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King Street Run: The King among the pubs!
Probably, this is my favourite pub in Cambridge. At least, this was one of those pubs where I often brought visitors too or met with friends. Great place with punk/alternative music and the respective audience. A couple of pub games (darts, kicker) are available. Guest ales are often available and there are often special offers (for example buy three pints and get the chance to win a free prize - for example: More beer!). Even the building is great - the marks on the floor, the old comics on the ceiling and the effect of the broken down 1st floor (which is only open when it becomes really full). Sport events are regularly transmitted on two screens, some even Not the cheapest pub, but surely not the most expensive. Great atmosphere, with a lot of people on weekends. Definitively, my top choice in Cambridge.
See my local costum tip for info on the event called "King Street Run", which also involves this pub
Dress Code: With coat and tie, you would look as if you were completely lost....
The Castle: Overpriced Bar
an overpriced cocktail bar - some people say, they have style, but if they do it's not my kind of style. It is located in an old building, the interior is rather modern and the prices are probably the prices in this area of Cambridge. Most other guests seemed to be as misplaced as I was in this place or were young couples with an awful lot of money. I did not try the food, but the menu was in the same price category as the drinks. The place also serves as a B&B, however with the music (latest trends of Electro and House...) and the noise from the main street, I can't imagine that the sleep at The Castle is really good. The only factor in favour of this place was the friendly staff.
For real high-class style, go to the Hotel du vin, for a pub with individual character I recommend places like the Champion of the Thames or the King street Run. For food, there are wonderful Italian restaurants and the authentic Chinese "Seven Days" just a few steps away.
BTW, "The Castle" should not be confused with "The Castle INN" at Castle Street (located between the old castle mound and Magdalene Bridge). That one is a good pub with a food menu I would like to recommend.
The Boathouse: Greene King Pub in the Chesterton Road area
The Boathouse is one of the many Greene King Pubs in Cambridge which are OK, but nothing more. It has the standard Greene King menu, the standard offers, interior and range of Guest Ales. Furthermore, it is located in an area where many other pubs (Fort St. George, Waterman, Old Spring, Tivoli and Portland Arms) are located within walking distance. As it is one of the larger pubs in Cambridge, it is good for a nice night out in a less crowded atmosphere. Furthermore, it offers some entertainment like bands and comedians on weekends – all a little quieter than the concerts in the nearby Portland Arms, but still good. The pub is frequented by students, but also other groups are seen here frequently.
As already said, it’s not a bad pub at all and there are surely some reasons to visit this location. However, there are surely also as many reasons to visit some of the other nearby pubs or those in the city centre. It’s just a standard Greene King Pub with nice entertainment on weekends.
Sir Isaac Newton: Large pub, nice atmosphere
You won’t expect anything special in a usual Greene King pub, but in this case nothing special can be a special attribute too. The Sir Isaac Newton is a normal kind of pub with a normal pub grub menu (although not the usual Greene King One), the usual lagers and a couple of guest ales. What makes the Sir Isaac Newton a good place to spend an evening is the mixed crowd, the friendly staff and the spacious location. It’s not as large as the Regal, but still one of the larger pubs in Cambridge. A couple of sofas are stuck in the one or other corner making these places very popular, especially with the groups of youngsters. Quiz nights take place regularly, but unfortunately I can’t say a lot about them as they never were on the evenings I was in. The Sir Isaac Newton is surely one of the better choices in this corner of Cambridge and not that far away from the city centre. It’s just a pity that you have to pass so many other pubs on the way before you reach this one.
The pub stands on the place where a Roman inn stood once upon a time, probably the first pub in Cambridge. However, that Inn has nothing to do with the present building or the present pub.
The White Swan: Home of Irish Music in the Mill Road area
This place was among my favourite ones in Cambridge and together with the Earl of Beaconsfield the best in the Mill Road area. It's an Irish pub, just without hanging of the cliché of leprechauns, shamrocks and the “Fields of Athenry”. Still, you will find footie and rugby on TV, Irish newspapers available to read and the black stuff from St. James' Gate in Dublin. Other beers are available as well, of course, but the selection is not really large. There are sandwiches and other typical pub grubs on the menu, but please note that the kitchen has limited opening times. I was really surprised to see the probably largest sandwich in Cambridge with lots of salad and chips. For entertainment there are a couple of board games as well as darts. The left hand side of the pub is often used as a stage with regular Irish music sessions going on. On Paddy's day, the pub probably ran the best party in Cambridge! Unfortunately, this also means that the pub can become pretty full as well. If you need a break in between, please visit the Earl of Beaconsfield on the other side of the bridge. It is like a smaller version of the White Swan, but sometimes a little quieter.
Kudos to Steffi, who should by now be back in Germany. Best regards from the three drunken Germans who came in for a drink the day after St. Patrick's!
The Earl of Beaconsfield: Something Irish in the Mill Road area
I once asked the barmaid what they were going to do on St. Patrick's Day and got the simple but probably best answer: “Live music and a lot of Guinness”. Together with the White Swan, the Earl of Beaconsfield is one of the few remains of Irish Heritage along Cambridge's Mill Road. But you should not expect shamrocks and leprechauns all over the wall and “Molly Malone” coming out of the stereo boxes. The “Beakey”, as it is often called, is a down to earth pub where locals come in for a pint but is welcoming to foreigners. Selection of beers is OK, food is not served but bar snacks such as crisps and peanuts are available. There are a couple of pub games such as dart and pool. The famous Irish live music sessions have moved to the White Swan for space reasons, but there are still live bands at the Earl of Beaconsfield as well.
I always regarded the Earl of Beaconsfield as a cosy, quieter alternative to the White Swan. However, the “Beakey” can get pretty full during weekends or special events as well. An excellent place to be considered on a night out in the Mill Road area.
The Pickerel Inn: Cambridge's Oldest Pub
The probably oldest pub in Cambridge is a classic beer pub – no gastro-experience world, no exotic cocktails, just ales, lagers and classic pub food and snacks. It is located in a medieval house with a low ceiling, although it looks far more modern from outside. Being mentioned first in the 15th century, it claims to be the oldest pub in Cambridge. Even as there is no real proof, I can’t even think of any real contestant for this claim.
The low ceiling, the wooden structure and the dark furniture gives it a classic pub atmosphere. Other than that, decoration consists of former sport trophy and pictures of the neighbouring Magdalene College. Guest ales (including some stronger ones) rotate frequently, but Guinness and the usual lagers are available too. The space is very limited, but during summer time a garden terrace is available too. Staff is friendly and food is surely not a culinary highlight, but still great and a change to the Greene King and Wetherspoon taste. Still, the pub belongs to a chain (Taylor Walker). Both times I went there I ordered sausages to share which were OK. The audience is mixed, although you will always find some more students and people in their mid-twenties in here. A real pub with real character I would like to recommend!
Dress Code: Not at all...
Six Bells: No reason to go here
I can’t think why you should come to this place, if this place is not your local. The beer prices were one of the more expensive in Cambridge, the atmosphere was going towards zero with less than a handful of costumers in the pub. I am not sure if food is served at all, at least it was not when I was there. Maybe I was just there on the wrong evening, but nearby pubs in the same area had far more costumers. It’s a pity to see that so many pubs have disappeared in the Mill Road area and that this is one of the remaining ones.
The White Swan and the Earl of Beaconsfield were in my opinion far better options, the nearby Live and Let Live has probably the best choice of bottled beers in Cambridge while the Kingston Arm and the Geldart are known for their food.
City Centre Pubs: Plastic Paddy Pub with some atmosphere
The only Irish themed pub in Cambridge – although there are pubs with an Irish background like the White Swan and the Earl of Beaconsfield. The Quinn's may not appear as attractive as other pubs in Cambridge. It belongs to a chain of pubs which is attached to the Crowne Plaza hotel chain. That means: It is clean, new and without any tradition. In short words: It's as Plastic Paddy as I am on every March 17th. However, when I visited it, I was positively surprised. The atmosphere was excellent, music, drinks and food were and of course there was football running on the telly. I never expected it to be a real alternative to other pubs and in the end, I even think that it has more character than most of the Greene King pubs here in Cambridge. If you are looking for the “real” Irish however, you should visit the two pubs mentioned above at Mill Road.
The Champion of the Thames: Classic Gentlemen's pub
If you are looking for a centrally located, more traditional pub, without the dust of the past decades, a true real ale pub for gentlemen without too many tourists or students – this might be the right choice. The Champion of the Thames has become probably the most classic pub in Cambridge and managed to avoid the hype of the Eagle and many other centrally located pubs.
The pub is a true beer drinkers pub, with exceptions of bar snacks such as peanuts and crisps, no food is served. No special offers, no special offers for the Six Nations cup – just Greene King and the usual lagers on tap with the one or other additional guest ale. The Champion of the Thames is a very welcoming place and a good location for any fan of real ale.
As of 2011, the pub is one of four available stations for the so-called King Street Run. Check the respective tip at the local custom section for more details on that.
Dress Code: Just don't look as if you would only come in for trouble...
Vodka Revolution: A chain club with vodka and more
The popular 'Revolution' (better known as Vodka Revolution) chain has been present in Cambridge for a couple of years now. It is a popular hangout place for the young crowds, especially at weekends with the odd stag & hen party here and there. There are five bars on several floors and as the name suggests, this place is specialised on Vodka. However, that does not mean that you don't get any of the other stuff. I once kept ordering Jagermeister and Guinness for me and a friend and I'm happy I can still remember that night....
Prices are a little higher than in most Cambridge venues, however if you use their club card and/or stick to the happy hours you will find some real bargains. Food is good for pub food, however, it is a little more expensive than in other places (see above...) and limited, especially when the place gets crowded at weekends. There are many groups of mid-twenties and many people who are there for an after-work party. I went there several times and like that place. However, due to its chain character, it has a sterile touch and a lack of individuality.
Dress Code: No specific dress code, just don't look as if you were completely out of this world.
Salisbury Arms: Pub close to the Youth Hostel
If you are looking for a place for large groups close to the youth hostel or the train station, the Salisbury Arms might be the right place for you. Popular with students, it has an atmosphere which rather reminds me of a pub back home in Northern Germany than a typical English Pub. It was fine, with one central bar and many seats and tables around. The staff was not unfriendly, but seemed rather introverted. I guess that any of the other guests (more than 30) would have made a better partner for conversation than those two behind the counter. Guest ales are always available, unfortunately, there was no stout for me.
Food is mainly served as lunch, although the kitchen is open until evening during the week. At weekends, there is a Sunday roast lunch. Outside of that, there is only crisps, biltong and nuts.
The place is OK, but if you are not in a large group, there are better alternatives within walking distance. This includes the Flying Pig and the Emperor (both at Hills Road), some pubs at Mills Road, the Kingston Arms (Kingston street) and even one of my favourites, the Geldart, at Ainsworth Street.
The Regal (Wetherspoon): Britain's largest pub
Most Wetherspoon pubs are just as good and as bad as any other. Even the Regal in Cambridge is probably not what I call a secret tip or must do. However, the pub has a kind of properties which make it a special one. First, it is located in the former lobby of a cinema (parts of the cinema are still in use above the pub). That means that black and dark red are the dominating colours. The pub takes up the whole size of the former lobby, that means two floors and a terrace (which may be interesting for smokers who don't want to leave the pub), making it Britain's largest pub. On weekends, it is a popular venue for the young crowd and has also a small dancing area.
The audience is pretty mixed, but on weekends, you'll find almost only students and teenies. Be prepared to have your ID checked as well as occasionally searched for weapons on Friday and Saturday evening. During the week, it's more like a pub you would go to after work. The menu is typically Wetherspoon, I didn't notice anything special. There was a surprisingly good choice of guest ales. Prices are as low as in an usual Wetherspoon Pub.
As I said, the Regal is Britain's largest pub. Britain's smallest is just a little more than an hour by train away: The Nutshell in Bury St. Edmunds. Cambridge's smallest, St. Radegund, is just 500 metres away.
Dress Code: No dress code, but I am sure you will be refused entry on weekends, if you look like causing trouble.
- Beer Tasting
The Anchor: A view of the river
The Anchor public house is an excellent place to enjoy views of the river whilst having a spot to eat and drink. Plenty of floors and various types of smoking and non smoking areas to keep everyone happy.
Dress Code: Typical informal English pub
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
The Pickerel: Plenty of places to have a drink
Ok we came here twice in one day but the first time was so comfortable that we ended up here again having a final drink before saying goodbye to Gillian Mclaughlin.
Cambridge has many pubs and eating houses and this one was as good as any. It is large and has many places to sit and enjoy a chat aswell as a drink.
Dress Code: Casual dress is Ok
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