Smack bang next to Covent Garden station, there couldn't be a more obvious choice if you're after a true London pub with history and a heart. But beware its size - if you're not heading up to the dining room it'll be a bit of a tight squeeze.
The White Lion sits right in the heart of Covent Garden, with street performers and market traders one way and the theatre district the other. If you're shopping in the area or popping out for a beer after work there really is no excuse not to visit, since it's spitting distance from the tube. Serving Londoners since Victorian times, the White Lion is a go-to boozer for tourists and locals alike. The decor is traditional but homely, with vintage beer posters reminding you just how far the pub's history stretches back.
It comes as no surprise that the White Lion gets busy. Pop in at any time of day and you'll be hard pressed to find a seat, and chance your arm in the evening and you'll likely have to elbow your way to the bar. From the outside, the pub looks tired and run-of-the-mill, but there's a terrific, buzzing atmosphere inside and staff are friendly and quick.
Upstairs is a large dining room with a tasty menu on offer. Pub favourites like fish and chips (£11.75) and chicken and mushroom pie (£9.75) sit alongside the more adventurous venison sausage and mash (£8.95) and vegetarian oven baked pancakes (£9.95). And any menu that includes a warm chocolate brownie is OK in our book.
There's a decent selection of wines on offer, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon at £4.10 a glass to Chardonnay at £5.65 a glass. The White Lion offers its own mixed drinks where classic Pimm's, Bloody Mary and Pink Gin are the stars. There's also a selection of 'beers of the world' including Budvar, Grolsch, Blue Moon and Duvel. Or you can stick to Nicholson's Pale Ale.
The Last Word
If you're after a quiet drink and a catch-up with friends, the White Lion's often loud and crowded vibe might not be your best bet. But if you want a great beer selection and a nice London pub feel, it's worth popping your head in on the way back to the tube.