Part 1 - Belgravia

The first stop on this tour is The Star Tavern, west of Belgrave Square, at the north-western end of Belgrave Mews West (the German embassy is at the other end). This is one of the select bunch of pubs which have been in all editions of the Good Beer Guide, like our own Queens Head in Newton. On my visit, being lunchtime, and having famously good beer and food, all seats were taken, with a mix of clientele. They had a new Fullers seasonal on: Mr Harry (1.55/half) - rich, malty - superb.

After a slight zigzag to the east, head northwards up Kinnerton Street. Toward the top end is The Nag's Head. (Jerry Brown sampled its delights in ALE 330, although wrongly locating it in Mayfair.) Upon entering, one sees an odd-looking low-level bar about three feet high, with low stools around it. When the staff appear, one sees why: the pub is on three levels. On the staff side of the front bar, the floor is lower than the customer side, being reached by a step up from the next-door lower bar area. There's also an upper seating area.

On this visit the handpumps had Adnams Bitter and Broadside (1.70/h) and Bitburger. The walls of the front bar are covered with all sorts of nicknacks and especially showbiz-related pictures with the likes of Robbie Williams and Bono. There are lots of cartoons about the pub and old machines such as the peepshow "Life like presentations from London, Paris and New York in 3D. Still pictures." There's a no-mobile-phone policy. Fats Waller jazz was playing quietly.

Backtracking and crossing Belgrave Square leads to Chester Street. The first right there is Wilton Street and ahead on the corner with Little Chester Street is the Grouse & Claret. As the front bar was busy, I went to the spacious rear bar, with wood and glass panelling. Very quiet music was playing - how rare these days. King & Barnes Sussex Bitter, Badger Bitter, Tanglefoot, and Fursty Ferret (1.55/h) were on.

Next head northwards along Grosvenor Place (with the back wall of Buckingham Palace across the road) to Hyde Park Corner. To get to the north side of Piccadilly, one has to negotiate the pedestrian-unfriendly roads and subways.

Part 2 - Mayfair

Kings Arms <- Kings Arms

Ye Grapes Ye Grapes ->

From Piccadilly turn left into White Horse Street. This leads into historic Shepherd Market , on the site of the original May Fair. In the small square are the Kings Arms and Ye Grapes (not visited).

Shepherds Tavern <- Shepherds Tavern

From the Kings Arms go westwards along Shepherd Street, which leads to the junction with Hertford Street and the Shepherds Tavern. Like so many pubs since the licencing changes, this doesn't advertise its hours externally but it seems to open at 11 Mon-Sat. The windows are of the era before plate glass. The interior is mainly wood, giving an eighteenth-century feel to the pub overall. Music (not too loud) was playing, with the TV on silently. The beers here are usually Adnams Bitter, Fullers London Pride and Wells Bombardier (with one other hand pump). The Bombardier (2.87) was in superb condition (CAMRA's National Beer Scoring Scheme: 5 - top mark). This seems to be the standard beer range hereabouts, with some Youngs and some Greene King, so henceforth I'll only mention deviations from this.

Carry on past the pub up Hertford Street to Curzon Street.

Turn left and then right, up Chesterfield Street. This whole area is a paradise for blue plaque spotters.

Running Footman <- Running Footman

To the right along Charles Street is the (I Am The Only) Running Footman. The name seems to have been shortened and there was a refurbishment recently by the Meredith pubco. Before the refurbishment, it was the only disappointing pub of the tour, being clearly for the youth market, with loud music and games machines prominent. The Youngs Bitter was end-of-barrel but the barman wouldn't acknowlege the possibility. The pub was the inspiration for P.G. Wodehouse's Junior Ganymede Club, as it used to be the haunt of gentlemens' gentlemen.

Red Lion Red Lion ->

However a much better pub is to the left along Charles Street, at the corner with Waverton Street: the Red Lion, another classic old-looking pub, similar to the Shepherds Tavern. Both these were suprisingly quiet on a Tuesday lunchtime (unlike the traditional pubs later on in this walk). Sadly this seems to be closed at weekends.

Punchbowl <- Punchbowl

Further up Waverton Street at the junction with Farm Street is The Punchbowl. Yet another traditional pub, moderately busy.

Follow Farm Street round into Berkeley Square and cross it to Bruton Street. On the right is the Coach & Horses on a narrow triangular site (not visited - Tim Taylor Landlord and Sharps Doom Bar were visible out of 5 or 6 hand pumps). At the far end turn left along New Bond Street.

Masons Arms <- Masons Arms

Go eastwards into Maddox Street and past St George's Church to The Masons Arms. A notice refers to the Little London pubco. It's another traditional pub, with old-fashioned windows, and busy at lunchtimes.

Windmill Windmill ->

Opposite the Masons Arms is Mill Street and The Windmill - Youngs - another bustling, traditional pub. (web site)

Roosevelt and Churchill <- Roosevelt and Churchill

From Mill Street turn right into Conduit Street and left down New Bond Street. Just past the Clifford Street junction is a famous statue of Roosevelt and Churchill sitting on a bench.

Carrying further on leads back to Piccadilly.

(Bus 9 goes east to Trafalgar Square and on to Aldwych, or west to the museum quarter in Kensington, with some Routemaster buses operating.)

Ian Kitching