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Red Lion, Swanage

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user reviews of the Red Lion, Swanage

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

My preferred pub in Swanage. Very good range of real ciders and perries. In the last few days I have had Joe's Dry, Clutton Cloudy, and Thatchers Dry ciders and Two Trees perry. Didn't try the food, but other people's meals looked good.

Comfy old-fashioned inside, and a large outside seating area.
jgurney1 - 30 Jul 2018 23:17
Two room pub with beer garden, a little out of the centre of town.
The public was a bit scruffy, with jazz on in the beer garden. Quite busy at lunch time.
I had a Doombar as the only other visible pump clip was turned round.Beer was fine as was the food (sausage and mash). I then noticed the blackboard with several other ales on. Otter and some Ringwood stuff. Must have been in the lounge. Staff friendly enough and service was quick and pleasant.
captaineric - 15 Jul 2018 16:30
HORRIBLE ! How could ANY pub possibly be this vile? Animals for staff, and it's a miracle if you get served for eating in here, HA HA HA!
swannyman - 18 Jul 2016 13:22
Well it's a sad goodbye to the Red Lion for us, after a big price hike all in one chunk. We also believe Karen the landlady et al are no longer there, but not sure, it's only what we've heard.
rioathmusV - 18 Jun 2015 08:41
Great pub, great atmosphere, friendly locals. Love the locally-brewed beers.
mrsparks67 - 2 Jul 2014 22:41
Only 40 ciders chalked up on Saturday (10 had sold out) and 6 real ales (Wandle, TT Golden Best, Ringwood Best, Doom Bar, Otter and Batemans England Expects). We sat outside on the large patio, amused by a dog who went from table to table dropping his stick for people to throw (you had to be there...)
paul_d102 - 23 Jun 2014 21:26
I like this pub. I visited it during the blues festival. Cracking atmosphere with friendly staff and locals. The beer was tasty, shame the choice wasn't as varied as the cider choice. Difficult to rate it as the festival was on. I would say this is the best pub in Swanage though.
Mrsausages - 12 Mar 2014 10:46
Located close to the centre of the town, it is another pub which has 2 separate bars. The right hand room appears to be for food and the left hand room just a plain bar. It is fairly basic with a scruffy carpet but a reasonable selection of real ales on the bar, including one on stillage out the back. There is a garden but it is separated by the car park. Seating wasn't very comfortable. The curry night was very good value £8.49 for a choice of 3 curries and a pint. Not quite Wetherspoon prices but reasonable nevertheless.
boozers_knows - 25 Nov 2013 11:29
Hooray - a real pub, super choice of ales and a chalkboard full of cider and perry Purbeck Perry was worth the short walk up the hill.
fetchman - 7 Jul 2013 17:04
Enjoyed an excellent pint of Tim Taylor's Landlord there yesterday. Seems a friendly, well run place. Recommend.
keystone - 17 Aug 2012 09:16
Had pleasure of eating here yesterday Fantastic haddock & chips with superb TT Landlord Helpful staff esp the landlady A gem
downsview - 2 Jul 2012 13:45
Very busy last night. Managed to find an empty table that had not been reserved. I had the curry and pint deal for about £7. Palmers Gold again. Food and drink were served promptly. Pub also served good fish and chips for my friends. Pub also serves a good selection of draught cider.
Robin_from_Swanage - 7 Jun 2012 20:59
Had Palmers Gold again. Beer very good and lots of different ciders to choose from. Beer kept in seperate room. Had generous portion of chicken and chips. Beer and food served promptly, cheerful service. Our friends in our twin town of Rudesheim like this pub and seem to have made it their local for their bi-annual visits.
Robin_from_Swanage - 12 Mar 2012 15:55
The_Heavy_Fandango - 16 Jan 2012 16:20
Well at least this fake can spell.
swannyman - 16 Jan 2012 07:26
Really great pub. Popped in for a beer at lunchtime T Taylor Landlord excellent. Nice cosy public bar with log fire. Returned in the evening in the lounge bar, which was very busy. We had Sirloin Steaks on their Friday steak deal. Good pub food and good value. Very freindly pub.
Nobby52 - 13 Jan 2012 23:42
Ha ha ha I know, this place is crap beyond belief!
swannyman - 24 Dec 2011 12:46
Popped into this pub one afternoon last summer while on holiday in Swanage and found the place completely empty, no customers and no bar staff.
We waited at the bar for someone to put in an appearance for 5 minutes before trying a pub down the road. Obiviously I can't tell you what the beers like but I can tell you the place stunk.
MRRPM - 10 Dec 2011 21:02
No it isn't.
swannyman - 6 Nov 2011 16:12
well. since last review went in again. totally different. qwerky chap behind bar. arty farty firkin on tap. then next visit young barmaid full of cheer. the locals always friendly. didnt eat though and towards end of beer saw grumpy chap though. ha ha. it is a good pub though.
jammyjames - 4 Nov 2011 21:17
i too called in in August. curry and pint night, free pint with curry it said. as we were early for food, ordered pint of cider ,beer and 2 soft drinks. 20 mins later orderd food, never offered my free pint, as was finshing last one thought will get it later. when food came and i said can i have my free pint was told it was too late should have asked for it when ordered food and that was that. i overheard another chap asking too and was told same answer. yes they are miserable too, couldnt wait to get to be honest. poor show
jammyjames - 9 Oct 2011 15:17
17th century pub with well kept beer and cider in seperate room. Some dining room tables made from old sewing machines. I had Palmers Copper Ale and curry which was served under 6 minutes. Food rather expensive.
Robin_from_Swanage - 1 Oct 2011 14:20
Nondescript pint and miserable git is the norm here. I went through a phase of walking out in disgust at the way one is treated in there, eg, being the only person needing to be served, and not being served. I was attempting to teach them something exotic like manners, serving customers etc. Trust me, it won't work here.
swannyman - 30 Sep 2011 16:22
In two minds about this. The first time I went in, I was served two lovely pints by a friendly, talkative barmaid. When I came back the second time, I got a nondescript pint from a miserable git who couldn't do too little for you, and spent all his time chatting to the electrician who was working behind the bar. My advice is look round the door - if you see a woman serving, come in. If it's a bloke, walk out again...
paul154 - 30 Sep 2011 15:18
vinnie:- I think you're mis spelling of your word "descent" is probably the most appropriate word of all as it happens.
swannyman - 28 Sep 2011 15:42
descent pub food good beer and cider, service was okay on my visit
vinnnie - 16 Aug 2011 13:26
I was very dissappionted with the service and the staff, they all seemed more bothered about talking to each other rather then serving the customers. The food was average. The best thing about the pub is the selections of cider. Unfortunetly due to the service I didn't enjoy my time there and wouldn't recommend it.
fatlip - 28 Jul 2011 17:36
Decent pub a little away from the beach so quieter on Saturday lunchtime. beer and food OK.
AndrewW - 4 Jul 2011 08:42
Still the best pub in Swanage. The beer range is probably the biggest in Swanage but still a bit "tame", the real reason to drink here is the extensive range of draught ciders, the best for miles around.

A proper pub.
hillsidepaul - 29 Jun 2011 16:40
The food is only the tip of the iceberg. This "pub" has had it.
swannyman - 7 Apr 2011 17:34
Great pub for beer, another of our regulars on the Real Ale quests, visit many ,many times a year, friendly bar staff/landlady, but after a bad experience trying to communicate to the 12 year-old 'chef' on what I had been served, will never eat there again. No matter, as for us, with pubs, the beer should always come first.
rioathmusV - 16 Feb 2011 19:53
Occupying a central position on Swanage's High Street, The Red Lion is an attractive looking 17th century inn with a whitewashed exterior and hanging baskets. On approaching the pub, a sandwich board on the pavement outside entices us in with the words " up to 6 real ales and 57 ciders" and proudly advertises itself as local CAMRA Pub of the Season 2010.

Despite retaining its 2 bar format - note the etched glass denoting "saloon bar" and "public bar" - the interior has been modernised and there is little to indicate its 17th century origins. Disappointingly, I failed to notice even one picture / photo of the pub in early times anywhere on the walls.

The public bar is basic and has a dartboard and displays many darts trophies. The saloon bar has an area with a pool table and a separate restaurant area, where much exposed brickwork is still in evidence. The pub is a sponsor of Bournemouth AFC and a framed advert from the matchday programme and an autographed football shirt are displayed.

There's a large outside drinking area at the back with a smokers marquee. A few rooms are available for B & B in a converted coach house at the rear of the pub.

On the beer front, two etched windows denoting " Strong's Ales and Stout" tell us that Strong's of Romsey had this pub in days long gone. It's now a free house which, on my recent visit, was offering 6 real ales - Ringwood Best, Otter Bitter, Palmers Copper Ale, Yeovil Summerset, Sharps Doom Bar and TT Landlord - all served direct from the barrel. The Otter Bitter was a pleasant tasty pint. The pub is in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide and displays local branch awards.

Whilst visitors and holiday makers are welcomed and an extensive food menu is offered, The Red Lion would, pleasingly, appear to be first and foremost a pub and evidently has a loyal band of regulars.

Despite an unattractively modernised interior, I'd be happy to come here again
JohnBonser - 23 Sep 2010 10:36
Totally agree with jdb1 below. Beer and pub excellent,food not so,in my case fish and chips could have been hotter and fish was undercooked
nidger50 - 11 Sep 2010 20:31
Good pub for a drink, but dismal for food, which seems like it's for people who just want big portions and don't care about how well it's cooked. We had four meals, two badly overcooked, you could have drunk the baked potatoes with a straw, and two not as described on the menu.Still, go here for a drink or two and you won't be disappointed.Good, relaxed, atmosphere with a decent selection of guest beers and a nice little garden out the back.As a pub I'd give it 7.5 as a place to eat 2.5.
jdb1 - 14 Jul 2010 13:53
Rambling type pub with nooks and cranny's and loads of space out the back on sunny days. The cider is the thing here, loads to choose from and a very helpful Landlady to help you choose the best for you, it's best to ask. I found it to be a little touristy, but then again thats what I was too. I never like the shouting of food orders, NUMBER 45 WHERE IS NUMBER 45, when you are relaxing, very off putting, other than that a lovely place well worth a visit. The Sandwiches are good too.
imdownthepub - 26 May 2010 08:46
Great range of cider and real ale. A proper pub not just a summer tourist trap like most in Swanage.
hillsidepaul - 7 Apr 2010 19:45
Visited this pub last summer on my hol's! Thought it was great! no nonsense proper pub in a town filled with somewhat twee, 'shabby chic' establishments. I found the staff to be friendly and the ales excellent.
CardinalPuff - 10 Jan 2010 21:51
I find it hard to believe that some of the comments on here are real - and I think that this website is seriously discredited by such comments!

I drink regularly in the Red Lion, and the beer is always superb. As well as well kept regulars, there are often guests to tempt you, such as Yeovil brewery ales which are fantastic. There's always a nice atmosphere in the pub, and everyone has always been friendly.
harrycornelius - 15 Dec 2009 20:33
constructive critiscm lets factually correct you there is NO landlord so how can you say you not met him? when he does not exist. The landlady there runs a good quality pub properly run all up to PDC standards, crap staff thats an insult, not constructive critiscm.

I have read your reviews from other pubs you appear to be a spitefull person.

Enjoy your "14 month old Bud "I assume you mean the Purbeck? now I could tell you some stories about that. I have a feeling you are a swanage local?

P.S I just had a chat with the landlady would you like to meet her she is more than willing to meet you and discuss your concerns.
intheno - 21 Oct 2009 20:07
This is certainly a good town centre pub, but I'm not sure it's worthy of the BITE top 20, which it has hovered round in recent months. I'll admit I only had time to visit very briefly, so some of its hidden depths may elude me, but this seemed pretty good rather than brilliant.
grecian - 14 Aug 2009 12:07
Proper boozer. Good beer but a bit uninspired in selection. Donít think the staff are as bad as whatsgoingon says, I got served quickly and the staff were young but polite. The food was good quality pub grub and very yummy. 8/10
tommyn11685 - 28 Jul 2009 16:17
Not sure if it's the best pub in Swanage, as it was the only one I've visited, but it's very good and comes highly recommended. Good old interior, decent real ales, friendly clientele - ticks most of the boxes.
thomashenry - 1 Jul 2009 13:24
One of the best pubs in Swanage if you ask me - good beer and ciders
Nurke - 23 Jun 2009 14:51
Excellent pub catering for locals and holiday makers alike. Very good food, beer kept very well. The staff are very pleasant and knowledgable. Very good range of ciders both bottled and on from the cask. Very near to a perfect pub.
HoppyImbiber - 18 Jun 2009 14:09
Well what more can one say about this pub,i left the Banks Arms in Studland and walked over the tops to Swanage on a very hot day this June,headed staight for the Red Lion on arrival,always call in, great beer ,great and friendly staff very good food and a plesant beer garden,about as good as it gets ,five stars.
staggerlee - 10 Jun 2009 18:31
Everyone says it's the best pub in Swanage and it is. Pleasant staff, a decent choice of beers, many ciders and the food is good too.
chick - 27 May 2009 23:18
Best pub in Swanage by some distance. Superb food plus an excellent selection of real ales and ciders.
makingtimeuk - 19 May 2009 15:42
Good choice of beers. One of the best pubs in Swanage. Will be back!!
robmarsh25 - 12 May 2009 20:49
Brilliant, great ales and REAL cider. Ask for strongbow or magners and the locals would probably beat you to death. Very welcomeing with some great regulars, a pub you could go to everyday.
Kunter - 21 Nov 2008 23:26
The infamous Hook Eagles have just completed the Folk Festival here and can thoroughly recommend this pub. 3 regular ales available plus another 4 ever changing 'guests' Had excellent pints of Summer Lightning, Otter, Cocky Hop and others which due to the volume consumed I have forgotten. The other half matched me pint for pint with their excellent selection of draught cider with the inevitable consequenses! Very good Sunday lunch
CaptainDave - 9 Sep 2008 15:34
My local. Excellant place. I spend far to much time in here.
rogertdodger - 12 Jun 2008 15:20
Our party thought it was the best real ale pub in Swanage by a good margin. 4 well kept ales plus lots of cider and perry if that's your thing. There's a fair sized garden at the back. The bar was small and cosy, and there was a dart board if you fancied spearing the unlucky drinkers sitting underneath.
chick - 4 Jun 2008 10:26
Decent pub. A couple of very good pints of Deuchars Ipa were had here,barman/landlord had a good giggle when I asked for a "Ducksarse". Friends had Badger which went without adverse comment also. Those who had scoff were satisfied. Arranged the beer for the Swanage Diesel Gala beer festival it seems. Yeah worth a visit.
an_ecunemical_matter - 12 May 2008 21:34
The beer is excellent, the cider and perries make a welcome change from the usual fizz, and I really liked the place. It is a place that caters for the locals, whilst accepting the tourist trade, and I thought that they had the balance right. The garden was really nice, and the staff very friendly. Not too impressed by the curry, but it was not expensive, and it soaked up the beer and cider nicely. A real pub!
Dylanwing - 1 May 2008 23:00
Stayed here last year. Fantastic. Some interesting beers were on offer from Cottage, Archers and ringwood stable. My good lady likes a proper cider and she was in her element. A couple of very nice whiskeys at the end of the night from a small but very interesting collect. The accomadation top notch. I recommend the full english breakfast in the morning. This is a pub worth being in the top 40!
trains2064 - 28 Apr 2008 08:49
I have to reply to the last posting, to be honest its so way off of base its laughable.
A few examples of prices.
Weds night is curry night £6.95 for a good curry AND a pint, friday night £19.95 for TWO 8oz sirloins plus all the trimming and a BOTTLE of good house red, last fridays special included a fresh local caught seabass plus veg etc for £12.95. sunday roasts (see virtual swanage website for comments) £6.95
Ringwood best £2.60 timmy taylors and cal IPA both premium ales £2.70 a great quality cider at £3.00 (7.3%) guest ales @ £2.80 so if thats expensive for a tied house god only knows what you think of places like poole and bournemouth. And if you have the gnonads to come in and speak to the landlady well all well and good to say its not properly run is boardering on libelous please be carefull.
intheno - 14 Apr 2008 21:00
A decent town pub that promises from the adverts "up to 6 real ales & 18 ciders". In fact, rarely are there more than 3 real ales (Ringwood Best & Deuchars are usually on). Unfortunately, the place built up a great reputation in '05, but the place has gone downhill since. Food & beer is pricey, and the quality isn't what it used to be. It's a shame that the place isn't managed properly.
nomadic_boozer - 14 Apr 2008 12:20
Excellent,friendly pub serving range of ales served from the cask.
Floyd - 10 Mar 2008 16:19
A great pub with an excellent selection of beer and cider. It also has a superb garden which is great in the summer. The Red Lion and the White Horse are the best pubs in Swanage.
Boyne - 4 Feb 2008 13:02
Have not been there since Saturday Night.
Great beer, food was excellent and reasonably priced. Try the wednedsay curry night and the Sunday can't go wrong..
Friendly staff, always pleased to see you.
lewran - 22 Oct 2007 11:56
Good all round pub, and great beer
beer_hunter - 11 Aug 2007 19:21
Liked this place very much, (found it on holiday in Swanage 2005) Friendly, comfortable atmosphere, and the staff were always pleasant. Excellent range of ales (Timmy Taylors/Ringwood),and ciders in particular. Hope to return there one day.
trottis - 18 Jul 2007 20:50
Excellent food responsibly priced, great beer garden. Nice pub.
philmo_kirsty - 9 Jul 2007 00:03
Having read the good reviews on here, we decided to try the food on our recent trip to Swanage, and we were not disappointed! Fantastic tasting and very reasonably priced, you couldn't ask for more from a pub. The place itself is an interesting old building with a large beer garden out the back for sunnier days. The best pub in Swanage in my opinion.
Pubgrabber - 29 May 2007 19:41
I've just been in the Red Lion in Swanage and I have to say the decor was very smart! They seem to have opened up the pub which now has a larger restaurant area. Food was fantastic - way above par for pub fare. Ale was wonderful - I tried the guest ales served straight from the cask - now I know why they won the CAMRA awards!
herstonbell - 9 Apr 2007 15:29
Having enjoyed indifferent pints of Ringwood at various pubs in Swanage recently I was both pleased and anoyed to find the best beer and the best pub at the end of my tour. If I had started there then I would not have bothered with the others. The Ringwood was sublime and the cheapest in town. Great pub, great atmos. Dont bother going anywhere else in Swanage, you will find it all here.
DickStilton - 31 Jan 2007 09:32
has got 4 real ales on timmy taylors in great condition, now a staggering 18 ciders, food was good as well, good old fashioned 2 bar pub no juke box thank goodness.
intheno - 27 Sep 2006 18:34
My first visit to Swanage was an eye-opener.
This beverage establishment is very friendy, even towards a shaven-headed, sleeveless-shirt wearing thug-look-a-like person.
I drank several pints of apple-based liquids within these portals and then my memory started to fade.

I can really reccommend the "Special press" cider @ 7.3%

'Nuff said!
VAGINADINER - 10 Sep 2006 12:31
SEEPUBS - 3 May 2006 11:15
well the red lion has jusr won east dorset camra pub of the year so it must be pretty good ehhhh 4 real ales 11 ciders but what do i see ohhh poor decor well u drink the decoration i will drink the fantastic real ale B&Q is worth a visit
intheno - 8 Mar 2006 22:05
how come the red lion has just won east dorset camra pub of the summer 2005 and is now in the good beer guide???? is the Anchor? best ringwood in the area also about 10 ciders, decor is not everything GOOD beer is
intheno - 13 Dec 2005 15:55
I was recommended this pub by a friend who went there about 8 years ago. Well, thats abouth the last time it was re decorated! Dirty, shabby and over priced. Staff looked as miserable as the building. Try the Anchor just down the road, much much better.
madmax66 - 13 Oct 2005 16:17

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