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The Clarence, SW1

53 Whitehall
Phone: 02079304808

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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.

Will Larter left this review about The Clarence

My 1996 reprint of the book London's Inns & Taverns by John Wittich, whose suggested walks around London pubs I have been following, says that this is an 18th century pub, named after a type of carriage (depicted on the pub sign at the time the book was written in 1978), which in turn was named after the Duke of Clarence, subsequently King William IV. As he was created a duke in 1789 this is a fairly tight schedule, and anyway Camra's WhatPub says it was rebuilt in 1862 (25 years after his death). The modern pub sign seems to depict a number of black bowler hats in the style of some of Magritte's surreal paintings. Setting this debate aside, on entering there appear to be two slightly different pubs, with the right hand side having exposed beams and pillars of uncertain age and rather rough condition, painted white in a deliberately slapdash way. Were these recycled from the original building? The left hand side, meanwhile, is a far more modern, stylish and smart affair, and at the time of my visit shortly after 11am there seemed to be a number of informal business meetings going on. I observed the same beer offering as in the neighbouring Old Shades (Youngs Original and Special, St Austell Proper Job) when I visited the previous day, so I asked for a coffee.

On 4th February 2022 - rating: 5
[User has posted 3795 recommendations about 3523 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Clarence

This is a mid-19th century building, named after the Duke of Clarence, former Lord High Admiral and currently under the stewardship of Young’s.
If the main bar area had been gastrofied as mentioned, than as BF later points out, it has now been rusticated, with exposed chunky wooden members, limewashed. The floor is rough boarded and the bar array is fairly modern, though there’s vanilla coloured wainscotting to dado height, then plain walls with some areas covered in thousands of postage stamps from around the world; likewise, there are four structural columns, similarly clad. Lampshades over the bar are designed to resemble bowler hats, otherwise lighting comes from recessed LED downlighters to the white ceiling. Décor amounts to a few framed prints and customers are of indeterminate origin, music being loud.
There were three unused pumps, then Winter Warmer, London Original and Proper Job at £2.75 a half and nice.
This pub is better than it sounds, but isn’t as good as its neighbour, the Old Shades, but is head and shoulders above the very poor Silver Cross, a couple of doors up.

On 20th November 2021 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2010 recommendations about 1976 pubs]

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Bucking Fastard left this review about The Clarence


This was a brief crawl visit but on entering the modern open plan interior we were asked if we were dining.However it's fine to just drink at the bar,and the stools opposite around a drinking ledge are the seating option ,but the tables are seemingly just for diners.I thought the wooden floored interior a little harsh,the flatscreen was at least turned off yet the green tiling to one side just looked too new and a deliberate design feature rather than something original.However there were 8 handpumps and as many keg taps.The ale options were Inkspot EIPA (this brewer always features here ,and this was in decent nick),Twickenham Naked Ladies,Sharps Atlantic,Youngs Christmas Ale and Bitter,Sambrooks Junction,Truman Runner and Doom Bar.Bottled beer was featuring some craft brewers at frightening prices.
Worth a crawl stop,not sure I would base myself here for a session.


A revisit found a different vibe,Youngs pubco have created more of a boozer although there is now a first floor dining area.It feels more rustic with the gnarled beams at the front exposed and lightly whitewashed showing the buildings age.The arched windows at the far end are a decent feature.My name and mobile were taken on entering and it is clear quite a bit of furniture has been removed to aid social distancing.Just two real ales offered Youngs Original and a decent St Austell Proper Job which saved the visit.
This pub must have been a target for BLM protesters as the two internal pictures of The Duke and Duchess of Clarence were defaced with paint.The Duke was a keen defender of slavery around 1800.Interestingly no attempt has been made to removed the defacements,so maybe the pubco. has some sympathy with this action.One of the better pubs in this heavily tourist area,if only there were more tourists.

On 3rd September 2020 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2748 recommendations about 2748 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Clarence

This is a simple street corner pub near the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall, typically busy with a post-work crowd (and plenty of tourists) when I visited on a midweek early evening. The pub has a basic single room interior with bare floorboards and a nice dark wood bar counter down the left hand wall. Some well upholstered button backed banquettes run around the front walls, supplemented by chairs and a few mid-height stools, although the left hand side of the room before the bar appears had been roped off for some sort of private gathering. As the room narrows somewhat to pass the bar, the seating disappears, leaving just a single drinking ledge along the right hand wall, from where you can admire the deep servery with its mirror and tile bar back and pleasant dark wood shelving units. Some exposed wooden beams and pillars appeared to be fake but at least go some way to adding a feeling of authenticity into what would otherwise by a rather plain corporate pub. Some more seating can be found to the rear of the room and as always in Central London, there were tonnes of people out on the pavement on a hot day in the city. The decor comprises plenty of plain mirrors, a few stylised paintings and lots of bland blackboards detailing food and drink options. Stairs lead up to something called the Bulldog Bar and Tin Belly Dining Room, which I didn’t bother investigating. Music was playing in the background, but the pub’s echoey interior meant this was soon lost under the cacophony created by a busy crowd.
There were seven handpulls on the bar, two of which were out of action, leaving a choice of five – Sambrooks Wandle and Session, Wells Bombardier, Youngs Ordinary and Sharps Doom Bar. The Wandle was £5.15 for a pint, which is perhaps to be expected these days in such a prime location, but certainly didn’t make it taste any better.
I suppose it would be wrong to expect a great pub experience in a pub so well positioned on the tourist trail, but this wasn’t a total write-off despite the fact the place is clearly just going through the motions. I thought there was a decent atmosphere in here, the interior was quite well appointed and the beer was in good nick, if far too expensive. Happy enough to have stopped by but I’ll leave this one to the tourists in the future.

On 17th September 2018 - rating: 6
[User has posted 3126 recommendations about 3126 pubs]

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

Refurbished by Geronimo, this ground-floor bar features a reasonable part rustic / part gastro-pub look. However, it is noticeably different upstairs in the smart Bulldog Bar and very upmarket Tin Belly Dining Room. Usually offers a decent selection from the eight handpumps on the main counter, and on this visit I found beers in a variety of styles from Adnams (2), Sharp's, Redemption, Truman's, Wimbledon, Sambrook's and, yes, Young's. This one won't be to everybody's taste, and it can be difficult to get a seat if not dining, but it remains one of the better bets for a pint in Whitehall.

On 12th November 2017 - rating: 7
[User has posted 8159 recommendations about 8159 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about The Clarence

Saturday afternoon in rainy London. We opened the door to be met instantly by a waitress asking if we were dining. If we had said no, we wouldn't have been allowed to sit at one of the tables that all had reserved signs - although they were just being kept for food eating punters coming in off the street.

This meant that I couldn't see what beers were on and knowing it was a Youngs house, I asked for a special. It was that bad, I had to take it back to the bar, when I found out they dont do Youngs Special - just the standard.

It was swapped without fuss for a Naked Lady (who could resist?) which was in much better condition.

Food was OK. Service was good, seeing as how run ragged she was. Wouldn't necessarily come again.

On 11th August 2017 - rating: 5
[User has posted 277 recommendations about 276 pubs]

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E TA left this review about The Clarence

Currently operated by Geronimo, this well-placed pub is something of a tourist trap, but it still manages to serve 8 real ales on draft, all in reasonable condition, although kept a bit too cold, probably because that's how the foreigners like it. There were also a few megakeg offerings, but these included some unusual ones like Meantime London Lager, Youngs London Stout and Camden Pale Ale alongside the Amstel and Aspalls Cider. My pint of Sambrooks Junction was fine, not the best beer that Brewery makes, but well kept and on good form. The staff were mainly OK, but the bearded troll who lurked at the end of the bar kept calling us ‘guys' in a slightly over-familiar way, which irritated a bit. Clientele were a mixed a - mostly tourists, but also a mixture of workmen, office staff and even what we took to be a couple conducting an extra-marital flirtation. It was predictably expensive, given its location, but the atmosphere was good, the WIFI worked, and I'd be happy to stop by again.

On 5th January 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3302 recommendations about 3267 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about The Clarence

A corner pub definitely erring toward the gastro side of things,however there are eight handpumps dispensing a range of beer from the ordinary to the more interesting, my Inkspot EIPA was at the more interesting end of the range and a nice beer, worth a visit but a one drink and off place in my book.

On 31st December 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1889 recommendations about 1862 pubs]

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Malden man left this review about The Clarence

Bearing in mind this pub's location in the heart of tourist land it manages to make a reasonable effort at maintaining the feel of a proper town pub. The interior has been modernised in that text book designer way with lots of grey/beige paint, a few high tables and some busy wallpaper depicting marching guardsmen which is at odds with the distressed boarded floor, leaded windows and imported old timber beams. Signs however inform that the place is closing in early March for another refit, hopefully this will restore a bit more tradition.
The pub doesn't seem to pander to the tourists though and provides reasonable service for central London, the barman was friendly and ensured my pint was topped up. Four handpumps had on Doom Bar, Inkspot 5.56, Young's Bitter and Truman's Runner, £4.15 but in good shape. Food is served both in the bar and obviously in the upstairs restaurant, cheese burger, dill pickle and chips £12.95, sandwiches between £6.95 to £9.95. A few people were eating, some tables were irritatingly reserved but I sat at one that was unoccupied and nobody bothered me. I noticed a group in a corner receiving table service for drinks.
You can certainly pick a worse spot than this in the area, this was my first visit for a good while but I've always found the place to be reliable if unremarkable.

On 8th February 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1708 recommendations about 1681 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Clarence

I haven't been in this pub for a long time,so I was shocked to see how much it has altered. The pub still has appeal and I found the pub to be bright and jolly. The décor was modern, but still has held onto a comfortable and traditional pub feel. The pub, on our visit had surprisingly more diners than drinkers. Five handpumps, we went for the Trumans Runner.

On 6th February 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3391 recommendations about 3391 pubs]

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