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Halifax Crawl - 21 June 2024 with Tris39 on the Pub Forum

The Hole in the Wall, Waterloo, SE1

5 Mepham Street
Phone: 02079286196

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

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Bucking Fastard left this review about The Hole in the Wall


A boozing institution,essentially this pub has not changed over my 35 year drinking career.Always a good place to catch televised sport,especially rugby in the large back bar, the ale quality is now consistently high to justify the GBG entry.Hogs Back TEA and Sharp's Doom Bar were the pick but Ringwood Best Bitter,Pedigree,Youngs Bitter and a real cider were also available on handpump when I was in.Lively and basic with a good courtyard with patio heaters and a further TV screen plus efficient bar service.The rear bar has one of the more pungent gents in London but,hey, this is a boozer not a wine bar.


Having read on these pages of an improved real ale line up ,we sought refuge here after a disappointing visit to the Kings Arms .The front bar is so much better than the hectic rear bar although the loos here have been tidied up and the beer garden is much neater .The ale range was decent Vocation Life & Death did run out but was later replaced,Brew York X Panda (NBSS 3.5,a little cold),Southwark LPA,By the Horns Classic,Moor Illumination (tired NBSS 2),RIDE Pale Ale ,Howling Hops Tropical Deluxe,Portobello Stiff Lip and Anspach & Hobday London Black. Most ales sampled by the crew were fine,there was a range of styles and strengths and there is still a proper boozer atmosphere here.Well worth a visit now.

On 25th February 2023 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2775 recommendations about 2775 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about The Hole in the Wall

A return visit here in what must be more than ten years,the layout remains the same but is certainly less tatty than before. Tales of an improving beer range appear to be true if not groundbreaking, with beers represented by By The Horns, Siren and Southwark, as well Adnams Old Ale and my pick of Sambrooks Candlemaker. It certainly won't be top of my list of pubs to miss a train in with The Kings Arms , Waterloo Tap and now BrewDog to pick from but it has improved on it's old Courage Best days.

On 3rd November 2022 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1919 recommendations about 1892 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Hole in the Wall

This pub has existed in some form since at least 1869, but was incorporated into this railway arch some time before 1934. Rightly described by BF as ‘A boozing institution…’ and Graham as a ‘Legendary pub…’, it’s definitely something of an iconic boozer, which I’d completely forgotten about since I first heard mention of it in the late ‘80s, it appearing periodically in the GBG since 1975 and at least as late as 2019.
As mentioned, it’s not something you stumble across by accident, despite its location opposite Waterloo’s main entrance, the door here being somewhat concealed. You’ll go through to the large main room, devoid of natural light, scruffy (but not nearly as bad as I was expecting), sport orientated, with a large inflatable Gilbert rugby ball to the ceiling. You’ll not want to linger here (unless you want to watch TV and/or are scruffy), as eight out of the 10 real ales are to be found at the bar and don’t expect to find the likes of Pride, Doom or GK here. After making your selection, head back through to the small front bar with its windows and interior which looks like it dates from the ‘60s, but in a very good way. It’s cosy, with traditional vinyl banquette seating to the perimeter, then simple traditional furniture. Décor comprises a large collection of breweriana, all to the rumble and vibration of overhead trains.
I went for a half of the Siren Memento, in excellent shape at a very reasonable £2.60, served by a slightly goofy but friendly barman.
If I'd had a table and wasn't on a mini crawl, I'd have stayed longer as this is a must-visit destination, offering one of the largest ale selections in London, in a memorable location, making for a great double with the Kings Arms; an icon indeed.

On 9th October 2022 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2033 recommendations about 1998 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about The Hole in the Wall

Fair to say that I wouldn't have ventured into this place if it hadn't been in the Good Beer Guide 2019.

But never judge a book by its cover.

Two rooms - with a larger main room exactly what you would expect for a Railway Arch. Setup for sport, with large screen showing Rugby on my visit. Majority of tables occupied, so a perch along the lengthy bar.

Plenty of real ale choices - the Hogsback TEA was perfect condition and served in the branded glass.

Would go back, if in the area.

On 8th November 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1368 recommendations about 1353 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Hole in the Wall

A bit of a dive in a distinctly unglamourous location under the railway arches which rather detract from the grand façade of Waterloo main line station. The small front lounge does have some windows but the main bar has no natural light unless somebody leaves the back door - which leads to a scruffy patio - open. Also, the gents toilets always leave a lot to be desired. On the plus side, there usually a decent selection of real ales and one or more draught ciders on the nine handpumps in the main bar (including Triple fff Comfortably Numb, £4.10, on this visit), with four more handpumps at the front. The quality is generally very good too. Overall, the place naturally has a distinctly transient feel - with many customers just reading newspapers or watching sport on the TV as they wait to catch their trains - but still rather better than the nearby station bars.

On 7th January 2017 - rating: 7
[User has posted 8164 recommendations about 8164 pubs]

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custodian 42 left this review about The Hole in the Wall

Fine pub with character and an good selection of real ales. Yes, it's a bit scruffy and rough round the edges but it's a pub I've been in a number of times and it's one I would return to if back in the area.

On 7th December 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1693 recommendations about 1691 pubs]

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john gray left this review about The Hole in the Wall

Yep a bit scruffy but has character.(maybe the wrong sort of character for me.) very busy.Seven beers on cask.Southwark -bankside blonde was decent enough

On 11th February 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1023 recommendations about 1009 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Hole In The Wall

Interior as described below. Real ale and food served. A bit rough and ready bit did the job.

On 22nd November 2013 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2897 recommendations about 2834 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Hole In The Wall

Despite being slap bang opposite the main entrance to Waterloo Station, the presence of the HitW isn’t that obvious as it is largely obscured from view and reliant on strangers to spot the large banner on the railway bridge above. The pub itself is built into the arches of the viaduct that carries commuter trains between Waterloo east and Charing Cross.

The small front bar isn’t particularly inspiring, a fairly plain,dated and functional bar with banquette seating, paneled windows and a few bits of sporting memorabilia on display. The bar only carries a couple of ales so it is easy to overlook the selection that is generally available in the main body of the pub at the rear. The main bar usually stocks 8 ales with a mix of standard regulars (Youngs Ordinary, Youngs Special, Sharps Doom Bar and Adnams Bitter on my latest visit) and more interesting guests (Grolwer Hound Dog, Cottage Golden Arrow and Oxfordshire Pride Of Oxford) plus a cider (Westons). In the past I have found the quality variable but my last few visits have seen better consistency. For the area, prices are reasonable. There is also a small food bar.

There are plenty of TV’s (big on Sports) and a Pinball machine is housed at the rear. Outside is a small but fairly gloomy triangular courtyard which also has its own TV so you won’t miss that important goal if you sneak out for a puff. The overhead trains are initially a bit disconcerting when the walls vibrate and pint glasses start rattling but you get used to the frequent rumblings and it all becomes part of the ambience.

Because it is a little hidden from view it tends to attract a more regular customer as opposed to the transient crowds that head for the more obvious pubs in the area, There are occasional live Irish music jam evenings in which seem to be open to all.

Overall it is a quirky place with a character of its own which I perhaps don’t to there as often as I could or should.

On 12th February 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Hole In The Wall

Something of an institution for longer than I care to remember, The Hole in the Wall is exactly what it says on the tin – a hole in the wall under the railway arches outside Waterloo Station.

Up several steps from street level and down a short passageway, the main bar resembles something of a works canteen with a large open space filled with rows of tables and chairs, with wooden settles lining the half height wood panelled walls. Various mirrors adorn the walls. The long bar counter is on the left hand side, at the end of which is an old fashioned food counter churning out chips with just about everything. Loud and noisy at most times, the place rumbles whenever a train passes by overhead on its way to / from Waterloo East. At the back, past the rather basic toilets, is an outside smokers yard with the usual large heaters and a view that wouldn’t exactly be described as inspiring. It’s partly covered by a corrugated iron roof. The wooden boundary fences have a number of framed newspaper cuttings of famous events ( eg – Twin Towers, Bothams 1981 Ashes innings at Headingley etc )

At the front is a smaller, more comfortable room with red velour seats and circular bar stools and copper topped tables, together with a carpet that has clearly seen better days. This bar has a fine collection of rugby shirts high up round the walls and an autographed photo of the England Rugby World Cup Winning Team of 2003. Note also, immediately by the bar, a framed set of autographs of the Blackpool FC 1953 Cup Final winning team, including of course the legendary Stanley Matthews. This bar tends to be quieter than the main bar, but appears to be often overlooked by the staff, with the consequence that you’re often obliged to use the main bar to get served.

Although a bit of a clean up wouldn’t go amiss, there’s something of an old fashioned basic unpretentiousness that I like in these days of corporate identikit mediocrity. Apart from the addition of the outside smokers area, the pub is probably virtually unchanged from what I remember when I first visited in the early / mid 70’s. It attracts a good cross section of customers – homebound commuters, local workers, students etc. There’s still very much a blokish atmosphere, particularly when live sport is being shown on the screens, but I have detected women occasionally popping in more so than in the 1970/1980’s.

A good selection of real ales is offered in the two bars at reasonable prices. On my most recent visit, an enjoyable pint of Dorking Brewery’s DB Number One was enjoyed. Other beers on included Hogs Back TEA, Sharps Doom Bar, Youngs Ordinary and Greene King IPA. A blackboard lists beers that are allegedly on, although there often appears to be little correlation between this list and those that are actually on from inspecting the pump clips. The pub is in the 2012 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

The Hole in the Wall is a pub that seems to divide opinion – like it or loathe it and, although it’s had its ups and downs over the years, I’m in the former category.

If you’re passing through Waterloo Station, pop in and see it for yourself

On 17th February 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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