The Holly Bush
On a cold winter’s evening, there are few better places in London to drink a pint of real ale than fireside at The Holly Bush. This cosy pub nestles in the heart of a most picturesque (and expensive) part of London, but when it opened in 1643, Hampstead was home to the working class. In Victorian times, having evidently taken to the pub, the middle classes instigated some kind of social and gender apartheid, dispatching the working class to the tavern bar, and ladies (to ‘protect their dignity’) to the Coffee Room – as much is writ in the antique window etching. Nowadays its warren of dark, woody rooms is less about social segregation, more about conjuring a vintage atmosphere (it’s defiantly sport-free). It also boasts quite the creative heritage, once owned by painter George Romney and patronised by writers Dr Johnson and James Boswell. In fact, happily, about the only modernisation is in its organic menu. Then again, 17th-century scoff was probably also certifiably organic.