Many pubs claim to have historical significance but the Prospect of Whitby really means it. As the oldest riverside pub in London, dating back to 1520, this is a boozer with an illustrious list of ex-punters, including Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman and Princess Margaret, to name a few. Now THAT would be a crowd worth having a pint with!
Prospect of Whitby is as picture-perfect a pub as you could hope to find in London. It’s located in a pretty area of Wapping and benefits from an outdoor space that overlooks the Thames; as a result, in the summer this is a place that is always busy. Keep an eye out for the hangman’s noose outside – this is a noose that has genuinely seen some action in the past!
Inside, the pub is equally picturesque. Heavy stone flooring sits beneath wooden tables and chairs that add to the feeling you are somewhere old. Original features also help to lend credence to the decor. If you want to visit in the winter, three open fires make things even cosier. There is a restaurant area upstairs that is a little more structured with dining tables, but you’ll barely notice that over the amazing river views.
In the summer months, riverside pubs in London are almost continuously busy, so it’s likely that the outdoor area will be full to bursting, especially post-5.30pm. However, this is a pub of two halves. The cosy interior décor and open fireplaces also give it a wintertime appeal that many people seek out. Add to this its well-documented historical significance and you have the recipe for a busy, thriving pub. The only criticism would be that occasionally in the winter months the fireplaces lay unused and it can get cold inside – old buildings unfortunately suffer from a problem with insulation and those river breezes are chilling during big freezes.
The Prospect of Whitby is part of the Taylor Walker chain of pubs, and so the food is laid out on big menus with little authentic flair. Burgers, fish and chips, steaks – it’s the usual pub grub that doesn’t wander into the realm of gastro pretension.
They do stock real ale at the Prospect of Whitby and, at any one time, the selection can include the likes of Abbot Ale, Adnams Broadside and Adnams Southwold Bitter. This is bolstered by a good choice of world beer in bottles, including the increasingly popular Brooklyn, Innes and Gunn, Duvel and the quirkily named God Lager… Well, if it’s good enough for God. It’s also good to see that Brewdog has worked its way into such a big chain. It’s just a shame that the wine selection is so woeful.
The Last Word
The Prospect of Whitby is a strong all-rounder and it’s easy to see why it has been around for so long. Historical figures, A-list Hollywood stars and even royalty have sought out its charms – long may it continue.