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Marlborough Arms, Tottenham Court Road

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user reviews of the Marlborough Arms, Tottenham Court Road

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

After a first visit to the excellent Temple Brew House, we continued our journey across London to this Greene King house. It's close to University College London. So, there were a few students alongside the after-work crowd. It's a reasonably large place. But, all tables were taken. Away from the bar, there is a further large seating area that is hidden behind a wall. That seemed to be popular with diners. The ale range was good for a Greene King pub. Alongside their ubiquitous IPA & Abbot, there was Sambrook's Junction, Truman's Roll Out The Barrel, Itchen Valley Russian Winter, East London Brewery Three Kings, Wimbledon XXK & Reunion Midnight Runner. I couldn't decide between the Russian Winter or the Midnight Runner. I opted for the former, but later wished I'd gone for the latter. No real cider is served. But, you can get a CAMRA discount.
blue_scrumpy - 18 Jan 2019 22:10
If I could rate less than zero I would. I saw a mouse in the pub and the food is definitely microwaved. Dirty glasses everywhere and the manager didnt care. The staff are not interested any anything but messing around and then going home. Luckily there are plenty of other places to go in the area and I will be.
Sarah22 - 4 Jun 2012 16:43
Wow - have just read the last review. I can happily report that it all seems to have dramatically changed. Started visiting in last two months but have worked in the area for three years - so know the other bars well and can compare. Great staff, girl I spoke to the other day said she has been there a couple of weeks, was smiley, happy and knew her stuff. New manager it seems and a much happier place, quick service, food seems to whizz out. All in all seems that they got rid of previous team and brought in new blood.
celt7 - 20 May 2011 17:39
Please do not frequent this pub.

It's not that the place is terrible - it feels like a cosy boozer - it's that we got treated so shockingly unbelievably badly on Saturday night that I hope this place gets boycotted. It won't happen but I'll tell the story anyway:

I had booked the back dining room for my party. I rang to say there would be 20-30 people, the manager told me that was fine and that I'd still have the back dining room. Two weeks later, we arrive, and none of the staff know about it. Not only do they not know about it, they swear quite loudly and stomp around in front of us when they find out. Nice.

A massive argument ensures with the NEW manager who informs us she 'wouldn't have taken on a booking for less than 40'. Erm, OK, but someone else did, you have to honour it unless you tell us otherwise. She walks off without saying anything. No apology.

Doesn't come back. Eventually, we get a lawyer friend to say some legalese and get cross in a controlled way, and we get the dining room.

(Which, by the way, is great - high banquet chairs and feels like you're eating in a stately home's drawing room).

Then we start ordering food. It takes ages. It comes without cutlery, so we had to pilfer that from the bar. Mine came without garlic bread, despite it being on the menu. Someone else ordered ham and eggs and it came without eggs. Believe it or not, the eggs turned up on a plate after he'd finished, and the manager tried to tell us that's how they always do it (!). My food arrived and I put my hand up to indicate where I was, the barman put it down on the surface nearest him - 2 tables away - and walked off. On a number of occasions, the staff barged past us and almost knocked people off their feet, they were having loud arguments behind the bar, swearing, and not even disguising their disdain at actually having to serve people beer.

All in all - horrendous service, and all these people, especially the female manager, deserve their jobs to be given to people who deserve them.

The food is nothing special -pies and burgers - and overpriced. The bar was covered in dirty glasses and half eaten food.

The mulled wine was OK, and they do serve Crabbie's, but not even that can redeem them. Zero rating - this experience made me really angry.

We actually complained to them as we left, to the two senior staff. I told them that whilst I'd had a lovely night (due to my friends not the pub) their service and demeanor and attitude was shocking and we suggested to them that they should have treated us better as we were paying customers. The barman said "We don't follow a customer is always right policy". How rude. And the blonde manager said "But we gave you a plate of free chips so I don't know why you are complaining."!!

Please don't go to this pub! They don't deserve your money!
SheilaK - 6 Dec 2010 13:20
Lots of space and reasonable selection of drinks.
The rudest bar staff you're ever likely to meet (I was tutted at by the bar maid for wanting to pay by credit card).
Burgers are from Iceland (the shop, not the country), fish is decidedly anaemic!
lozd27 - 4 Jun 2010 14:47
this pub is going in totally wrong direction... the new manager has no problem with shouting at his staff in front of guests, it was quite a shock for me. Big loss, as some of the regular customers (like myself)
really like this pub and the staff as they make the unique atmosphere.
New manager brought too much tension with him... not the same place any more... shame :(
The_Bill - 22 Apr 2010 18:21
Undoubtedly the best thing about this pub is the manager/landlady. Some of her staff are surly, I grant you, but she is HOT to TROT, gorgeous! Shame she's a lemon, if you know what I mean.
cbu - 11 Jul 2009 08:25
This is a decent enough pub that has a good friendly vibe. Only Greene King IPA was available Friday night from a selection of around five ales.

There was a young crowd, but as hinted at before the atmosphere was excellent.
Strongers - 15 Dec 2008 13:56
I found this pub very nice. The beer was fine, Winter Warmer and Bombadier were well kept. I didn't order any ford so comment on that but certainly one of the nicer pubs in that area, in fact probably the most up market of all the pubs around that area.
drkrell - 6 Dec 2008 20:15
decent central london pub, where you can get a fosters for £2 40! more importantly though, is the in house celebrity, none other than Jez of kids tv! friendly staff, especially jez, who was more than happy to shake my hand. guiness tasted fine, clearly things have got better recently. dodgy chisp though. both me and a friend mysteriously fell ill the very same evening. note, do not go for a shit in the right hand gents toilet if you have fat legs.. you wont fit!
chubtank - 28 Mar 2008 15:22
Good Value Food and friendly service :-)
fat_beer_badger - 26 Mar 2008 22:41
Obviously very busy and carrying on despite the renovation work which means you could miss the pub sign among the scaffolding, the Marlborough Arms is a typical central London pub in many ways: two ales on tap, tables full of people having loud conversations, a large hole in the partition between the cubicles in the gents' ... huh? Yes, there is one, and why is it not fixed? Undoubtedly too busy to do so. Not bad though.
beeronaut - 22 Feb 2008 16:52
Not the worst the area has to offer but the music is often far too loud.
PAFLeflar - 27 Jan 2008 00:53
Used to be a regular because I worked close but it's fairly average. The beer is not the best but there's always a good vibe in there. And, yes, the service is slow, has been for the 10 years I have visited it. In fact, it is a standing joke among a number of friends, when we get slow service at any pub it is known as being a bit 'Marlborough', although I'll always have a soft spot for the place.
vestanpance - 7 Oct 2007 16:47
Understaffed? You can say that again! It seemed that 2 out of the 3 bar staff were too busy collecting/washing glasses while the one that was pouring pints didnt make any effort to acknowlege the presence of cueing punters. In the end I walked out and enjoyed a couple at the Jeremy Bentham about 100yards away. No such problems there and nice pints of Youngs Bitter and Ruddles.
Orinoko - 16 Jul 2007 14:47
was a regular of mine whilst working in the area and its a good pub for that purpose but wouldn't go out of my way to visit
westyw9 - 23 Feb 2007 17:51
heres a message to all those who are so quick to criticize the marlborough arms. Apart from being of the most busiest pubs in london, its customers keep coming back. yes it gets busy, and yes it is under staffed, but the staff there do a great job dealing with 5 people back lines with 3 members of staff on a busy friday nite. the pub is kept afloat by a great assistant manager who hopefully one day gets the recognition she deserves! and to agree with alot of other people, if u dont like it dont come back, more room for us. hats off to the staff at the marlborough for the shit they put up with!!
jessika - 22 Jan 2007 03:49
Pretty average pub. The location can be handy. Food average, beer not the best. Clientele OK.
Last time I was in there some of the staff were OK, some were downright rude. I agree with 'crisp' - it's OK for a pint after work. But it's not worth going out of your way to visit.
Jamiebgoode - 30 Nov 2006 17:44
I agree with the comment below to an extent - it has the makings of a good backstreet pub and can be quite enjoyable for a bit. Unfortunately, the beers are terrible. Having a bit of character is nice to see, but when the beer is sub-standard you're not going to want to come back. Having said this, I haven't been in for a couple of months now, perhaps it has improved. I hope so, it could be a nice pub.
C.B - 11 May 2006 12:38
I love the Marlborough Arms!! Its everything a dirty old back street pub should be: Cheap with enough spare seating for a group of mates to go after college or work- if you get there as soon as the bell rings. How can I not mention the cheap but delightful menu. A relaxed atmosphere where you will be left alone to drink in peace. People who don't like it should get out and leave more room for those of us who arent afraid to keep it real.
emlan - 28 Mar 2006 13:49
The comment immediately below simply cannot go unchallenged. To imply that the many previous comments on the appaling state of the ales in here are unfair because the Kronenburg is drinkable is to miss the point completeley. The point being that if it wasn't for the existence of the Goose in Marchmont Street this would be the worst pub in London WC1 by some distance. Avoid.
Martinl - 27 Sep 2005 00:27
Been here a few times and can't understand all the negitive remarks?!
After the pubs refurb. (a lick of paint and some new carpet) they got rid of the awlful jukebox and have a new menu.
The good old 2 meal deal is still there with a few improved options and still good value at £7.99.
The drinks prices are considerably cheap for its central location and as a beer drinker I have had no problem its upkeep, the Kronenburg always tastes good after a long day at work!
The students are still there as well as a good mix of locals and suits.
The pub is a good size with plenty of outdoor seating that you will need to get to early on a Thursday or Friday as the place gets packed.
The staff are your usual mix of Aussies and Kiwis and I have found them to be quite friendly, with a ready smile, on busy nights they put their head down and serve as fast as possible, and who expects anything special when there are 3 barstaff, 2 tills, a jam packed pub and 50 poeple waiting to be served?? I (an ex-hospitality worker praise their efforts in such cicumstances.
In response to some previous remarks, if the place is so bad why is it so busy late week (lines 4 deep at the bar)when there are so many "more appealing options" close by eg The Jeremy Bentham.
If you don't like it go somewhere else, you won't be missed, the pub is busy enough anyway!
RR1978 - 31 Aug 2005 12:01
Only recently been going to this place... preferred other pubs like the fitzroy or risingsun. All in all its OKish. The prices are good compared to most, foods alright (not great) and u can sit out if u like. Staff all seem good too. Understand that the conneisseur might not like it but its ok for a pint after work
crisp - 25 May 2005 13:17
Another central London pub, another plethora of scathing reviews and low ratings that once again I cant really get my head round.

It is perfectly true that like other close by pubs (The London Pub, The Rocket etc) which have had a very firm set of boots laid into them by a number of critics on this website, the Marlborough isnt going to win any awards in any of its core features. But then this doesn’t mean the owners need to be lynched either as while it lacks any form of “sparkle” (no I`m neither gay or a hairdresser) it does tick all the acceptable boxes in terms of its interior, service, drink selection, price range and general clientele (the latter of which certainly isnt dominated by students). The only real criticisms I can think of is that its character is of the “forced oldie” variety (cheap wooden floors and décor and pointless pictures/other furnishings) and it can become exceptionally crowded on weeknights despite its relatively big size – though the last criticism is one the owners would probably be very happy with.

In the end therefore the Marlborough is a reasonable stop off point that while not lending itself immediately to any pub crawl list, is certainly alright for the occasional tipple. 6/10.

pgazz - 23 Apr 2005 11:22
Pub has recently been refurbished and looks a LOT nicer than it did, much cleaner and brighter, even improving the toilets. (Could still do with some air con for the summer / to get rid of smoke.) As other reviewers have suggested, this is not a place for a hot date. But if you just want somewhere to relax with friends, have cheap drinks (very cheap compared to the west-end prices a short distance away) and play pool then this is ideal.
SocialDrinker - 19 Apr 2005 13:22
Yuck, they keep their beer horribly. Place is fairly average looking inside, rubbish jukebox. Food seems cheap but i've not risked it. I don't intend to go back
spleen978 - 10 Feb 2005 14:30
IN response to earlier comments, you can't expect to avoid students in this pub (practically next door to ULU and UCL) since they provide a large chunk of its intake.
For the most part the summary below is fair (if a little acerbic in places). The food is acceptable (and designed) for a student budget - I myself have enjoyed many-a-two meals for 6 pounds offer. At least it comes quickly.
By an ale-drinker's standard the beer isn't kept all that well, but I've had a lot worse.
I have no problem with the music.
I have no problem with the decor. If you don't like it, bugger off to some poncy wine bar where you'll pay through the nose for something just as bad, but slightly shinier.

eccentric_man - 8 Feb 2005 15:06
I quite liked it when i lived round the corner but i can see why it's so disliked. I did find the staff quite friendly most of the time and it's nice to be able to sit out. Crap jukebox.
andy33brixton - 21 Nov 2004 15:32
I agree, we all agree. I frequented this gawdawful place as a poor student for the two-for-one meals. They were bad, except for some inexplicable reason the three cheese pasta. Eventually, I decided that drinking out of dirty glasses and putting up with the decidedly tawdry furnishings and atmosphere was not for me. You'll NEVER find me there again!!
sheila - 14 Sep 2004 23:22
It's said that Senate House, a few yards away, was an inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984. However, the real source of Orwell's terrifying vision of a soulless existence, where humanity is reduced to a life devoid of hope and meaning, was in fact borne out of a quick pint in the Marlborough Arms.

Although spacious, the liver-coloured walls, fading decor and threadbare seating gives it the atmosphere of a condemned bedsit. Which may explain why most of the customers are students (if you're lucky, you may see a class of budding thesps, possibly moon-walking to the bar.)

The usual beers are offered (Fosters, Kronenberg, John Smith's, etc), served in dirty glasses wherever possible. Recently I was lucky enough to receive a previous customer's soup leftovers on my glass. And I wasn't charged. The menu entices you to "Taste the Value"; however, the food on offer is sympathetic to the pub, and therefore quite bad, unless you like your steak well-microwaved.

The jukebox offers an above-average mix, though any selection you make will jump continually, so don't bother. As an alternative distraction for those who enjoy conversations about fighting, just hang around the bar and listen to a few of the drunken staff exchanging anecdotes.

I won't go on. It's doubleplusbad. Try the Jeremy Bentham up the road.
NP - 8 Jun 2004 23:32
Fantastic pub with friendly staff. Beers are well looked after and good range of wines. Reasonably priced food, good location.
Ally - 7 Apr 2004 11:20
This should be a great place to eat/drink but it is spoiled by the overpriced Guinness (they cant keep it properly) the indifferent service from the unsmiling staff, and the awful music that is played far too loud. It could do with some decent air conditioning. Apart from that it's erm.. great!
Dan - 22 Sep 2003 13:56
very unfriendly staff, dried up re-heated food, overpriced beer and wine only in enormous measures.
Try the Jeremy Bentham up the road.
bob hope - 2 Jul 2003 17:07
'G & T' served without the tonic - In a dirty glass, speciality!
Rehan Qayoom - 23 Jun 2003 16:51
I'd say this was in Bloomsbury myself. Used to love going here to pore over stats textbooks after lectures trying to make head or tail of what was going on!
Clare - 12 May 2003 13:58

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