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Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

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user reviews of the Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

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

Has to be seen to be believed. You can enter a doorway off a 21st century London street and find yourself transported back to the medieval (OK, maybe not medieval, but early modern, I’ll defend that one.) it’s hard to adequately describe it. My Dad took me in here in the 80’s and I was gobsmacked (being a history buff helped). It hasn’t changed in the intervening 40 years. It’s like a time capsule.

Anyone who hasn’t visited it should.

Owned by Sam Smiths, it serves their range of booze, so you know what to expect.

I absolutely love the wooden booths in which you can ensconce yourself. You can imagine the lawyers of the last 4 or 5 centuries holding meetings with their clients in these booths over a pint of ale before facing the King’s justice in the nearby law courts. Some of those conversations must have been worth hearing. If you shut your eyes you can hear them, they are recorded in the wood, and those who know how to listen can have them replayed in their imaginations.

This is never going to be your local boozer where you can pass many an idle hour drinking and yakking your life away, but for pure experience, even if you just visit the once, this is not to be missed.

Must be a 10/10 for the experience alone.
Jay28 - 17 Jan 2023 17:22
Recent Saturday afternoon visit so relatively quiet / empty. Beautiful look, great ambience. Not sure how much i would have enjoyed it if packed with lawyers but great to sit with the missus in one of the cubbies and enjoy a round.
aerodrome - 24 Dec 2019 00:26
Excellent pub, full of character and architectural curiosities. Like many Sam Smiths pubs the beer is always top quality (i know it's not to everyone's taste) and refreshingly old school. The ale here has the advantage of not sitting too long in the barrel and pipes like so many nearby pubs that seem to offer a 'choice' of different (bland, generic, inoffensive) beers. Always a diversity of people, socialising or pondering the mean of life, and I've been here quite a few times and have always received friendly service.
alebarry - 23 Mar 2018 19:23
Worth visiting if only to see the "Victorian Baronial" rear room. Sam Smith's OBB in good condition.
Aztecgoat - 9 Dec 2016 10:43
Rude bar staff
stuart1234 - 18 Dec 2014 00:30
Although it's some time since I last frequented this pub, I could recommend the interior as being particularly interesting with its high vaulted ceiling and long bar. It's used by legal eagles from the Law Courts and affiliated buildings in the area and does get quite crowded during the evenings.
The killer though is Sam Smith's beer which must be the most watery brew ever concocted outside of Allied Breweries even though the the pumps claim the usual range of ABV.
The big plus is, as with all Sam Smith's pubs, there's no trashy noise coming from speakers, meaning it's great for conversation and it's free from the disreputable pond life that infests the Wetherspoons outlets.
Padderborn - 12 Nov 2014 20:14
Part hotel lobby, part medieval 'bierkeller', why are so many of London's best pubs wasted on ‘The City’ and the people who work there? A high vaulted ceiling, discreet snugs, leaded came glass-work, Gothic touches... but why so bright? It's Sam Smiths, which means it's both cheap and distinctive in flavour. 8/10
TheKindnessOfTrees - 24 Oct 2014 19:47
A few years since I was last in here. Tonight the OBB was in good form and the steak in OBB meal was excellent quality and value. Staff were friendly and very helpful. Relaxing atmosphere with many fewer of the loud, verbose, attention-seeking City types who infest many nearby pubs. 10/10.

wobblybob - 23 Sep 2014 21:13
An essential stop off and unlike most pubs in the City of London, it is open on a Saturday. The drawback is the choice which is limited to Sam Smith's - decent enough and cheap - but supremely uninteresting. The interior is magnificent albieit not as old as it looks and it would have been regarded as a theme pub in its day
BoehmBawerk - 4 Aug 2014 14:01
If I had reviewed this pub prior to last night, I would have given it the highest marks, but after a situation one of my friend's had there last night, I will never go there again.

My friend ordered a cider and when he came back to the table realised he had been given a lager. He went back to get the drink that he had ordered where the staff and the manager told him no in no uncertain terms would they switch the drink and that it wasn't their fault.

We were a large group out for a session so we went somewhere else (The Lamb on Lamb Conduit Street. Fantastic place) and spent the money on our 5 rounds there instead.

Interesting looking down at some of the other reviews, other people have experienced similar treatment.

I feel sorry for the staff there. It must be unpleasant walking around being so angry that you can't provide even the semblance of decent customer service.
treefroggirl - 28 Jun 2013 16:04
Not that old. Not that good. My first opened mouthed impressions soon dissolved into a slight Sam Smiths depression.
Tuna - 18 Jun 2013 23:53
Very good pub which is one of my regulars after work. Sam Smiths so not the widest range of drinks however ambiance makes up for that. One of the longest bars in London coupled with deep sofas and cubby holes made for spending hours drinking in. Always busy after work however you can normally find a seat down in the basement if needs be. Staff can be surly however that is not off putting. Oh, and it is old, very old!
mrben_087 - 18 Jun 2013 16:30
Extremely rude staff and manager. Amongst an order of several drinks, I was served the wrong beer for one of the drinks by mistake. Both staff and manager refused point blank to correct the issue, with the manager informing me "either pay or get out". This was a totally unacceptable response and shows a total lack of respect for customers. And this was from the man I once went out of my way to inform him discretely that there was an issue with something in the gents toilets. Myself and all of the colleagues in the company I work at over the road will never be drinking in this establishment again. I suggest you go elsewhere if you want anything resembling acceptable service.
dpryce - 8 Apr 2013 18:33
Terrific pub, helpful staff ( mid-week evening). I take US work colleagues here and tell them the pub was built in the 1400s - they suck it up with joy!
marklaw - 11 Mar 2013 14:20
One of those pubs one goes into to see the interior and then stays because the booths are perfect for a long evening of chatting and sipping. Beer quality is OK though it does seem to do just Sam Smith's Old Brewery Bitter. Its tourist route image tends to be associated with so-so service.
Arctium_lappa - 25 Feb 2013 00:24
This used to be called Hennekeys and, to be fair to Sam Smiths, they have kept it as it was. The booths are a delight. The beer is pricey for Sam Smiths but all-in-all it's a good pub.
Tewin - 1 Jan 2013 15:15
Been a long time since I've supped a lager but must say I could have sat in one of their little booths all day drinking the Smiffy's own brand organic version they sell here, full of flavour, so 'thick' you could stand a spoon in it. Fantastic interior, pricey pints, indifferent staff, everything you expect from one of London's great pubs.
Benson_Hedges - 26 Dec 2012 09:42
malo66 - I know (to my cost in more ways than one) that the 4 pint is now a London regular, but Smith's houses were always a lot cheaper than average. That's why I was surprised at the price here. What do they charge for everything else?
djw - 10 Oct 2012 22:53
The room at the back is, for my money, one of the most extraordinary spaces in London, like going into St Paul's Cathedral but you're allowed to drink. Hurry thither, my friends!
smallglassofhousered - 12 Sep 2012 15:47
As you say, this is London and Cittie of Yorke is one of its well known pubs. Consequently 4 or more is (I'm afraid!!) is just about the norm for one pint...
malo66 - 6 Sep 2012 17:26
I'm not a suspicious poster, but I did pop in here for the first time in a couple of years and nothing has changed - I hope. Sam Smith's are noted for being cheap but on the hottest day of the year I fancied a pint of their wheat beer. It was very, very good indeed - one of the best examples of this style I've enjoyed for a long time. But 4.25? Have Smith's jacked all their prices up, or is this a one-off? The place itself remains the same, although I suppose Saturday afternoon is as quiet as it gets here. Amusing to take my glass back on the way out (as I always try to) and the staff looked at me in amazement. This is London, after all.
djw - 18 Aug 2012 21:47
Yep, definately smell Roland here.
cellarbuoy - 16 Jul 2012 16:24
3 first time posters in a row. Draw your own conclusions.

Also noticed that marywar366 and alanflynn1976, both use very similar phrases:

"really good" "fantastic" "this place" "night here"

Very fishy.
Pat_Bateman - 16 Jul 2012 09:04
I organised a girls night out here last Friday. My friends and I have known this place for a few years and it was really good to see it back to it's former glory - standing room only. The night was a real success. Fantastic night was had by all.
marywar366 - 16 Jul 2012 00:25
Really brilliant night here with the guys from work on Thursday night. This place gets packed by 5.30, so get here early although we reserved a space. Fantastic location, really good prices. Best night out in a long time. Cheers
alanflynn1976 - 9 Jul 2012 02:26
Wonderful pub. This place is always busy, but I'm not surprised. I had one of the best pints of OBB here. Very nice indeed.
arthurlowett_9956 - 7 Jul 2012 21:13
Bounded into the Cittie of Yorke at 9.17 on 02/03/12 on a crawl with Jens and Benard. Superb half of Old Brewery Bitter consumed here. A lovely old boozer - do visit!
Newton_Lad - 4 Mar 2012 18:49
My friends and I visited this pub recently and we were very impressed. It had a great atmosphere and certainly has lots of character.
craigfromoz - 28 Feb 2012 10:36
Couldn't find the pub at first, and went a nearby JDW, actually the beer there was better than the rather average Old Brewery Bitter. A very busy pub on a Friday evening, a deceptively large pub with lots of alcoves, interesting pub architecture and at quieter moments a relaxing place to drink.
Abteilung - 4 Feb 2012 14:57
Pretty busy on Friday night - not the best time to admire this amazing pub. Sam Smith's only of course - not impressed with beer seemed rather 'tired'. I prefer a variety of beers in a pub so I left after a pint.
Booze_Allen - 4 Feb 2012 14:45
All other visits I had been impressed by this pub, however, popped in on Saturday night with friends from out of town and they had run out of cask beer - keg only - not impressed.
sussexsketch - 30 Jan 2012 12:14
Met some old chums here as we used to use the dart board here a lot. What a disappointment. The beer (old Brewery) was like vinegar. Sent the first pint back. Bar staff could not have been less interested. "I don't like beer" said the one who seemed to be in charge. Got served from another tap and it was poor but drinkable. What can you do? Vow we'll never return and warn the rest of you likewise. There are plenty of places in the city to get a good pint, The Citie of Yorke isn't one of them.
DOK - 24 Jan 2012 11:09
Popped in as I love Sam's Pale Ale. I think the Manager needs a course in Manners. And I haven't got time to mention how bad the Food was. Pity, it should be a great Pub but with all the choice in the area I won't go back. I think people only go in Sam Smith's Pubs cos they are cheap. Anyone care to tell me what else they have to offer?
TheFluffer - 26 Nov 2011 18:35
While not a huge fan of Sam's beers, I pooped in with my brother for a quick half.

I loved the place. Excellent pleasant staff, incredibly cheap ale - 2.40 or there abouts for half an OBB and a Taddy Lager. OBB was in perfect nick. Just the taste I'm not a massive fan of. A bit sweet for me.

Will certainly show it to my sightseeing friends from away if they visit.
willesden_seadog - 1 Sep 2011 08:04
I have visited this gem for many years and it has to be my all time favourite pub in London. I will concur with some of the more recent comments with regard to the atmosphere - it really does need to be half full for the place to really take off. That said, I have yet to experience any grumpiness from the staff. The last time I was in - a Saturday in May 2011 - the staff could not have been more friendly, helpful or genuine. And the beer is incredibly cheap as well as being of a very good quality.
dunkyhory - 20 Jul 2011 16:04
A real shame. Cittie of Yorke is a great pub in a great location, but unfortunately the arrogant, unfriendly and frankly offensive bar manager makes it an unpleasant experience. It has the potential to be one of the best pubs in the area, but until the manager takes some serious public relations training or the brewery gets rid of him altogether, there's no way I could recommend it.
StewartP - 5 Jul 2011 10:41
another visit to this great london pub, atmospheric and historic, beer was good if a tad cold
littlecon - 12 Jun 2011 10:29
What a crying shame. This is a beautiful pub with bags of atmosphere and history and loads of space. Yet when I visited (midweek lunchtime) there can't have been more than a dozen customers rattling around in the place. The Aussie barstaff knew little and cared even less. And the food was indistinguishable mush. I didn't even stay for one drink, and that says a lot. I would have rated it zero were it not for the architecture.
dickb4925 - 25 May 2011 19:25
Some years ago had a bad experience here. Rude and authoritarian bar staff. Made a number of complaints. Wouldn't drink in a Sam Smiths pub if it was the last pub open in London. No surprise at all that the "Gay Kiss" incident was in a Sam Smiths pub , typical staff behaviour.
gorgoblin - 16 Apr 2011 09:51
Oozing history and character in the heart of the capital's legal quarter, this fabulously atmospheric place has one of the city's most celebrated pub interiors. If I could stomach Sam Smiths beers it would be among my favourite pubs in London. As it is, it is of architectural interest only.
rob1981 - 13 Jan 2011 20:03
Used to be quite a good pub I have drunk there regularly for about 29 years. Sadly the pub is under new ownership and the changes they have made seem to have put this pub back into the dark ages!! Slow service when the pub is even moderately busy, very poor barstaff, if they have to ask who's next to be served then they aren't very good at their job in my books!! The food is OK but I would probably go to the nearby Weatherspoons if I want to eat. There are also too many tables in my opinion, which cuts down on the space in which to enjoy a beer with your mates as you always seem to be in someones way!! Cittie of Yorke you have my rating of 3 out of 10 do something about it or lose my custom!!!
JAKONE - 23 Dec 2010 14:47
Beautiful Sam Smiths Pub, but with the usual problem; just the one ale, although it was very well kept and only 1.90 a pint.
ahscum - 14 Dec 2010 19:14
This pub used to be one of the Henekeys chain of pubs with lots of dark oak, beams and stained glass windows. The building is great but sadly the only real ale was Samuel Smiths. I hadn't drink Sam Smith for many years and it was still as wishy washy as I remember it. My second drink was a bottle of Sam Smiths Porter. The food also was a let down. My Thai Curry was a less than hot microwaved grey mess with barely a trace of curry accompanied by cold rice. Wonderful building but little else to attract me for a return visit.
Paul_Rochdale - 15 Nov 2010 20:06
Excellent city boozer. Very interesting interior and a lively atmosphere. Well kept pints of Sam Smiths beers too! Very cheap for a central London pub.
TEL3 - 6 Nov 2010 19:50
A real surprise this. Much larger pub than i expected. Dark wood, and it's a bit of a step back in time. i visited on a Monday afternoon and it was pretty busy then. I can imagine that it gets a whole lot busier. If you don't like Sam Smiths pubs, then you probably won't be interested. Really would recommmend a visit, and the cherry beer is superb.
blkstar14 - 30 Oct 2010 18:10
A nice building with a good selection of beers (and very cheap too!)

Only downsides are that it can take an age to get served sometimes as there's not enough bar staff at busy times and I had my coat stolen from there recently (which isn't the pubs fault but doesn't reflect well on it either!)
markyc - 26 Oct 2010 14:26
An amazing building and Sam Smith's usual excellent values beers. Old Brewery Bitter at 1.99 a pint. Well worth a visit.
wobblybob - 14 Oct 2010 19:02
Very impressive pub inside, normal Sam Smith's range of beers and normal cheap prices. Well worth a visit just for the interior alone.
tanky - 10 Oct 2010 21:33
This is a favourite stop off for me whan passing and normally its a great pub. But visiting on the 2nd of October was not the usual great visit.
There seems to be new staff, not that friendly compared to previous staff. My partner wanted a glass of Rose and the had none, In fact they have virtually no wine at all so she settled for a bottle of Sam Smiths cherry beer which was OK but very expensive. I wanted and ale and the usual large choice was nowhere to be seen so it was a pint of brewery bitter for me. Lack of choice forced us to move on rather than have a second round.
CambridgeBlue - 3 Oct 2010 11:36
When I walked into the bar I was impressed. It has a nice layout, wonderfully restored and generally has a nice atmosphere. The beer selection was OK. Perhaps a few too few options on tap but the prices were very reasonable.

However, what really lets this place down in the service. The bar staff were, to be frank, outright rude. After ordering a number of drinks & then a tap water we were told "I can't hear you" as she moved to another customer. Our food order was messed up & when asked why I received risotto when I ordered quiche I was told that's how it was written down. Clearly my fault?!

If there were a change of management / staff or your like bulchy people & enjoying being talked to like you're an inconvenience I'd recommend this place.
livinginlondon - 3 Oct 2010 10:39
A magnificent pub, with prices that are unbelievably low for this neck of the woods. Have been drinking here regularly for a couple of years and have no problem calling in on regualr basis. The only problem is that after 2 years of Sam Smiths beer I would like a little more variety in the beer. but to be honest that is being far too picky, this is a magnificent pub!
meltwaterfalls - 22 Jul 2010 10:18
A gem. Fabulous interior, incredible value and lovely beer.
TheHound - 15 May 2010 21:20
Another visit yesterday evening, glad I did! Apart from the historic bar (I assume it must be listed?) a pint of cask bitter is less than 2! Just demonstrates how much those places charging around 3.30 a pint must be ripping people off!
Well worth a special visit.
alexw - 14 May 2010 08:50
Considering how poor a lot of the adjacent pubs are this stands out as a really good pub. If Sam Smiths can keep trading at these sorts of beer prices how much are we being ripped off by everyone else?
Wish they would produce another one or two real ales but otherwise I really like this place. With a triangular coal stove dating from the Napoleonic wars whats not to like?
Corkypunt - 28 Apr 2010 23:34
Not bad - like the entrance, little passage way in with dim lighting - like walking into a secret little place - inside quite spacious and great historical details everywhere, when we went it was damn loud though - packed with pissed up "suits".......not much on show for the lager fan..........but nice enough. Good prices, wouldnt go back in a rush to be honest but nice enough. Just too busy for my liking.
adamwalsh - 31 Mar 2010 22:28
The last two Sam Smiths pubs I've visited have both had the feel of an ancient National Trust property. This is also worth a visit for it's interior which is well documented by others and in photos here. The only downside is the Sam Smiths bitter which was the only ale available. It may be cheap for these parts but I had to switch to their bottled Brown Ale which was a far better drink.
anonymous - 24 Mar 2010 18:32
Stunning interior as you can see from the photos.

However, I'd have to agree with beer123 and advise you not to visit this pub after 5:30 on a Friday.

The staff don't seem to care/notice that people are queueing 3 deep at the bar.

After waiting 10 minutes and still not touching the bar, I also gave up and left.

Beautiful bar though, worth a visit if you avoid Fridays.
Pat_Bateman - 15 Mar 2010 14:23
EastKent must have been there on an off day. Went on Wednesday evening and although the place was busy, the service and beer were both good. This is a really interesting historic pub and the rear bar interior is unique .I would certainly go again.
covman45 - 12 Mar 2010 17:09
Visited here one midweek afternoon around 230pm and have to say it was just awful. The Old Brewery Bitter was sour and vinegary, and the person serving simply didnt understand my language. The manager arrived and agreed the beer was sour and offered me something else as he HAD to sell the remaining beer off before he could change the barrel. The place had only about a dozen customers in, but the bar was dirty and tables sticky. Thoroughly disappointing. Wont be going back for a while after this sorry experience.
eastkent - 11 Mar 2010 18:01
We were in here the other night, basically because it was agreed that the Princess Louise would be hideously busy and therefore not worth the effort. As it turned out, the suited and booted city crowd were still in here pissed off their faces at 8.30pm but this didn't prove an obstacle to us getting sat down and so on. (In any case, it was Friday, so fair play to them.) The city boys started to clear out not long afterwards, leaving us with a blissful three hours of carefree drinking to enjoy.

I am pleased to report that the Smiths bitter is still cheap and cheerful, and the bar staff were on good form in terms of serving us in reasonably good time and even cracking a smile more than once (careful now!).

I miss the glory days of the Louise though. It was much better before the refurb, when it was still one of town's best kept secrets. Ah well. The Cittie will have to suffice.

Chin chin!
matt_k - 10 Mar 2010 17:04
All the usual plus points of a Sam Smiths pub but...
next to impossible to get served when it's busy - ie after 5pm !
Queued for a while but gave up and left.
Bit of a shame really.
beer123 - 1 Mar 2010 09:12
Lovely interior and good beer. However it's one of those places that can't wait to get rid of you as soon as it gets to 11. There's lots of shouting, they even stole my drink. Whatever happened to late licensing?
jjamjj - 23 Jan 2010 15:38
Having frequented this pub for over four years, my opinion on it has gone through peaks a troughs.

As with many pubs in Central London, the turnover of staff is relatively swift and I have found that many of the staff seem to work there as a means to an end, which is perfectly fine if you're good at dealing with people, although I have to agree with the last reviewer that many of the staff are a little surly at times. The other problem that, again, isn't isolated to this pub, is that the staff seem to have a problem with the following:
1. Keeping tabs on who is waiting for a beer, often serving the first person they see

2. Not knowing how to pour a pint; I dread to think how much beer is wasted because they over-pour the stout (which always seems to have numerous these days). A lot of the staff simply overflow the glass until the head goes down.

However, the beer is generally ok and very reasonable (Old Brewery Bitter is still under 2). The place is well-kept and its proximity to Holborn/Chancery Lane tube stations makes it relatively easy to get home (depending on where you live).

I still go to this pub, but I'd choose the Princess Louise over this any days of the week. It's much busier (probably due to the updated "Gin Palace" layout) but the landlord is fantastic and always very friendly.

As another alternative, the Glasshouse Stores on Brewer Street is worth a go. It has two bars (one up, one down) with plenty of seating and service is quick (although, they, too, have issues with pouring stout!).

I'm happy with the Cittie of Yorke, especially now that the little shouty man who used to turf everyone out rather unceremoniously has gone!
chris_g - 22 Jan 2010 15:41
It's around 5 minutes walk from my office, and that of a fair few other big firms, so it can get a bit busy around rush hour, but the large bar means you're not usually waiting too long for a pint.

Although I wouldn't pick Sam Smiths beers given a choice, it's decent enough, and especially in Central London there is no arguing with the prices.

Also worth a look in at lunchtimes. The Cellar Bar (which is usually OK in the evenings, when it's open) is used as a carvery and does a good selection of hot food, which is also more than reasonable. Last time I visited they had a really nice steak pie which went down a treat.

The main room upstairs has plenty of little booths if you prefer your privacy, although you need to be there early to get one of those. Otherwise you can stand in the rest of the room or head down to tables at the back. The size of the room means that even if it's crowded there's normally somewhere to stand, although navigating the bar can be tough.

One negative point in my experience is that the bar staff can be a little bit dour. I like to be served with a smile, and sometimes the guys here just seem really depressed, although it could just be me!
steej - 15 Jan 2010 16:58
Visited recently with my wife who had never been here before, she thought that it was amazing, can't help but agree. The only problem is that it seems to be on the tour bus route, 2 huge groups of tourists were ushered in had one drink then ushered out, very packed and noisy. Still a must though!
dalglish - 22 Dec 2009 11:40
Due to my taste in drinks i'm not the worlds biggest fan of Sam Smith's pubs but this place is quite nice. Decent bar at the back but quite difficult to navigate around if it's rammed.
telephones_and_toliets - 20 Nov 2009 09:27
This is one of the few Sams pubs to do their full range on tap and pumps. Even better is the atmospheric bar at the back and the toastie fireplace along with the ambience.

One of the few pubs to be open on Saturdays in the area and worth the trip down from the equally fine Princess Louise.
Oakman100 - 25 Sep 2009 19:19
I'm not the world's biggest Sam Smith's fan, but there's no denying that this pub has a wonderful exterior and interior, one of the finest among many visually impressive pubs in the Sam Smith's chain. John Bonser describes it very well: I can only add that the cellar bar is a suprisingly large affair with its own bar. Unlike some pubs in this chain, handpump-dispensed real ale is still very much available here: it is not to my particular taste but this pub is definitely worth visiting anyway.
grecian - 6 Sep 2009 15:08
Good pub where you can purchase a pint of Samuel Smith's Bitter at a very competitive price for Central London.
Sometimes difficult to get served at busy times.
Bar staff are not the friendliest but then they always seem busy.
The building architecture is well worth a second look and the large back room has small comfortable booths.
BarStallBert - 31 Aug 2009 11:59
Well known Grade II listed pub situated on High Holborn, close to Holborn Bars, the historic entrance to London.

It's a large three bar pub, the highlight of which is the much photographed back bar which resembles a baronial hall, with large whisky barrels on a gantry over the bar, intimate railway carriage style drinking booths, a high vaulted ceiling and an unusual triangular stove. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. A photograph of this bar appears on the front page of the CAMRA London Regional Inventory publication.

On the left as you enter the pub through a corridor is the front bar, which has wood pannelling, carpets and a more cosier and comfortable feel to it.This bar is a welcome refuge from the back bar, which usually seems to be noisier and more crowded, usually with "suits" from the nearby law firms.

There's a downstairs cellar bar - not open during my visit - which can be hired for functions. This cellar bar is apparently part of the original Grays Inn Coffee House which dated back to the 17th Century.

The Cittie Of York is one of Sam Smiths flagship London pubs. Even if you're not a big fan of Sam's beers, you should try to do this one at least once, perhaps combining it with a visit to the nearby Princess Louise.
JohnBonser - 24 Aug 2009 17:44
Amazing main bar, rather like a medieval feasting-hall but with private alcoves. Sam Smiths deserves maximum respect for keeping all branded beer-wine-spirit products out of their pubs. Their own stuff is usually better, anyway -try their answer to Guinness, or their draught wheat beer, or their whisky which is very good.
Enjoyed sitting in an alcove, discussing private stuff with my brother and watching the Kiwi barmaid chewing her nails and picking her nose. She forgot that we were there!
salminkarkku - 20 Aug 2009 10:50
Very roomy interior with nice alcoves to drink in.
dpaajones - 16 Aug 2009 11:59
Sam Smith's means pretty alright beer at a good price. The interior of this pub is a sight to behold, but the atmosphere is distinctly lacking.
crossfield - 15 Jul 2009 11:59
Whatever you think of Sam Smiths' drinks, you have to admit that their pubs are always friendly and cosy. Except this one, apparently. It would seem that the same deliberately rude bar staff noted by Rich in his 2003 review are still there. The quirky decor does not make up for the fact that it's too big, too crowded, too dirty, and run by people who don't give a crap. I assume they can get away with it because the location ensures that they will always be full with transient customers and never have a need to hang on to regulars.
JoeD - 9 May 2009 16:05
This pub is always part of a good crawl around the area (Princess Louise, here, The Old Mitre then onto The Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell). Lovely historical pub with lots of different areas with the main bar area having little booths for a quiet(er) chat with friends. Food not too bad and good staff. It's a pity that Sam Smith's only do the one real ale, but the bottled SS's ales are still a cut above and still not too badly priced. Can get a little packed friday evenings when the offices in the area close, but that sometimes only adds to the atmosphere.
littledrummerboy - 6 May 2009 10:06
A great London location and building, well worth a visit for those visiting the greatest city on earth. However greatly let down by being run by Sam Smiths. Not very clean,tired within,dirty toilets. Just going through the motions of selling beer and not playing up properly the addedbonusof the experience within such a unique building. Strange that the Chandos at St.Martin's lane is always run well,with a higher turn over trade. Is it due to the landlord orarea manager. Best have a look in for the building and history; and save your thirst for the Olde Mitre.
anonymous - 30 Apr 2009 08:51
Great Sam Smiths pub well worth a visit, make first after Ye Olde Mitre in Hatton Garden. This historical pub should not be missed. Old Brewery 1.88 a pint in London
hartlepool - 8 Apr 2009 09:31
I love the feel of this place, always try to pop in if I am in the area. A great place at any time
Sandinista - 7 Mar 2009 16:46
This pub is a total one off. I'm not a great fan of Sam Smiths beer but I'm a big fan of the way they look after their pubs. The back bar is a massive baronial drinking hall, with vast barrels above the bar. I believe these were in use until the 2nd World War blitz made it too dangerous to have huge quantities of flammable liquid above the staff & customers. Also has a strange triangular heater in the middle of the room and churchlike alcoves down one side. It's a very impressive place. Go in the afternoon 2 - 5 or after 7 to see it though, as it's very popular at lunchtime and after the offices close.
ROBCamra - 2 Feb 2009 16:24
Samuel Smiths pubs tend to polarise opinion but really, I don't know why anyone would turn their nose up at the chance to drink here. Almost medieval in its feel, this place was very busy but not unpleasantly so at around 7 on a saturday evening. A private function was going on in the front bar so it was standing room only for us but none the worse for that. This place looks like it takes its food seriously and the OBB was fine and at 1.88, who's going to complain? not me.
ChrisP87 - 11 Jan 2009 10:20
Agree with graham2 that often best to try and avoid the after-office-hours peak spots (very, very busy) if you are there mainly to sample the drinks/view the surroundings. Interesting Legal London c19th prints and so on.
More extensive selection of the Sam Smith's offerings than some of its other London pubs - includes here Taddy *Lager* on tap, nice change from Alpine etc.
_grobag_ - 16 Dec 2008 17:02
A fantastic place for an all day session, especially as the days get shorter and winter draws in. Love the architecture, the traditional boozer in the front and then a beer hall towards the back. The bar downstairs lacks the same atmosphere as the other two rooms.
monteiths_nz - 22 Nov 2008 18:17
Saturday afternoon visit while in Holborn, Upstairs bar closed for a private function so the downstairs bar was very busy.
Usual selection of Sams ales, Brewery bitter at 1.85 and pretty rough this time.
CambridgeBlue - 27 Oct 2008 13:10
I know a lot of folks don't like Sam Smiths but if you do then this is as good avenue for a session as any in the area.
maxipop - 21 Oct 2008 16:37
A place to sample a good range of beers from Samuel Smith while enjoying the fantastic and stunning interior. One of Londons best historical pubs.
rune - 15 Oct 2008 08:27
Excellent pub, but do try and visit when it's quiet so you can actually see all the details of the decor.
graham2 - 5 Aug 2008 10:51
Very interesting interior, and fantastic SS's prices. One of a good selection of pubs in the area...
bensonby - 5 Aug 2008 10:44
Re-visited again today after a gap of probabably 15 years. Despite its fairly unique interior, the missus couldn't remember it at all, must just be my saddo memory banks then! Love the layout with the line of booths, the long low bar and the vaulted ceilings with the enormous vats perched overhead. Beer was OK, but whilst I appreciate what Sam Smith's are doing to preserve a series of historic London pubs, I do wish they could open out their selection to at least one guest...would round off these pubs perfectly.
Gristy - 30 Jul 2008 00:20
You're right Mr C. I remember it from 40 years ago I'm afraid. Have a look at my review of Feb 2007.
RexRattus - 29 Jul 2008 20:27
Quiet except for a tourist group on our saturday visit, friendly staff and decent beer at a very decent price. By the way - this pub was called 'Henekey's' until the early 70s. I recently saw it in a 40 year old National Geographic feature on London pubs - and it doesn't look like it's changed a bit.
Albert_Campion - 16 Jul 2008 16:35
In case you were wondering, they don't have WIFI access. But otherwise one of my favs.
ahardy66 - 11 Jul 2008 09:56
This place seems to be a very popular choice on here, but I wasnt overly impressed.

The pub itself is very interesting and conjures up all sorts of thoughts from the past (be they warranted or not) and I loved the vats above the back bar and the many booths down the side. I didnt go into the front bar, but it looked to be laid out in a typical London pub fashion.

The barmaid was slow and needed help serving three customers, but she was friendly and maybe she was new. 1.98 for half a bitter and a coke (sorry cola) cant be sniffed at, but being a Sam Smiths pub there was only Sam Smiths drinks available. Some would say that this is a great thing, but alas I disagree.

As we popped in at lunchtime we decided to have a steak and ale pie from the strange choice of food on the menu. It was defrosted quite well and the chips were good, but the salad was out of place and should have remained with the quiche. It was cheap, but then so is hospital canteen food.

Id probably walk past if I was in the area again.
Strongers - 24 Jun 2008 08:05
Sam Smiths beer and all the usual no-frills generic spirits contained behind a low-level bar and lots of little snugs and booths. No music just beer beer and some food (served in the basement area - its OK).
There are few better reasons to visit this place - the Extra Stout is ridiculously moreish (and only 2.20). For less than a tenner you can have a cheery old time people watching. Other Sam Smiths worth a punt are The Chandos (near Traf Sq) and The Town Wharf in Isleworth Ait Creek..
paulio1966 - 21 Jun 2008 19:24
Popped in for a quiet saturday afternoon pint, I love the little personal cubby holes along the wall.
Was surprised to only get charged 1.85 for a pint of Ale, what good value and worth the extra few minutes walk to get to.
A good selection of assorted beers amd ales on offer.
CambridgeBlue - 11 Jun 2008 12:45
Getting worrying popular this one, although the massive hoicking up of the beer prices should soon sort that out. Frankly though, I'd rather make do with the Cittie of Yorke than fight my way through the hordes in the Princess Louise up the road.
matt_k - 21 May 2008 15:31
Saturday was fairly busy but still got a booth. The food was reasonable and prices very good. Nice cider but found the lack of branded spirits some getting used to. Nice old fashioned pub though with efficient, friendly staff. Would definately go back.
Rachel2 - 12 May 2008 15:16
No sky tv, no fake sports equipment or library books. Beer has only just gone up to over 2 a pint, a whopping 2.10. The birds complain about the wine being expensive, so they can go down the Goose where it is 5 for a bottle of cheapo plonk! Fridays lunchtime you will see the same old people in there on the left as you walk in! Proper pub lacks saw dust though!
larrupted69 - 25 Apr 2008 16:25
Interesting interior, but was packed inside so didnt stay long. That and the Sam Smiths beer. Worth a visit, but during the day would be my suggestion.
mrse1 - 27 Feb 2008 10:02
I was at this pub on a couple of nights ago with a few friends.

It was quite busy but not unpleasantly packed. The staff were fast and friendly and the restaurant downstairs seemed to offer tasty food at a reasonable price.
lares - 17 Feb 2008 16:24
Great pub, one of the best in London. Good place for a proper man drink at night or even a slightly effeminate lone beer in the day. Good service, good beer, good times.
Sonofpubman - 13 Feb 2008 00:19
Visited as part of my annual birthday pilgrimage to London. Visited early Monday lunchtime and there were only 3 other punters so had our choice of booths.

Great trip which saw us go from here to Ye Old Mitre, The Jerusalem Tavern, The Princess Louise as our next 3 pubs.
Boothers - 8 Feb 2008 10:31
Some time since my last visit, but nothing seems to have changed (which is just as it should be for a Sam Smith's pub). The main bar can seem a bit cavernous when it's not crowded (however this is not usually a problem in the early evening!), but it's worth a visit at any time just to look at the interior (and you certainly can't complain about the drink pricing).
rpadam - 6 Feb 2008 22:45
Certainly can't complain about the Sam Smith's prices! An amazing interior, worth a visit just for that, even if you have to jostle to get near a fire on the cold evenings.
PAFLeflar - 27 Jan 2008 00:13
Hadnt been into the Cittie of Yorke for some time so I popped in before meeting some friends yesterday. As it was 12.30 on a Friday lunchtime I expected it to be busy but the main bar was very quiet. Just two or three groups eating, a probable clandestine lunchtime assignation and what looked like the start of a pub crawl with all the blokes in Santa outfits (some people have no shame). Still, the pub is still well worth a visit, the OBB was on good form and at 1.78 a pint in the City you cant go wrong.

Millay - 15 Dec 2007 11:34
This is a really great pub with a decent busy atmosphere most (recent) weekends and awesome decor! Second only to the Princess Louise for Sam Smiths pubs in this area, its nicely tucked away from the busy high-street and, as usualy, the beer is great. Bar staff can be a bit miserable at times but they warm up after a few trips.

Food is decent pub grub but my only gripe is this... these have to be the most expensive chips at 4.25 a bowl! Tasty, but this is not difficult to acheive with slices of potato!

The usual selection of SS stouts, bitters, lagers and cider is on offer and they all taste superb so no gripes on the booze front.
chris_g - 11 Dec 2007 13:00
Not bad at all, as you would expect from a Sam Smiths. Can get a bit crowded of an evening though and as seating is at a premium I tend to head for the Cheshire Cheese or the Lycaeum instead.
patrickjsm - 10 Dec 2007 16:01
Excellent Sam Smiths pub in the heart of the stinking metropolis with bags of character (check out the decor inside). Staff are a bit variable but all in all this is a more than acceptable substitute for The Princess Louise up the road (being refurbed for ages now).
matt_k - 21 Nov 2007 16:52
a crashingly superb pub, sam smiths o b fantastic. give it a visit , you wont be dissapointed. must get cold in there in the middle of winter.
ginthedog - 24 Oct 2007 16:08
I like popping in here occasionally. Worth a visit just to look at the place. Obviously can't get a top rating because of the beer range but everyone should go here at least once.
GuideDogSaint - 20 Oct 2007 12:14
Brilliant pub with an abundance of atmosphere, only let down by the limited choice of just one Real Ale. A better selection would make this a Real Ale Mecca that would no doubt be worthy of a 10-out-of-10.
nwingfield - 15 Oct 2007 09:59
Fantastic pub. Great Sam Smiths beer and cheap. Great atmosphere and setting.
smiley_eyebrows - 12 Oct 2007 12:26
Great pub: amazing main bar with its vaulted ceiling so it has a fantastic atmosphere particularly when full. Beer is also extraordinarily good (I love the real ale from the wooden cask - how many places can you find that these days?!!) and what's more it's extremely good value. To be fair it's what we've come to expect from a quality, no-nonsense brewery like Samuel Smiths. Cheers for the Old Brewery Tadcaster!
chris2 - 28 Sep 2007 23:44
I meet up with mates from across London a couple of times a year at this pub and have been doing so for many years now. We all like this pub for the atmos and the food.

Three main bar areas, main bar generally has boothes and standing room, front bar is a basic tabelled drinking hall and cellar bar has vaulted ceiling with tables along the sides.

Main bar is very atmospheric with its open fire, cellar bar is very cosy, front bar is plain and simple. Food is very good honest pub grub with good sized portions.

Drinks are standard Sam Smiths fare, so dont expect Bud, Fosters, Guiness etc, but all the bases are covered and so you should find something to your liking.
mdowers - 27 Sep 2007 12:16
I am an associate of the gentleman who posted the previous comment and I would echo what he says. I was in the C of Y with another mate yesterday and the beer was excellent as usual. I really don't understand people who keep criticising Sam Smith's pubs - if you don't like their beer, don't go in their pubs - it's that simple. I for one will keep going back.
MINTYBOOM - 30 Aug 2007 19:17
Great pub, Its an old building with very interesting decor, no plastic! I am great fan of the confessionals but they always seem to be full and the beer is very good.
I know peoples tastes are different but Sam Smiths beer is very consistent in quality unlike some others!
sootythebeerbear - 20 Aug 2007 22:59
I love this pub, really nice old feel to it - not a plasticy old feel if you know what I mean.
Great location for after work beverages.

Good Sam Smiths beer
poor chips though

anonymous - 14 Aug 2007 09:50
Not a bad pub. Nice interior, Sam Smith's (if you like them) and it serves food.

Location isn't too bad. If you fancy a few cheap beers in an oldy-woldy type pub in Holborn then this is the place to go.
lukemarson - 2 Aug 2007 22:18
The location is fantastic, but the staff are so-so and it's Sam Smith's, I don't mind there pure brewed lager or the Old Brewery bitter now and again, but it has the huge obvious downside of Sam Smith's only selling their own product....
mps77 - 30 Jul 2007 17:07
Nice interior and great beer. I just get a little frustrated (actually, really annoyed) when you are served just before the second bell and ushered out five minutes later. Bar staff that prefer cleaning to serving aren't always the best thing in the world either. Ho hum.
chrisroos - 28 Jun 2007 01:26
Great pub but the beer is dreadful, only the stout is drinkable - as for the wine, they should be prosecuted under the trade descriptions act.
maddogcornish - 4 Jun 2007 13:34
Marvellous interior. I love those huge old barrels. Service could have been better. The bar is about a mile long, and three staff huddled down one end isn't getting it done, is it? Still - fantastic, characterful pub. I'm a fan of Smith's Pure Brewed Lager - the only UK brewed lager worth drinking.
Albert_Campion - 31 May 2007 12:25
Similar experience to joegreen below. Went in while quiet, plenty of room for me and my friends in a booth, stunning interior and good beers. I know Sam Smith's isn't to everyone's taste, but these days they do have a pretty good variety on offer, draught, bottles etc!
Had a couple of great pints, and a good wander around the pub, down into the cellar bar etc. Most enjoyable, a must visit place!
alistair_cross - 28 May 2007 08:17
Another lovely pub visited during my holidays. Great interior with a good pint of Sam Smith at a very reasonable price. Always worth a visit.
Pidley2547 - 22 May 2007 01:23
Gloriously decked out Sam Smiths pub. OBB was spot on (inc temperature) when I was in there. Great beer at great prices. I checked out the little side room on Friday; different to the main bar but still excellent.
Also does decent food.
dyyony - 21 May 2007 19:09
An interesting pub. The OBB is currently bing served quite cold but is still a good pint.
Islander - 13 May 2007 16:58
This is an excellent Sam Smiths pub and I believe one of the oldest boozers in London. There are three bars including one downstairs in the cellar which is usually only used for private functions. The interior has an oldy-worldy feel without being in anyway tacky and there are a number of booths for that cosy evening beer. The toilets were clean and the staff generally friendly. Of course with it being a SSs pub the beer prices are good - 1.72 for a pint of Old Brewery beer.

I've given it a 9 out of ten as I haven't tried the food but I do nonetheless recommend a visit if you do happen to be in the vicinty...
wezmiester - 26 Feb 2007 17:44
Caught this one just after 2 o'clock, when the lunchtime rush had eased. Sam's OBB in good nick at 1.75 cannot be complained about, and a big wedge of quiche with salad and chips came in at about 5.50. Thoroughly enjoyable.
joegreen - 26 Feb 2007 14:53
Can't believe that there are no prior reviews of this place. Shurely shome mishtake?

Quite a while since I've been in a pub with such a cross section of people from ageing bikers, Austrian tourists and old codgers to young couples, Asian tourists and rugby fans.

There is a main bar, a cellar bar and a front bar which isn't always open.

Seems to have a wider range of the Sam Smith ales than the nearby Princess Louise though I may be mistaken on this point. Same wonderfully low prices in any case

Look up and admire the old timbers dating from goodness knows when or take a seat in one of the crannies and read up on some of the historical figures that may or may not have drank in this hostelry.

Also does food though I didn't try this so can't comment.

Only negative point is the fruit machine which is totally out of place.
johnkn7 - 23 Feb 2007 17:18
Visited this pub today for the first time in about 35 years. Last time I was in there it was a Henekey's Wine Bar (as was The Shades in Whitehall then) and as far as I can recall it looked pretty much unchanged. I seem to recall that at the time they claimed it had the longest bar in London. I don't know if they still make that claim with so many new (and fairly unremarkable) bars blotting the London landscape.

Got in there before noon and felt somewhat as if I had arrived at a party a half hour too early. Politely served with my pint, then the staff continued to get the pub ready for customers. A previous reviewer says that it is an inter-war pub, but nevertheless it has been imbued with a lot of individual character and I think the baronial hall layout is fairly unique (perhaps the Coal Hole comes closest). The fact that a pub can retain its unique character for circa 80 years is something of a result in this day and age, bearing in mind the wanton vandalism we have seen inflicted on numerous other pubs. Definitely worth the experience of a visit if you are in the area. Being a Sam Smith's pub you know what beers are going to be on offer.
RexRattus - 14 Feb 2007 22:54
Walking round holborn on a saturday afternoon can be a bit desolate luckily the eagle-eyed other half came up trumps again spotting this pub,whether it is ye olde authentic england pub is a bit debatable!but it does"nt distract from a stunning bar to have cheeky beer in.The Alpine lager and Sovereign ale were fine as were the mix of regulars and tourists.As for the triangle fire it"s gas me thinks!
winchesterclub - 13 Feb 2007 12:05
A great Sam Smith's pub with a lot of character. Couldn't use the dartboard, though, as someone was sitting in front of it. Went as part of a pub crawl, so didn't get to spend too much time there!
OldManPub - 31 Jan 2007 16:46
I'd read the reviews on this pub and I'm so glad I took my friends here on Saturday night. The main bar has got a fabulous interior! We got there at 5pm and it was pretty busy then. Luckily a booth became free about 10 mins later. We sat in one behind the 200 year old triangular fire place (burns on all 3 sides), but it was eerily cold where we sat. We couldn't work out where the chill was coming from. We ordered 1 veggie and 1 chilli nachos with 2 big plates of chips which came with 4 different dips. Only 5 per head. Absolutely lovely with huge portions. This along with their own branded drink supplier (no complaints with quality there) made it a very enjoyable and cheap evening out. Shame they don't open the cellar bar unless it gets extremely busy. Hopefully we'll get to see it next time, which there definitely will be.
Lun - 18 Jan 2007 15:38
One of the finest pubs in London. As with most Sam Smith's pub it's the beer that makes the place. I enjoy nothing better than having a cool alphine lager and a packet of bacon fries. The only downside to this place is the ghost of Len Fairclough (off Coronation st) that haunts the Gent's toilets.
MarkMorris1972 - 10 Jan 2007 17:12
The best place to be in this Sam Smith's pub is the rear bar, with the huge mounted vats and the unusual triangular stove type thing. Add to that well-kept (and priced) Sam Smith's beer and it's well worth a visit - probably one of the most architecturally appealing pubs in London.
MINTYBOOM - 2 Jan 2007 19:01
A very good Pub! As a matter of fact my favorite bitter is Samuel Smith Old Brewery Bitter. Because of the low ABV it is rather a bargain. It is the only brewer still delivering in wooden firkins. The Pub has a large collection of barrels and firkins in lofts overhead. Also serves a decent pub lunch.
Downman - 20 Dec 2006 01:26
A very nice pub. Only the cellar bar was open, but that was quite atmospheric, and non-smoking too, which always helps the atmosphere along.

sam smiths beer - not the best in the world, but possibly the cheapest, so who's complaining?

Decent Boozer.
nimhbus - 14 Dec 2006 22:25
Another beauty, with a wonderful interior, ruined as a drinking experience by only having Sam Smiths on. Well I guess we have them to thank for keeping the place in good nick I suppose.

Was bloody freezing when I went in there, and it felt like a Sunday.
Quinno - 13 Dec 2006 21:51
Intrigueing place, nice interior etc. Cheap because it's Sam Smiths. A lot like all the other Sam Smiths pubs to be honest. I'm not totally sold on the whole Sam Smiths thing, but what is clear is that they are all good pubs.
Muzthing - 28 Nov 2006 12:31
Yep, this is definitely a very good pub with a fantastic interior. A previous poster got change from a tenner for three pints, well you normally get change from five pints!... ahh good old Sam Smiths.
shindigger - 15 Nov 2006 10:42
Does anybody actually use the front or cellar bar at this place!? I've (understandably) never seen anyone in the front bar, and have never looked downstairs, as the back bar is so impressive. Coming to this place and drinking in the front bar would be like going to St. Paul's and praying in the coat check.

If anyone's interested by the way, Sam Smiths are now selling fruit beer (feel that cold draught from the ground? That's hell freezing over). I tried one in here on Saturday. If you can't make it to a Sam's pub to try it, just mix 4 parts Cherry Panda Pop to 1 part Children's cough syrup, and you'll have a fairly close equivalent. Ghastly.

Anyway, the rest of the beers here are readily drinkable, and if you haven't seen this place before, you're truly missing out. Best Sam Smith pub in London.
topdog_andy - 14 Nov 2006 14:33
A superb pub. Great beer (OB and the stout for us ale heads, and good lager for those who like a more fizzy brew).

Been drinking here on and off since 1991 - used to work for British Gas over the road so this was my 'local'. Not changed much over the years but this is no bad thing (apart from they no longer serve Museum bitter on tap - shame).

Drank there on 10th Nov after work - oh the memories!!
scootacommuta - 11 Nov 2006 20:39
Dropped in to check out the function room but was amazed that the company owning it have a no music policy, shame as it could been good. The place was nice enough but didn't stay to sample the beer.
Harlap - 9 Nov 2006 19:01
Had previously enjoyed a trip to this pub but my last visit was a serious let-down. Service was very slow and beer kept running out - staff appeared very inexperienced and unable to cope with an only moderately busy evening. And I'd advise food is a definite no-go area: poor quality, compounded by staff doggedly arguing the toss over a minor complaint regarding our meal
tisi - 1 Nov 2006 13:50
Jumped in here after work as needed a boozer near Chancery Lane in which to meet some mates.

Very pleasantly surprised. Considering it was 19:00, I was expecting the usual London City crowd, but there was no pretence, nor obnoxious gobshites.

The premium pure brewed lager was as good as some of the stuff I used to have in Germany and I got change out of 10 for three pints.....that doesn't happen that often in the middle of London!

Whether the decor is new or not, at least it feels like a pub and not yet another soul-less bar with a trendy name.

The service was swift and friendly, and they poured my lager with a decent Germanic head on it - nice and fresh!! Def go back!
Colonel - 5 Oct 2006 10:17
Been a regular but infrequent visitor to the main bar here for over twenty years. Never, ever had a bad pint in there. Typical Sam's pub; great commitment to fairtrade and 'own brand' product. Great pint of Stout, and good to see Imperial Russian in there too, prices remind me of ten years ago!
workhard - 4 Sep 2006 12:27
Think that barmaid must have been confused. Perhaps something similar did happen on that location but definitely not in those surroundings, which are much more modern than they think.

Tis a great place though, with a nice fireplace. I like it.
mitomighty - 7 Aug 2006 17:17
Libero, sorry to piss on your chips, but I'm afraid the decor of this pub is entirely 20th century - interwar period. Apparently this "merrie England" style was adopted for quite a few pub interiors at that time though I certainly haven't seen any other examples still in existence.

A good place though. Despite being in effect a theme pub, it is now sufficiently venerable in its own right to be of historical interest.
anonymous - 4 Aug 2006 11:35
This pub is absolute class. The surroundings are incredible - apparently the main bar dates from 1650 and prostitutes would walk the upper galleries parading themselves for the punters below. None of that goes on now unfortunately but the barmaid was happy to tell us all about it. The beer range is good and decent value and I'll certainly be back soon. Highly recommended.
libero - 4 Aug 2006 10:26
The main bar (the one whose architecture everyone is struck by) is accessible for wheelchair users, although the gents are not. Consequently, I used this place quite a lot in the early summer when the Penderel's Oak was full of football crowds. Pure Brewed Lager is a delight, but like other Sam's pubs there is the traditional problem with the wines and in particular spirits, the latter consisting of the kind of obscure brands you won't even see being sold off as cheap house doubles anywhere else.
Martinl - 26 Jul 2006 00:00
Although a chain pub, I tend to hold Samuel Smiths in reasonably high regard because it stocks its own stuff, rather than the turgid nitro-keg brands that have colonised this country. Also, the cheap prices prove the huge mark-up that most places have on their 3+ pints.

This pub is a fair old size divided into a front and back section and the little rail carriage-esque compartments in the rear make for a nice, secluded spot to have a beer and a chat. This gives it a bit more character than the others Ive been in, such as the one in Charing Cross (full of tourists) and the one by Smithfield (full of students).

Ive never had a bad pint in here, although one criticism of Samuel Smiths is that its ale, whilst drinkable, is far from distinct. In fact, I probably say some of their lagers surpass the bitters the organic lager was a real, crisp treat.

AleKing - 28 Jun 2006 16:50
I wish they kept the beers better, I have visited three times this year and each time the Sam Smiths was not as good as it should be. Shame because the pub has got great character. Barstaff tend to be rather full of themselves
Dynamo1 - 26 Jun 2006 17:02
Hugh you are a muppet - The Samuel Smiths brews are excellent, there are a million and one other pubs selling Stella and Fosters, so go there.
anonymous - 16 Jun 2006 10:04
Visited last friday on what is becoming an annual pilgrimage. Wonderfully atmospheric surroundings and cheap Yorkshire Bitter. The only downside was the low temperature of the lunchtime lasagne and chips.
derekbutton - 23 May 2006 14:58
In an age when most pubs appear to have been refurbished by Argos, this is a welcome change. Architecture and atmosphere great. Food pretty good with large portions.

Clientele, ok, there is a bit of a six o' clock swill around the bar with the crowds of gentlemen of the Law, but I would prefer a crowd of suits instead of shellsuits anyday.

The slightly bizarre range of Samuel Smith's own brands annoys me slightly, but the low prices make this more than bearable!
Hugh1971 - 23 May 2006 13:01
Lovely pub (thank God for no music!), friendly staff & wonderful interior. I wasn't a fan of the chilled bitter, but switched to organic lager which was very good.
Jack456 - 23 May 2006 09:07
There are several very good things about this pub - the stunning interior, the cheap beer, the decent good value food, the fact it is open on Saturday... the staff are also quite good natured.

The downsides are definitely there but I don't agree it would be better with music - in fact that would harm rather than add to the atmosphere in a place like this.
anonymous - 8 May 2006 10:39
Walked past this pub millions of times but never went in till last week.. Was staggering inside. 3 bars and like drinking in a chapel.

Sam Smiths so beer cheap and marvellous. Surroundings superb. Only usual downside is lack of music in SS pubs, but a small price to pay for cheap beer in great surroundings. One of the better pubs in London for sure.
TheGP - 22 Apr 2006 19:32
whatever greases your pole, baby! not for me, though. bit like boozing in a medieval dungeon.
tanderson7 - 21 Mar 2006 14:02
Undoubtedly a beautiful pub stunning architecture. Sam Smiths pubs are usually quite strict about shutting up shop dead on closing time. This place is ridiculous though, at 11.20 on a Friday night, staff were walking around the front bar with smug grins on their faces and literally snatching drinks out of customer's hands!

I have never seen behaviour like this in a pub before. I appreciate that staff quite rightly want to get home after a long shift but there are ways of going about these things.

gjs34 - 14 Mar 2006 15:20
to quote nineties kiddy rappers kriss kross The place was wickedy-wickedy wack! Brillyant!
mitomighty - 10 Mar 2006 13:03
Great interior... puts me in mind of a German Bierkeller. Typical Sam Smiths fare, and friendly staff. I admire the Smith's approach they have an admirable policy of not refurbing their pubs to death. Consequently , their pubs are among the most characterful and pleasant places to drink in London. If you like their beer. And I do.
Albert_Campion - 17 Feb 2006 11:14
Good quality Sam Smiths pub. Was busy but not heaving on the Wednesday night was there. Beer is excellent if u like Sam Smiths. My mate is a big fan of the wheat beer. Excellent value at 2.35ish per pint. Service was good and toilets were clean.
TheHorsesMouth - 16 Feb 2006 14:07
Superb pub full of character. SS Old Brewery bitter is always on and is outstanding value. Even my lager and Guiness drinking mates like SS's own lager and stout. Only downside is that the bar staff sometimes are busy fiddling behind the bar with menu's and cutlery or wiping tables rather than serving customers waiting at the bar. Priorities guys!
BothamsAshes - 6 Feb 2006 14:27
Fine interior, Samuel Smiths beers, often gets very busy, so it might be a while before you get a seat.
clissold345 - 2 Feb 2006 18:35
Good Sam Smiths pub
Linkman - 2 Feb 2006 18:11
A really enjoyable pub with snugs, fires going, and massive casks above the bar. It sounds like a great little local, but it's also a spacious place with a heavy (and somewhat annoying) clientele of yuppies from the business districts. The staff was friendly and took their time getting the beer right--always a big plus in my book.

I'm partial to Sam Smith beers, so this place is a real treat for me, especially as they somehow manage to be a relatively inexpensive place for a beer considering its location. If you can tune out the suits all trying to chat each other up in the evening, this is a great place for a drink, and a must on any Holborn-area pub crawl.
Hodsthorn - 23 Jan 2006 19:35
If you can shove past the city lads and carve out a niche, it has the most amazing interior, cheap cheerful food and good drink selection.
maddiekat - 16 Jan 2006 21:42
Like Arthur Daley. A little dodgy maybe, but underneath it's alright. Courtesy Chas and Dick.
anonymous - 16 Jan 2006 17:11
Very interesting pub, well worth a visit. Not a massive fan of Sam Smith's but they serve the bottled Imperial Stout here which is excellent.
anonymous - 1 Jan 2006 23:40
Beautiful old building, with high ceilings and snug booths down the main hall - and a great big coal fire. It was packed to the rafters with Christmas cheer on my visit, so we ended up hovering at the edges, but still a good atmosphere - and the crowds did thin out over the evening, so if you're in for the long haul chances are you may get a seat regardless.

Sam Smith's always a matter of personal taste - I like Ayinger, and at these prices it is hard to argue with, but if you don't like the range - don't go to a SS pub.
imyril - 23 Dec 2005 08:22
An excellent pub with atmosphere, something most pubs in London have forgotten about. With tiny snugs for conversation and a fire that was very welcome on a da that was freezing. I expect this place can be packed with city types on a weekday but it was perfect on a Saturday afternoon. Definitely a pub to be recommended.
anonymous - 4 Dec 2005 22:42
Paid this very interesting pub a visit at about 9.30 on a Saturday night. Atmosphere kind of dreary - not dead exactly but muted (perhaps this is only to be expected for Holborn/City fringes on the weekend). Had one pint of Sam Smiths draught bitter (hand-pump) which was over-cold and tasted foul to me. I don't understand the appeal of Sam Smiths pubs to be honest.
beermann - 20 Nov 2005 21:36
Surely London lawyers can afford a more expensive watering-hole than this? It was police officers who seemed to be filling it when I was there. Numerous of El CID, including one who was the spitting image of Collina, the bug-eyed football ref. Staff worked very hard, and beer was fine. Well werth a visit.
joegreen - 15 Nov 2005 13:34
Impressive looking pub; it's a Sam Smiths so the beer is cheap. Too many lawyers though.
northoftheriver - 14 Nov 2005 18:41
This is a unique pub with interesting historic interiors. Among other rooms the pub includes a large hall with small drinking booths for four og five people. Good home made food at lunch time. All the beers are from Samuel Smiths. The Oatmeal Stout Bottel Beer is very recommendable with an impressive, delicious aftertaste.
rune - 23 Oct 2005 14:17
Not your typical pub. Nice lounge bar up front but the back bar is what gives the place its reputation.

Snug little booths for conversation. Booths have always been full when I have been there (at the end of the work day). Interesting decor. I think it is a well done pub.

Sam Smiths is not my favorite beer but the Old Brewery Bitter was okay at my last visit. Hard to beat Sam Smith prices!
jorrocks - 22 Oct 2005 04:08
Loverly, but beware, it's closed on Sunday!
mikem - 8 Oct 2005 16:20
Interesting to read these comments. I arranged to meet my son here during a London visit a few months ago, as it is certainly worth calling in just to see the back bar: he agreed with me that the beer was one of the worst Sam Smiths he had ever had, of such poor quality that gives this brewers beer a bad name with some people - and we live in Sam's country and drink it regularly. I'll go along with Mr.Matt's comment - disappointing, if you're expecting a good pub.
jdnidderdale - 6 Oct 2005 15:05
Too busy full of city types. Having said that they like to get their credit cards out and put them behind the bar (some ego thing I guess). The bar staff often take this to mean they are willing to buy beer for anyone that wants one. given how cheap it is their credit card bills won't be that bad.

Cheers City Types - spread the joy !
Delios - 30 Sep 2005 13:20
If you don't mind the strange and interesting selection (change from the usual) behind the bar, this place is pretty good. Can be pretty full evenings to nearly dead during the afternoon. Food seemed to be good although they serve rather untraditional salad(including fresh coriander, tomato, super thin slices of cucumber, lettuces, and onion with a creamy dressing), coleslaw and chips with all their meals including the traditional cod. Their draught cider is very good even if it's not real cider, it's better than the leading and most commonly found brands. Staff were reasonably quick to take orders but seemed unprepared and dillydallied a bit when actually serving up the order, having a little chat inbetween pulling pints.
anonymous - 21 Sep 2005 13:40
Yes, full of history and the back bar is stunning. Otherwise, somewhat disappointing. Resting on its fame?
Mr.Matt - 30 Aug 2005 03:33
I can understand why it is rated highly, very warm and friendly pub. Steeped in history and the Sam Smiths is good.
cliff - 2 Jun 2005 14:39
I'm surprised this pub has rated so highly - I like traditional pubs but not this one. The front room is ok, but not so mad about the back room. But then, I don't like Sam Smith's.
rah - 2 Jun 2005 14:06
Loved this pub, good beer, like stepping back in time, will definately be back next time I visit London

Groomy - 24 May 2005 14:26
yep,..its a quality layout in the back bar,..decent little ornate booths to tuck yourself away in....As a continuation of this theme,..i would maybe just suggest the intoduction of gothic style confessional boxes/booths,..
kmcs - 9 May 2005 14:32
I first found out about this pub leafing through a c. 1970 book entitled "The Cooking of the British Isles". The book used it as an example of a typical London pub, and featured a fantastic picture of that famous back bar. I was determined to go and visit this place, if it still existed, but could find no record of anywhere called Henekey's - as it was named at the time the book was printed. I engaged in a fruitless quest over the next couple of years trying to find it. It was only thanks to the internet that I eventually discovered - to my joy - it did still exist, and was now called The Cittie of Yorke.

The back bar at the Cittie is really just plain fantastic, and lives up well to the expectations I'd had from the photograph in the book. It has a well deserved place in CAMRA's list of Historic pub interiors.
jhawkins - 16 Apr 2005 15:58
Sam Smith's ia overrated but cheap. The food is good and the staff are friendly.
kyle473 - 15 Apr 2005 16:28
One of my favouriet London pubs, looking forward to visiting again, and again.
Well done to "Sam Smiths.
history100 - 11 Apr 2005 17:36
Good pub, good beer, welcoming staff
cliff - 6 Apr 2005 00:27
Fantastic interior, good qualty beer. Well worth a visit. Staff can be a bit on the miserable side
mally - 4 Apr 2005 18:15
rear bar is worth checking out. nice ambience. recommended
ssrai - 27 Mar 2005 20:24
Another one of Sam Smith's gems - not toofar from The Princess Louise.
Look out for the splendid triangular stove in the back bar
JohnBonser - 17 Mar 2005 13:11
Stunning interior to the rear bar. The front bar was out of bounds for a private function when I visited the other Saturday. Well-kept beer, cheap for London, and open on a Saturday in an area where so many decent pubs close at weekends. Worth seeking out, next to Chancery Lane tube so doing so is no great effort.
SJC - 1 Mar 2005 23:06
I work down the road and sometimes pop in for a bit of knife and fork and a glass of zider - good pub for hiding in especially in the downstairs bit
misty_night - 12 Feb 2005 12:20
Lovely looking back bar. In at the weekend and got a booth to ourselves. Stove fire was very very hot and much appreciated. Good show.
Boothers - 8 Feb 2005 13:54
Another superb Sam Smith pub. Looks awesome inside - dates back to 14th C. I think. Suffered from major blaze a few hundred years ago. First floor removed to leave massive open space with original wood fittings and windows. Great booths, and stove fires for the chilly winter months.

And, of course, Sam Smith supplies his wonderfully cheap and tasty brews...
Food's also pretty decent.
eccentric_man - 4 Feb 2005 15:11
Fantastic pub with unique, magnificent architecture. Ornately carved booths along the side. Interesting tangy malty Sam Smiths beer, great music (acoustic, folk, singer-songwriters). Easy to find - look out for the big black and gold clock.
foxski - 8 Jan 2005 18:40
Spent a good evening down in the basement of this place last Friday. The beer was good, food was alright and the staff were kind enough to reserve an area for me and my mates.

It's a Sam Smiths pub, you can normally rely on them to be good and the architecture of this one is fantastic.

Well worth a visit.

MrScott - 3 Nov 2004 15:53
Fabulous architecture. I never did find out the history and provenance of the place as stroppy Ozzie barmaid took the menus away (with historical info thereupon) at 9pm. True the barstaff are culturally deficient but then they are there purely to serve beer, and that they do well.

The Smiths is 1.68 a pint (just like the Chandos in Traf. Sq.). Lots of cosy snugs that look like confessional boxes, or perhaps converted stables.
Great place. Very busy onFri nite, full of pompous suits. Great place. Check it out.
Lawrence - 16 Oct 2004 15:10
Just stunning - and the Sam Smith's is a bargain if sometimes variable in quality.
wpjh - 13 Oct 2004 16:57
Stunning interior to main bar at the back which will surprise anyone who doesn't know it. The other bars nowhere near as good particularly the thin cellar bar. If only it had a choice of beers on offer - the Sam Smith is never an exciting drink with so many others available elsewhere which is why it has to be cheap
lout_from_the_lane - 1 Oct 2004 11:02
Jeez!....What a stunning place to have a pint. Almost like drinking in a cathedral.Very quiet when I visited on Saturday afternoon. Shall visit again.
Tuna - 9 Aug 2004 13:28
Could do with more selection, stunning looking pub staffed as usual in London by Kiwis Aussies Boks who are friendly and helpful but know nothing about the history or architecture.
Hounded Dog - 4 Mar 2004 16:43
Good atmosphere, Good beer and Good if basic food but can be VERY busy early evening. Try the downstairs bar if you can't get a seat upstairs - not many people get down thehre and it can be a quiet place to sit and gossip.

Stephen - 5 Feb 2004 17:20
Gorgeous pub-nice to see one in the area thats open on a Saturday.
anonymous - 12 Jan 2004 21:29
Decent beer, cosy atmosphere - best if you can get in one of the booths in the main bit.
Al - 30 Dec 2003 15:38
Had first drink in here the other day. Inspiring interior! Genuinely polite and helpful staff when I was in. Sam Smiths pub, so decent beer!
The Verderer of Cank - 10 Dec 2003 12:33
I went in here for the first time last Friday and the first thing I thought was: Hang on? isn't the inside of this pub supposed to be quite impressive? You see it wasn't until I looked around the side of the small bar that I saw 'The Rest of It!!!' Blimey, what a cracking looking place. Can't wait to go back!!!

Boozehound - 19 Aug 2003 19:43
I worked at the Cittie back in '95 for Stuart Brown and what a tremendous time I had for the year that I worked there. For those who want to complain about the pub, take a look at the patrons - short arms deep pockets. The pub is great, a pint of Sams is always welcome.
Wayne Jepson - 19 Aug 2003 17:18
Good pub, great cellar bar for lunch!
blah blah blah - 6 Aug 2003 12:55
A very atmospheric pub, I always go in with great expectations, then I get to the bar and realise that it's a Sam Smith's pub so there is nothing I actually want to drink. And all those nice booths are full of lawyers.
Miranda - 5 Aug 2003 09:22
What a wonderful pub - I found it by chance while looking for somewhere else. Amazing architectural features, cosy drinking booths, air conditioning that works and bitter at 1.66 a pint in central London!! Oh, and the barman was polite.
Charles - 5 Aug 2003 07:21
I was in here last night discussing 2004 tour dates with Mick Jones as it happens and the bar staff were nothing if not friendly and accommodating. And I wouldn't usually make the effort to remark on a pub on this site unless I had an axe to hole, what!
Joe Strummer - 11 Jul 2003 16:29
A good olde English pub, serving up good olde English ale pulled by good olde Australian bar staff who have been consistently surly on every occasion I have drunk there. Samuel Smiths please have a cull...
Rich - 30 Jun 2003 21:42
Who can resist a pub with booths down the side, and remarkably cheap bitter?
David Dunwoody - 5 Nov 2002 16:28
Interesting in decoration - the wood panelled walls and the sawdust on the floor give it a time warp sort of feel. Generally quiet, but a nice place.
Chris - 12 Sep 2002 12:16

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