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Written by Luke Bull - 09 October 2023

Our 10 favourite Islington pubs

Islington is a pub aficionado's dream. The quintessential North London borough has been blessed with public houses since, well pretty much forever. A major stopping point for the shepherds heading to Smithfield's meat market, the borough provided the thirsty drovers with plenty of places to wet the whistle.

The area has undergone a significant transformation, with the main roads more likely to transport CEOs than abattoir workers, but the pubs, as always, remain.

We picked a handful of the best boozers in the area that you have to try.

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cocktail at the compton arms pub in islington london
interior of the compton arms pub in islington london

1. The north London pub with an east London aesthetic: The Compton Arms

Islington, London

The Compton Arms is a traditional pub with crown glass in the windows and exposed timber frames in its low-ceilinged rooms. The whitewash inside and out is a blank canvas for the pub’s many potted plants and contemporary graphic art prints you’d expect to see somewhere in east London rather than in the north.

Our favourite thing about this Islington pub is its atmosphere – relaxed, the kind of place you want to spend hours in. The drinks go down easy, and the Pugliese menu by Chef Dara Klein is offers something different from the standard Sunday Roast.

Whether you want to drink in the garden, get cosy in the ‘snug’ backroom, or enjoy the home-cooking of Dara Klein’s Tiella kitchen, we reckon The Compton Arms alone is worth the visit to Islington.

bar at the foxglove freehouse in islington london
beer garden at the foxglove freehouse in islington london

2. The pub you want to make your local even if you’re not a local: The Foxglove

Islington, London

The Foxglove has four pillars with which they can credit their success as an Islington pub: craft beer, beer garden, delicious food, and dog friendly. To that list, we would add their relaxed and homely atmosphere and knowledge of said craft beers.

We don’t live in Islington, but if we did the Foxglove would likely be our local. Let’s address those four pillars. They possess a tidy craft beer collection, but they’re knowledgeable without being snobs. The beer garden is small but snug, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

The food is the definition of hearty and completely unpretentious. Looks good, smells good, tastes good. And as for the dogs? We think that adds to the homeliness – a dog sleeping by the fire or in between the legs of their owner. Yeah, it’s not our local, but we kind of wish it was.

dining room of the drapers arms pub in islington london
interior of the drapers arms pub in islington london

3. A great pub that looks like any other great Islington pub: The Drapers Arms

Islington, London

The Drapers Arms is located on a quiet Islington street, a bit of a walk from public transport, but worth the stroll, we think. It has a traditional bar, fireplaces, chandeliers, and a garden. We’re beginning to suspect there’s an unspoken rule that an Islington pub has to be picturesque.

There’s a seasonal menu of quality dishes with Sunday favourites like roasts and pies featuring heavily – all of which are prettily plated and very Instagram-worthy, if you go in for that. Of course, there’s also a wine collection (and beer, ale, and stout) to complement all that food, it is a pub, after all.

Pop in for a relaxing Sunday afternoon or book out their private dining room for a special event – it has a black and white checkered floor; we don’t know why we feel a checkered floor should entice you to book, but it might.

Earl of Essex Ilsington pub
Earl of Essex Ilsington pub

4. Simple and effective: The Earl of Essex

Islington, London

The Earl of Essex isn’t much of a looker from the outside. The North London pub, tucked off a backstreet in Angel, is laid-back, simple, and a little old-school. The extensive beer list, featuring an impressive display of local and international options, is displayed on a cool retro-looking board.

A periwinkle bar adds a pop of colour to the pared-back decor, and the atmosphere is pleasant. Just enough buzz to have a conversation without raising your voice, while not feeling like the place is dead.

Pop in for Sunday lunch, a cosy midweek pint or pay a visit during the warmer months to enjoy the sunken beer garden. Now that’ll teach you not to judge a pub by its exterior, you pretentious thing you.

gin and tonic at the crown pub in islington london
dining room the crown pub in islington london

5. The home away from home pub: The Crown

Islington, London

It seems like all the traditional Islington pubs are tucked away on quiet residential streets frequented by locals, and the Crown is no exception. Its Victorian features are nearly untouched by time, with a vintage wooden bar that looks like a barrel and a long brown velvet sofa along one wall.

For as old as the pub appears, the Crown has had no problem in keeping up with times with an impressive little offering of Japanese whisky and Asahi on draft, gin goblets filled with fine botanical gins, and a modern presentation of dishes belonging to a high-quality menu.

Between the al fresco dining on the patio, the candle-lit tables, the real log fire, and a dog or two sleeping underneath a table, this Islington pub has a comfy, homely feeling that’s just really hard to beat.

6. Buzzy with a viewing platform: The Parcel Yard

Kings Cross

Nestled inside Kings Cross Station is The Parcel Yard, a popular Fullers gastropub. This Grade I listed building offers a unique location for guests to enjoy the nooks and crannies of the architecture.

Alongside Fullers famous ale, the drinks range from beer and wine to artisan soft drinks with a menu of British classics to accompany. With multiple seating areas available, choose between an enclosed terrace or look over the buzzing station. Who knows, you might even spot the Hogwarts Express leaving platform 9 ¾. Try The Boardroom, an intimate private dining space for 12 to get away from the station bustle.

For a first-class experience, head to The Parcel Yard for a crisp pint.

The albion islington pub
The albion islington pub

7. A Georgian pub with a garden full of wisteria and willow trees: The Albion


The Albion is a self-described “Georgian gem”, and we’re inclined to agree – this is a really lovely pub. The dark wooden interiors and roaring fire make it the perfect setting for a cosy winter evening spent catching up over a glass of red, meanwhile, the beer garden outside is a must-visit when the sun is out. With wisteria and willow trees, plenty of beautiful bright tables and an old barn (which used to be a bar), we could spend more than a few blissful hours there on a July afternoon. Not a bad selection of beers on offer (including the pub’s own Albion Ale from Laine Brewery), decent gastro-pub grub and bar snacks for when you get hungry.

A gorgeous private dining room, designed by a local interior designer intent on honouring the pub’s Georgian charm, sits up to 24 guests along one long table. Hungry after a long weekend walk along the canal? You’re in luck, they also do a great Sunday roast. Enjoy.

narrowboat islington pubs
narrowboat islington pubs

8. For canal views and Bloody Marys: The Narrowboat

Islington, Lodnon

Describe your perfect Sunday? Lie in, a long walk with coffee, some hearty grub and maybe a few quiet drinks (hair of the dog or fighting the Scaries, we’re not here to judge). If that’s a bit of you, take our advice and after a weekend stroll along Regent’s Canal, set up camp at The Narrowboat for the rest of the day. With balconies overlooking views of the waterfront, this charming (and, obviously, narrow) pub is a great spot to relax in for a while.

The food menu is traditional-with-a-twist British pub classics, there’s a decent wine list and plenty of beers and cocktails on offer (they do a fantastic Bloody Mary). Plus, there’s three private room hire options for work drinks, Christmas parties and lunch meetings.

Pig and butcher islington pub
Pig and butcher islington pub

9. Home-grown is at the heart of everything: The Pig & Butcher

Islington, London

A good pub has a soul, and Islington’s The Pig and Butcher has soul. Situated on Liverpool Road, it’s a winning combination of stylish yet relaxed; pouring great craft beers without being unpretentious, serving wines from family-owned vineyards and offering a food menu lovingly created by skilled chefs. In fact, supporting the community is at the heart of everything the team here does.

The food menu changes daily depending on the best meat and produce supplied by local farms, with an onsite butcher ensuring nothing goes to waste. The homey, country-style interior only adds to the experience. A beautiful private dining room, complete with a wood burning stove and Aga oven, sits up to 24 guests for an exclusive farm-house style feast.

Island queen islington pubs
Island queen islington pubs

10. Transport yourself back to Victorian era Islington: Island Queen

Islington, London

Located on trendy Islington’s Noel Road, The Island Queen (simply “the Queen” to locals) has kept punters fed and watered since 1851. The old London gin palace is worth a visit for the interior alone – high ceilings, gorgeous wood panelling and beautiful hand-painted mirrors keep the Victorian opulence alive well into the 21st century.

The bar is well-stocked with the usual drink offerings and prices are reasonable for the area, making the Queen a great spot for a quick daytime pint or a night out with a few G&Ts. The upstairs Gin Lounge is available to hire for a truly unique private event space. In fact, it’s so unique that the Island Queen is the only pub of its name in the entire British Isles. Now that is one-of-a-kind.

More of the best pubs in Islington

Everyone loves an Islington pub, and booking your own exclusive space in a pub or hiring out the entire venue is a great idea for an event. With so many great pubs near you to choose from, it can be hard to find a boozer to accommodate your private booking. We've rounded up the best in Islington, from gastro-pubs for a Sunday roast and cask ale to pubs with beautiful gardens for a few pints of beer in the sun. Have a look at all our top pubs, with private hire options near you. Alternatively, tell us exactly what you need and we'll make sure the very best Islington pubs respond to your enquiry.

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How to hire a pub in Islington

Islington, located in the heart of London, is a vibrant and culturally diverse area known for its eclectic mix of entertainment, dining, and, of course, its pubs. If you're planning a gathering, celebration, or casual night out, this guide will take you through the journey of hiring pubs in Islington, ensuring a unique and unforgettable experience.

Discover the Pubs of Islington:

Islington is home to a wide variety of pubs, each with its distinctive character and charm. From traditional English pubs with cosy interiors to modern gastropubs with diverse menus, take the time to explore the options available.

Determine the Purpose of Your Visit:

The first step in hiring a pub in Islington is to identify the purpose of your visit. Is it a casual evening out with friends, a celebration, a private gathering, or a corporate event? The nature of your event will guide your choice of pub.

Budget Planning:

Set a budget for your pub hire. While Islington offers a range of options, having a budget will help you narrow down your choices. Consider factors such as the rental cost, food and drink packages, and any additional services.

Online Platforms:

There are an endless amount of websites that will provide you with a rundown of the best pubs in Islington. It can often feel a little overwhelming searching through these sites. That’s why at HeadBox we work with the best venues and will circulate your event details directly to them. You’ll hear back from trusted venues that have availability and cater to your event. If only it was always this easy.

Select the Right Location:

Islington is known for its diversity, and the same goes for its pubs. Whether you prefer a pub with a view of the canal, a classic British pub, or a trendy gastropub, the location you choose should align with the atmosphere you want to create for your event.

Amenities and Services:

Consider what amenities and services you need for your event. Some Islington pubs offer private rooms, audiovisual equipment, and event planning assistance, while others may focus on crafting unique menus and special drinks. Choose a pub that can cater to your specific requirements.

Catering and Drinks:

Review the pub's menu options to ensure they align with your guests' preferences. Whether you're looking for classic British pub fare, international cuisine, or a selection of craft beers and cocktails, make sure the pub can provide the culinary and beverage experience you desire.

Entertainment and Activities:

Consider the type of entertainment and activities you want to include in your event. Some Islington pubs offer live music, quiz nights, karaoke, and other forms of entertainment. Make sure the pub can accommodate your entertainment choices.

Accessibility and Transportation:

Islington is well-connected by public transportation, including the London Underground and bus routes. Check the proximity of the pub to public transport hubs to make it convenient for your guests to arrive. Additionally, inquire about parking options for those who prefer to drive.

Advance Booking:

Pubs in Islington can be popular, especially during weekends and special occasions. To secure your reservation, it's advisable to book well in advance. Confirm all the details, including the date, time, and any additional services included in your package.

Personalize Your Event:

Add personal touches to your event to make it unique. Decorate the pub to match your theme, create custom menus or cocktails, or organize fun activities to engage your guests. Personalization can transform your pub experience into a one-of-a-kind event.

Enjoy the Islington Pub Scene:

Once you've selected the perfect pub in Islington, it's time to relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this London neighbourhood. Savour the moments with your friends, colleagues, or loved ones while basking in the unique ambience Islington has to offer.

Hiring a pub in Islington, London, is an experience like no other. By identifying the purpose of your visit, selecting the right location, setting a budget, and customizing your event, you can create a truly unique and unforgettable gathering in this diverse and lively area of the city. Raise a glass to a memorable experience in Islington!

Frequently asked questions

Some pubs may arrange site visits or tours to allow you to see the space and discuss your event in person. This helps you get a feel for the pub and ensure it meets your event requirements.

Most Islington pubs are open to personalization. You can add your unique touches, such as decorations, customized menus, and activities, to create a memorable event.

Booking out a pub in Islington is easy with HeadBox. All you have to do is tell us what you're looking for, we'll share your enquiry with suitable pubs in Islington and you'll get messages from venues & match with your favourites. Easy.

The cost can vary depending on the pub's location, size, type, and the services provided. Pubs often offer different packages, including minimum spend requirements, rental fees, or per-person pricing. It's essential to discuss your budget with the pub to find an option that suits your financial plan.

Islington pubs are versatile and can accommodate various events, including casual gatherings, birthday parties, corporate meetings, private celebrations, and more.

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