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Beer of the Week (w/e 17th November 2019) with oldboots on the Pub Forum

The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon), Tunbridge Wells Central, Tunbridge Wells

88 Mount Pleasant Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN1 1RT
Phone: 01892511770

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Pub Type

J D Wetherspoon

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


Pub SignMan left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

Built in 1902 as an 1,100 capacity Opera House, this magnificent Baroque building was converted into a cinema in the 1930’s before being badly damaged by a fire caused by an unexploded bomb dropped during the Second World War, reopening only in 1949. In the 1960’s the place suffered the indignity of being used as a bingo hall until Wetherspoons came along in the mid-90’s and opened the pub we find today. Wetherspoons have a number of similar theatre conversions across their pub estate, but this one must rank as the most spectacular of them all. You enter via the old lobby area where a few limited tables and chairs can be found alongside drinking ledges. Moving through the pub, you soon reach the bar area with seating to your right and an L-shaped servery to the left. The bar has a fairly simple dark wood counter and mirrored bar back and opposite there is a brass rail which divides the bar area from the lower seating area that occupies the main space in the building. Here, standard tables and chairs fill a mid-sized area with four theatre boxes high up on the left hand wall, all under an amazing cupola decorated with all sorts of bright colours, intricate filigree and a huge chandelier suspended from a gold rose in the centre of the dome. Turning back towards the bar, you realise that it is situated under a couple of large, curved balconies with all the seats still in situ. The room then rises again into the rear ‘stage’ portion of the room where more tables and chairs plus a few partitioned banquette booths can be found. This bare boarded area has its own servery along the rear wall and a very high ceiling , beneath which all sorts of old stage mechanisms can still be seen. The walls here appear to be made from modern stone blocks and there is a mocked stage scene above the bar with fake Juliet balconies and cardboard cut-out actors. The usual ‘Spoons information boards comprise montages of old theatre bills and posters from the buildings original incarnation.
I counted three ‘Spoons regulars and six guest ales on the main bar, plus one real cider, but forgot to check if there were any additional options on the rear bar - lots of pumps on the main bar were doubled up, so I’m guessing not. I tried the Hadrian Borders Secret Kingdom, which was a decent enough pint served to me by a nice barman, but the service overall was pretty poor as they only had two people working the main bar on my busy Friday night visit.
This is a tremendous pub conversion which is well worth a visit just to have a nose around this magnificent old building. I love the fact that chains like Wetherspoons keep old buildings like this in the public domain and I could’ve quite happily settled down here for the rest of the evening, taking in all the detail and working through the tidy guest ale selection.

On 15th March 2019 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2342 recommendations about 2342 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Graham Coombs left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

Quite spectacular theatre conversion retaining lots of original features, with one bar at the back of house and one on the stage. Usual 'Spoons facilities but benefits from an enthusiasm for beers, and I was impressed by a good range of well-kept ales, including several local examples. Cask Marque listing.

On 7th September 2017 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2047 recommendations about 2002 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Aqualung . left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

This must surely be the most grandiose Spoons of the lot, it certainly is of the ones I've visited. I was expecting it to be rather larger than it is as some of their cinema conversions are quite vast. Although built as an Opera House it has also been a Cinema and Bingo Hall.
There's an oddly bare space at the front which leads through to the first bar on the left. This area has mainly tall tables and chairs. A few steep steps lead down to a lower area and further on some steep steps lead up to the second bar where the original stage would have been. This area has all low tables and chairs. Above the centre part are the boxes, the upper seats and right at the back the "Gods". As far as I could tell these are not open to the public.
The main bar at the front has two sets of six hand pumps and the rear one six which on my visit just had duplicates on. There was no doubling up on the main bar but three of the Xmas ales were "available soon". The rest consisted of GK IPA & Abbot, Doom Bore, Snecklifter, Banks's Driftwood and four Xmas Ales. I tried the Everard's Nutcracker and Welton's Snow Lay Roundabout both at £2.55 and both in good nick. This is on the dear side for a Spoons but not exceptionally so. The Doom Bore is worth avoiding as it was priced at £3.15. As noted below it's really worth coming here just to see the place.

On 22nd December 2015 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2144 recommendations about 2139 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

In some ways, this is the least pub-like drinking establishment that I can think of, and you just have to go inside to understand. Of course, the clue is in the name, and it is probably unique in still reverting to its original use for occasional special events. It usually has an excellent range of real ales from a total of 18 handpumps on the two bar counters, with a good selection of local beers - which included British Bulldog, Audit Ale and God's Wallop (£2.85) from Westerham Brewery and Long Man Best Bitter and my latest visit. On the downside, it can get very busy, but it really is worth stopping by to look around.

On 21st December 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 5808 recommendations about 5808 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Steve C left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

As the name would suggest this is pub is an old opera house and many of the old features have been purposely retained to give a rather grand feel. The usual Wetherspoons meal and drink deals are all present making this one of the cheapest places in town to have a pint. This is why it was so busy, even for a Wednesday afternoon when the other pubs in the area were very quiet. In amongst the usual draught suspects there are twelve hand pumps that were drawing seven ales. There are in fact two bars with one being on the left hand side after the entrance and the second being on the back wall for use in busier times. Being a Spoons, there is no music and the plasma screen was showing muted rolling news.

The service was good and I enjoyed my pint of British Bulldog Best Bitter. I’ll probably find myself darkening this pub’s door again sometime in the future.

On 8th October 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 3546 recommendations about 3525 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


john mcgraw left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

As stated before it can get very busy and noisy but at least the beer is fairly good and a lot of the features of the old opera house have been preserved.

On 25th April 2009 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2037 recommendations about 2018 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


tom mcmahon left this review about The Opera House (JD Wetherspoon)

If you are interested in a nice pint at a very reasonable price, the opera house is for you. If you avoid noisy smokie large pubs, then I would suggest you look elsewhere.

On 5th December 2008 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1 recommendations about 1 pubs]