This is a small, historical pub in a secret location down a little lane in the heart of St James.
The last village pub in London (according to the sign out front), The Red Lion is certainly full of history. It consists of a small rectangular room, hidden behind its black timber frontage on Crown Passage – a fantastic higgledy piggledy little lane that feels quite Dickensian. There is a limited amount of light flowing in from the leaded windows and the rest comes from dim hanging lights in the bar.
There are some high stools along the bar and the window ledge with more comfortable cushioned benches forming a seating area off to the side. Pride of place goes to a red lion encased behind glass on one wall. It isn’t the most attractive of old pubs, but it has a certain scruffy charm.
The Red Lion plays host to a regular crowd of local office workers. Since this is the heart of hedge-fund land there is a preponderance of blue pinstriped suits and a mostly male clientele. The average age is certainly past 40. There is no music and nothing to distract from banter about the day’s trading rates. The service is polite and leaves the impression of an owner-operated establishment.
Draught choices include: Tribute ale, Adnams bitter, Guinness, Kronenbourg and San Miguel plus many selections by the bottle. The Red Lion also has a healthy selection of malt whiskies that goes down a storm with their older clientele. There is also a full range of spirits and a more limited selection of wine.
The Last Word
The Red Lion is worth stopping into for a pint – mostly to see the little lane that it runs off and its handsome timber frontage. Beyond that, the bar inside is not interesting enough to warrant a more lengthy stay.