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PUBS & PATIOS: Happiness is a warm Gun

I have lots of favourite pubs in London, but none more so than The Gun, an exquisite little gem tucked away on The Thames in the city’s dockland district, directly across the river from the otherworldly O2 arena.

It’s a place I miss acutely when I’m not there, and will more so this weekend as I linger at home rather than enjoying London before the start of World Travel Market on Monday as I would normally do at this time of year.

It was WTM, indirectly, that introduced me to the charms of The Gun in the first place. When the show moved from Earl’s Court to ExCel in 2002, we followed the following year, setting up shop in an apartment closer to the east-end venue on the edge of Canary Wharf near Blackwall Station.

At that time, the Canary Wharf business district had not fully developed into the shopping and entertainment hub it is today and when offices closed at 5, the tumbleweeds were let loose. So, finding an establishment for an after-WTM drink proved harder than it should have in the land of pubs, culminating one evening in an awkward experience in a rough-and-tumble “Hammers” (the local football team) establishment, which we foolishly popped into still wearing tuxedos after a show gala.

Much intensified investigation ensued to find a more suitable venue and at last someone pointed us in the direction of The Gun – a place that quickly turned into our local for over a decade, and still warrants a visit even though we’ve moved on from staying nearby.

The pub dates to the early 18th century and famously claims Lord Horatio Nelson as its most famous patron. The British hero of the Battle of Trafalgar lived nearby and visited the pub regularly to meet Lady Emma Hamilton in an upstairs room for “secret assignations.” The pub’s web site does not mention the colourful rumour that bar staff warned the admiral when his wife was on the way to find him, thereby allowing him to escape out the back door.

The pub also played host to smugglers, who landed on the site and distributed their wares via a secret tunnel, which had a spyhole that exists to this day.

Today’s visitors, however, are more likely to spy the O2, which sits majestically directly across the river, and can be seen from river-side patio deck that boasts heaters in the winter, or from the outdoor gin garden. The cityscape is particularly illuminating at night.

Such amenities as the outdoor deck and gin garden illustrate the upscale nature of the pub (don’t come here to catch the afternoon football match), as does as a kitchen that serves next-level pub food with a modern twist, and a classic roast on Sundays.

The pub has not one but two fireplaces to keep guests warm during London’s chill winters

But not to fear, inside the pub is traditionally cozy and comfortable with not one but two fireplaces to keep guests warm – one of them in the “library,” where one might be inspired to borrow a book off the shelf for a quiet read in the corner.

On tap – always a critical consideration – are Fuller’s beers, including London Pride, ESB and Frontier, as well as seasonal varieties and a number of guest beers, plus a sommelier-curated wine list.

The Gin Garden features a similarly wide range of gins blended with herbs from its own grow patch.

The Gun is located about a 15-minute walk from the Tube at Canary Wharf or Blackwell on the DLR at 27 Coldharbour, Docklands, London, tucked in on a side street off (and viewable from) Prescott Road. The pub is certainly out of the way from central London, but convenient for shows at the O2 or on a visit to Greenwich, directly across the river.

The Gun, street view

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:


First published at Travel Industry Today

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