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Spaniards Inn, NW3

Spaniards Road
Phone: 02087318406

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Pub Type

Castle (Mitchells & Butlers)

Reviews (Current Rating Average: 6 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Blackthorn _ left this review about Spaniards Inn

A good sized pub on the outskirts of Hampstead, it’s adjacent to the common and a stone’s throw from Kenwood House. It’s also the local for the residents of The Bishops Avenue which is apparently the most expensive street in the country, although how many of them are regulars in here I’m not sure.

As you enter from the front, there is a small snug off to the right and this is certainly a cosy spot with dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, dark wooden boards on the floor and black and white drawings of old Hampstead. Progressing on in to the main part of the pub, there seems to be an over-abundance of staff and I was “greeted” about three times before I managed to get to the bar. Décor wise it’s quite similar to the snug, with much dark wood panelling and an old fire-place with an attractive copper hood and a pile of logs stacked up ready for the colder weather. Much of the pub seems to be given over to food with the majority of the tables being laid up on a recent lunch time visit. There is also a pleasant and good sized garden complete with another bar counter (closed on this occasion), much covered seating, attractive foliage and strings of fairy lights.

Beers on a recent visit were Harviestoun Afterglow, Brain’s Bread of Heaven, Doom Bar and London Pride. A further two pumps appeared unused, so there may on occasions be others and there were also several keg options from the likes of Meantime, Camden and Brew Dog. Ciders meanwhile were Aspall’s Suffolk and Addlestones.

On 15th September 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1749 recommendations about 1684 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about Spaniards Inn

Much has been written about this fine, historic country pub on the fringes of Hampstead Heath, not least by Charles Dickens who immortalised it in The Pickwick Papers, and rightly so, as it has plenty of stories to tell. The pub’s website, for example, claims that John Keats wrote ‘An Ode to a Nightingale’ in the pub, whilst a more widely told tale is that of the former landlord’s son, Dick Turpin, who used to gaze down at the road below from his bedroom window, dreaming of robbing the rich folk passing by in their coaches.
Upon arrival, all such romantic notions vanish within minutes, with the pub presenting a chaotic front when we visited on a hot, spring afternoon. The interior thankfully still retains much of its multiple-room layout. Entering through the main porch, you pass a small, well kept snug to the right before emerging into the main bar in the mid-section of the building. This is a large space with the hop-lined bar to the left and some tub chairs and pews opposite. There are dark floorboards and wood panels that evoke an olde-world feel, as does the nice brick fireplace on the end wall, with its large brass hood. Two other rooms – a formal seating area to the front left and a dining space to the rear – round out the rooms to explore, before moving out to the huge garden to the rear, with nicely kept hedges and climbing plants acting as partitioning screens to break up the sight-lines across the rows of picnic benches. There is plenty of covered seating, a ‘dog-zone’, an aviary and a huge car park.
The ale range was pretty good, with Fullers London Pride, Conwy Beachcomber Blonde, Harviestoun Broken Dial, Ilkley Mary Jane and Sharps Doom Bar all on hand pump. Sadly my pint of Mary Jane was a little past its best, whilst the service was utterly dismal, with the clueless bar staff getting themselves in a right mess and serving people in a completely random order. The food was expensive, as you might expect in such a location, and not really worth the hassle required to order it.
With a little effort, this could be one of the ‘must-visit’ pubs in London, but instead it is content to do the bare minimum, knowing that there will be a steady stream of day-trippers and walkers from the Heath to keep business ticking over. It’s worth a visit to explore the building and soak up a bit of the history, but ultimately I left feeling disappointed at a missed opportunity. Perhaps I should have listened out for that nightingale to lift my spirits.

On 13th July 2015 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2512 recommendations about 2512 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about Spaniards Inn

Achingly historic (late 16th century), rumours abound that Dick Turpin pretty much lived here. The multi-roomed interior is dark and atmospheric with a fire at the end. There are vertical wooden beams and, not surprisingly given the pub's age, very low ceilings. Outside there's a fine beer garden and car park; crossing the road to get here is rather treacherous. It makes for a perfect stop if you've just visited Kenwood House.

This pub is situated in one of the world's richest enclaves. A few yards away is Bishops Avenue where the Saudi royal family have six houses and where in 2012, a house sold for £65 million. This probably explains why my pint of My Generation Beer Co.'s My Generation cost £4.50. It was though a very decent pint. Additionally on offer were Ubu Brewing Co.'s Purity and Mad Goose. Also up, the ubiquitous Sharp's Doom Bar and Fuller's London Pride along with keg beers from the Camden and Meantime breweries. Also available, a large selection of premium lagers. The pub is also quite food orientated; everyone seemed to be eating.

The pub is free from dross such as TVs or games machines; I doubt the locals watch football, unless they own the team. The lavatories were fine (three cubicles) and overall the pub seemed to be a lot better than on my last visit about five years ago and certainly better than my first visit in 1987. However, the staff lacked English and were a bit clueless. Getting here is a bit of a trek - Hampstead and Highgate tubes are equidistant but thereafter you'll need a bus or face a 20-minute walk.

It should also be noted that I have it on good authority that when Sunday lunch is being served, tables are eating-only.

On 3rd May 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 988 recommendations about 973 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about Spaniards Inn

This is a very old, alledgedly 16th Century, highwayman’s pub (also alledgedly – Dick Turpin and all that) that has gone firmly down the gastro route. Dickens and Keats are claimed to have been regulars here. I can believe that – they both liked to frequent London’s hostelries. There are daily printed menus available, with only a passing nod to pub grub. The cheapest main course was the “Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages, mash and cider gravy” at “£11.50, up to the 28-day aged ribeye steak at £22.50. Each item on the menu unusually had a beer recommendation to go with it, which I don’t really buy into. I reckon the real ale I like goes with just about everything. Anyway, they did have five ales on – Purity Mad Goose, London Pride, Caledonian Flying Scotsman, Downton Ed’s American Red and Butcombe American Pale Ale. A decent selection by any standards. Both the Pride and the Mad Goose were £4.10 a pint, which is of course a top of the range gastropub price, and £11.50 for some basic sausage and mash is also on the expensive side.

Notwithstanding the gastropub nature of the place, they’ve not been tempted to ruin the interior with pastel shades everywhere. All the dark wood panelling is still in place, along with most, if not all, of the original nooks and crannies. These are the things that give the pub its character. Other features worthy of mention are the traditional settles in the main bar area, the brick framed fireplace, and the large and well maintained pub garden. There’s also a smallish car park. The absence of TVs, fruit machines and piped music are also big pluses for me. Despite the high prices, and it being a bit out of the way, this place is still pubby enough for me to want to pay a return visit.

On 29th July 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2577 recommendations about 2495 pubs]

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BobOs . left this review about Spaniards Inn

The 'in' place in the early 'seventies, I visited again recently after a gap of many years - while OK it isn't what it was. Staff seemed a bit disinterested and the beer wasn't particularly good. Now, unfortunately, below average.

On 16th July 2011 - rating: 4
[User has posted 370 recommendations about 355 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve C left this review about Spaniards Inn

In the past I've always felt an air of contempt from the bar staff in this pub, no matter how polite you were to them. I popped in early on Saturday afternoon to see if things had changed and thankfully the barman was nice enough. The pub is still very dark and a little depressing, but the Pride and Harveys Best were very good. There was another ale that was off, but Brains SA Gold and Adnams were also available alongside Westons Cider and a good selection of premium lagers.

There is a good sized beer garden out the back, but it fills up very fast at the weekends if there is the slightest hint of any sun. Getting into the pub can be a little treacherous if walking from the Hampstead end as there is no path on the pub's side of the road and the road narrows to one lane as there is an old listed toll booth on the other side of the road.

This place is OK, but it isn't worth going out of the way to visit.

On 18th May 2009 - rating: 6
[User has posted 3586 recommendations about 3565 pubs]