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Washington, Belsize Park

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user reviews of the Washington, Belsize Park

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

This is a yuppy watering hole with prices to match. This used to be the psychiatrist author R.D. Laing's favorite pub. Came here on a Sunday lunchtime after a long walk across Primrose Hill, badly in need of a place to refresh our thirst and rest our weary legs, and perhaps have a Sunday lunch. Nearly all the tables which were empty had "Reserved" labels on them. What? Is this a pub or a restaurant? Pubs generally speaking are first come first served. Only restaurants operate a reservation system. No time to have a lunch here, no available table. And as there was really no time allowed to have large drinks in comfort, so we only ordered two halves: half of Aspell's cider and half of Mosai, cost £6.25. Looked for a price list, which was nowhere to be found. I felt deeply out of pocket after this experience, as we had to go somewhere else to have a proper drink.
mycetes - 28 Oct 2014 11:14
The Wash used to be the best pub in the area but sadly it has been going downhill steadily. On every visit in the last 6 months all pints have been short-filled. At first I thought this was due to poorly trained staff but as this is also done by the landlady it is clear that it has become policy.
Staff do not seem to enjoy working there, service is hopelessly random and as this is a Mitchell and Butlers pub the menu is rather dreary and never changes. Although to be fair, the food is generally well prepared (as long as the bar staff remember to deliver it to the table).
Overall the pub has gone from a friendly, welcoming place to one where you stop occasionally for a drink (hoping in vain that it has improved) before heading off to somewhere better such as the Duke of Hamilton in Hampstead.
notwaving - 11 Jan 2014 22:33
This is a grand old pub that has had a trendy makeover but has retained a lot of it's original features. There's a reasonable choice of ales, predominantly national brands, plus several foreign beers on keg.

I got a decent pint of 'Top of the Hops' but at £4.20 I doubt I'll be back

HarryHawthorn - 2 Jan 2014 18:44
Comleting a ldn literary pub walk. Alex garland lived in one of the flats nearby. Popped in on a night..... Where do you buy ultra low wattage bulbs from? This, and the candle light, created a nice atmosphere.... As long as you dont want to read the paper.
Mappiman - 17 Feb 2013 17:17
lovely old pub in sylvan englands lane. 4 handpumps serving redemtion urban dusk taylors landlord and 2 guests at my time of visit. nice food and friendly staff.
landlord retiring hope new one keeps up current standard and selection of ales.
good selection of world beers.
lawrencesmith - 13 Sep 2012 15:12
This is my local pub - the food is very nice and the pub landlord is great. However, my criticism is that recently (with the arrival of new bar staff?). I have been treated rather rudely by staff, I won't bore you with the details but, this has happened more than once and its left a bitter taste in my mouth - its a shame because I quite like this pub.
Until recently, I frequented this pub weekly but, I find my visits are becoming less frequent - do to the issues mentioned. But, its lovely local pub nontheless - with good buzz on the weekends.
lmm - 18 Apr 2012 12:56
Nice Victorian cut-glass mirrors.
mycetes - 13 Feb 2012 23:25
Even before the the Brit shut this place was an arsedump of estate scumbags, Talk about the architecture all you like mr boring , this place is still shit!
baps - 3 Sep 2010 00:43
Looked nice at first, and a good pint, but frequented by thieves who made off with two customers handbags during the quiz evening, one belonging to someone from the party I went with. The landlords response - "it hasn't happened for months", and "well we never had CCTV, but perhaps we'd better now" - no doubt there are reasons good or otherwise why they may not want it, but they offer no indication that this is common (as most London pubs do where scumbags making off with peoples stuff is a problem) through notices etc on the tables. The bag in question was stuffed behind a bench - not exactly on show, in case you are wondering..

Not somewhere I will go again, or recommend to anyone else.
jfrebrycn - 24 Feb 2010 01:07
This place had been badly on the slide in my view, and 6 months ago I would endorse all foghorn said, I got the distinct impression the place was being run down and lined up for some sort of property development.

Appears to be a new landlord and staff their now though (or I think perhaps an old landlord who has returned to be more accurate) and it's much busier again, and getting back towards the pub it used to be again. Definite signs of improvement, and the Landlord was better kept than it was when i'd last been 6 months or so ago. Good range of continental lagers also.
mps77 - 11 Dec 2009 11:26
Well restored and maintained impressive Victorian former gin palace style pub in a Belsize Park side street.

Despite some opening out and signs of gentrification, there is still much to admire internally - a fine moulded ceiling, etched glass work, coloured mirrors and wood pannelling. Do note the side entrance with original tiling and floor mosaic - "The Washington Hotel - Billiards ".There's sufficient of note to merit a listing in CAMRA'S London Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. Pleasingly the pub management have resisted the temptation to paint the wood pannelling some trendy pastel shaded colour - other pubs please take note !.

Seating is a mixture of wooden chairs and the inevitable sofas / pouffes.

Gastro pub style food is clearly a major player here, but, notably, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, the long butchers - block style tables had not been specifically laid out for dining.

There's no TV or other distractions and the billiards table presumably disappeared yonks ago. Instead, on my recent visit, a competitive family game of Scrabble had just got under way at the next table - dominated by one of those irritatingly precocious and temperamental know all youngsters who really ought to have been strangled at birth. Bring back the billiards table, I say !.

On the beer front, foreign lagers and beers dominate the bar top, but two real ales were on - London Pride and Adnams Kolsch, the latter apparently being a German style lager beer. Both were in reasonable form. A third pump had a TT Landlord pump clip reversed. I did note the Cask Marque accreditation symbol, but I doubt there's much real ale trade here.

Despite the limited beer range, the internal decor makes this pub worth seeking out if in the area.
JohnBonser - 27 Oct 2009 09:04
Glorious, glorious, glorious. Mirrors, dark wood, more mirrors and more dark wood. Ornate carvings around the horseshoe bar. Excellent pint of landlord and a huge range of single malts, if that's your thing.

Oh, and did I mention the mirrors and the dark wood ?
nmckenn - 7 Jul 2009 20:55
Why oh why do I bother? I went out of my way to go here on a bright Sunday afternoon about a month ago, only to find, unlike the rest of Hampstead, an empty pub. I was one of four customers. This told me all I needed to know, and I should have left, there and then. Like a fool, I stayed.
The two beers on offer were, you got it, London Pride and Timothy Taylor (yawn). Being Fullers-phobic I ordered a TT which bore a more than passing resemblance to nice warm mug of Heinz Oxtail soup.
Let me tell you this, The Washington is a prime site: a f***ing GOLDMINE going begging. I could make a million a year out of this place, blindfolded and standing on my head whistling Dixie out of my arse. But at the moment it's either some kind of tax-dodge or the owners are planning to knock it down and build a Jewish retirement home.
I can't give it even one point for opening.
Avoid like the plague.
foghorn - 26 May 2009 16:49
Digit is back, digit is back, hello, hello.
Lyncroft - 13 Dec 2008 23:41
It was very busy in here early Saturday evening and I had to wait a while to be served as the staff had done a disappearing act. Landlord, Malt & Hops and Pride were available along with a large variety of standard and premium lager. A very mixed clientele was present from Primrose Hill Nathans to ex Britannia locals.

I find it hard to get comfortable in here and would rather drink in the Steeles or head up to Hampstead.
Strongers - 27 Oct 2008 10:19
Handsome pub, decent beers, could be a real treat. But every time i venture in here the place seems dominated by some of the most pretentious, stuck-up people. Must be the overspill from Primrose Hill, but too many in here are a long way up their own backsides.

shame, but Steele's is just up the road.
adelondon - 10 Oct 2008 14:40
Excellent pub, stayed just down the road on a short break to London and couldn't have wanted anything more from a local pub.

Beer excellent and varied - lots of choice on tap, well kept ales, wheat/fruit bars and lagers. Plenty of bottles too.

Food was very tasty and good portion size.

Would recommend to anyone wanting a 'pub' rather than a bar! Monday night was quiz night too :-)
korson - 22 Sep 2008 11:15
Looks like a terrible, trendy bar, but the mixed clientele and excellent range of drinks completely save it. Great place for a Friday evening's drinking or a Sunday afternoon spent reading papers and spotting minor celebs. Locals are generally very friendly apart from one git in a cowboy hat who seemed angry that other people were sitting on all the seats.
Dannysigma - 1 Feb 2008 11:53
definitely agreed it's one of the best pubs in north london. tim taylor landlord was in perfect condition, and the food/wine is also decent here.
mps77 - 6 Sep 2007 14:51
one of the best pubs in North London...proper boozer!
ashcroft32 - 13 Jul 2007 21:13
Much much nicer now the smoking ban's come in. Good selection of beers - real ale and continental. Food ok and period interior of pub fantastic. A decent local boozer if you can put up with the ex-Holyoaks regulars.
anonymous - 9 Jul 2007 17:48
Another visit to this pub on Sunday affirmed it as one of the best in the North West. Although my sausage and mash was accompanied by a watery gravey, which is normally thick and dark (an off day for the chef perhaps?), my girlfriend's Ceasar Salad was crisp and tasty, me Mum's Wild Boar sausage full of flavour and me Dad's Swordfish cooked to perfection.

The Guinness was smooth and thick and the Bloody Marys, with a good dollap of horse radish, were wickedly spicey.

This pub is great. The staff are attentive and friendly and it deserves high praise. The locals were good value too although it wasn't teeming with people which either was because of the smoke ban or the infrequent summer sun being out for once.
Sweeden - 9 Jul 2007 08:33
Good little pub and, for one with a distinctly "indie" feel, not unwelcoming for a real ale loving, chino-wearing yuppie wannabe such as myself. Excellent range of beer - from real ale to more fanciful fruit beers - and probably the best roast in the area on a Sunday.
drewsy_uk - 14 Apr 2007 21:40
Really like it here. Hardly a local, as introduced to it by friends in Belsize. Whenever I come down, I always visit. Proper pub.
paul69 - 9 Jan 2007 18:06
The Washington is my local, although sadly won't be for much longer as we're leaving London for Brighton in a couple of weeks. I can honestly say this is the best local I have ever had. The food is great - think home cooked pies, sausage & mash and the best jam roly poly ever! The staff are really nice and the music is good. It will be missed! Now back to the reason i logged on in the first place....finding myself a decent pub near our new house!
emmaa - 9 Jan 2007 10:47
Great pub. Fun, friendly, talkative and down to earth staff. Top clientel especially the locals of the village. Brilliant drinks selection particulalry the Westons cider. Agree that Tescos vans are unwelcome and dangerous (they park on the zigzags next to a zebra crossing on a bad junction near a school). Regardless the Wash is top!
DrunkGeorge - 16 Jun 2006 13:32
My local, a good pub, but let down by the clueless staff. The service is rubbish at the best of times. When it gets busy I wouldn't bother; the pretentious staff seem to spend more time checking their reflections in the mirror than serving.
Chilavert - 10 Apr 2006 14:58
We spent a while trawling the internet for pub reviews, undecided about where to spend our Saturday afternoon. Despite being recommended the Washington we had reservations due the poor rating on this site....but went there nonetheless. Found it to be a brilliant pub. We couldn't have asked for better in all respects - food, space, service, decor, or atmosphere.
keryn - 7 Apr 2006 15:06
we came up from brighton last saturday afternoon to meet up with our london mates for lunch and a few jars. a friend suggested this place and we trusted him despite the poor customer rating of 4.5... thank goodness for that... beautiful old decor inside, leather sofas or tables and chairs, plenty of room, sunny, relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, wide selection of unusual lagers, excellent food (mains for about 8)... not surprisingly we ended up staying til closing time... and catching the eastbourne train home!!! an excellent day at the washington - cheers
madeve - 7 Apr 2006 14:58
I remember this place from the days when the manager with missing fingers ran it(guess that must be Terry, see below). We used to refer to him as Digit. Anyway, it used to be a laugh in there, especially when he did the discos. Used to be able to watch the football too. Was a good old fashioned local. Look it now. Scandalous. Used to get alot of old people in.................where on earth do they go drinking now?
Lyncroft - 31 Oct 2005 20:21
This pub used to be rather naff, with a 'media types' bent. However my last few visits have seen me change my opinion quite a bit. Seems to have a better blend of clientele, slightly more attentive staff and all round a better atmosphere.

More importantly, they serve Magners.
Dylarolla - 14 Oct 2005 12:21
Actually this pub is rather good. Things going for it this summer are a very friendly bar manager/landlady and an excellent selection (the best in the Belsize area) of beers - Real Ales (3 changing) and a decent selection of superior Euro lager. People are nice, the food looks good (but over pricey), and some of the fittings of the old pub are still to be seen. A good comedy club is on the Thursday normally. So go on, give it a try.
darloexile - 15 Jul 2005 17:21
This pub is just a boring place with less atmosphere than a Wetherspoons, drinks are poor and the food's no better.
NorthLondonLad - 11 Dec 2004 11:10
Pub has changed for the worst since new management has taken over - become a very sterile money making venture. Things that have not changed are the terrrible food and the coke heads in the loos.
anonymous - 26 Nov 2004 17:01
Used to be my local 20 years ago. Then it was a down to earth boozer with a good atmosphere and the best (Possibly the only) pint of Burton Ale in London. Sounds like it's changed out of all recognition now.
Den - 4 Nov 2004 11:24
The Best ever. Very good staff. new management too strict though. atmosphere has changed a lot for the regulars since she s here.
Remains my favorite.
dont change anything else please!!!
anonymous - 18 Oct 2004 20:53
Normally one or two real ales available, although if you get served it's a minor miracle. The beer is expensive and if you can put up with the high prices and the haughty taughty crowd then it's an OK place.
Gareth - 15 Oct 2004 13:34
when i poured pints there, the place had no equal (except for, maybe, the steele)...from celebrities to the beat up veterans of wwII...the place rocked...i relished the chance to work there as an exchange student from the colonies (north carolina)
the big yank - 14 Oct 2004 00:31
Great interior with a good selection of beer. Food's ok, service ok. One of the best of it's type in the area (not too trendy all things considered) after a couple it starts to feel like a real drinking pit.
Rob - 3 Jun 2004 10:30
i usd to work there when terry (fingers)was the manager,things that went on in there were mental,still miss some of the other staff,big simon,steve,an at,dose anybody know john the dentist,is he still pulling teeth?
scotish_iain - 11 May 2004 14:42
typical chain...crap!!
not enough staff when needed and too many when not.Not Cheap and crappy food
mel - 8 Jan 2004 17:06
I remember the Washington of old. What I want to know is what happens to all the people who used to drink here because they cant possible drink here now?
anonymous - 23 Dec 2003 16:36
a cool relaxed place with a good atmosphere and classier than normal decor. shame about the clientele with a chip on their shoulder who confuse class and self confidence with prentention and arrogance - see other comments. common?
david - 19 Nov 2003 17:09
This used to be a pub. Now it is a haunt for young posers. Good luck to the owners as i'm sure they are making a fortune, but i live 100 yards from this pub and i'm sick of all the convertible mercedes with guys sitting in them parked outside. Since this pub changed the 'lads' have come out and it has had an effect on the overall atmosphere of the street.
anonymous - 14 Nov 2003 10:30
expensive. nice pub but often full of arrogant pretensious people. yummy food & Leffe.

anonymous - 1 Oct 2003 21:24
Great comdey night! the pub itself is not too bad! but could have any look at the prices!
anonymous - 26 Sep 2003 11:57
my mate couldnt drink there cos he brought his own. friendly staff but firm...even her butt was firm. nice decor with eclectic feel to it. great way to end and evening or ene better....ending your week ot=r worse....ending your life. a bit pretentious,hot blondes but the oakes are lekker. worth a vsist any sunday night. 2 good looking cape town guys always in the area...so hot.
highly reccomended
rob brian skinstad - 17 Aug 2003 22:24
Please bring back the washington of old
anonymous - 13 Jul 2003 21:49
The Best in London.
Chema - 23 Jun 2003 19:09
Used to be a bit of a dive (and hence always guaranteed a seat), but after an extensive refurb. about 18 months ago (addition of leather sofas, stripped flooring etc) suddenly became really popular and attracted a much younger crowd. Food too expensive but now a nice place to drink.
Marc - 30 May 2003 16:45
Gastro pub with a good evenining buzz.
Duck - 5 Dec 2002 22:31

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