What to Know Before Visiting a London Pub | UK Pub Etiquette

What to Know Before Visiting a London Pub | UK Pub Etiquette

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– Do you tip the bartender? How do you order a drink? I’m gonna tell you some of
the important things to know before you visit a pub in London. By the way, I’m Jess
and I’ve lived in London for over five years and
I’ve make videos for people who are coming to visit London. If you’ve never been before,
I have a special freebie for you, so make sure you
watch the end of the video to find out how to get it. Order at the bar. At most pubs, you’ll go up to
the bartender, order a drink, pay for it there, and then take it to wherever you are sitting. The same goes for if you’re
also going to be having food. You just got the bar, tell
the bartender what you want. They put the order in and
you pay the bartender there. The only difference is if the
pub has a special restaurant section, then you’ll have
regular table service like you would at a typical restaurant. When in doubt, if you’re
not sure how the pub works, just find a staff member
and ask what the deal is. Order beer and cider by the pint. So, it’s customary to go up
to the bartender and say, I’d like a pint of whatever
drink is on tap that you want. You can also ask for a
half pint if you don’t want a big drink and you
just want a little bit. Most bars will also have bottled beer in fridges behind the bar. So, you can kinda have
a look at what they have or ask the bartender and
order yourself a bottled beer or cider as well. You can stand outside with your drink. When a pub starts to get crowded and all the seats are taken up people start to just
stand around in circles with their drinks or, if
it’s a some-what decent day, they’ll go outside and
spill out onto the streets and the pavement outside of the pub. In fact, you know when it’s quitting time because you’ll see all the
pubs around London have people spilling out of them or crammed inside if it’s too cold to be outside. Pubs are family affairs. Almost all bobs around
London are family affairs during the day, especially on the weekend. In fact, it’s really common
for families to bring their kids and their dogs to the
pub on a Sunday and have, or a Saturday, and have a
really nice Saturday or Sunday pub lunch or even dinner. It feels more like a
casual restaurant rather than like a bar. So if you really want
to feel like a local, take the whole family to a pub
and act like you’re British. You order by rounds. Typically, when Londoners
go to a pub together, what they do is they all order
rounds, so that people don’t have to each go up individually
to get their own drinks. You can kinda tell, if
you’re in a big group, that would be pretty easy
for you to get drunk fairly quickly with this method. And you don’t have to go by
this method if it’s just you and your travel buddy, but it does make things a lot easier. So, everyone doesn’t have
to go wait up at the bar for like 15 minutes for their drink. It’s casual dress. Most pubs during the day are super casual in terms of what you wear. The only exception is later in the evening where you might start to see people who are more dressed up
because they are either going for a nicer dinner afterwards or they plan to go to the
club after they’re at the pub. So, in the evening you can do either or. You can be a little more casual or it’s totally fine to be dressed up too. Seat yourself. Generally speaking, at pubs, it’s a seat yourself kind of affair. You might see those little
reserved signs on some of the tables, as a lot of
pubs do take reservations. So if you can think that
far ahead, it would be good to make a reservation
if you have a little bit of a larger group and
especially if you want to eat on a weekend or later in the evening. Otherwise, it’s every
person for themselves when it comes to seating. Not all pubs are equal. There is a huge range of
pubs in London all the way from really fancy nice Gastropubs
with like really beautiful high-end food and that are more expensive down to chains like
Wetherspoons which are known for doing really cheap food
and also cheap alcohol. Of course the food quality
is going to vary greatly across all different types of pubs but if you’re just going for
a drink, don’t stress too much about finding the perfect pub. You can’t really go wrong if
you’re just ordering pints from somebody at a bar. And if you get a drink and you’re not keen on the atmosphere just finish the drink and move onto the next one. You don’t tip the bartenders. Americans, I think, they’ll love this. You do not need to tip
bartenders when you are here in London or even in the UK. Do you plan on visiting a pub
when you’re here in London? Let me know down in the comments and if it’s your first
time visiting London, grab my free London 101 Guide. It tells you everything you
need to know before you touch down here in London town. You can get that here by clicking
the card, popping up there or the link that’s down
there in the description and it’s fo’ free. I have lots and lots of videos for people who are coming to visit London. You can watch a couple
of my really good ones by clicking over here and I’ll
see you in the next video.

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100 Comments

  1. Also to echo this great advice: You can tip small in some pubs..The key is if there is a tray-like thing on the bar and they put your change there with your drink… It's a silent "you may leave the change if you wish." Or if you want to treat your bartender, just leave a few pounds on the counter and tell them "Have a pint on me!" I've only seen it in the tray-tip setup more bohemian atmosphere pubs.

    This is spot-on though that tipping is never expected at pubs.

  2. If you find a Wetherspoons, it's so much better if you can find a good table and probably the cheapest drinks you'll find in London. Plus you can order from your phone – the service on a good day takes around 1 min! SPOONS FOREVER

  3. I am planning to visit London at the end of November (only for a weekend but still good) and I'd like to visit some cheap,student – friendly pub 😀 Do you know any of those?Actually I don't know in which borough I would stay.(It would be my second visit here)

  4. I was in London & Cardiff, Wales last year, and was surprised at the lack of bar seats. I am a pretty independent woman, and have no problem going out by myself to local bars to sit/sip/eat/meet people. Why are UK pubs seatless? BTW, I'm curious, not complaining.

  5. Sorry- completely oblivious question: I plan to visit pubs primarily to eat- and not at “fancy gastropubs,” for the most part. Since it’s a seat-yourself-order-at-the-bar system, how do you get menus? Are they typically laid out on the tables or at the bar? Do you ask the bartender for one? Or is it just posted on the wall somewhere?

  6. I loved the visuals on this video! The little clips of pubs were great! Would love to see more of this 👏🏼

  7. It will be my first time in London and your videos are super helpful! Especially this one as I plan to go to as many pubs as I can! Cheers!

  8. London pubs are lot healthier now since they banned smoking inside them. It was like heading into a fog until the late 1990s.

  9. I know part of my plan will be a pub crawl. I think I saw a video you posted with a tourism crawl. Down by the old docks? I'll look again. For me, pubs are always a must do! Thanks for this🍻

  10. I forgot to ask, do the pubs typically offer beer flights or taste testing if you're not familiar with the brands?

  11. We will be with a friend in London for the first time in September, I'm not planning to go to a pub since I don't drink alcohol, but I might go with my friend once or twice.
    Any suggestions for a non-alcohol drinks in pubs?

  12. It is quite normal to buy a drink for the bar person which they will probably take in monetary form as a tip.

  13. If I may just add. When ordering food in the pub you may be asked for a table number so look for it before you go to the bar. If there isn't a number on the table some pubs will give you a spoon or bottle etc with the table number on it. This number helps to identify where you're sat.

  14. The number of pubs in the UK are decreasing rapidly. You don't tend to find many pubs that are just pubs, by that I mean those that only sell drinks. Many pubs have regenerated and become pub-restaurants. This means there is less seating for those that just want a drink.

    The pubs you find in the tourist areas are generally open to families, as the video states. However, there are some pubs in more local (or downtown as Americans say) that are very community based and those that drink in there tend to know many of the other drinkers. I'm a Londoner yet have walked into some of these type pubs to be met with stony silence! If you've ever watched American Werewolf in London think of the pub scene and you'll know what I mean. In fact, search YouTube for "American Werewolf in London – Pub Scene HD – BEST EDIT! " and check out the reaction when they walk into the pub.

    In the UK we have many many different types of Beer/ Ale and Lager. Don't go in a pub and ask for a Lager Beer as they are completely different types of drink. However, if you travel to mainland Europe you can generally ask for a beer and it will be a form of Lager.

    So, if you're in the UK and want a lager see the choice and choose by name, for example, a pint or half-pint of Stella, Peroni, Amstel, Heineken etc.

    In the past paying for your drinks in cash was the usual practice but I now see many people using their debit / credit cards and if under £30 (as of August 2018) and supported by your card type you can use touchless which does not require your pin number.

  15. You can also put money into a kitty which is used to buy rounds. That way people can control the amount they drink better. If there are 9 of you can everyone was to buy a round you would be legless or end up refusing drinks, which means later round buyers would buy less than earlier round buyers. The alternative of having a kitty means you could all put £10 in, for instance, which is about enough for 2 drinks each and then top up the kitty if you all want more.

  16. You forgot one important point. Wait for your turn. The bartender may ask you for your order by mistake. If you know there was someone waiting at the bar before you say that I was after that man. Serve him/her first. That politeness is very British and usually followed.

  17. We will be in London the end of May will be our first time there. We want to go to the Ye Olde Cheesire Cheese Pub 1667 rebuilt. To us looks like fun and interesting. Great videos on helping visitors.

  18. We don't tip.
    BUT if you're a local, then it's often courteous to offer the bartender a drink every once in a while.
    I would only ever do this if I know the bartender by name however.

  19. Oh yes and here in England we drink “Pints 🍺 “ which i found quite strange when i visited the USA 🇺🇸 as their equivalent is smaller…i think it’s because we allow for the head on a ale…
    Has anyone found this when visiting the USA?
    Anyway, you’re all welcome here… hope you have a excellent experience in our country 👍🏻

  20. Can I add, (1) In many UK cities and towns you are not allowed to go outside with a glass glass. Pubs will often put drinks in plastic glasses if you are going outside, and (2) definitely no smoking inside any pub. Enjoy your stay.

  21. I work in a pub in London (the smallest wetherspoon in the country) u don't have to tip the bartender but if you do we are happy because it means we've done a good job lol

  22. I am a british citizen.I lived in London in the 80s and it was beautiful. Now I live in New York city and would like to visit london but the violence put me off.Are the many big fights in London bars ? .I know I should not dwell on the negative but back in the day pubs were fun .

  23. Re: the dress code – generally no caps or hooded tops (with the hood being worn on the head). Shirts to be worn at all times (even outside), but people (chaps) trying to get away with that is pretty rare in London.

  24. Why is this specifically London? It's the same across the Uk and most places are a lot better and friendlier than London.

  25. And anyone asking for a shot of blackcurrant in their pint of Guinness deserves to be thrown out onto the street! 😀

  26. We don’t tip, but usually if they were extra friendly and that; or you’re a local to the pub… you offer the bartender a drink

  27. Go for the cask ale. The beer’s with the big wooden handles. Never understand people that go all the way to the UK and order Carlsberg or Peroni when there’s freshly brewed English ale you can’t get get anywhere else in the world staring you in the face. Some popular ones to try are London pride, Spitfire, Doombar, Old speckled hen, Abbot ale and Timothy Taylor landlord. Any of these will put the warm, stale and flat stereotype to bed.

  28. Tips are always welcome! But not required and waiting your turn Don’t push in! You will infuriate the locals! Haha

  29. Surprised that you didn't state that you cannot smoke in pubs. That would have been a highly useful fact to include for overseas visitors.

  30. You forgot the most important thing about pubs: If someone accidentally breaks a glass or a plate it's VITAL that you yell "WAHEEEEEY!" at the top of your lungs, it would be considered beyond rude not to!

  31. If they serve a locally brewed craft ale, I recommend you try it, you may never taste the like again and it can be fab. Don't forget it's meant to be room temperature to get the full flavour. Enjoy!

  32. Always wait your turn at the bar, and never mention religion or politics when chatting with the other customers, it's considered bad form.

  33. I would be great to know a couple of the best pubs to visit for first timers. Ones that are very traditional and others that are trendy.

  34. Hej. Might be worth mentioning that a ‘pint’ in London, as in all the UK, is 20 fluid ounces not the 16 ounce Yankee pint.

  35. don’t forget that most pubs will let you try a drink before ordering. Don’t be afraid to ask, be better to have a small taste before than end up with a pint you don’t like.

  36. No tipping the barman or barmaid? Things have changed since I was a regular pub goer in the late 50s/60s. Then it was not unusual to to say "Will you have one with me?" The bartender would usually say "Thank you, I'll have it later" keep the price of their drink usually wanting to stay sober and make up their wages that way.

  37. I would probably be dressed up during “happy hour” which in the USA means 4 pm – 8 pm otherwise I’d dress casual

  38. I am thinking about moving to (retiring to) England. I hope someone will be willing to e-mail back and fourth on this subject. I am going to travel to London in a few months.

  39. I really enjoy the practical tips in your videos. We always try to learn about and be respectful of the culture when we travel. It's great to get some insight from someone who wasn't raised in London and knows what particular things may be different for us Americans.

  40. One thing that gets on my nerves in pubs are the people standing infront of the taps drinking their beer. I know it's not hard to ask them to move out the way, but common decency would be to move further along the bar and allow people to see what drinks are available.

  41. Is it ok to drink alone in pubs? cuz mostly ppl comes in groups and i found it weird sometimes sitting alone in the corner and drinking 🙂

  42. There is a way to tip the bartender: after a few rounds, when you get the order in, say “and one for yourself”, that’s the national pub equivalant to tipping. Don't be insulted if you don't see the money for the drink being placed in a tip-jar. Usually they’ll have a code on their electronic tills for that drink for themselves that’s not actually a drink.

    Although I hear that’s something that’s dying out and only us old ‘uns do that now.

  43. definitely will be visiting pubs while in UK in June this year 🙂 Husband is originally from UK so think we should do alright

  44. My tip for Americans? Pull on that beautiful Claret and Sky Blue West Ham shirt and pop down into the very friendly Blue Anchor in Bermondsey South London – even better on a Saturday afternoon during the football season.

  45. My boyfriend and I were at the Sawyer Arms in the Paddington area having a pint or two on a Monday night and were shocked that the pub was closing promptly right at 11pm! "You have 51 seconds to finish your beers" and they meant it. We were shocked because it seemed so early, especially for a major city in a country known for its drinking culture. Also it was jarring how abrupt they were about it. Luckily, there was a kinder, gentler, and most importantly open pub a block down the road.

  46. Oh yeah, in the Uk no tipping, that's why we do prefer the American tourists here in Europe, I work as a guide, and I get paid peanuts without tips, God bless the USA and their nice and tipping tourists from the East coast!!! NYC best tippers, are always welcome. But when I know there are british tourists, I will just do the average service and not care, as there won't be any tip for my own meal later the day

  47. which place do you recommend most to stay in (we don't have a high budget)? do you think in this case Shoreditch would be the best option ??? if we want to have tours in London in the day time and go for pubs and bars at night and stay in an area near the pubs and bars so we go to our rented apartment at any late time,

  48. Pro tip: If youre on a date in a busy Pub/bar or just dont fancy waiting a long time everytime you want a drink tip the bartender a fiver/tenner when you order your first drink. Where its not normal to tip here the bartender will definitely take notice and for the rest of the night you will get priority from that bartender when you go to the bar.

  49. If you want to try a local real ale just ask the staff what they sell the most of.lots of pubs have " guest beers" for a week or so, again ask the staff.

  50. As a bartender in London, I have to stress you CAN tip us lol 😂 it's not a requirement, but if you feel like tipping, please do! It's England, not Japan. We will gladly appreciate your offerings

  51. As someone that works in Wetherspoons, it is important that you look out for, and ask about any themes your pubs may have. If you visited many wetherspoons, you would know that most of them has a certain theme, that they are decorated by, and during the night it transforms into something more true to that theme. Most pubs also turn into clubs during the night, so look out for those aswell

  52. An interesting tip that is often overlooked is if you want to try an ale on tap, you can ask the bar tender for a sample taste of the ales, so you can try before you buy. Ales have so many different tastes that this is very useful when deciding what you like the taste of.

  53. Different pubs have different tipping policies, a tip or being offered to have a drink brought for you is always appreciated even if you can’t accept it

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