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Unicorn Inn, Canterbury

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user reviews of Unicorn Inn, Canterbury

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

Locals pub, just outside the West Gate and City Walls.

No sign of local kentish beers - two handpulls, one was Harvey's Sussex Best. A favourite brew but bang average here.

Good Beer Guide 2019 entry.
Mappiman - 11 Mar 2019 17:32
Good no-nonsense local's pub with a good range of ales from Kent micros. Didn't try the food but it looked good. Recommended.
baxterfish - 10 Jun 2018 17:31
With just enough time before our time, we headed to the Unicorn which is quite handy for the station. It seemed a fairly small pub. But I didn't have time to check it out in detail. Locals were friendly. Ales were Shepherd Neame Master Brew, Sharps Doom Bar, Wells Bombardier & Hopdaemon Golden Braid. Cider was Kentish Pip Craftsman. We moved on from here to the excellent Bottle Shop in a farmer's market next to the station.
blue_scrumpy - 6 Mar 2016 17:14
An excellent pub with a good range of beers at reasonable prices.
cheshirecat - 19 Aug 2015 10:01
My first ever visit on a Saturday lunchtime while in Canterbury for the weekend with the wife.

With up to 7 pubs to tick in 1 day we started at the furthest from our hotel.

An ex Fremlins pub that is very quaint and old fashioned inside.

4 ales on the hand pumps. Shepherd & Neame Masterbrew, Sharps Doombar, Timothy Taylor Landlord and my choice which was Caveman Brewery Neanderthal @ 4.4%. Always good to see Caveman on tap as the owner of the brewery is a friend of a friend

Pretty busy with a few tables of diners and the rest consisted of drinkers. The pool table in the back area was being used but the beer garden out the back was empty, most probably due to the cold weather.

Lots of historic beer bottles dotted about, old framed pictures of Canterbury on the walls and horse brass around the bar.

A very decent and friendly pub and a good place for our first drink of the day.
lezford - 10 Feb 2015 15:00
Was in on Friday (12/10/12) and sampled the Gadds (Ramsgate Brewey) Green Hop Ale, followed by Crouch Vale's Yakima Gold, superb. What a great range of beers (as ever).
TonyHom - 15 Oct 2012 12:16
I think if you wanted to show someone visiting the country what a British pub was like then this could well be the place to take them. Warm, welcoming and well decorated. Even on a Saturday night when you have to dodge your way through the fights on main street, this place has a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. I would like to see a more imaginative ale list - I'm not really looking for London and Cornish beers in Canterbury but the Master Brew was well kept and tasty at least.
BarrySW19 - 30 Sep 2012 22:33
This is a pleasant old pub. It's the kind of place that never moved on after the seventies. It was probably not intentional but it succeeds by the unconscious phenomenon of waiting around long enough that it becomes retro. Believe me it's an accident. Those horse-brasses were not bought at a chic stall in Camden Lock Market. They've always been there. So have the dreadful old prints that remind you of your nan's parlour. But it has charm.

For a start it has a friendly local feel to it and a complete cross section of punters, with the exception of teenagers. This is a place even under-age drinkers avoid. Every other Monday night, the Unicorn plays host to the excellent and popular local pianist Luke Smith. This is well worth calling in for. On Sunday nights they have a popular pub quiz. There are a couple of fairly subtle TVs for use when big matches or royal weddings take place but they're not on all the time.

Basic and reasonably priced pub food is served at lunchtimes but available early evenings too. Beer can be good. CAMRA meet here sometimes. They have some good guest beers but long-term regulars still ask for Shepherd Neame's Master Brew. The ubiquitous Doom Bar is the other regular. Dark Star, Gadds, Hopdaemon and Surrey Hills Breweries are common providers of their guest beers.

This place will grow on you and if it stays the same, it could one day be the only traditional pub in Canterbury. There aren't many left.
Primative - 30 Apr 2012 17:29
Probably the best traditional pub in Canterbury. The Unicorn unashamedly retains its traditional interior with original timber frames jostling with 19th Century interior decoration. The open fire makes the place feel very cosy and the family run nature is welcoming to all.

As with most pubs there is a coterie of locals who maintain a strong presence and who add a distinctly vintage feel to the place. There is always a good choice of real ale and the beer is extremely well kept. The art of the cellarman is still well and truly alive at the Unicorn.

The food on offer has really developed over the last couple of years and the menu is both inexpensive and varied with plenty of interesting, hand prepared dishes to cater for most tastes.

Other attractions include the beer garden, the Sunday evening quiz (rating: hard), a good mix of locals of all ages and its convenient location. Due to the traditional look and feel and the real ale this is not a student place and you can usually be sure of a civilised and friendly visit.


fleecymitt - 1 Feb 2011 14:36
A bit of a throwback in respect of the 70's style wood panelling, maroon(ish) carpets and shields and plaques on the walls which kind of attracts an older clientelle. Had a very good pint of Skrimshander IPA (other ales were available). Fairly handy for Canterbury West station (which is North of the city centre) though a bit of a trek from Canterbury East (which is South of the city centre.
anonymous - 17 Dec 2010 12:25
A bit dark and dingy inside but the beer was fine, only one other person in while I was there, closest to the station for a quick beer. Last call before the train home, to be honest, Canterbury was a big disappoinment beer and pub wise, horrible traffic and tourist choked hell full of tat shops and poncy restaurants/cafe's prtending that they are actually in France calling themslves 'chez nous' and the like, overpriced , I'd carry on to the seaside next time at Ramsgate or Margate.
Hodge1 - 2 Aug 2010 17:34
Bit like going back in time when you come in here, don't be put off by the net curtains. Best kept beer in Canterbury. Super Garden. Food is basic but really tasty and very good prices. Best curry I have had in ages!
canters12 - 23 May 2010 15:36
I found this pub to be really welcoming. I visited on a lovely day and sat out in the garden, which was beautifully kept.

At the bar I was served quickly and received a perfect pint of Ringwood with a smile, and a decent amount of change!

I would recommend this pub to anybody, there were lots of other younger people eating in the garden due to the very reasonably priced food as well as lots of older people sitting at the bar, who all seemed to be having a good laugh.

The bar staff were very good and clearly knew their stuff! I got a good recommendation on my second pint, which was an excellent pint of Surrey Hills Shere Drop.

But if you get a chance to see it, the best part was easily the old northern bar mans dancing!
gardengirl - 17 May 2010 23:35
Nice enough decor, but I felt I wasn't welcome.

Ignored by the older guy behind the bar (manager? owner? I guess) who only wanted to serve and chat to his cliche. Eventually served by a bar maid.

With a ring of what I assume were regulars sitting on stools by the bar it was almost impossible to get close enough to be served anyway.

Maybe it was a bad time or a bad day, but one of my least favorite pubs in Canterbury.
Loki - 4 May 2010 19:19
Near to the Canterbury West railway station, I found this to be a welcoming pub with chatty barman and locals. Four handpumps had Deuchars, Ringwood, Sheps and Hop Daemon. The Hop Daemon 3.7% was just the job and well kept. Food menu looked good value with interesting daily specials. A quieter bolt hole from the tourists and a handy "waiting room" for a train (you just might be tempted to miss one or two!!)
JBGatelad - 3 May 2010 10:29
Had a Decent pint of Masterbrew in here waiting to catch my train. Very busy when I visited by not uncomfortably so. Good mix of locals and students and the bar staff were very quick to serve.
UrbanGenieThing - 3 Apr 2010 16:02
With The Phoenix probably the best real ale pub in Canterbury. And I believe The Phoenix may have recently closed!
Although it's not a small pub there is a cosy feel to the place. The clientele always appear to be older than many of the other Canterbury pubs and therefore it has a less boisterous feel to it. Nevertheless it is a friendly place.
Handy for the Canterbury West station it's a good place to go for a quiet drink.
I agree with the earlier comments regarding the mens toilets!
outtamehead - 19 Feb 2010 09:59
Without doubt one of the best pubs in Canterbury. Good beer, well served by friendly staff; very pleasant clientele.

Everything a good pub ought to be.
palecitrus - 17 Oct 2009 22:31
I enjoyed four different real ales which were all of good quality. Nice friendly pub with a food available.
adriancowie1 - 14 Sep 2009 14:15
A rare treat: traditional, good atmospeher, friendly, excellent local ale, good inexpensive food. A generally older clientele which means that the Unicorn is relatively clam and peaceful (but still very popular). The Unicorn does not rely on Sky Sports and it appears to be weathering the recession extremely well. A great choice for the discerning drinker in Westgate.
fleecymitt - 9 Aug 2009 21:34
Very good pub, and away from all those furriners in the city centre (especially the tadpoles).
salminkarkku - 30 Jul 2009 10:45
The Unicorn is a pretty good pub all round. Typical layout with some nice cosy corners and a pretty garden.
Excellent Real Ales including Shepherd Neame (at all times) plus usually Deuchars IPA and a small/local brewer's offering. It was Whitstable Brewery East India PA when I was there last and very good it was too.
Food is good/sensibly priced (esp between 6/7pm) and the sort of crowd who get in there are good, chatty people. Nice atmosphere.
Down sides? The toilets (well, the gents anyway) need a bit of a re-think, after all, if you're going to sell lots of nice fluid, it's got to go somewhere. Maybe this is why I had to ask for an Imperial Pint, as opposed to the American 16fl oz I was offered at first/subsequently. When will the Government get to grips with short measure?
Worth a visit. Sunday nights have a quiz - billed as the best in town!
MrCheeky - 7 Apr 2009 13:19
Visited the Unicorn for the first time on Thursday lunchtime this week and was very impressed. A lovely old style pub with a good range of beers (I had the Surrey Hills Ranmore which was well kept). The landlord is very friendly and the pub appears to be well run. We did not try the food but it looked fine. There is a small but pleasant garden to the rear. Definitely wortn a visit.
Brewshed - 18 Mar 2009 18:00
A traditional pub really good beer selection, cozy surrondings and extremely efficient bar staff.
A well deserved CAMRA recognised pub.

mikecterry - 15 Feb 2009 10:08
Like stepping back in time to something very special. Immaculate with a few different ales. Haven't eaten there yet but will do soon. Super place with a landlord from the golden age of public houses.
Creg - 14 Sep 2008 18:44
Friendly, traditional pub with obliging landlord. Gadds Ales in excellent condition. Food OK. About five minutes walk from Canterbury West station. Well worth looking out.
simontheeditor - 6 Sep 2008 20:33
Enjoyed the guest beers from Dark Star brewery, cheaper than a lot of Canterbury pubs
anonymous - 25 Oct 2007 16:07
Friendly bar staff and a good choice of beers in top condition. Beware that they stop doing food at 8 o'clock on weekdays and 7 o'clock on Saturdays. We missed out on consecutive evenings with what looked like a well thought out menu.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 2 Aug 2007 16:51
Visited 8pm 28 March. What a gem! Everthing a Pub should be. Wide range of beers at sensible prices, No Big Screens, Nooks and Crannies, everything traditional in every sense...

Well done The Unicorn!
Andrew_Faber - 2 Apr 2007 15:53
A good pub, just on the outside the city shopping area. A warm welcome by friendly staff, genrally a good selection of ales, well priced food.
barmanof11yrs - 1 Apr 2007 19:36
Absolutely fantastic pub - great mix of people - young, old, medium! People are very friendly indeed, and staff are generally lovely.
Great beer garden in the summer... good range of drinks as well, and the food is pretty nice too
Vicbic - 19 Jan 2007 19:52
Called in Saturday tea-time after fighting the hordes in the sales! The Unicorn was busy, but I was served after a minimal wait. The Ringwood Best was extremely good as was the Gadd's Seasider.

I got chatting to a couple of Wimbledon supporters who were breaking their journey after the fixture at Ramsgate, and who use this site for planning stops when attending away fixtures.

They certainly rated the pub for its friendly welcome, and that the landlord didn't mind the fact that these chaps had their children with them.
5thearlofwimbourne - 8 Jan 2007 09:47
Finally dropped in Friday evening - convivial atmosphere and a well kept pint of Grand Union something or other; suffice to say it was nicely hopped with Bramling Cross if I'm not mistaken and was just the Autumnal pint required. In fact, aha! Now you come to mention it, it was called Autumn something or other. Bah!

Decent Pub.
robnest - 27 Nov 2006 17:05
It was so good that I had to return. Three splendid pints of Oyster Stout, and a pleasant chat at the bar. Several people were eating and the food both looked and smelled delicious. I shall take solid sustainance in addition to that of a liquid nature upon my next visit.
5thearlofwimbourne - 10 Nov 2006 09:48
And more importantly, no damn' wide-screen T.V.!!
5thearlofwimbourne - 8 Nov 2006 14:08
The funny thing about arriving at Canterbury ( West ) by train is that when you get to the end of Station Road, the automatic reaction is to turn left, towards the Westgate Tower. I urge you to resist the temptation, and cast your eye to the right. On the opposite side of the road approximately 100yds away is The Unicorn.

It is a very attractive building in keepeing with much of Canterbury, with low beams and dark wood panelling inside.

On to the heart of the matter - the beer. I popped in for an hour early yesterday afternoon. Service was immediate, friendly and efficient. First off, a pint of "King & Barnes Sussex Ale", sadly no longer brewed by King & Barnes. A good hoppy pint to start off with nonetheless. Pint No2 was an excellent Deuchar's I.P.A., followed by Whitstable Brewery's fabulous "Oyster Stout", actually with oysters in the ingredients, I hasten to add. The fouth on offer was Shep's "Master Brew", which, if I choose to drink it, will do in a Shep's pub.

Being without the city walls, The Unicorn charges sensible prices ( 2.30 - 2.40 ) and the food is moderately priced for Canterbury. If this splendid pub was inside the city walls, it would be charging accordingly, adding a good ten shillings to the price of your pint.

A veritable jewel in the crown that is Canterbury. 8/10 - no quibble!
5thearlofwimbourne - 8 Nov 2006 11:30
Can't disagree with any of the below. On my too rare visits to Canterbury I always carve out time to visit the Unicorn. The quality of the beer is always excellent. The beer garden is beautiful fromv which I can see how old this pub really is? 16thC?
AndySk - 26 Oct 2006 01:53
The Unicorn is, along with Simple Simon's, the only must-visit pub in Canterbury for ale enthusiasts nowadays. The beer is usually sourced from local micros and is always conditioned perfectly.
The interior experience is lively with a good mix of local folk, although in Summer the garden would perhaps be preferred to escape the heat and the excessive smoke. I accept that smokiness is a part of pubgoing to an extent (or at least until next August), but this really is intrusive.
It's a shame, as without it this pub would really rate higher, especially amongst those who appreciate an unpretentious and honest local serving quality ale.
TWG - 25 Oct 2006 15:50
The best kept ale in Canterbury. Always an interesting guest ale (often a Hopdaemon or Whitstable brew) and always a warm welcome from the very professional staff. A bit too smoky at times - the smoking ban will cure that - but an otherwise very fine pub indeed.
CJG - 19 Oct 2006 12:53
Conveniently located near Canterbury West station, the Unicorn is a pleasant pub with a nice enclosed beer garden and an excellent range of real ales. Deuchars and Hopdaemon on our visit. Excellent!
fromedrinker - 21 Aug 2006 16:43
One of my favourite pubs in Canterbury. Good atmosphere and good beer, traditional bar games (bar billiards), food which is excellent in both quality and value, and a nice garden to boot! Recommended
Eido44 - 20 Jul 2006 22:34
My husband and I popped into the Unicorn randomly this past weekend while visiting Canterbury, and were very pleasantly surprised. The locals were all very welcoming and friendly and the ales were great. The best part is that they also routinely stock local brews with the brewers themselves occasionally in attendence.
oufoxy - 14 Feb 2006 13:49
The only place I've ever seen a bar billiards table. It's an odd game: the table has holes in the surface, not the cushions, and there are skittle things which, if you knock them over lose you all your points. I first went in to find out about bar billiards, but went back because it was so friendly and had regulars who were both students and locals.
Liam - 5 Feb 2005 00:38
A welcoming pub with a "cheers" like atmosphere. Great for all ages. Prices are reasonable and stocks a fine range of fine Ales and Wines. The food is also excelent.
Peter Wilson - pwilsond@hotmail.com - 26 Dec 2003 00:48

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