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PuG Reviews - Appreciation Thread with Tris39 on the Pub Forum

Picture of Cross Keys
Image posted by john mcgraw
Submitted on Thursday, 2nd February 2017
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Cross Keys, Harpenden

39 High Street
Phone: 01582763989
Correct details

Served areas

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

Blue Scrumpy left this review about Cross Keys

I'd read in the local CAMRA magazine earlier in the day that this was a finalist in the North West area of the South Hertfordshire Pub of the Year 2023 competition. Alas it didn't make the final two from this area to go forward to the next round. Nevertheless, as it was the only Harpenden pub mentioned, I assumed it would be the best of a dreary bunch of pubs in the town. It wasn't!

The interior is cosy enough, but it was too busy to afford me a seat on a Thursday evening. There are two rooms, a larger bar area which you enter into and a smaller side room to the left where pretty much everybody appeared to be eating fish and chips purchased from the rather tempting chippy nextdoor.

Real ales on regularly are Timothy Taylor Landlord & Tring Side Pocket For A Toad. The guest beer was Tring Citra Session. I opted for a half of the Side Pocket and was presented with a card reader stating that it was £4.10. When I sought confirmation that £4.10 was indeed the correct price, I was told that it was indeed. On the verge of walking back out of the door I'd not long walked in through, I proffered that the price was quite steep, to which the barmaid realised her error. A pint is £4.20. She had halved the 20p, but forgot to half the £4. It's all too easy to swipe a card these days to pay for a beer. Luckily I'd seen the amount the machine was going to take from me before putting my card too close!

In fairness, the barmaid was quite apologetic thereafter and was actually quite friendly. However, I took my beer into the garden at the rear. There are some covered areas, but the garden is not in the best of conditions. I was kept amused by a mouse scuttling around, whilst there were 4 other drinkers out back also willing to brave the cooling temperatures.

If this is rated as Harpenden's best pub, the bar is set extremely low. There are many other UK towns and cities where the Cross Keys wouldn't be worth setting foot in. I pity the poor residents of the town as whilst I did find at least one better pub, it really didn't get much better than this.

On 25th April 2023 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2416 recommendations about 2415 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about Cross Keys

This is a cosy two bar High Street pub around 5 minutes walk from Harpenden station. The entrance leads you through to the right-hand main bar, with the servery directly opposite the front door and various seating options over to the right. The seating mainly comes in the form of hard backed banquettes around much of the perimeter, with chairs and low stools in support. There’s a nice fireplace on the end wall and the walls have a selection of traditional pub decor on display, making it feel like a traditional saloon bar, aided by a bustling early evening crowd. The bar has a relatively short counter and basic bar back, but is dominated by a large collection of tankards that hang from the ceiling beams above. A door to the left takes you into a smaller lounge bar, with pews around three sides of the room and plenty of low stools in support. A very short, curved section of servery stands in the rear right corner with a nice herringbone brick counter front, glass display cases at either end and a load of vases, bottles and ornaments on the counter top, suggesting that it’s no longer possible to get service from this side of the pub. There’s another low brick fireplace on the end wall with lots of flowers on the mantelpiece and more vases on the window sill and shelves around the room. Decor includes some pleasant art-deco lamps and a large circular mirror and there was a good selection of 70’s pop tunes playing in the background.
The pub tends to find its way into the Good Beer Guide and accordingly had three cask ales on handpull when I arrived - Taylors Landlord, Tring Side Pocket and Rebellion IPA. I fought my way through the throng of bar blockers and ordered a pint of the Side Pocket from the old-school landlord, before retreating into the quieter lounge side. It was kept in good condition and went down well after a 15 mile walk along the River Lea to get here.
This is a pretty good town centre boozer with a couple of nice rooms, each offering something a bit different and plenty of comfortable seating to enjoy the well-kept beer. They seem to be pretty popular and the place was doing better business than most of the other pubs I passed when walking through the town. I’d happily call in again if I ever find myself back here again.

On 17th January 2022 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3093 recommendations about 3093 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Ian Mapp left this review about Cross Keys

My destination pub, after setting off walking from Hertford 16 miles away.

I've been to a few pubs in Harpenden but not ventured this far up the highstreet.

This was a classic british boozer - low beamed ceiling. tankards hanging from the roof. Open Fire. Newspapers.

Three real ales on an the TT Landlord was excellent.

Only slight grumble - £4 a pint.

I'm not quite in London, am I?

Visit blogged at

On 26th February 2017 - rating: 8
[User has posted 277 recommendations about 276 pubs]

View more reviews of Cross Keys (6)
External web links for Cross Keys

No known official website for this pub.

Pub location see interactive map of local area
Map location corrected by Tris C
Harpenden, 0.35 miles, 6 min walk (show)
Luton Airport Parkway, 5.19 miles, 1 hr 40 min walk (show)
St Albans City, 5.41 miles, 1 hr 44 min walk (show)
Latest updates View all updates for Cross Keys, Harpenden
25th Apr 2023, 10:32
Review submitted by Blue Scrumpy
17th Jan 2022, 16:06
Review submitted by Pub SignMan

Pub Details

Pub details supplied by members of this site to the best of their knowledge. Please check with pub directly before making a special trip.

  • Accommodation : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Bar Billiards : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Beer Festivals : Yes - May - last updated 29 July 2013 by Dave McNally
  • Beer Garden : Yes last updated 12 February 2018 by Komakino .
  • Car Park : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Child Friendly : Yes last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Darts : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Dog Friendly : Yes last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Function Room : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Hot Food : Yes - Lunches Mon - Sat - last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Jukebox : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Karaoke : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Micropub : No last updated 08 February 2021 by Tris C
  • Pinball : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Pool Table : No last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
  • Real Ale : Yes last updated 29 July 2013 by Dave McNally
  • Real Cider : No last updated 25 April 2023 by Blue Scrumpy
  • WiFi : Yes last updated 17 January 2022 by Pub SignMan
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