Camden used to be the place for Alternative London and tourists still flock to the canal and markets looking for the genuine Punk experience, but are greeted mostly by fake horses and a tacky take on any kind of history. There are however still plenty of pubs in the area and worth a visit if you want a night ‘on the tiles’ (Whatever that means) .
So where to go? Well that depends on your idea of a good time, if you want to be hammered by 9pm and want fast, loud fun, we would recommend the Camden Pub Crawl, there are lots of bars/pubs that you will pop in and grab a drink (sometimes a slice of Pizza too if that’s your thing) by the end of the night you will end up in Proud. In buying a ticket to this for about £14 you end up finding out that most bars give shots or special drinks, you meet new people and you are encouraged to be as loud as possible! (for some reason).
However if you want a slower pace to your drinking, here are some other suggestions. (This is by no means all the pubs in the area, we aren’t alcoholics we swear to you – again!- honest)
A great meeting point is The World’s End, right opposite the tube (although the exit is on the other side), it is a rock pub, so the music is pretty loud and pretty heavy, but it’s worth one to get you going.
Be warned though you will be carded on the door, no matter what your age- literally you see OAP searching for their bus passes as ID to the grumpy arsed dickhead bouncers. Who literally grab you by the collar of your jacket and pull you back if you don’t provide them with what they deem ‘suitable ID’
Across the road is The Camden Eye (formerly The Halfway House). This is an OK pub, a bit more touristy.
We don’t drink in there as it is a little too pricey and more geared towards food and selling that ‘fake Camden’ that we mentioned before.
If you leave The World’s End going the other way and up the side road of Greenland Place, you will find The Black Heart. Its down the side of an alley so it is hard to find if you don’t know where you are going.
A gem of a bar, again loud, rock music and dark interior, but a genuine pub in Camden. It’s an independent so you won’t get Guinness and Fosters on tap, you will get random Stouts and House Lagers. The staff are fun and helpful, the clientele are Fun and loud and the toilets are communal and make for some interesting queue conversations! Including some interesting and well thought out graffitti.
Smells of piss, the bouncers are evil and it’s always dead inside despite the funky lighting outside.
The Elephant’s Head used to be the best pub in Camden, always filled to the brim, with punks, mods, rockers, skinheads and everyone else.
These days it is much more touristy and more subdued, you still get the occasional night of old, but they are few and far between and it’s pot luck that you find yourself in amidst these night, rather than through planning.
The Devonshire Arms (AKA The Dev). Has gone through a number of changes, it was a Hobgoblin Pub, it tried to be all welcoming and social, but it’s dark heart always shines through. It is still the rock/heavy metal pub it always has been. A little less busy with less of the wonderful freaks in the area, but worth a visit.
Be warned though, I once got thrown out for having a blue and white striped shirt on! It’s Black and gothic all the way!
The Hawley Arms is odd, it looks huge from outside, it is very shallow inside.
A really chilled out atmosphere, including a nice fireplace from what I can remember. The staff are really welcoming, animals are always encouraged and there is a roof garden.
A real regulars pub, not one we frequent too often so little to say about it, except we need to go in there more.
The Enterprise used to be a great pub, it does shut at 1am. However it is more targeted to the upstairs Hotel and the Kitchen rather than having a ‘good night’ as the website suggests it has got a lot more upmarket and rather less fun.
Oh what a shame it was a great place and it had some really hot bar staff! too!
The Monarch is another not bad pub, the beer is pretty crap though, but it used to (Not sure if it still happens, worth a check) hold the monthly singalong for all members of the Capital’s tribute bands, on a Sunday night. You could see all the greats in one place playing together on one small stage. Slush and Bobbie Idol, Frazzy Mercury and David Lee Froth. You name them they were there!
It is a rather large venue, has a apparently ‘very unique pub quiz’ so maybe it’s one that we will have to check out again.
The Lock Tavern is packed at all times
I’ve certainly has never been in here, it’s either too packed or its closed. I think its one of those places you need to hit it bang on or you will miss it.
I’ve been in there a few times, mostly with a large group after gigs, once (name dropping here) with The Mystery Jets et al and it wasn’t the right fit, much more R&B /House for a bunch of Alternative/Experimental Band Fans.
The Camden Head is ok, if you like your music from a TV and flat beer. It’s a stop gap between Mornington Crescent and Camden, but not a regular haunt.
We literally spent one night watching the A Team episodes, one after the other being played on the TV over our heads. There does seem to be a hell of a lot of variations for burgers though (so maybe it’s more foodie again)
The Ice Wharf (Formerly The Lloyd’s Bar)
It is big and bright, sells a lot of food and is more a family pub, it’s a little bit cheaper, but not too great. Think of it more as a starter pub than anything else, like a Weatherspoons.
This pub is hidden in plain site, it’s right next to the market on Camden High St, most of the time we don’t even notice it’s there. We can honestly say we have never been in here because it is packed during the day but almost looks closed down at nighttime.
It’s alright, it’s been years since we’ve been in there, so it may have changed hands – I guess we should go in soon, purely for research you understand.
This is big, vast even and not totally crap, it’s just not somewhere you aim for if you are at the tube station.
I can’t say I have ever been here.
Made famous by the band Madness apparently, it is one of those names you would know if you like music of the 80’s, many bands played there, drank there, got into fights there. That is all there is to see there, posters of who got thrown out of this dump, a run down, Irish drinkers pub with very unfriendly staff.
The Good Mixer is a place that Bob has never heard of but Ash says it is a odd place, it’s badly decorated, the drinks are usually foul and there is often a fight, but somehow it can be a great pub!
Just don’t make eye contact with anyone you don’t know!!!!!!!!!
As for Clubs, well there is a good selection of these too:
Proud is too expensive and full of Trendy wannabe wankers and for the ladies feels a bit like a cattle market (but maybe that’s just me) The bouncers are rude and often the staff are as grabby as the clientele.
KOKO is OK but much like Proud can get filled with CHAV tossers. Way, way more expensive than most clubs, normally filled with orange, bikini clad girls (even in winter) and guys in white trainers and chav tops. The only good thing about this is that there are some pretty cool gigs that go on from time to time.
RIP The Purple Turtle. IT is no more, it was the great alternative of Camden/Mornington Crescent and the venue of some of the greatest memories of our lives (well Ash’s mostly).
The Electric Ballroom, is the heart of Camden really, Friday Night Rock Night is a classic. Saturday Night Disco is cheesy but good (it really can happen).
I’ve been to the Rock Night countless times and have some fun memories of Metalheads windmilling to ‘Girl’s just wanna have fun’ at 3am, but never the Disco night, so after hearing all about Electric Ballroom from a few friends, we thought we would give it a go. It had a Game of Thrones theme (though I don’t really know how) There were a few cardboard cutouts I suppose and occasionally they did play the theme tune (which was a bit odd).
It was quite empty to begin with but did seem to fill up rather quickly. It actually was surprisingly a good night, the music wasn’t bad, there was an eclectic mix of people as well which was refreshing. Plus it didn’t shut early! It actually went on till 3am! (which is ridiculously late for London!)
There was an upstairs and a a downstairs, with vastly different music on both. The lower levels was much more indie and rock aka Blink 182, 1975 etc and upstairs was much more Beyonce and Drake etc.
The Underworld is under the World’s End (get it Under – World!) and is a warren of small rooms, culminating in a dance floor and a one step up stage.
It plays Rock and Alternative, some Brit Pop and a splattering of random stuff. It’s fairly standard price wise and the clientele are your usual bunch of long haired, tattooed and drunken freaks – there really are some still in Camden, YAY!!
But the dance floor is small and very sticky and the steps leading to it are a gauntlet challenge worthy of Lara Croft’s skills, we have seen more than enough people slid down them and crumple in a heap at the bottom with (actual) broken ankles.
Lock 17 is more a venue club, bands play here and it’s good for that.
We have never been there to drink or dance the night away, I’ve seen a few bands here, like The Futureheads, Kasabian and The Mystery Jets, but it’s not somewhere that I’d think of to for the night.
Well there you go, a round up of the bars and clubs that we know of in Camden, we realise there are plenty more but we don’t know them. Have we missed any good one? Let us know in the comments.