Trendy pubs come and go but few have the staying power of arguably Camden’s most iconic pub. A favourite of the late, great Amy Winehouse and edgy fashion icon Kate Moss, there’s always a good chance of spotting Pete Doherty or the Camden party set here. But this place is so much more than a celebrity hangout…
The iconic red archways of the Hawley Arms are as much a part of Camden as the Lock or the eclectic market. Loyal regulars were devastated when it was gutted in a fire in 2008 but it re-emerged better than ever, keeping its edgy style that has made it such a hit with the cool kids of Camden.
The Hawley Arms has an easygoing style that’s hard not to fall in love with. Even after a fire, period features such as the wooden panelling across feature walls and old fireplaces are retained for a homely appeal, and prints featuring rock idols adorning the walls remind you this is a pub that supports real rock stars. Exposed brick mixes with chandelier-style lighting to give a surprisingly sophisticated edge to a pub widely regarded to be at the heart of alternative Camden. Upstairs is a little-known smaller bar area that is often less busy than the thriving ground floor area and a small outdoor terrace rounds things off nicely, and quickly fills to bursting point on a hot summer’s day.
This is a respected pub for a reason. It is just so damn cool. The bar staff are attractive types with a grungy style that works for them, and although some of them are more aloof than others, they are a pretty welcoming bunch. The crowd is incredibly eclectic, including everyone from office workers out to enjoy a post-work tipple through to edgy rock types looking to enjoy live music. Celebrities go pretty much unnoticed here - the crowd is far too cool to hassle them for autographs - and the acoustics are fantastic when bands play. And there's live music hosted here regularly. The pub also plays a key part in any and every Camden festival that rolls around each summer. You can see why The Hawley Arms team were so keen to resurrect the pub following the fire.
Food at The Hawley Arms is simple pub grub with no flounce – and the prices are decent with everything coming in between £5 and £10. Pieminister pies, fish and chips and bangers and mash won’t win any awards for gastronomy but they fill a hole and at rock bottom prices that’s all you really want. After 8pm food ends for the day as people get on with the far more important task of drinking.
Sitting alongside a wide choice of commercial lagers and ales are also three handpumps where the pub showcases more interesting brews. Exmoor Ales Gold is a great example of an easy-drinking pale ale while Greene King IPA is an oldie but a goodie. This brewery is also represented by the much-lauded Olde Trip. However, the pumps change regularly to keep the locals from getting bored by the selection.
The Last Word
The Hawley Arms is as iconic as Amy Winehouse’s beehive or Kate Moss’s cheekbones… and for good reason. It’s more than just a celebrity hangout, it’s one of the best alternative pubs in London.