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Red Lion, Pall Mall

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user reviews of the Red Lion, Pall Mall

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

Situated in a narrow passageway running between King St to the north and Pall Mall to the south this looks like an olde worlde pub which it is as it is apparently one of Londons oldest.

Unlike a lot of other Central London watering holes, the olde worlde exterior is not ruined by a pretentious, poncey interior. The inside of this place is fairly basic and pubby. In fact if you were teleported in here, you would not think you were in St James's.

It is quite small and cosy inside but there are some low tables and benches so seating is available depending on what time you visit.

I guess this place does get its regulars however, I am unsure whether these would reside in the immediate locale as most of the residents of St James are more likely to be sipping port or cognac in a private gentleman club whilst nursing an unpleasant dose of gout.

The majority of the lively post work crowd are local office workers as you do not get too many tourists due to it's secluded location down crown passage.

Nice pint of tribute served and the only slight annoyance is that aforementioned office workers can sometimes block the short bar meaning it's harder to get served. This is not the fault of the pub though and is more testament to the arrogance of some of the people who work in the area.

Definitely worth seeking this one out. 7/10
BeerGutt - 1 Nov 2015 15:44
Lovely little pub. Unpretentious, old school, reasonably priced compared to most around here. Worth seeking out if you're in the area
Berboyblue - 30 Oct 2015 19:48
Not the easiest of pubs to find (especially when there's road works going on close by!) as it's tucked away down a narrow passage. However it's well worth seeking out!
Considering the area it's not overly posh- smart rather than snooty. The staff are very friendly and the beers, Tribute and an Adnams ale were fine.
The clientèle is more varied than might be expected and the place has the feel of a friendly village local.
The furniture is comfortable and the decor is wood panelling with plenty of horse brasses.
It's not an area of London I visit too often but whenever I do I'm made to feel welcome.


outtamehead - 4 Jun 2014 11:29
Absolutely no pretension here, no need to dress up, feels like a real pub.

One of my favourite places to disappear to. Phone off and book out!
BeerMe10 - 30 Jul 2013 09:13
I like pubs like this - tucked down alley and with a very compact and pleasant interior. Looked larger than it was because of the people at the bar and on the side wall with their reflections on the mirrors. Adnams Southwold bitter and St Austell Tribute were the 2 ales on. I tried 2 pints of latter - have tasted better though. About £3.50/pint I think.
Booze_Allen - 20 Jul 2012 17:55
A rather wonderful little pub tucked away behind Pall Mall near St James's Palace. Extremely tiny with a cosy carpet and a very homely feel. Perhaps it hasn't got the widest range of beer, but the sheer character of place more than makes up for that. A great place to have a quiet pint with a mate - or indeed to just read a book on your own. 8
Goldings - 13 Mar 2012 20:09
Down a rather creepy alley, a back street London Pub. Inside not great decor but warm, welcoming and a great atmosphere. Very good pint of Adnams Southwold.
catador - 3 Mar 2012 10:56
One of the top pubs in London.
A visit is essential.
The_Music_Man - 18 Nov 2011 18:30
Small beauty of a pub. How pubs should be. Never seen a suit in there as a weekend pubber thats not usually a problem for me. Quiet and only pub people who know where there going seem to visit so a great weekend atmosphere.
mr_mro79 - 11 Aug 2011 13:08
Busy, tv in the corner, no seating space unfortunately when I was there, stood by a leaning drinks bit by the door....lots of workers in suits, two barmaids looked like school headteachers, very serious.
Not really my sort of place.
adamwalsh - 23 Dec 2010 22:20
This is how a pub should look and feel. Can't fault it in any way!
Davo_SE16 - 13 Oct 2010 08:47
A lovely small old fashioned pub, selling two real ales on my last visit and a god range of other drinks. The bar staff are anything but smartly dressed which detracts from the impression one retains of this gem located just off Pall Mall and within yards of St James' Palace. Verdict is "could do better".
Beerscout - 4 Sep 2010 10:11
My son was hoping to get a job in St James, this is the 1st pub i took him to,as it has been a great watering hole for myself and friends for years. You need to be a bit of a gymnast to get down stairs for the gents, but if you can do it, you can walk home safetly. Good real ale, genuine feel to the pub, no themed crap here. The after work suits can be a bore, trying to out pontificate each other, but they are easy to ignore. There's a TV in the corner if you're stuck for company. There are a few very good pubs in the area, but generally we walk pass them by and go to the Red Lion. A small but great pub. The staff are polite and efficient,but do need to brush up on their people skills, but we can all be accused of that from time to time.
bustergrantbridge - 7 Aug 2010 13:03
Hesitate to recommend this little gem ... want to keep it for myself! Tiny little pub that seems unchanged for decades; very friendly and great mix of regulars.
mozzzzzz - 29 Jun 2010 13:54
Great little place - interior holds true to the 18th Century Inns of London. Needs to be full to really have any atmosphere, beers are ok but the staff are a little soulless.
Moose82 - 21 Apr 2010 17:26
Fantastic English pub with equally fantastic bar staff. So friendly and welcoming and I'm going back there this week.
katy137 - 19 Apr 2010 11:14
This is a fine London boozer which captures the spirit of the traditional London inn. In its day it probably accomodated the likes of Byron, Brummell and others. Try it on a cold winters night, entering Crown Passage from the King Street end and you will be whisked into 1785 ! . . . . . on a regular weekday evening, its packed with the hedgies, traders and the usual after work crowd. Worth the visit in my opinion.
MayfairDandy - 4 Apr 2010 21:52
Found this almost my accident and what a find! Tribute was superb, shame the bar staff were somewhat brusque.
Bernie5 - 21 Mar 2010 21:55
Hidden away down a side passage between Pall Mall and King St, this is a single carpeted room with wood panelling and a number of plates displayed all around on a high shelf. There are a few horse brasses, small pictures and cartoons, and some copper jugs and steins hang over the bar area. The bar is in the corner giving a kind of L shape to the room. Seating comprises pew type benches with cushions and small stools.
St Austell Tribute and Adnams Bitter on the two pumps.
Maldenman - 28 Feb 2010 12:09
My partner and I found this pub by accident down a very "Ye Olde" alleyway in St James. Though it was quite busy, we were served quickly and my partner, who's a bit of an ale-man, said they served a fine pint of Tribute. Both the staff and the regulars were very helpful in helping us figure out where we were, as we hadn't been to the area before. We'll definitely go again as this is a real character pub which you don't see so many of these days!
pub_visitor - 24 Feb 2010 12:09
Not sure about the previous post as we didn't try the Tribute, but a group of us stopped in for a pint of Adnam's, which was excellent. In fact, though we'd only planned to stop for one, the great beer and very obliging staff caused us to stay for the evening. As another post mentioned, this pub is a hidden gem!
David77 - 19 Feb 2010 09:23
A friend and I thought we'd stop by for a pint as we hadn't visited in a long time. We shouldn't have bothered. Our glasses of Tribute took a very long time to settle, and then the ale tasted of soap, and when we told the barmaid she refused to believe us, asking a drunk man behind us whether it had tasted alright to him. She then said she could get us an Adnams, but we'd have to pay for it, as there was 'nothing wrong' with the Tribute. Through all of this she was rude and seemed to be suggesting that we didn't have a clue what beer should taste like- even when we told her, truthfully, that we frequently drink Tribute. We left, minus the drink, and the money we had paid for it, and will certainly not be returning.
Ale_Quaffer - 12 Feb 2010 21:22
I love this pub! Staff are always incredibly welcoming and friendly and the lunchtime sandwiches are gorgeous.
Diana22 - 10 Feb 2010 11:44
used to like this place.
went in recently .staff were bad,unintrested.
pub smelt strange.
becks007 - 11 Jan 2010 20:36
No bad service experiences at the time of my visit, as it was early evening and there were a few of the after work crowd in, keeping the two staff on their toes. Older style interior and downstairs gents that you really need to keep your wits when descending. The Adnams was off , but fortunately the Tribute was a very nice pint. And I imagine that the hidden location means not too many tourists.
Gann - 20 Dec 2009 14:15
Couldn't agree more with the previous post regarding the service in this pub. Having not been back for for sometime I decided to give it a look at the weekend.

Even before being served, one was instantly struck by the foul odor of the place. The service involved being asked what I wanted by the only member of staff while she was on the phone to a friend. She proceeded to get my drink while still with phone clasped to her ear. Talk about multi tasking.

She remained on the phone the entire time I was there and proceeded to serve another couple of customers in this manner.

Given that it was a foreign call and on the pub land line, I pity the bill payer. Won't be back in a rush.
WaldorfAndStatler - 1 Dec 2009 21:27
Nice enough little pub sadly let down by the poor customer service. Was in last night and order an Adnams and something else. All my mates agreed both pints tasted rank, but the staff refused to change them. I've only ever had bad pints a couple of times before but on both those occasions (in other pubs I hasten to add) they've been replaced immediately and without question. Go to the Golden Lion round the corner in King Street instead, much friendlier and more professional staff, its a better boozer all round. They also have a much better selection of ales (imo) including the very delicious TEA.
Zefram_Cochrane - 27 Nov 2009 13:33
You can't go wrong with this pub. Atribute to the lovely Landlady and her great staff. The beer is top whack! 10 out of 10!!
anonymous - 29 May 2009 23:13
This is an amazing pub. Incredibly friendly staff and great selection of beers in a traditional setting. A gem!
Rupert12 - 8 May 2009 15:55
One of the best pubs in London! Locals pub in the middle of St. James's. This one of the only pubs left in the world where you know you are in real pub with real people. Shame about the Red Lion in the cabinet it's not original! I have the original at home! The one in the cabinet cost me £7.50 and £2.50 for the paint! The original was sold to me by the doggy cockney landlord for £50.00. Well at least it did not go to America!!!!!!!!!!!!
mondayclub - 4 May 2009 16:55
Proper pub, nicely worn-in, not too many tourists and decent staff (and what a difference it makes).

A pleasing way to spend an afternoon.


Flaneur - 16 Jan 2009 11:57
This is a real gem, as is the Landlady, Wendy. Great atmosphere, good beer and great sandwiches!
chiswick_flo - 23 Dec 2008 01:32
Single roomed, dark-wood panelled interior, carpetted, old lead-light windows, bar canopy also picked out with small lead-light panels. Walls decorated with pictures & Victorian cartoons and display plates on-high, also a recessed lit display case containing statue of eponymous Lion. There was a corner tv showing muted beeb news Sat pm (it may not have been on during Rex’s visit), but the whole feel is of a previous era, and all the better for it, almost surprising that there is no real fire (that I could see) to offer that extra warming welcome. A friend reckoned the steep descent to the loo may be challenging later in the day! Rather strangely, two small stag parties turned up (~14:15) but they were in jovial form. Just two handpumps, Adnams Best & St Austell Tribute (£3), the latter in good shape.
trainman - 1 Dec 2008 10:56
Wonderful old pub with well kept Tribute but shame about the staff. I visited early afternoon last Friday when it was quiet apart from a female who was dominating the small bar area on her mobile telephone. As it got very busy it transpired that she was either a licensee or a barmaid. There was another sour faced barmaid there who aptly dished up sour milk with the coffee. She was totally indifferent to the fact.

I assume that complacency is prominent here due to the pubs superb location which will attract customers no matter what. Another Rolls Royce operating like a Mondeo!
lyeemoon - 11 Nov 2008 16:11
This remains one of the few “real” pubs in Central London. There are no unnecessary mechanical distractions – such as televisions, one-armed bandits or jukeboxes. Tucked away down an alleyway near St James’s Palace, you don’t often see any tourists in here; in fact, as much as any pub in this area can be, it still seems to be mainly a locals’ pub. The furnishings are fairly ordinary, which is no bad thing in a decent pub. It has large(ish) leaded windows that let in as much light as possible bearing in mind that it is situated in an alleyway. St Austell Tribute and Adnam’s Bitter on when I was in there – I had the Tribute that was very good. Highly recommended – I shall definitely return.
RexRattus - 12 Jul 2008 18:36
It's claim to be "London's last village pub" is stretching things a bit, but this decent little hostelry - hidden away in a little alleyway just off Pall Mall (and only a short distance from St James's Park)- is well worth a visit. Nice pint of St Austell Tribute.
rpadam - 5 Jun 2008 22:54
A traditional pub. Quiet and friendly.
Limited selection of ales (Adnams and Bass) but decent nonetheless.
Worth a visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of Picadilly/St James's.
roderick_alleyn - 26 Feb 2008 15:48
Great little pub. Great Service, friendly landlady. I dont know where "jorrocks" saw all the tourists it's normally full of workers and just a few tourists that have got lost.
walkalot - 12 Feb 2008 18:42
My London local when I "cums down from Norferk.A proper pub to hide in away from all the tourist trash just round the corner. No pretentions music or slot machines just good beer, great selection of Scotch, interesting clientel great staff. Must be protected as a threatened species.

I visit 2 or 3 times a year and get recognised and treated like a regular. Used the pub first more than 30 years ago. Super pub then -still is.
montyl - 12 Feb 2008 01:26
what a cracking little pub, right in the heart of london, everybody friendly, great beer a must when your in this part of london
littlecon - 9 Jul 2007 20:29
After visiting the awful Golden Lion round the corner I was cheered up by the wonderful service and welcome we received in this nicely tucked away pub. Beer was great and the whisky selection was excellent too. If you like your pubs traditional this is the pub for you. Excellent.
TheHorsesMouth - 2 Apr 2007 17:59
An absolute belter!! Love this pub. If only they were all like this. The Adnam's is cracking
El_Capitan - 12 Jan 2007 16:42
Like the location, like the pub and the staff. Friendly customers although my experience was the opposite of the last poster almost everyone on in the place was a tourist.
Bass and Adnams on offer.
jorrocks - 28 Dec 2006 02:59
This feels like a country village pub rather than one in the heart of London. Except the prices - no surprises there. Very bona fide, olde worlde decor. Traditional seating and because it is so tucked away, no real tourists, despite its being very close indeed to Buckingham Palace. I thought it was great - I really like going there. It's not overly large though, so if it got any more popular, you would be out in Crown Passage where there is nothing to look at at all.
Also, it isn't staffed by young foreigners with a poor command of English who offer you ice to put in your Guinness (it has happened elsewhere...).
So if you want a pub that doesn't look as if it has changed dramatically in the last few decades and probably won't in the next few, this is an excellent bet. It is part of the now vanishing non-Costa-non-Starbucks London that is rapidly vanishing underneath a tide of rampant drossy commercialism. You'd never know you were about 5 minutes walk from Oxford Street.
gliddofglood - 20 Aug 2006 02:03
A place to warm the heart. Fine location, very well kept beers, happy atmosphere with pleasant staff. Solid regular trade evident. History underplayed but I suppose their is enough in the immediate area to last anyone for a lifetime! Certainly the place of choice in the locality.
Goole815 - 12 Jul 2006 08:35
Proper old London pub, with a good atmosphere & a sense of history. Well kept Adnams the only real ale normally, but perfect for after work or lunchtime pint. The upstairs is normally quiet & a bit like sitting in your grandmother's lounge. Full climbing rope & harness recommended if visiting the gents after more than a few pints...
malgrey - 5 Apr 2006 14:52
A real gem tucked in small passage close to St James's Palace. A traditional boozer in the real sense, warm and friendly welcome, panelled walls, no electronic distractions, old gits on stools, limited but tasty sandwich menu (no idea about evening), a real adventure to have a wee, snug bar upstairs (sadly you have to return downstairs to get more beer).I suspect would get crowded but perfectly pleasant for a Tuesday lunchtime.
halfbee - 21 Feb 2006 15:17
Cosy pub, recommended, The selection of Ales are not great, only Adnams and another
TheRoadWarrior66 - 16 Oct 2005 16:44
Splendid pub - well worth a visit.
Highly recommended for its traditional atmosphere and warm welcome
JohnBonser - 7 Mar 2005 12:49
Went there with some friends on a Wednesday night in January and ended up staying to closing time. Because of the small size of the pub, we were standing for the first hour or so. Excellent Adnams, reasonable Bass. Small moan – no proper crisps, only Pringles at £1 for a tiddly little pot.

What no one has mentioned so far is that this pub has one of the widest range of whiskeys I have ever seen outside of a Scottish hotel behind the bar.

Definitely an unspoilt traditional English boozer which deserves to be visited at least once (and to have a preservation order slapped on it to keep it just the way it is!).

And while we're going on about the gents: mind your head if you are over 6' tall!
MarcDickson - 21 Jan 2005 07:42
The sign says "London's oldest 'village pub'" and that's got it down to a tee, right down to the red-nosed old gent sitting on a stool in the corner.

Tucked away in an olde-Londone alley, this is the perfect stop after a stroll through St. James Park.

Little room inside but the alley windowsills thoughtfully double up as shelves.

Two things:

a) the stairs down to the gents are lethal even if you only have one inside you

b) the dark-haired barmaid's a cracker
Wullie - 17 Aug 2004 15:36
OK pub and good Adnams, but the bog is awful. Male shitter lacked a lock and door was partially kicked in - not very secure when you're caught short.
Potbelly - 13 Aug 2004 10:20
One of Westminster's best kept secrets; the Red Lion used to serve as a haunt for the local MPs, 2 minutes walk away at the Houses of Parliament. The pub itself is wonderfully traditional, has great bitters and ales on tap, a friendly drunken, but philosophical clientele, oh.. And if you ever wanted to hear last orders to the chimes of Big Ben, here is the place to do it. :)
Guy - 25 May 2004 13:17
One of the smallest boozers I have ever been in. Authentic atmosphere.
Aaron - 14 May 2004 03:58
Great place. A traditional unspoilt English pub. The Adnams is to die for, staff friendly and the lounge a must. I shall return!
Grant Fettis - 27 Feb 2004 14:29
Fantastic pub! Really friendly staff. If I could afford to live around here, it would defintitely be my local.
Lynn - 1 Feb 2004 20:16
Brought the wife here after following the guard up to St. James's. A true gem, friendly patrons and staff and a nice Adnams for a cold and weary guest. Not on the tourist track, but right were you want to be.
Wild John - 27 Dec 2003 00:07
a sense of traditionalism.
andrew ward-minter - 24 Nov 2003 18:34
Very cool. Love the glass.
Jeff - 8 Oct 2003 00:44
It is a very pretty pub. Small and crowded at midday. Very friendly staff.
Charles - 11 Sep 2003 23:11
small and cosy.
Clare - 2 Sep 2002 17:42

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