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De Hems, W1

11 Macclesfield Street

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Pub Type

Nicholsons (Mitchells & Butlers)
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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 6 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about De Hems

An attractive exterior to this interesting place, interesting down to it's Belgian/continental beer offerings, the interior is mostly a large open space but there was sufficiant custom to give a decent buzz. In a departure from my normal drinking habits I really enjoyed my La Trappe Dubble, I certainly wouldn't be adverse to a return visit.

On 30th December 2021 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1889 recommendations about 1862 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about De Hems

The Horse & Dolphin occupied this site from 1690, but was rebuilt as the Macclesfield in 1890. The current name belongs to a former Dutch naval captain; the pub was also the meeting place for the Dutch resistance during World War II, a bit like the French House up the road; it’s still a popular haunt for the expat Dutch in London.
No longer a Nicholson’s outlet, I came here once before on 11th March 1990 and as my preferred CAMRA heritage pub was closed, decided to pop in for the fond memories I had of the place, which I recall having stepped booths of some sort and perhaps décor which was a bit more Van de Valk; Oranjeboom was the default beer of choice, but is seemingly no longer available.
Well, the booth devices have been stripped out to give tall and slightly industrial seating to the front half; standard height and more traditional furniture to the rear. The floor is modern boarded, the bar back is unlikely to date back to the 19th century, but may not be very modern; the De Hems mirror is of course a relatively recent addition. The bar has some type of fake marble top, seemingly Formica, from which rise two impressive columns with Corinthian capitals; above is a modern square section tubular steel gantry. Below at centre, is a large porcelain Fruli 'samovar'. To the side, there’s an original fireplace with polychromatic tiles and full wood surround with mirror and broken pediment. There are hints of Anaglypta around and lighting comes from large, metal shaded hanging lamps with filament bulbs. Two TVs were showing the football with the sound down, so as not to compete with loud Euro Rock. There are quite a few illuminated signs, advertising the likes of Vedett, Duval, Delirium and Lindemans. The bar features an extensive array of large, illuminated chrome founts, dispensing almost exclusively Dutch but mainly Belgian beers; flags of the two countries can be seen in the picture window, so perhaps this place is more Flemish than Dutch.
The solitary British beer was Five Points JUPA at a painful £3.40 a half.
This bar isn’t too bad, but was better in days passed when it actually had more discernible originality about the place.

On 11th October 2021 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2009 recommendations about 1975 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about De Hems

Interesting place, well worth discovering.

Large number of continental beers in bottle and draught.

Delirium Noel a festive choice in December.

Typical large london pub interior - nothing to make it seem unusual.

On 12th December 2019 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1355 recommendations about 1340 pubs]

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custodian 42 left this review about De Hems

Belgian bar with a good selection of beers. I had Leffe which was on form. Would have got a seven but for an annoyingly loud woman sitting near me. I moved as far away as possible but could still hear her!

On 22nd February 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1693 recommendations about 1691 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about De Hems

Fine-looking building on the northern edge of Chinatown, but not a lot of original features visible inside. At one time, its selection of Dutch and Belgian draught beers was unusual but most now seem fairly common place. However, on this visit, I found several interesting - if hideously expensive - craft beers on tap, including the La Rulles Estivale saison and the Jopen Hoppenbier (both £6.10). Also has a selection of interesting bottled Continental offerings. Can get packed solid and very noisy, but the upstairs bar is usually a bit less hectic (when open) and you can sometimes get real ale there.

On 16th July 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 8159 recommendations about 8159 pubs]

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john gray left this review about De Hems

One of the must visit pubs when i first started drinking foreign beer.Sadly the beer range hasn,t changed much but nice feel to this bar.They now have 2 handpumps with beer from the Nicholson range.

On 4th May 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1023 recommendations about 1009 pubs]

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Chris 87 left this review about De Hems

A high-ceilinged, attractive pub just off Shaftesbury Avenue that, as mentioned, has a Dutch theme (despite being owned by Nicholson's). There is no real ale and a couple of continental lagers on draft such as Lindeboom but otherwise there's little to distinguish it from any other pub in truth. The unused space at the front of the pub, with high tables skirting around the outside, seems like a bit of a waste although there is more comfortable seating further in. I enjoyed a bottle of Chimay Blue (£4) but I couldn't stay long. Gradually during my visit it filled up with tourists, no doubt enticed by the prospect of the Dutch food - although looking at a menu apart from a few small plates it seemed regulation English fare. A curious place and I couldn't help thinking, something of a missed opportunity.

On 19th February 2011 - rating: 4
[User has posted 179 recommendations about 179 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about De Hems

A novelty visit, this (unbranded) Nicholson’s pub is marketed as a Dutch bar, selling Dutch lagers, alongside Dutch and Belgian bottled beers and Dutch food. The exterior is certainly and attractive one, with gold paint flourishes. The interior is a dim, high-ceilinged affair, with plenty of dark brown in attendance - from the floorboards and wood wall panelling to the furniture, with a bit of colour coming from a number of paintings up on the walls. The range on my visit was certainly impressive (around ten keg and numerous bottles in the fridge) but there was no beer menu, so where does a punter, with little knowledge of this sort of stuff start? That’s a major flaw. Prices, as expected, were pretty steep - I’m not sure quite how justified this is but I suppose you’re not likely to find a large chunk of this stuff in too many other places. Seating is relatively minimal and uncomfortable on the ground floor bar and a lot of people simply end up standing. There’s an upstairs bar that I failed to explore, perhaps it wasn’t advertised as open.

Whilst it’s worth a visit for the novelty factor, I didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable place to drink so I doubt I’ll be back under my own initiative any time soon which is a shame as I always like to try something of the unusual.

[EDIT – since visiting, I have been told that a number of the beers and food offerings have been cut. If true, sink my mark down to a 5…]

On 28th December 2010 - rating: 6
[User has posted 5185 recommendations about 5168 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about De Hems

Just outside the entrance to Chinatown stands The De Hems, a so called Dutch café bar which describes itself as "Stylishly Dutch delivered with real personality".

Outside the pub, an information board tells us that a public house has been on this site since 1688 and that it was a meeting place for the Dutch Resistance in the Second World War.

Never having been to Holland, I have to confess that I'm not exactly sure what a Dutch café bar should look or feel like, but, in the main, this feels very much like an archetypal London pub to me. Yes, there's a framed orange Holland shirt, some Dutch specialities on the menu, a "Gezundheit" mirror and an array of foreign lagers such as Kreik, Amstel, Grolsch and Fruli, but the bare floorboards, high wooden tables and chairs and general echoey and uncomfortable feel are reminiscent of many a London pub nowadays, as indeed is the array of non - British lagers.

The interior also features a high ceiling, some polished wood panelling and some framed paintings ( Van Gogh ?).

A notice by the bar tells us that, in Holland, all good beers are served with a large head, but that top ups are given on request. I suppose that, in this respect, it's different from many London pubs where the staff serve you short measure without having the courtesy to forewarn you, and then look at you in an odd way if you have the temerity to request a full pint !

It's a Nicholson's pub, but not branded as such and there's no real ale - despite the website clearly indicating to the contrary. The pub picture clearly shows handpumps offering TT Landlord and Youngs Ordinary, but it would appear that real ale has been off the drinks menu for some time now.

I'm not marking this one down for a return visit.

On 7th October 2010 - rating: 5
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about De Hems

There has been a pub heer since 1688 but the current building dates from 1890 when it was known as the Macclesfield, owned by De Hem, a Dutch sea captain after whom the pub was renamed in 1959. In its heyday it was as famous for its oysters as it was for its beers with the pub walls once covered with the used shells. These have now all gone leaving a far more mundane interior but its Dutch connections are still celebrated. During the war, this was a regular meeting place for for the Dutch Resistance whereas now you will more likely find tourists and office workers mulling over the football results or having pre-theatre drinks.

The pub is spread over 2 floors, the main bar on the ground floor being one extended room with bare floors, plain walls and a few fake Dutch masterpieces hanging on the walls. Upstairs is a separate bar with more of a loungy feel and generally a bit quieter. The beers arenaturally Dutch influenced apart from the Guinness seemingly a bit out of place. Unusually for a Nicholsons pub, although in keeping with the pubs theme, they do not have any Real Ales which is part of the reason I couldn’t really use the place on a more regular basis despite its interesting history and handy position in the heart of Soho.

On 25th May 2010 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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