User name:



Sign in with Facebook

Not already a member?
Join our community and - Rate & review pubs - Upload pictures - Add events JOIN for free NOW

Chat about:
Date for Summer 2022 crawl in Winchester. with Quinno on the Pub Forum

The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon), Exeter

New North Road
Phone: 01392434050

Return to pub summary

Pub Type

J D Wetherspoon

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

Pub SignMan left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

Set high up on a hill above Exeter St David’s station and handily located for the university, this is a large former hotel that is now operating as perhaps the finest branch of the Wetherspoons pub chain that I have thus far encountered. If, like me, you’re arriving from the station, you’ll need to negotiate a bit of a lung-busting climb, including following the old hotel driveway as it winds its way past the large front lawns with their ample picnic bench seating, eventually emerging into the modest sized car park, from where you can enter the pub through the main front doors. Once inside, you pass through a series of well appointed rooms that were presumably part of the hotel’s lobby area, now each made into smart lounge-like spaces with a mix of tables and chairs and a few comfier seating options. Each of these rooms has its own section of servery to the right, each quite dimly lit so that it didn’t detract too much from the grandeur of the rooms, which have all been tastefully decorated with appropriate period artwork and ornaments. Beyond these spaces, the pub opens out into a much larger space with a sizable seating area to the right and a stunning ‘orangery’ to the left. The main seating space is grand in scale, with some decorative flourishes, loads of tables and chairs and more of the same art on display. However, the pub’s centrepiece is the orangery area, replete with its curved metal girder supported vaulted ceiling and the incredible full height, semi-circular window at the far end of the room which looks stunning from both inside and out. The room is carpeted and split across a couple of levels, with a bar running down one side and some high tables and chairs opposite, before it drops down into the broad space in front of that window. There appeared to be a couple of dartboards in cases on the right-hand wall and the space directly under the end window was being used for a beer festival the pub had put on for the weekend, with around twenty casks on stillage and a small serving counter.
The twenty festival ales meant the actual bar was relatively low on ale options, with the three regular Spoon’s ales available alongside two or three guests. I headed straight for the festival bar, picked up a very well kept pint of Bays Savannah for £1.99, and sat at a table facing the end window, soaking up the view. The pub is unsurprisingly popular with students and my 13:00 Thursday afternoon visit saw about 25-30 blokes in fancy dress filling one of the rooms.
I loved this place and thought it was one of those great Wetherspoons conversions where you can settle down and forget that you’re actually in a Wetherspoons. For me, just about everything about this place worked - the superb orangery, the comfy lounge areas, the extensive gardens and of course, the enterprising beer festival and it’s top quality ale. No wonder Tim Martin is also having photo ops in this pub - it’s a jewel in the company’s crown and an absolute must-visit when in Exeter.

On 12th March 2022 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2813 recommendations about 2813 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

E TA left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

Comprehensively described below, this impressive building in its imposing setting is certainly a cut above most other JDWs. What lets it down is the humans. There was a wedding party setting the tone; the bride and her hens were cackling and stamping out their fag ends right by the door, much to the obvious disgust of the photographer. The staff had clearly been overworked and were tetchy, while the other clients sighed as one when the wedding party left,  presumably to find somewhere with cheaper lager, Tesco maybe. When we eventually found a seat someone asked us if we were going to be long- we said we were, he tutted and staggered off, muttering angrily. The ales were good though - BBC Fool Hardy, Black Tor Wheat Beer, Doombar, Broadside, Otter Ale and St Peter’s Plum Porter.  Worth the climb up the hill if changing trains at St David’s.

On 8th October 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2904 recommendations about 2871 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Aqualung . left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

Most JDWs are converted shops, cinemas, post offices or occasionally a purpose built new build. Every now and again you encounter one that is completely off the scale and this one is more off the scale than any I can recall. There is a footpath to the right of the Premier Inn opposite St Davids Station. This steepens considerably to reach a road where there is a sign for the pub. According to my map the pub was still some way off and all I could see was a private road with some lawns up the hill to the left leading to what looked like a stately home. I pressed on to discover that the stately home was actually the pub. Inside it's massive with one bar split into two and the main one further on in the Orangery which was packed.
I didn't get to note all the beers but did see offerings from Otter, Hanlon's, Dartmoor and Salcombe. The prices seemed to be the similar to their other South Devon outlets. I noticed they had Otter Head in their quieter bar so found a seat and knocked back a number of these while watching a large group of students who were less Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll but more conservative 1950s America.
Overall I thought this was a superb Spoons.

On 24th May 2017 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2143 recommendations about 2143 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

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

Impressive 'spoons on the hill above St David's station, comprising a substantial old hotel with two counters (one temporarily closed) and various seating areas supplemented by a long - much lighter - extension in a splendid orangery featuring another bar. Numerous real ales available from the various counters, including five from the local Hunter's (e.g. Royal Hunt Best Bitter). First class.

On 31st January 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 7108 recommendations about 7108 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Quinno _ left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

Massive Wetherpoons, up the hill from St David’s BR and close to the University. Set in impressive grounds which allows for ample car parking and large terrace beer garden (both quite a novelty for Spoons), this was formerly a hotel. Quite opulent Regency-style interior décor, very nicely done I thought. The star of the show however is the ironwork orangery section to the rear; an amazing place to sup your pint, especially when the sun is setting. I visited a couple of times on my Exeter weekend, sampling a good pint of O’Hanlons and an even better one of Lancaster Black. There were two bars that I noted, one in the main block of the building and another in the orangery section. Being close to the University, it attracts its fair share of bit hooray students (the income demographic of the average Exeter student is pretty high). All-in-all, possibly my favourite Spoons, really worth getting off the train for.

On 15th February 2014 - rating: 9
[User has posted 4420 recommendations about 4406 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

john mcgraw left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

Massive Wetherspoons with 3 bars and several drinking areas which includes a conservatory called the orangery. has a very good selection of real week-ends it gets packed to the rafters ( about 600 people when we were there) a very large outside drinking area.5 minutes uphill walk from St Davids station.

On 23rd September 2008 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2044 recommendations about 2025 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

helen heale left this review about The Imperial (JD Wetherspoon)

This pub is close to Exeter University, and so is very much a student pub at heart. It is Wetherspoons owned and so has no music, but does do good cheap food and drink, and has the most beautiful conservatory, and the interior of the building is lovely. Does do family fun days, and big screen events in the garden, and is a real ale festival god. As a family we love this pub, as it is a great place to sneekily go and grab lunch with my husband cheaply, at least with a wetherspoons you know what you are getting before you go. My daughter loves the breakfast, and on a Friday and Saturday night it is heaving, and has a great going out atmosphere. Well worth atry what ever your age, I am sure you will find something to appreciate!

On 24th July 2008 - rating: 10
[User has posted 7 recommendations about 7 pubs]