PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: Seeing Stars again in London
A couple of years ago, in those heady days before the world was turned upside down, I began a series on my annual London pub crawl, conducted on the Sunday before World Travel Market each November. Alas, while you’ll undoubtedly recall the first two – The Grenadier (for its famous Bloody Marys) and The Nag’s Head (for its jazz jams) – the final stop, The Star Tavern, fell through the cracks of COVID. Call it “pub interrupted.” Until now.
The Star, visited again earlier this month for the first time since 2019, was the last of the trio to be added to our roster, discovered by chance when the first two didn’t seem quite enough for a Sunday afternoon foray. (How many pubs make a crawl one wonders, though the prospect nowadays of crawling on hands a knees does seem extreme.)
Besides proximity – being just a short walk from the other two, albeit in the dizzying streets and lanes of Belgravia (for reference, think kind of near Harrod’s in embassy district of central London) – we picked The Star for it’s unusual history.
Indeed, the pub is known for its role in one of Britain’s most notorious escapades, which is detailed on a sign on the wall, declaring: “This very room was the location for the planning for what was the century’s biggest heist – the Great Train Robbery – which netted the 18-man gang £2.6 million (about £40 million in today’s money).”
The train thieves were just some of the “master criminals” who reportedly hung out at The Star in the 1950s and ‘60s alongside the city’s rich and famous, such as Peter O’Toole and Albert Finney.
And while we lured by the notoriety of the 1963 heist, made more notorious by the fact that most of the money was never found, we stayed (and return), for the atmosphere, particularly the venue’s upstairs “library,” a pleasant sitting room with plenty of space to spread out on couches or at a table if desired.
The room boasts its own bar, though we’ve yet to see it open, but the main station downstairs suitably serves, and waiters attend patrons upstairs at regular intervals.
And what’s a library without books? Not that we’ve ever been inclined to read one. Nevertheless, the collection is curious, ranging from an antique three-volume set of “Modern Heating and Ventilation” to more recent editions of The Good Beer Guide. If you have the time, there’s a collection of Dickens, and other vintage volumes to spare.
Of course, pubs are equally about the beer, and The Star, a Fuller’s affiliate, also serves cask conditioned ale, and proudly notes that it has been listed in every edition of the aforementioned Good Beer Guide. And it was named WL CAMRA (campaign for real ale) Pub of the Year in 2017, and last year received a CAMRA Golden Award, recognizing the pub’s significant contribution to the cause.
A worthy wine list is also available.
Meanwhile, food embraces the farm-to-fork ethos, with menu items ranging from pies of the day to burgers and sandwiches, and more eclectic fare like gnocchi and chicken Kiev.
The Star Tavern is located at 6 Belgrave Mews West, a short walk from Knightsbridge Station (and Sloane Square and Victoria). It’s open from noon to 11 p.m. (9 on Sundays).
With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:
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First published at Travel Industry Today