Finding an appropriate London venue for a pubmeet #350

KakeLP opened this Issue Feb 26, 2015 · 4 comments


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KakeLP commented Feb 26, 2015

@squirmelia and I have been trying for ages to organise another London meetup, but we keep getting stuck on the question of a venue.

It needs to:

  • be open to the general public and serving food on a Wednesday or Thursday evening (6pm–10pm at least for being open, 6pm–8pm at least for serving food)
  • not be particularly expensive (a rough guide: non-alcoholic drink options £2.50 or under, alcoholic drink options £4 or under, main course/sandwich-available-in-evening options £8 or under [note that lots of pubs only do sandwiches until 5pm or so])
  • serve food and drinks in a casual fashion (i.e. people can just go and order and pay at the bar as and when, rather than having to all order at once and get a bill at the end)
  • offer at least two vegetarian options
  • not require people to order food (i.e. ordering just a drink is acceptable)
  • have step-free access to the seating area and toilets (and preferably also to the food/drink ordering point)
  • be within 400 metres of a Zone 1 Tube station that either is London Bridge or Victoria, or gives easy access to one of these (the 400m is along pavements, not as the crow flies — this corresponds to 5 minutes' walk at the commonly-accepted walking speed of 3 miles/hour)
  • have an area with step-free access and normal-height seating (i.e. not high stools) that we can book for 10–20 people at no charge and with no minimum spend or be large enough that a couple of early arrivers can easily colonise such an area
  • not have lots of background noise (loud music, sports on TV, lots of people talking in an echoey space, etc)

I've been organising pubmeets in London for the past 15 years, and have probably personally visited around 200 London pubs in the past year alone, and I still can't come up with a single venue that meets all these criteria. Do you know one? If so then please please tell me and I will happily buy you several appropriate units of your beverage of choice. (It doesn't have to actually be a pub.)

I have tried to find a suitable Wetherspoons, since they generally tick most of these boxes by default, but unfortunately Wetherspoons inform me that it's not possible to search for their pubs by whether or not they have step-free access. We've had a couple of meets in the Wetherspoons near Victoria Station (the Willow Walk), but it fails on both noise and step-free-ness.

(Do note that if you personally are willing to organise a meet in a place that doesn't meet all of the above criteria then you should go for it! It's just that at the moment these are the necessary criteria for me to organise one.)

KakeLP commented Apr 26, 2015

OK so I went and walked around Victoria looking for pubs and checking accessibility/prices/etc. Here are my findings.

  • Bag O Nails, 6 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PP
    • Only a very small step to get in, but the entrance is narrow, and the ladies' loo is up a flight of stairs.
  • Balls Brothers, 50 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0RN
    • Large step to get in.
  • BBar, 43 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PP
    • Only a very small step to get in, but steps to the loos.
  • Brougham, 27 Gillingham Street, SW1V 1HP
    • Small step to get in (potentially wheelchair-negotiable), another small step to loos.
    • Tables can be booked at no charge.
    • No real ale, just the usual keg taps (all £4.60/pint). Lime and soda 50p/pint.
    • Main courses £8–£14, three vegetarian options.
  • Cask & Glass, 39-41 Palace Street, SW1E 5HN
    • Step to get in, and narrow door.
    • Also very small inside.
  • Colonies, 25 Wilfred Street, SW1E 6PR
    • Small step to get in, possibly wheelchair-negotiable (would have to check with someone who uses one). No further steps to the loos. Quite loud even on an afternoon with not many people in.
    • Limited normal-height seating on the level — probably 12 people maximum. They would be happy for us to book this area (no charge). Other normal-height seating is up steps, other seating on the level is at high tables.
    • Four real ales, all around £4.30/pint. Lime and soda around £1.75/pint.
    • Gets very busy on Thursdays and Fridays, but Wednesday would probably not be too crowded.
    • Sandwiches £5.29–£6.29, jacket potatoes £5.29–£5.49, main courses £8.29 and up. Veg options sparse, gluten-free options not marked (menu photo 1, menu photo 2).
  • Jugged Hare, 172 Vauxhall Bridge Road, SW1V 1DX
    • Four steps to get in.
  • Marquis of Westminster, 50 Warwick Way, SW1V 1RY
    • A step to get in at both entrances.
  • Phoenix, 14 Palace Street, SW1E 5JA
    • Step to get in at main entrance, 2 steps at back entrance.
  • Prince of Wales, 91 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DW
    • No steps to get in, no steps to loos.
    • Six real ales.
    • Very small, no table bookings taken, gets busy 5–8pm even on Wednesdays.
  • Queens Arms, 11 Warwick Way, SW1V 1QT
    • A step to get in at both entrances.
    • Main courses £10.50–£19.50.
  • Rubens Hotel Bar, 37 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PS
    • Three steps at main entrance, other (potentially level) entrances seem to be kept locked.
  • St George's Tavern, 14 Belgrave Road, SW1V 1QD
    • No steps to get in, no steps to RADAR-locked loo.
    • Tables can be booked at no charge.
    • Six real ales at £3.60–£4/pint. Lime and soda £1.20/pint.
    • Main courses £9–£12.25 (sandwiches before 5pm only).
  • St James Bar & Brasserie, 12 Palace Street, SW1E 5JA
    • Automatic doors and ramp to get in, though potentially tight turn at bottom of ramp depending on arrangement of furniture. No steps to loos.
    • Tables can be reserved at no charge.
    • No real ale, but Meantime Pale Ale (£4.80/pint) and London Lager. Bottle of Coke £2.75, 175ml glass of house wine £4.90.
    • Main courses (photo of menu) around £11–14 including 4 veg and 4 gluten-free (3 being both veg and gluten-free).
  • Shakespeare, 99 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0RP
    • A step to get in at both entrances.
  • Victoria, 1 Lower Belgrave Street, SW1W 0NR
    • Large step at front entrance, two steps at back entrance.
  • Warwick, 25 Warwick Way, SW1V 1QT
    • No steps to get in, but steps to the loos.
  • Windsor Castle, 23 Francis Street, SW1P 1DN
    • Step-free to get in (at left-hand entrance), step-free access to RADAR-locked loo (though there's a rather heavy non-RADAR-locked door in front of it), RADAR key behind bar. No piped music.
    • Tables can be booked at no charge.
    • Samuel Smiths drinks only, but they do have Old Brewery Bitter on handpull (£2.90/pint). Lime and soda £2.08/pint.
    • Food served noon-9pm, priced from £7 (sausages and mash) to £9. One vegan option plus two additional vegetarian options on the menu I saw (may change over time, not sure). Sandwiches available in evening as well as daytime, £4.50–£6.50.
KakeLP commented Apr 26, 2015

It looks to me as though the two most plausible options are St George's Tavern and the Windsor Castle. The Windsor Castle has cheaper prices, and may be quieter, but has a more restricted range of drinks.

I'd greatly appreciate any input on these options from people who've been to or would like to come to a Computer Anonymous meetup in Central London!

KakeLP commented May 20, 2015

After discussion with @squirmelia, we're trying out St George's Tavern on 3 June.

KakeLP commented Jun 4, 2015

St George's Tavern was great! However, only three of us were there. @squirmelia and I agreed that we won't be organising any more London Computer Anonymous events — we feel we've done our fair share — but if anyone else does want to organise one, then St George's Tavern is well worth considering as a venue.

@KakeLP KakeLP closed this Jun 4, 2015
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