilscse - 23 May 2006 23:23
this funny little, old fashioned, qwerky pub, where the bar takes up 50% of the space, should be a no, but for all the reasons its wrong, it is very right! the beer is good, the staff are an array of nationalities, and what can u say about the management? original and unique is what springs to mind!
if you're passing, pop in and admire the wall paper over a pint of A.K.
booie - 7 May 2006 14:09
A deceptively large and spacious corner pub barely 30 yards from Covent Garden market, the Nag’s Head is perhaps a bit more “touristy” than some of the other pubs in the area. That is not say it’s not worth a visit, you just need to dodge the rucksacks. The pub is very appealing with many interesting traditional features: stained glass windows, bar frame, etched mirrors, alcoves, dim lighting. The decorative tiled floor around the bar immediately draws the attention. The pub is owned by McMullens brewery so it does offer a change of scenery from the usual Ales although it was a bit pricey compared to other pubs in the area (McMullens Best was £2.80 compared with Youngs Best at £2.35 in the White Lion opposite). Plenty of seating – I managed to get a stool even on a Friday lunchtime although beware of the stools towards the rear of the pub – they are barely 12 inches off the ground and make you feel like a kid at the dinner table.
RogerB - 20 Jan 2006 15:32
Given the location, this pub has every right to be dreadful. In fact, it's pretty good. I don't go in very often but when I do I've always found the ale to be good, service spot-on friendly and the tables cleared and clean. Maybe lacking slightly in atmosphere, but this isn't exactly a cosy harbourside boozer in a Devon village.
Albert_Campion - 9 Jan 2006 11:15
I don't know where the negative comments come from. I don't go to this pub often enough to be considered a 'regular', but I've always been treated curtiously, and the prices aren't any worse than lots of pubs in the area.

The 'interesting' characters are a bonus!
iamthesun - 16 Nov 2005 17:45
I wasn't as impressed with the McMullen's beer as everyone else. Nicely appointed pub, comfortable but can get extremely busy.
ale_brewer - 14 Aug 2005 15:00
Not a bad pub, though obviously gets busy given the location. In my distant youth I must confess to stealing a pint glass; I do apologise most profusely.
rah - 2 Jun 2005 14:17
A bit of a mixed bag this one. On one hand this is a nice enough old-fashioned London watering hole, with a reasonable selection of beers, friendly and efficient staff and a great location. On the other hand it seems to be somewhat lacklustre and the atmosphere and value for money aspects are not all that they could be. Inexplicably much more popular than it deserves to be, not that it's bad or anything but just not quite worthy of being packed all the time and raved about in some quarters, especially given that there are superior pubs within a short walk of here. One plus point though is the sight of the local street performers popping in for a pint after their show whilst still made up as robots, statues,etc. Call me old fashioned but no matter how long I continue to live in this wonderful city, things like that always make me chuckle and raise my eyebrows.
Mr.Monkfish - 31 May 2005 10:51
Delicious McMullen's, a mix of both tourists and locals and Covent Garden's cleanest loos.
mallthus - 22 Feb 2005 22:38
We popped in for a pint and a sandwich and found the food to be good and the staff courteous. Great experience!
Barbara - 3 Aug 2004 22:31
After visiting many Pubs in the area over a 4 year period this is a good find. I like the draft beer and the lively friendly atmosphere and good service. The food (although not cheap, but it IS Covent Garden!) is GOOD and highly recommended. I will return:)
George - 11 Jan 2004 15:09
I'm stunned by all the negative comments here...
The Nags Head is a great place to stay. Great lunch, great beer and extremely friendly staff.
Would recommend it to anyone visiting London.


Lasse/Nada from Nuremberg - 3 Jan 2004 11:46
Lacks adequate seeting but other than that fine. Can't say Covent Garden is my favourite place to drink in London, especially in the evening - which was when I went there. Can't imagine it being any good in the day though.
Good for: Big groups/evening
thenationofjames - 5 Dec 2003 13:41
Ugh! if you don't like McMullen's then you've had it.

Lively atmosphere, fuelled by some - how shall I put it - 'interesting' characters.
Darren in the City - 30 Oct 2003 09:05
I worked at the Nags Head for six months under two different managers...It is great to hear your comments and to know my friends are still alive and kicking....Loved it then, Love it now. I would recommend to anyone.......
Belinda Davey - school_bags@hotmail.com - 27 Sep 2003 14:04
Not somewhere I would recommend to visitors or tourists. If you're one of the regulars, you might receive good service - But strangers are made to feel unwelcome.
James - 1 Aug 2003 02:22
I also was in London for 3 weeks with Karen and Kathyrn and the Nags Head was the place where we hung out all the time. Everyone was extremely friendly, plus they had good beer and drinks....what more could you ask for.
Jen from Columbus - 24 Jul 2003 23:05
I was in London for three weeks (with Kathryn from Detroit) and The Nags was our second home. The entire staff was extremely friendly and we got to know all of them. Adam and Jez are great managers and Ludi and Gavin were a constant form of entertainment. I would recommend it highly to anyone visiting or living in London! Never did get to the food though!
Karen from Grand Rapids - karenjoan35@msn.com - 24 Jul 2003 20:34
I loved this place. The staff (Jez, Adam, Gavin, Helen, Ludi)were the friendliest in London!! The other patrons where also extremely friendly. Never had a bad time at this place. Was in London for three weeks and spent numerous evenings at the Nags Head. Would recommend it to anyone visiting London.
Kathryn from Detroit - 24 Jul 2003 19:31
I worked as Head Barman at the Nags Head in 1998/99, and compared to other pubs, it was a great place to live and work, with friendly & fun staff. The landlord did keep the tips though, which was pretty scroungy, but he made sure the staff (all from NZ/Aus & Germany) had one of the best Xmas'.
Dave Ginley - 9 May 2003 02:49
Please ignore the message from ' anonymous' The Nags head is a lovely friendly pub/bar with great food and nice staff. It is actually managed by two nice, well presented young men called Nick and Jez, both of whom have loads of experience in the catering industry. Stop by if you have time. Its Great!
Louise Vant - 24 Apr 2003 15:46
I loved the atmosphere of the place; came here for Sunday lunch and settled down with my newspaper. I was on my own but found people friendly and chatty; would've stayed there all afternoon people-watching but had serious shopping to do!
Sarah Whateley - 17 Feb 2003 13:02
Just got back from London, and Nags Head had the best food of all the pubs. The staff was wonderful, friendly and well mannered. The place could use a little work. A back booth was falling apart and the ladies toilet was mostly out of order (according to my wife), but it is still our fav pub in London.
Gordie - 15 Nov 2002 04:05
Started here on my Birthday - got very VERY drunk (for eight hours) and left to go somewhere else - seemed alright to all of us...
Katie - 24 Jul 2002 14:00
I love the place. Every time I visit London, it is my first stop.
Joe - 18 Jul 2002 23:52
the staff are unsually rude and threatening, avoid at all costs!
P - 20 May 2002 09:01
This is one of the most expensive pubs in London. It is unclean and the management is unfriendly.
anonymous

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