Every single Spoons in Zone 1, ranked from worst to best


ne word is all it takes to warm the cockles of any budget-conscious drinker’s heart: Spoons.

The world has changed a lot since the first JD Wetherspoon pub opened in 1979, but Spoons maintain largely stayed the same. They are a bastion of reliability. No matter where in the country, a Spoons is never too far away, ready with the welcome of reasonably cheap drinks (they too maintain become pricier in recent times), no-frills food and a very qualified carpet.

In London, and Zone 1 especially, where drinks can be monstrously expensive, a Spoons is something of a godsend. There are 17 Wetherspoon pubs in Zone 1, each with their own quirks and all varying vastly in quality.

We’ve judged them on their general atmosphere, layout, choice of beers and, of course, their carpets (which, garish but distinguished in equal measure, maintain even inspired a book). We’ve also listed the price of a pint of Carling (previously, we listed Fosters, which is now off the menu) in each one — partly because standard lager is the quintessential Spoons drink (does the job, isn’t quite as rotten as people like to fabricate out, and so on) but mainly as it serves as a decent indicator of all the drinks prices.

Naturally, in the brand of respectable journalism, we’ve had to depart to every single one. Here is the definitive ranking of Wetherspoon’s in central London.

17. The Moon Under Water, Leicester Square

First, the qualified: this pub is one of five Spoons in London to be named after the fictional pub dreamed up by George Orwell in a 1946 essay published in the Evening Standard detailing his ideal drinking establishment. Now, the rotten: everything else. The ceilings are claustrophobically low, the floor has a distinct lack of carpet, and it gets so impenetrably packed that a table with seats too often remains but a distant dream.

Address: 28 Leicester Square, WC2H 7LE​

Opening times: 8am-11pm (Sunday-Thursday), 8am-12am (Friday-Saturday)

Price of a Carling: £5.89

16. Victoria Station

JD Wetherspoon

A Spoons at a train station serves a noble cause. It provides a liquid distraction for those whiling away the time until their train departs and is a light at the finish of the tracks for intrepid railwaymen. For that, we salute this Spoons. But apart from that, we’re afraid this particular establishment doesn’t maintain a distinguished deal going for it. It’s a Spoons with no brand — officially, it is just known as “Wetherspoons, Victoria Station”. There are a couple of tables outside, affording you the pleasure of enjoying your pint while you gaze upon the relaxing vista of scurrying commuters and people queueing up at the Left Luggage booth. Inside, there isn’t much to shout about either: wood panelling, tiles and a largely forgettable carpet. Still, to be kind, it’s comfortable and qualified for a quick pint. If you’re waiting for a train, it’s ideal. If not, we wouldn’t bother.

Address: Unit 5 (1st floor above WH Smith), Victoria Station, SW1V 1JT

Opening times: 6am-12am (Monday-Saturday), 8am-11pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

15. The Rockingham Arms, Elephant & Castle

The area around the Rockingham Arms is pretty lacking when it comes to Spoons. In fact, the nearest one to it is an excruciating 1.5 miles away — a truly insurmountable distance when the Spoons craving comes a-knocking. For providing that vital public service to the pint-lovers of SE1, it gets a thumbs up from us. It’s on the ground floor of a huge block of flats (can you imagine living in such a close proximity to a Spoons? Magical), but unfortunately pales in comparison to some of its Zone 1 counterparts in terms of aesthetic appeal. Its exteriors are hardly inviting and the interiors are lacking any discernible quirks. But the bar is pretty immense and there are a quite a few tables. Also, it’s by far the cheapest spot for a Carling on our entire list. It’s not the Spoons south London deserves, it’s the Spoons south London has. That’s how it goes, sometimes.

Address: Metro Central Heights, 119 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BN

Opening times: 8am-11am (Sunday-Thursday), 8am-12am (Friday-Saturday)

Price of a Carling: £4.29

14. The Angel, Islington

JD Wetherspoon

Upper Street in Islington is blessed with two branches of Spoons. What this particular road has done to deserve such a thing, we’re not sure, but it is a high honour indeed. At the top, there is the White Swan, which is actually in Zone 2, but at the bottom, we maintain The Angel. In many ways, it feels like a very Spoonsy Spoons: immense doors to welcome you in, no-nonsense decor, lots of diminutive four-man booths, a decent bar, a regular, lively clientele — all hallmarks of a qualified worn-fashioned Spoons. One Evening Standard staffer described its interiors as “similar to the that of a ferry” — we’re not entirely sure what that means, but if you want to recreate the Dover-to-Calais experience without leaving London, this, oddly enough, might be your best bet. We maintain no considerable complaints about this spot, apart from its severe lack of carpet — a immense disappointment for the enthusiasts out there.

Address: 3-5 Islington High Street

Opening times: 8am-12pm​

Price of a Carling: £4.07

13. The Sir John Oldcastle, Farringdon

Fun Spoons fact: there are two Zone 1 Spoons named after Sir Johns. Regrettably, this one is the lesser of the two. The real-life Sir John Oldcastle was a Henry V-befriending, Tower-of-London-escaping 14th century fella who supposedly inspired Shakespeare’s Falstaff character, and he lends his brand to this establishment. The pub isn’t quite as fascinating as the man, but it’s still pretty solid. It’s a immense spot, although that doesn’t stay it getting pretty rammed at primetime, owing largely to its close proximity to Farringdon station. It’s pretty unremarkable — the carpet certainly isn’t anything to write home about — but as reliable as any qualified Spoons should hope to be. The price of that Carling creeps perilously above the £5 impress though, at a not too brilliant establishment, which means this one slips fairly far down our list.

Address: 29-35 Farringdon Road, EC1M 3JF​

Opening times: 9am-11.30pm (Monday-Thursday and Saturday), 9am-12am (Friday), 9am-8pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

12. The Willow Walk, Victoria

JD Wetherspoon

If you’re in the Victoria area and absolutely gagging for a Spoons — hardly an implausible scenario — then you maintain two options. But, as previously discussed, the pub in the railway station should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. So, only one Spoons remains, and truth be told, it’s a pretty all factual one. It feels a bit like a hotchpotch museum inside, with various worn-timey photos and paintings, all different shapes and sizes, hanging on the wood-panelled walls. There is a peculiar charm to it, but we can’t depart without mentioning the public toilet-esque tiling around the bar — functional when dealing with inevitable pint spills, but they don’t scrutinize particularly distinguished. Anyway, it’s a decent Spoons — the best of a not-so-distinguished Victoria couple.

Address: 25 Wilton Road, SW1V 1LW

Opening times: 7am-12am (Monday-Saturday), 8am-11pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

11. The Masque Haunt, worn Street

JD Wetherspoon

Decidedly in the realms of “perfectly fine”, this one. Another huge site, it sadly sits under a truly unpleasant worn Street building. Inside, in terms of decor, service and food, there isn’t a distinguished deal to say — apart from about that carpet, a pleasant floral number. Overall, though it’s not rotten – not anything, really. Probably best kept for a functional pint or two. And, to be just, the pints are decidely cheap for such a prime location. Enough said.

Address: 168-172 worn St, EC1V 9BP​

Opening times: 8am-11pm (Sunday-Thursday), 8am-12am (Friday-Saturday)

Price of a Carling: £4.72

10. Goodman’s Field, Aldgate

JD Wetherspoon

factual, let’s address the elephant in the room here: what, exactly, is going on with that raised platform area? We assume it’s some sort of structural necessity, but like to mediate it’s a space reserved for Spoons VIPs — people who maintain ordered off the Wetherspoon app more than 500 times or something. Alas, any worn punter can sit up there, provided you procure there early and manage to nab a table. It’s not the biggest Spoons and can procure quite busy, but the atmosphere is decent and the bar is more than immense enough to cater for all those thirsty customers. The carpet is somewhat lacking, regrettably.

Address: 87-91 Mansell Street, E1 8AN​

Opening times: 7.30am-11pm (Monday-Friday), 8am-11pm (Saturday-Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

9. The Metropolitan Bar, Marylebone

JD Wetherspoon

This one is better than it looks. From the outside, it’s only disappointment, looking like a last resort. Inside, though, expectations jump up: it’s a huge space, dominated by towering pillars and rather dazzling lights, distinguished dangling globes. The pub is a tale of two halves: when it fills up around journey times, service can be unpleasant, pints sloppy. When things are a diminutive quieter, it’s actually a rather nice spot to waste a diminutive time in. A Carling will cost you more than a fiver, but that’s the case in so many on our list these days.

Address: 7 Station Approach, Marylebone Road, NW1 5LA​

Opening times: 8am-11.30pm (Monday-Saturday), 9am-10.30pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

8. The Sir John Hawkshaw, Cannon Street Station

JD Wetherspoon

Pubs in London stations are a lot like pubs in airports: they’re almost all dreadful. The Sir John Hawkshaw is one of the three exceptions in Zone 1 that proves the rule; it’s actually quite qualified. It’s a more modern Spoons, having opened in 2015, and inside has a more up-to-date hold on the usual formula, with plenty of bare brick, brown leather and copper about. With a top beer choice, it’s a pre-or-post journey haven. The shame of it is that it’s shut away in Cannon Street station – its highlights are rather wasted, especially the ‘outside’ terrace which remains steadfastly under a roof, with only platform one for a view.

Address: Cannon Street Station, Cannon Street, EC4N 6AP

Opening times: 7am-11.30pm (Monday-Wednesday and Saturday), 7am-12am (Thursday-Friday), 8am-7pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

7. Penderel’s Oak, Holborn

JD Wetherspoon

The two dazzling stained glass signs over the entrances promises more grandeur than this cavernous spot can actually muster, but inside it’s still a dependable spot for a pint. It’s one of those Spoons that seems to depart on forever, with booths all down one side and tables everywhere, eventually spilling out to a beer garden that fills up in the summer. Given its location – very central but hardly a destination – it mainly hums with an after work crowd, though it gets its just share in for lunch. There’s always somewhere to sit, the carpet is marvellous, and staff manage to cope with the crowds. Food is actually pretty qualified, too: try the pizzas. Not the worst.

Address: 283-288 High Holborn, WC1V 7HP​

Opening times: 9am-11.30pm (Sunday-Wednesday), 9am-12am (Thursday-Saturday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

6. The Barrel Vault, St Pancras International Station

JD Wetherspoon

What’s the best way to welcome anyone stepping off the Eurostar into our just city? With a brand current Spoons, of course. This fresh-faced pub opened in October 2018, taking up a corner towards the northern finish of the station (it’s next to the Marks & Spencer, for those au fait with St Pancras’ supermarket delights). It’s a pleasant spot, with plenty of tables that cater for both large groups and the thirsty solo traveller, but it’s the decor that sets this one apart. Barrels are stacked above you — an homage to St Pancras’ past life, when it moonlighted as a beer barrel storage facility — and there’s even a Betjeman quote suspended from the ceiling (we’re not entirely sure why, but such is life). As station pubs depart, it’s a winner.

Address: Unit 23, St Pancras International Station, Pancras Road, N1C 4QP

Opening times: 7am-12am​

Price of a Carling: £5.29

5. The Pommelers Rest, Tower Bridge

Ewan Munro/Creative Commons

A lovely looking Spoons, this one suffers from comparisons to the Draft House which is about a minute down the road. Still, it’s reliably qualified and manages not just to attract the tourists – of which there are often plenty – but its just share of locals too. The beer selection is excellent, especially with worn Rosie on tap, service is speedy and its actually all rather comfortable. It certainly gets crowded, but that’s portion of the charm: it’s one of the smaller Spoons and all the better for that. It’s worth noting that this is one of the latest opening Spoons in Zone 1, too, staying open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Address: 196-198 Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UN​

Opening times: 8am-12am (Sunday-Thursday), 8am-1am (Friday-Saturday)

Price of a Carling: £4.83

4. The Liberty Bounds, Tower Hill

Ewan Munro/Creative Commons

The Liberty Bounds is a typical boozer elevated by its location and the handsome stone building it sits inside. Huge windows watch over Tower Bridge and the Thames and fabricate a feature of all the light coming in. It’s a proper pub, sticky bar top and all, with unlit oak panelling, rows of dusty books and the odd tapestry too. Elsewhere the area’s frankly fairly gruesome history has been assign up in picture frames – plenty of beheadings, if that’s your bag. The beer selection is reliably broad and fairly priced (relative to the rest of the area), the pub grub decent enough and staff always seem friendly. The carpet is a Spoons classic.

Address: 15 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AA

Opening times: 8am-12am​

Price of a Carling: £5.29

3. Shakespeare’s Head, Holborn

JD Wetherspoon

Holborn would maintain been satisfied by just having Penderels Oak to its brand, but the addition of this pub turns it into some sort of small Zone 1 Spoons-based heaven. This pub takes the Shakespearean theme and absolutely runs with it. There are various excerpts from some of The Bard’s most famous plays dotted around the pub, providing some literary accompaniment to your boozing. It’s faintly ridiculous, but we admire it. Elsewhere, there’s a welcomingly broad bar, the booths can comfortably fit 10 people around them and the raised seating area at the back is perfectly pleasant for indulging in some of Spoons’ culinary delights. All in all, a extremely solid pub that deserves a visit.

Address: Africa House, 64-68 Kingsway, WC2B 6BG​

Opening times: 7am-12am (Monday-Thursday), 7am-1am (Friday-Saturday), 8am-12am (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

2. Hamilton Hall, Liverpool Street Station

JD Wetherspoon

Remember earlier, when we were a bit mean about pubs in stations? This is the kind of spot that makes us forget all about those woes. We would say this pub is away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool Street station, but in fact there is quite a lot of hustle and bustle in the Spoons too. It’s a busy spot, drawing in both tourists from the station and workers from the City, so if you’re after a restful pint, this isn’t the one. But it’s the decor that scores so highly here. It’s ridiculously grand in places, beautifully sleek in others — the ceiling is worthy of a stately home and the curved bar glistens with a chrome-like shine. Listen up, The Unnamed Spoons at Victoria: this is how you execute a pub at a train station.

Address: Street-level concourse, Liverpool Street Station, EC2M 7PY

Opening times: 7am-11.30pm (Monday-Saturday), 9am-10.30pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

1. The Crosse Keys, Bank

Ewan Munro/Creative Commons

So, here we are. The best Spoons in Zone 1. hold a moment to appreciate it. Drink it in, bask in its beer-sodden glory. We maintain arrived. Truth be told, it was a tight call between this and the other two in our top three, but it’s the sheer size of the Crosse Keys that wins it for us. It’s a huge spot, transformed from an worn bank into a grand temple of budget-friendly boozing, a shrine to cheap pints and qualified times. The scale of the spot hits you as soon as you walk in — it feels like an institution, with marble columns suspending the vaulted ceilings high above you. The curved island bar is magnificent, a focal point for the entire space. It’s immense enough to deal with the crowds in such a huge pub, and there are plenty of tables, although you may still maintain to stand if you procure there late. The carpet, meanwhile, is a delight: understated, but decidedly Spoonsy. The toilets are pretty nice, too. It is, all things considered, the best Spoons in Zone 1. We’ll drink to that.

Address: 9 Gracechurch Street, EC3V 0DR​

Opening times: 8am-11pm (Monday-Thursday), 8am-12am (Friday), 9am-11pm (Saturday), 9.30am-9pm (Sunday)

Price of a Carling: £5.29

This article originally featuerd 20 pubs, but was updated on March 16, 2023.