A stones-throw from busy Knightsbridge, in a tranquil mews, the Nag’s Head is locked in the past. The wooden frontage is like a Dickensian shop and the unspoilt interior is a world away from the corporate creations of the pub chains.
This charming little hostelry hasn’t changed much in three hundred years. The front bar has a beer shop interior with bare floor boards and wooden panelling. There’s a plethora of genuine curiosities and bric-a-brac, including some working penny arcade machines and a what-the-butler-saw type viewing box ‘in 3D still pictures’. The centre piece is a stove from the 1820’s. Another individual aspect is that bar staff are at a much lower level than the customers and bar stools are at chair height, which is somehow disconcerting. Mounted on the counter is a wonderful pewter beer engine with pretty pink ceramic Chelsea Pottery handpulls.
The back bar downstairs is small and cosy, with a cast fireplace and dark wooden panelling. Here too collections of oddments, such as ice-skates and carpet beaters, and lots of prints. A hefty and shining National cash register sits on the solid bar counter.
Switch off your mobile, they’re banned, landlord Kevin Moran says they’re unnecessary and intrusive. Kevin is an old fashioned kind of landlord, he took the ‘Free House’ off his pub sign when he saw the term abused by others; his is a true Free House he says, he can sell what beer he chooses. Don’t get the wrong idea, Kevin is a great host and runs a popular pub. Once the majority of pubs were run by people like him, nowadays most are run by managers who move from pub to pub. Kevin’s been here more than 25 years.
Overall this is a fantastic pub of a type becoming more rare by the year, particularly in the capital. So pop in, sit back, sip that pint and make sure that mobile phone doesn’t ring!