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Disappointment of the week with Bucking Fastard on the Pub Forum

Red Lion, SW1

23 Crown Passage

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Will Larter left this review about Red Lion

This small pub in an alley off Pall Mall is an absolute gem. Just a single room, with an additional function room, there are often standing drinkers in the alley at busy times of day. The name of the pub is repeated in painted statuettes both inside (in a cage!) and outside the pub, competing for attention with some very nice fielded wood panelling and diamond-paned windows. It's a delightfully calm space inside, with no background music. The bar has three hand pumps with St Austell Tribute and a very good Adnams Southwold Bitter on at the time of my visit.

Date of visit: 15th September 2022

On 25th April 2023 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3795 recommendations about 3523 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Ian Mapp left this review about Red Lion

Find of the date.... tucked away down an unappealing alley from Pall Mall to King Street, lies this historical gem.

Outside indicates that its the 2nd oldest licenced pub in the area. Doesn't name what is the first. Rumours of tunnels used by Nell Gwynne to visit King Charles II. But aren't these rumours everywhere?

Inside, its has quite a feel of a 1930s pub to it.... wood pannelling, bench seating.

Slowly on a Friday evening, the pub filled with a mixture of tourists, regulars and the knowledgeable who know it as an oasis of calm to escape to.

Only Tribute on - in decent condition - but sometimes a pub is more than the just the beer served.

Worth finding.

On 18th January 2022 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1355 recommendations about 1340 pubs]

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Graham Coombs left this review about Red Lion

A nice little pub down an alleyway with one smart wood-panelled room on the ground floor and something labelled the Mirror Lounge upstairs. As usual for the area, there is vertical drinking in the alleyway outside. On handpump were Tribute and Adnams Bitter, in good order.

On 16th September 2021 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3353 recommendations about 3290 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about Red Lion

Tucked away down an alley quite basic one roomed interior but nothing wrong with that. 2 real ale taps. Dodgy steps down to the toliet.

On 25th September 2017 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2896 recommendations about 2833 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about Red Lion

As mentioned below, this is one of three Red Lions within spitting distance of each other, one being within dribbling distance.
Away from the surrounding hubbub, this is quite a small pub rebuilt in 1861 and situated down a little alley almost opposite St. James's Palace - perhaps Wills and Kate come here, as the pub was virtually dead on our midweek evening visit.
Externally, the windows are dimpled and stained and there are hanging baskets. The historic CAMRA-recognised interior is 1930s with décor that's a bit 1960s, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on your disposition. One thing it's resolutely not however, is a modern revamp with grey walls, hanging filament bulbs, pale wood floor with a vast collection of fashionable today, out tomorrow gins - result!
The interior features almost full height dark wood panelling, adorned with horse brasses, small framed prints of cartoons and the like. Above the picture rail is a selection of floral-print plates and to the centre of the left wall, is a glass-fronted case containing a red lion statuette; paint, where visible, is red - a small TV in the corner somewhat unnecessarily broadcast BBC News 24 with the sound off.
The floor is covered with patterned carpet and there are traditional low stools, covered with cerise velour; peripheral bench seating is similarly clad. In addition, there are traditional low wooden bench tables.
The bar is to the right corner and features an attractive, back-lit stained glass-panelled pot shelf.
Both the ladies and gent's loos are up/down very steep flights of steps, an ordeal not experienced since my last visit to the Seven Stars; the loos here are very basic: one cubicle for women and a cubicle and two cramped urinals for the lads.
The first barmaid was friendly enough but she was shortly replaced for the remainder of the evening by a rather brusque woman, probably the same person Blackthorn had the misfortune to encounter a month earlier. I didn't spot food of any sort, though a pack of Lurpak Spreadable was lurking behind the bar.
Ales: Adnam's Southwold (£4.30 a pint) and St. Austell's Tribute at £4.50 and both fine as they should be at these prices.
This pub is worth a visit and is a relatively welcome retreat, though it's not a destination venue. A better choice of ales and more forthcoming barmaid would garner the pub a couple of extra points.

On 16th August 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2009 recommendations about 1975 pubs]

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Blackthorn _ left this review about Red Lion

A smallish pub tucked away down a narrow alleyway, it’s not the most obvious spot and is unlikely to attract too much in the way of passing trade, but it was nonetheless very busy on a recent early evening visit, with no seating available and only limited standing room, besides a number of punters spilling out in to the alley.

Internally, it’s all one single room with leaded and stained glass windows at the front. Décor wise it’s quite traditional with red patterned carpet on the floor, a few copper jugs hung up above the bar, some plates displayed on a rack, a couple of shelves of books and, less traditionally, a red lion set in to a recessed glass case. There was some wood panelling on the walls and deep red paintwork elsewhere. To the right was limited seating, whilst it opened out to the left and looked a little more elegant, although it was so busy that it was difficult to really appreciate this.

Beers on tap were just Adnams Southwold and Tribute, whilst the solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. I guess this pub has probably got some potential, and perhaps it a quieter time it may have been quite appealing, but with the uninspiring drinks choice and somewhat abrupt service at the bar, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had anticipated.

On 7th April 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1955 recommendations about 1868 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Red Lion

Situated down a narrow alleyway off Pall Mall, this place has had a continuous licence for 400-odd years so really is a little bit of pub history. The outside is well-maintained and the colour-decorated leaded windows give an indication of the building’s age. Inside is a small cosy room with carpet, window ledges, plates on shelves, a red lion statuette in a glass recess, coloured glass panels in the bar canopy and dark wood wall panelling. Try it on a cold winter’s night for the full effect. Due the pub’s small size, it is standing room only at busy times and drinkers often spill out into the alleyway. There is also a lounge upstairs but I’ve never been up there. It’s a quiet pub which is nice, chatter makes up the atmosphere. Two perennial ales – St Austell Tribute and Adnams Bitter, which can be variable on quality and high in price (£3.90pp for the Tribute the other week). There are also quite a few whiskies to choose from too. Toilets are a precarious descent if you’re over five and a half foot. As a happy accident of location, it’s a great place to take a visitor – a few minutes to Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street but with almost no tourists. I like this one and if the ale was more consistent for the price paid I’d be inclined to elevate it to a ‘must do’ central London pub.

On 6th April 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 5185 recommendations about 5168 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Red Lion

Hidden away down a narrow gaslit alleyway off Pall Mall is The Red Lion. An attractive old style exterior features gas lamps, leaded frosted windows, hanging flower baskets and central double doors. A disused door at the side indicates that this was probably once a multi room pub.

Outside we learn that The Red Lion has “reputedly the second oldest licence in the West End” and that we are about to enter “the village pub in the heart of St James”.

The cosy interior features dark wood panelling, plush carpeting, red velour bar stools and traditional seating. The walls are decorated with horse brasses and old framed photographs. A collection of decorative plates runs along the top of the wood panelling just below ceiling level. The small bar counter is in one corner and features a gantry with decorative coloured glass inserts. The far wall contains a red lion statuette in a glass case built into the wall. High up in one corner a small relatively unobtrusive TV was tuned to Saturday morning’s Football Focus, enabling us to relive, if we so desired, Bradford City’s penalty shoot out success against Arsenal several days previously. There’s an upstairs lounge bar and, as befits a pub of this style and age, the seemingly obligatory challenging narrow curved staircase leading to the downstairs gents.

On the real ale front, two pumps – one either side of the usual row of lager and fizz taps – were offering Adnams Bitter and St Austells Tribute. These appear to be the regular offerings – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything different. Beer quality is generally reliable here with prices reflecting the affluence of the area ( Adnams - £ 3.70p ).

You should look this one out when you get the opportunity.

On 7th January 2013 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Red Lion

It's claim to be "London's last village pub" is stretching things a bit, but this decent little hostelry - hidden away in a little alleyway just off Pall Mall (and only a short distance from St James's Park) - certainly feels like a bolt-hole from which to temporarily escape the hectic city outside. Compact bar with wood panelling and fairly plain decor, plus an upstairs lounge (never visited). Well-kept St Austell Tribute (£3.70) and Adnams Southwold from the two handpumps. Always worth a visit if in the area.

On 4th January 2013 - rating: 8
[User has posted 8159 recommendations about 8159 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Red Lion

This secretive pub is located down an easily missable gaslit alleyway that leads off Pall Mall. A small sign at the head of the alley proclaims the pub to be the “London’s last village inn” and it is hard not to disagree.

The pub is thought to be around 400 years old and has the 2nd oldest beer licence in London (the White Hart in Drury Lane claims the oldest). The setting is very enticing with flower baskets and old world frontage and the interior is equlayy enchanting although those expecting basic threadbare furnishings may be surprised to find a quite cosy and comfortable setting. The carpeted single room has dark paneling and diamond latticed windows containing coloured glass shields. The bar in the far corner has a canopy with coloured glass panels and there are neatly arranged pictures, cartoons, plates and brasses. One wall contains a mirrored recess containg a Red Lion statuette. Seating is a bit limited with a few padded pews and small round tables plus a convenient ledge opposite the bar that is handy for parking a pint when busy. It is not unusual for customer overspill to head into the alley rather than u[pstairs where there is a sepaaerte lounge bar.

A basic old wide screen TV on low volume sits in a corner and there is no music so any ambience is generated by the mainly suited office workers who seem to mnake up the customer base. The pub is a it off the radar for the average tourist.

The place has never been an ale destination although they have doubled the number of hand pumps to 2 since my last visit with the Adnams now joined by Tribute (£3.60). The quality has also improved from what I remember and I note they now hold Cask Marque accreditation.

There are 2 Red Lions virtually within throwing up distance and both are worthy of a visit although this one falls short on the ale front for it to be considered anything more than an occasional quick couple of pints.

On 22nd November 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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