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Nell of Old Drury, Covent Garden, WC2

29 Catherine Street
Phone: 02078365328

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Pub SignMan left this review about Nell of Old Drury

This is a very compact little pub opposite the Royal Drury Theatre, famed for its tunnel connecting it to the theatre which was allegedly used by Charles II to visit Nell Gwynn. The pub has a small rectangular ground floor area with dark floorboards, white painted walls with lincrusta uppers and ceiling and a rather small frontage which lets minimal light in. The servery runs down the right-hand wall and has a wood panelled counter with a kink part-way along to allow it to pass the dumb waiter, and a smart, geometric bar back with a modest pump clip collection and a nice pub mirror. A drinking ledge with bar stools extends down the left-hand wall, opposite the servery and beneath windows that look out to a corridor lined with various old paintings and photos. Low stools serve a couple of tables under the front windows and there is a small snug-like space at the far end of the bar which was roped off and being used by the bar staff, forcing many customers to follow the corridor to the staircase which leads up to the first-floor overspill/function room, although I didn’t make it up there myself. The pub understandably has a theatrical theme, with lots of old posters for past productions around the walls, some theatrical masks behinds the bar and the somewhat unique feature of a collection of ‘Full House’ boards signed by the casts of the respective productions and now stuck to the ceiling of the pub.
Just two cask ales to choose between – Shepherd Neame Spitfire and St Austell Proper Job. The latter clocked in at £4.70 a pint, which seems about par for the course in this part of London, although it was only really in middling condition and I didn’t spot anyone else order either ale during the course of my visit.
This is quite a quirky little pub that makes the most of its connections to the theatre to create something that stands out from the many other compact Central London pubs you can find in the area. I quite enjoyed my time here but the lack of interesting beer and questions over quality/throughput, would give me pause for thought about returning. I also imagine it’s a nightmare after work on a weekday or in the hours before a show, so be sure to time your visit accordingly.

On 30th March 2020 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2427 recommendations about 2427 pubs]

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custodian 42 left this review about Nell of Old Drury

This place must open around five o' clock. Not a bad pub with some real ale on which was halfway decent.

On 1st February 2017 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1672 recommendations about 1670 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

Small bar across the road from the Theatre Royal. Walls and ceiling covered in show posters. 2 real ales.

On 9th October 2015 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2692 recommendations about 2636 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

There were two ales on here during my early evening visit – Adnam’s Broadside and Sambrook Wandle (£1.65 a half). There was no sign of any food. This is still a small one-room pub downstairs, although there is more space upstairs. There are loads of photos pinned up behind the bar (presumably visitors to the pub) but most of the available space, including on the ceiling, is inevitably taken up with theatre posters and the like, although there are a few framed prints of Old London scenes. The bar back and bar counter look like original features – and I have to say that it doesn’t look as if it has changed much in the 40 years or so since I have known it.

This pub is OK as West End pubs go. It has a nice pubby feel to it, but I don’t suppose it’s very comfortable when it gets busy, as there’s not a great deal of room as you move past the bar counter to get to the back. It’s nice if you can get in here when it’s quiet.

On 10th November 2012 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2575 recommendations about 2493 pubs]

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Malden man left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

A small and narrow single ground floor room with more spacious accommodation upstairs, this is a pleasant pub which makes the most of its location opposite the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Pre-ordered interval drinks are offered, and I imagine the small space being a somewhat different experience on a performance evening than it was on my Saturday afternoon visit. Decor inevitably includes flyers for productions, House Full signs, theatrical masks etc. The bar room on the ground floor has limited seating, just a few tables in the front bay window plus some stools at a shelf opposite the bar.
I found the northern guvnor to be amiable, and the service good, my pint was tip top and full to the brim. Two handpumps were serving Sharp's Doom Bar and (Exmoor)Exmoor Gold which at £3.20 is these days good value around this area.
There is a modest sized TV behind the far end of the bar which was showing the Saturday final scores at the time, there are a few newspapers in a rack. I didn't see any menus or indications that the pub does food, I doubt it does as there would otherwise been a few tourists inside given the area. I enjoyed it here, I might not like it when full of theatregoers.

On 18th September 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1685 recommendations about 1662 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

Narrow frontage with doors either side of an attractive bay window. One entrance takes you into a compact bar with a limited amount of furniture (mostly tall stools) and the other accesses a narrow flight of stairs which leads to a more spacious upstairs room with a better selection of seating and tables. You can't miss the theatrical connections as the bar and staircase walls are covered with pictures of the stars from days gone by and posters from the shows (plus adverts for their interval drinks service for the Theatre Royal Drury Lane directly opposite). Just two real ales on offer, but my pint of Doom Bar was excellent and well priced for the area at £2.85. There is no food, and the landlord has a bit of a reputation, but this is a decent spot for a pint (provided you avoid the busy periods when it fills up with theatregoers).

On 21st August 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6000 recommendations about 6000 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

This is a decent boozer and well worth popping into. Even though the pub was packed the barman spotted me straight away and was very polite. I tried the Adnams and Tanglefoot and enjoyed them both. I also noted 3 standard lagers alongside Guinness available from the bar.

I also loved the way the bay window hangs out of the pub making you feel like you are hovering above the pavement outside.

This is a good pub and I'll be back.

On 25th November 2008 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3586 recommendations about 3565 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about Nell Of Old Drury

The Nell of Old Drury is similar in size, age and layout to its near neighbour the Opera Tavern, a couple of doors down. Situated opposite the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the pub is obviously geared towards the theatre-going crowd. The interior is rather scruffy with walls plastered with photos, posters for plays and theatre productions plus a few theatrical masks and instructions regarding interval drinks. Whilst the general layout of the pub has probably remained unchanged, the interior appears to have undergone many refurbishments and does not appear to have retained many original features. Both the bar and the wooden flooring appear to be relatively modern. Even the bay fronted façade appears to be in too good a condition to be original. It can probably be rather cramped pre-theatre but there is a corridor partitioned from the main bar that leads to an upstairs bar. Regarding the previous comments regarding the landlord, I found him friendly enough, welcoming me when I first came in and thanking me when I left although I get the impression he stands for no nonsense (he threw one chap out while I was there who was wandering around without a drink or attempting to buy one – I have no problem with that). They serve two Real Ales, Adnams and Spitfire alongside the usual selection of lagers and cider but the prices were slightly higher than similar pubs in the area. They have a TV but it is not particularly well placed and certainly not worthy of a night out watching any sporting event. My overall opinion is that "Nell" is not a bad pub, but not as good as some of its close neighbours

On 18th November 2005 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]