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Shakespeare's Head, Soho

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user reviews of the Shakespeare's Head, Soho

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

The ideal place to go if you want to order ham,egg and chips but don't mind getting fish and chips instead by a couldn't careless barman who simply walks off when you say your order is wrong.
wurzel - 2 Sep 2020 13:46
It's always nice to drink in Carnaby Street on a weekend evening and sitting outside this pub watching the world go bar makes it a pleasant experience.
The only downside is typically for this area the bar staff are uninterested tourists simply working from one pub to another between sightseeing.They cannot understand what you want to drink and once they have eventually worked out your order it is usually half measured and badly poured and this causes long ques at the bar whilst things are sorted.
Ok for a brief visit whilst in London but don't expect to get drunk in here as you will spend most of your time at the bar waiting to be served by confused foreign barstaff.
wurzel - 30 Oct 2019 12:26
visited pre theatre, a truly superb pub with excellent ale. well worth a visit.
tc_imbiber - 18 Dec 2011 19:03
OK. I went in the other week and then again on an afternoon crawl with a pal.

On the first time I managed to get a bloke I presumed to be the manager (organised and English) to pour my Youngs Golden Ale. Turned out a lovely pint.

No such luck the second time. A latin barman pulled hell out of the pump and I ended up with a pint, as flat as a fart.

Really wish staff would be trained properly. It's a bloody expensive hobby!
willesden_seadog - 3 Jul 2011 15:09
One to be avoided at all costs.

Terrible beer, short measures and even worse service.

Never again.
ericstadd - 7 Jul 2010 21:02
Yes its a tourists trap, but the beers always been OK for me and took the opportunity again on Sunday for a quick one when the wife got lost in the Carnaby Street shoe shops.
The referred to small bar does support four hand pumps, two of which had Youngs Ordinary and the others were Pride and Spitfire. The Youngs were perfectly fine and I got a seat outside so that I could people watch.
But definately only stay for one as there are much better pubs in the area.
Gann - 26 May 2010 16:57
Tourist trap............

Awful overpriced beer & food, come on your in london there much better around the corner if you look.......
JimmyJacksonJones - 31 Oct 2009 15:18
Far and away the worst pub in Soho and probably beyond for a good bit. Went in with a mate to try it out. Service poor and unfriendly. Two Guinness' badly poured - the head was about a third of the pint. Looked around to find all the tourists who were in drinking Guinness exactly the same - maybe it's accepatable in Spain. Took these back to the bar to be met with a sigh and roll of the eyes by the barmaid on asking she top them up. Finished and left for a decent boozer of which there are many nearby. Don't waste your time in this lame excuse for a pub - it's crap.
Baader - 10 Sep 2009 12:21
I've been to this pub 4 times now and i really like it. The first time i went with my family. There were 7 of us and we enjoyed a lovely meal. We didn't have to wait too long for our food and it was delicious, especially the fish and chips- good crispy batter!
I have since been back with my friends. There is a great atmosphere and the staff are friendly and efficient. It's well worth a visit!
Gemma_S - 21 Aug 2009 12:31
Along with the Punch and Judy in Covent Garden this must be about the biggest tourist trap of a pub in the West End. Make no mistakes Carnaby St lost any edginess it might have had in the 70s and 80s a long time ago. Punk clothing stores have been replaced by Starbucks and Boots and there's no real reason for London residents to come here.

Having said this the Shakespeare's head is not quite as bad as you might expect although it's another pub with a slightly too small bar jammed in one corner. I certainly wouldn't dream of coming here for a night out but for a quick pint it was ok although the international gang of gawpers making up most of the customers were not the best.
murgatroyd - 21 Jun 2009 21:30
This place is OK for a quick pint after a leg stretch around the shops, but I certainly wouldnt stay for any length of time.

Bombardier, Greene King IPA, Pride, Leffe, Staropramen and an assortment of standard lagers were all available during my visit. The service was woeful even though there were more staff than customers. Maybe it was just my bad luck that I walked in after some twirlies that all ordered tea and coffee.

There is a plasma screen, but I didnt spot any advertisements for sport that would be shown. The background music is fairly unobtrusive unlike the stench and pools of piss in the toilet.

If this pub was down a back street they would have to get their act together, but they can do whatever they like and still make a profit due to the fantastic location.
Strongers - 16 Dec 2008 10:48
Friends, Romans, Country men, lend me your ear, in this pub i've heard many a cheer. There is method in this madness, so yield no more sadness. For the Tourists that flock, seem never to mock. Their search for an ale and a true english gent, Doth now fail hearing our cockney accents. For we dont all have fringes, chords and some tweed, instead syringes, swords and some weed.

PaulMeoff - 17 Jul 2008 17:29
I have history with this pub, I met my first wife there when we engaged in a mutual slanging match about the poor service and general lack of attention from the hippys behind the counter. I discovered last week nothings changed and beat a hasty retreat before history repeated itself. I can't afford to give another house away. To sum up, busy understaffed, they stock warm bottles to the front of fridges ( I'll do time next time I get a warm corona that some herberts popped a well fingered lime into ). Apart from that its amazimg.
spaceman - 30 Apr 2008 15:03
Nothing much to say about this pub. Bar service was friendly but both pints that I ordered were short. Alot of people had ordered food which looked okay. I personally would seek out a better pub in the area.
snowdog2112 - 15 Mar 2008 09:34
Well 'JB' we certainly shut 'Mr Anon' up.. he hasn't answered any of our questions. I have revisited this pub more recently, and did in fact get served on that occasion. But i guess that's what bar staff are there for, aren't they..? If you visit this pub whilst Christmas shopping in Carnaby Street nearby, I hope you too will get served & not bard! Happy Christmas Shakespeare.
TeeJay - 14 Dec 2006 21:13
visited here for the first and last time this friday, and was appauled.

the party in the corner of the bar seemed to be having a good time, a shame they were all beer/fruit flies, feasting on the fruit (destined for drinks) ans swigging on the spills of the filthy back bar

waited for 10-15 minutes for a drink with their first come last served policy, to then get the attension of the bar staff and be laughed at for asking to be served, and then ignored again

the filthiest pub i've ever been in, and having managed pubs and bars for 8 years, is quite an achievement!

the only positive thing about this visit was that i was in agroup of three, but on second thoughts i would have prefered to be in a larger group and refused entry!
booie - 8 Oct 2006 13:13
I visited this pub on a Thursday evening after work. We were eventually around 20 in number, in varying degrees of smartnesss from jeans to suits, but as we arrived in small groups over about an hour no comment was made by the management.
The place itself is good for large gatherings: quite good music, plenty of space (if a little dark). There did seem to be a fairly quick turnover of punters so that at times it resembled a station's waiting room.
First pint (Greene King IPA) was definitely off. Second one (London Pride) was much more drinkable and convinced me it was worth stayng for one more.
I believe you can always judge a pub by its toilets, and these toilets were fairly unpleasant: one urinal full to the brim and the hand dryer out of order.
I guess its location guarantees enough trade to stay in business so why try harder.
I wouldn't hurry back there. There are plenty of better pubs within a five minute walk.
All in all, a very average pub.

martdop - 7 Aug 2006 15:29
For info 'Mr Anon', how you can tell what a patron is like by his 'text-speak' English is beyond me..!! Are you staff at Shakespears Head by any chance..??
We were all smartly dressed in suits, etc, and half our party was female. How can any business-minded pub turn away groups of more than 4 people!? It doesn't make any sense, at lunchtime! Maybe at night, yes, but even that depends on the individual(s) and whether they've had too much to drink already, and that certainly wasn't the situation in our case. I defy 'Mr Anon' or anyone to make a judgement on a 'male in a suit & tie' after just 20 seconds. If you can do that you must be Superman, or bar-staff with 20years experience! Which one are you 'Mr Anon'..?? TJ
TeeJay - 25 Jul 2006 22:08
Please enlighten us regular readers, Mr Anonymous, more customers equals more money, you don't need to be Brain of Britain to work that out. And no, in case you're wondering, I wasn't one of the group concerned
JohnBonser - 25 Jul 2006 09:47
A lot of people are going to read this, see your "txt speak" English, and come to their own conclusions why you and a huge gang of your mates were turned away from this pub using an invented excuse.
anonymous - 25 Jul 2006 09:10
I went for a lunchtime drink with 6 office colleagues here (last year) the bar staff refused to serve groups of more than 4 people...!!!

So we went around the corner to the 'Claghan' and had a great lunch...!!!

STAFF AT SHAKESPEARS HEAD:- What the blazes are you playing at!! There woz 20 of us altogether, an office do, and you turned us all away!! WOT BUSINESS SENSE IS THAT..? !YOU'RE MAD..! AND THE MANAGER NEEDS HIS HEAD EXAMINED !!!

Apart from that, nice location, right on the corner of Carnaby Street, one of THE most famous streets in the world... but you can't get served if there's more than 4 of you...!!!!!!!! ABSOLUTE TWADDLE !!!!!!!!! TJ
TeeJay - 25 Jul 2006 03:52
Not a bad pub, at the top of Carnaby Street. Usually a fairly good selection of well kept beer - one or two real ales most of the time. Never eaten there but the food looks OK. The downside is that it's a real tourist trap, undoubtedly due to it's location. You need to get there early to get a table, although there's usually a fairly quick turnover of punters. Staff tend to be pretty friendly, though as an occassional drinker there they don't seem to last very long. Atmisphere's OK, but due to the amount of tourists it's never like a "local's" pub. Juke box isn't as good as it used to be either. Fine if you're in the area.
monkey_steve - 28 Jun 2006 14:22
Tourist hell!!!
Jesper - 14 Mar 2006 17:29
met with friends here in the afternoon and ended up staying all night. Atmosphere was great and had one man band play at night. Last time was here was about a year ago and was dissapointed then but now all i can say is what a fab pub and great bunch of people working.
Would highly reccommend to anyone.
Thanks for a great day and evening.......
anonymous - 2 Mar 2006 19:20
Awful place, but not surprising considering its location. Grim inside, grim outside (seating in summer on pavement) and no decent beers. Enough said really.
anonymous - 13 Feb 2006 11:24
Went here in May 2005 while on honeymoon and it seemed to be filled with plenty of other tourists. Yes, i agree with past comments, it does look inviting from the outside. But within, even though it was full, it wasn't lively and lacked heart. Maybe the new management has changed things for the better.
jaykoivu - 13 Oct 2005 19:38
The last 2 visitors to this site obviously have no idea. The Scottish manager has not worked here for about 3 months now. The new landlady is a fab Aussie who knows what she is doing! She's friendly and has a great new team who will do almost anything to keep the customers happy! 9/10!! Oh yes, by the way, the toilets have also had a refurb 2 weeks ago.
anonymous - 18 Jul 2005 23:43
de4th2smoochie - 14 Jul 2005 23:00
this seems to be quite a nice little pub from the street it seems to be bursting with character. However inside is a totally different matter. Its dark, cold. And there is a really bad smell coming from the toilets downstairs. not goo when you are eating. I rate this pub 1. It could do so much better like the o'neils opposite. Its in the right location. Why not take advantage and use it.
anonymous - 26 Jun 2005 21:08
God what an awful place this is. Its looks so inviting from the street and Im sure that it would be a great little boozer if it wasnt fro the rediculous management. Ok if your a guy you can only be served if there are 3 of you. If your in a group of 4 you are not allowed in or to be served. Im mean whats that all about. But yet you can serve the guy who was out of his head at the bar. I just dont get it. The little scottish manager - who the hell does he think he is. GO TO O'NEILS ACROSS THE ROAD. Much nicer place.
anonymous - 19 Jun 2005 10:09
This place isn't as bad as you all make it out to be. Yes, the decor is old and OK, so there's no atmosphere, but it's a tourist's dream pub. There ARE no locals to give the place an atmosphere - they are ALL tourists. It is Carnaby Street after all. The beer is good and so is the food upstairs. And the staff are wonderful!
anonymous - 13 Jun 2005 18:42
I can't quite understand why everyone seems to have it in for this place - it's an acceptable enough pub to while away an hour in. There are far worse places nearby that have less character in their entirety than the Shakespear's Head has in one of it's creaking wooden florboards.

Not a place to spend an entire evening in by any means, but certainly not a place to avoid at all costs.
cid - 20 May 2005 12:11
This place is ABSOLUTLY CRAP!!!!

3. DISGUSTING TOILETS more often than not out of order.

The only thing going for it is its location, and the wonderful staff who unfortunatly have to put up with the rude management team.

My friends and I thought that there was a good selection of drinks but unforyunatly they were warm.

I will NOT be going back.
anonymous - 17 May 2005 00:22
If you're looking for a comfortable, relaxing experience or a good night out DO NOT come here - go to O'Neills across the road - much better!
The SH is ok for a quick pint after work, but that's about all it's good for.
It's far too small and always packed. It's very closed in, so you have cigerette smoke down your throat every 15 seconds.
The bar staff are non-English and can never understand what you are asking for.
I would NEVER go there again.
mycomments - 13 Jan 2005 00:01
So packed with tourists that it was a fight to even get to the bar. Then again what do you expect for a pub on Carnaby Street.
anonymous - 22 Nov 2004 18:06
The worst pub I have ever had the displeasure to drink in. The manageress was very rude and asked me and two business clients to be quiet! I thought the whole point of going to a pub was to drink and have fun!! Was refused to be served because we alledgedly were too noisy! This place is a disgrace to the good old tradition of the english public house - AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
Churchy - 1 Nov 2004 10:29
Dreadful pub - avoid at all costs. Ridiculously high prices for both drink and food. Tables grubby and interior dingy and desperately in need of a facelift. Barstaff polite but manager rude and overbearing to them in front of customers - felt sorry for them. A lot of tourist drinking there - what a terrible impression of London pubs this place gives.
Melanie - 17 Aug 2004 13:37
Went on Friday - could I add that apart from over the top pub prices, when someone has severe hiccups and desparately requires tap water, not to try & charge them for it or make a big song & dance over it!
PJB - 16 Aug 2004 12:42
what crap, they served -and have always served me and my boys-and ive been in full goth and punk gear-they have been s &m or suited and booted-either way-we have been welcome here-ive been going to the SH for 15 years-never had anything but a very good time- Can't understand your problem with it.
Very good pub, good decor -and superb location. Caters mostly nowadays for tourists wondering whats so special about carnaby street? -it resembles a poor identikit high street found anywhere in the uk-except that its expensive due to its location-no surprise!
shamrockthegaydog - 7 Jun 2004 17:09
If you fancy a business lunch and you're 4 men don't go to this pub. They have a ludicrous rule that they will not serve 4+ men no matter whether you are respectable or not. One rule fits all. All men are the same apparently. The staff are rude and ignorant. The tables and dirty and sticky. I can't tell you what the beer is like because they wouldn't serve us. AVOID AT ALL COST!!!
NotImpressed - 26 May 2004 09:36
The jukebox is possibly the best jukebox in the country. All good old pub tunes that people should be listening to, its got no character, no energy but if you just want a pint and some music that isnt dance then its fine.
Mod Boy - 30 Apr 2004 16:19
It's dire. Expensive, touristy, poor bar service, grubby tables. And the beer is mediocre. Surely it only exists because of the location?
RickL - 3 Mar 2004 13:17
Full of tourists and surprisingly expensive, this really shouldn't be a good pub. However, a combination of friendly punters and a jukebox wedged tightly in the back end of 1995, salvages its reputation. A good warm-up pub for a weekend night-out.
Slipperduke - 11 Feb 2004 17:27
I would have said this was more Carnaby Street actually. Find it a pretty characterless affair. Tourists a problem and can't recall it being cheap. My friend got refused service though which was a laugh. He was 24 at the time.
Good for: early afternoon
thenationofjames - 11 Dec 2003 14:57
A good (bit Smokey) Boozer. Good Juke box. Bit tourist in summer, especially at lunch time. great for after work drink in winter. Music just at limit of being able to talk
Andrew Wood - 1 Nov 2003 11:50
Nice pub, I now its central london, but around of drinks for 4 of us and a sandwich each, came to 28 !!!
sidwell - 6 Sep 2003 16:23
This is Soho's finest pub, and the range of drinks are very good too. The seating is limited, and it can get very busy in there, however, there is always a good atmosphere in there. I have always liked it a lot and have had top times there..also good for a pub crawl. There is also the bard leaning out of one of the windows facing down carnaby street. Good place -go there!
belgrave square boy - 15 Jul 2003 12:35
Ordinary pub with some extra-ordinary punters, including a dead ringer for Liam Gallagher.

Actually, this place always seems to have a lively but unassuming crowd in it. Not a bad little place.
TheG - 16 Jun 2003 18:26

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