The Greatest British Pub: Top 10

There aren't many things in life to rival the atmosphere of a good old fashioned British pub.

Best gin palace

Crown Bar Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Crown Bar Liquor Saloon

John Betjeman campaigned to save this gem in the 1970s, and it’s now owned by the National Trust. It also survived the Troubles—even though it’s opposite the Europa, once known as the most bombed hotel in Europe.

Built by moonlighting Italian craftsmen brought to Belfast to work on the church construction boom, The Crown is a slab of Victoriana like no other (and the Victorians knew how to do pubs), with every surface ornately decorated. The bar is of moulded ceramic tiles topped with red onyx. Look out, too, for the mosaic crown at the entrance and the ten snugs: private drinking rooms, designated A to J, with bells and corresponding lights above the bar. The lights still work (as does the gas lighting), but staff can’t guarantee they’ll answer on a Friday night when the pub is packed.

OK, so the Crown does get full of tourists—and who can blame them?—but that doesn’t detract. Watch a pint of Guinness settle on the bar and enjoy a real cathedral to drinking.

46 Great Victoria Street (crownbar.com)

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