There’s something really enchanting about old pubs. A traditional pub crawl in Liverpool can connect you with the past in a way that other historical sites, such as museums or stately homes, aren’t able to.
I think the difference is that old pubs in Liverpool still serve the same purpose today that they did all those years ago. Time has moved on, and the world outside couldn’t be more different, but yet within these watering holes, time is very much standing still.
Traditional Pub Crawl in Liverpool
Having a drink in one of the many traditional pubs in Liverpool is like taking a step back in time.
The beauty of a traditional pub crawl in Liverpool, and the reason I find the pubs so magical, is that they remain untouched from when they were first established all those years ago. I like to romanticise about the types of people that sat in the same spot as me, sipping on their chosen poison. What did they wear? What did they talk about? What did they do for a living? Where did they live? If there was ever a time that I wished walls could talk, this is definitely it. Just imagine what they would say!
If you want to be a part of living history (and why would you not?!) then you’ll enjoy this pub crawl around the best traditional pubs in Liverpool.
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms (“The Phil”)
I’d arranged to meet my friends in the Grade II listed Philharmonic Dining Rooms. A huge Victorian building, it was designed to resemble a gentleman’s club for the Liverpool brewer Robert Cain in the late 1890s. Decorative black and gold Art Nouveau gates frame the entrance giving you just a hint of some of the grand designs that await you inside.
Funnily enough, it’s not the drinks OR the food that make this place so famous. No…it’s arguably most famous for the ornate men’s toilets!
Unfortunately, being of the opposite sex, we obviously couldn’t go in for a peek. But don’t despair, girls! I’m told that there are certain ‘visiting times’ when us ladies are permitted to have a look inside the gent’s toilets.
Toilets aside, this popular pub also has a pretty spectacular interior. It oozes style and riches and you can imagine that it was only the very wealthy members of society that once set foot in here. I heard a rumour that it’s where first class passengers from the Titanic came for a drink prior to boarding the fateful ship.
It’s such a vast, grand space that I actually found walking in on my own a little intimidating. If you’re meeting friends here like I was, you may have to search around the little snug rooms (all named after famous composers – one of the many details which link this pub with the Philharmonic Music Hall just across the road) or have a quick sweep around the dining room before you eventually find them.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the lowered lighting, somehow seemingly resembling candlelight, it’s hard not to look around you, wide-eyed in complete awe. Never have I seen a bar look quite so fancy!
Probably the first thing that struck me was the impressive art deco style chandeliers that glisten above the expansive dark mahogany wood bar. Mahogany seems to be a bit of a theme here, with the walls all adorned in the same dark wood panels, some displaying copper artwork. All these dark colours could make the place feel quite gloomy and repressed, except that the fabulously colourful stained glass windows see to it that light from outside is allowed to flood in, injecting some rich, contrasting reds and greens into the mix.
There’s plenty of places to sit (and stand). We settled for some comfy sofas in the dining room, right in front of a cosy roaring fire. We didn’t eat here, but the food does look particularly delish and I reckon I’ll be back soon to dig into some of that steak, amber ale and mushroom pie. Yum!
And what about the drinks! Being part of the Nicholson’s chain of establishments, the pub specialises in ale and gin, and there’s also plenty of whiskeys to choose from if that’s more your thing. Aware that I still wanted to be able to string a sentence together by 9 pm, I settled for half of the Shipyard IPA. Served with a smile by the friendly girl behind the bar, it proved to be a citrusy, light, refreshing start to a fun day.
|36 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BX||0151 707 2837||Monday - Saturday: 11am - 12am
Sunday: 11am - 11pm
I’d always wanted to go to this pub, but for whatever reason, never made it inside. Well, today was my lucky day!
We walked down Hope Street past the Philharmonic Hall, and turned up Falkner Street. Even the short walk here was enjoyable; I’ve always loved the cobbled streets and beautiful houses in the Georgian Quarter. It’s no wonder they use this area for so many films and TV series.
The Belvedere is tucked away in Sugnall Street; a tiny dead-end street just off Falkner Street. Benches are arranged outside, ready to welcome punters at the first sign of sunshine. Sadly, despite being the first week of spring, the sunshine was nowhere to be seen and we piled inside in search of warmth.
Inside was nothing like I had imagined. I’d expected a tiny pub, dimly lit, nothing particularly special. I certainly hadn’t anticipated the collection of quirky features that greeted me the moment I walked through the door!
We turned immediately left and found ourselves in a small snug, complete with fireplace and poster of John Lennon. Apparently, this pub was one of the favourites of the Fab Four, amongst other famous musicians who wander down from the nearby Philharmonic Hall.
My friend and I went to order drinks from the bar which, from the side of the snug, meant we had to chat through open sash windows (inside the bar!) to the barman, John. Through these etched sash windows, we could see regulars on tall bar stools propping up the curved wooden bar, quietly drinking a pint of one of the 4 local craft ales and reading the daily paper.
In the small corridor, we stood to wait for our turn with other customers who were ready with a smile and some good-humoured banter. And John the barman, clearly knowledgeable about his drinks selection, was more than willing to take his time to explain the options available. There was a homely, welcoming atmosphere about this pub that I really warmed to.
Probably the biggest surprise I had was that this pub actually specialises in gin! Never in a million years did I expect this tiny, old school, good old-fashioned boozer to be a gin bar…or a Ginnasium as it likes to call itself. Ale, yes….but gin?!
In fact, not only does it specialise in gin, but the barman, John is no other than one of the founders of the crisp and fresh tasting Liverpool Gin! Needless to say, once we knew this, it was a decision made. Liverpool Gins all round! And if our choice was a little more expensive than the regular gins on offer, it was 100% worth it to see John meticulously prepare it, complete with a preparation stage dedicated to aerating the tonic! Historical setting, amazing service and a Liverpool Gin. Could a girl really ask for anything more?!
|5 Sugnall Street, Liverpool, L7 7EB||0151 709 0303||Monday - Saturday: 11am - 12am
Sunday: 11am - 11pm
Just a stones throw from The Belvedere is Ye Cracke. Now, Ye Cracke is one of those Liverpool institutions that doesn’t really need much of an introduction. Chances are, you’ve heard about this pub before, even if you haven’t realised it yet.
Famed as being one of the oldest pubs in the city, this 19thcentury public house was featured on The Hairy Bikers ‘Pubs That Built Britain’ as being the place where John Lennon used to drink when he was studying at the nearby Liverpool Arts College. And if that’s not reason enough to come down for a swift half, ‘The Sunday Times’ recently listed Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter as being one of the best places to live in 2018, with Ye Cracke named as one of the reasons why!
Surprised to find our favourite spot available in ‘The War Room’, the oldest part of the pub and the only part of the building that is listed, we ordered our drinks from the well-stocked bar and settled in for an hour or two around the large table.
It’s clear that what this tiny place lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. Like a lot of the smaller pubs in this area, it’s not just the pub itself, which is filled with Beatles memorabilia and pictures of Liverpool in times gone by, but the bar staff and the regulars that really give this place a personality. You’ll learn a lot about Liverpool, the locals and the famous people that have graced the doorstep of this tiny no-frills boozer; all you’ve got to do is ask.
Despite coming to this pub on and off since my days in 6thform, I’ve never known there to be a beer garden out the back. And despite the chill in the air, we couldn’t resist going outside for a nosey when the barman offered to unlock the door to let us have a look.
Overlooked by the Cathedral, I’m sure it’s a great place to come for a cold beer on a hot day….but sadly today wasn’t that day and we retreated back into the warmth of The War Room to finish our drinks.
|13 Rice Lane, Liverpool, L1 9BB||0151 709 4171||Monday - Saturday: 11am - 12am
Sunday: 11am - 11pm
As the sky across Liverpool started to darken, we shuffled into the final stop on our traditional Liverpool pub crawl.
Peter Kavanagh’s on Egerton Street is a pub we know well, having spent many an evening in here when friends have lived in nearby streets. And like any familiar place, the pub has that warm, friendly atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve finally arrived back home.
Admittedly, my home looks nothing like the inside of Peter Kavanagh’s. I’m not sure there are many places in the world that do!
Named after the landlord who owned the pub between 1897-1950, Peter Kavanagh’s is a bit like walking into a cross between Aladdin’s Cave and a pirate ship. Its busy interior is decked out in colourful and often bizarre artefacts, ranging from life-size crocodile skins and old back and white photographs, to mirrors, gas masks and model trains.
A regular once told me that the random collections were gifts from sailors who docked into Liverpool. Wherever they came from, part of the fun of coming to Peter Kavanagh’s is having a good look around at the weird and wonderful bits and pieces on display. No matter how many times I’ve been in here, it seems there’s always something to look at that I’ve never noticed before!
To add to the quirky but loveable world that is Peter Kavanagh’s, there’s the resident pub Labrador. An elderly, chunky, chocolate softy who greets you on arrival and mooches around the pub, mostly minding his own business, but welcoming the occasional pat on the head and the offer of a scampi fry. Drinks are cheap and there’s a decent selection of beers and ales on tap as well as all the usual spirits. And, if you’re lucky, on special occasions, the landlady, Rita might treat everyone to a good old buffet of sandwiches and sausage rolls!
|2-6 Egerton Street, Liverpool, L8 7LY||0151 709 3443||Monday - Saturday: 11am - 12am
Sunday: 11am - 11pm
Last Orders at the Bar
So that’s all from me for now. We’re getting comfy and staying put here in this corner till closing time. You’re welcome to stay with us and get another round in (mine’s a G&T), or venture on and explore some of the other recommendations for a traditional pub crawl in Liverpool below.
|Pub||Address||Phone Number||What's so special?|
|Doctor Duncans||St John's Lane, Liverpool, L1 1HF||0161 709 5100||Named after the UKs first medical officer of health, this ornate pub features a Victorian pharmacy cabinet!|
|The Globe||17 Cases Street, Liverpool, L1 1HW||0151 707 0067||The pub with the famous sloping floor...|
|Baltic Fleet||33a Wapping, Liverpool L1 8DQ||0151 709 3116||This pub has a tunnel underneath it that leads to the docks, possibly once used by smugglers!|
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Have you ever visited any of the pubs mentioned here?
Is there anywhere else you think should be on this list?
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