16 Shepherd Market, W1J 7QQ
EST: 1882. Monarch: Victoria
Nearest tube: Green Park
We lifelong Londoners tend to be a little nervous when venturing into Mayfair – probably due to all that Monopoly money we lost when landing on it as children. Mayfair is still as fancy as the board game suggests and there are scarily posh hotels everywhere. So it’s a pleasant surprise to blunder into Shepherd’s Market which is a mere hop, skip and a jump away from the exclusive Ritz.
The coyly named Ye Grapes is tucked away down an alleyway (where else?) in a villagey corner behind some of London’s most exclusive shops. Yet the pub remains a cosy local with plenty of quirks to draw you in.
Originally a coffee house, Ye Grapes became a pub in 1882. Little is known about its background and clientele but Shepherd’s Market itself was big in the sex trade from the 18th century right up until the 1970s. This little corner of Mayfair was also the site of an annual, fortnight-long event that was established by James II in the 1680s. This took the form of a fair. Held in May. Obviously.
Ye Grapes is a handsome old building situated in a typically pubby corner position. Inside the vibe is more ancient hunting lodge than sophisticated Mayfair drinking den and there are animal heads galore stuffed and mounted on the walls. The atmosphere is friendly and the pub becomes very packed on weekend evenings.
The other stuff
Drinks are good value and there is a surprisingly authentic Thai restaurant upstairs.
For a complete list of pubs, go to the home page.