British settlements tend to struggle for some odd honors. Buxton and Alston fight for the right to call themselves the country’s tallest market town, with dozens of claimants from Cranleigh to Wombourne for the title of the UK’s largest village, while Abingdon, Amesbury and Colchester have an ongoing debate over which is higher. in a blood feud. eldest.
But no honor is so hotly contested as the place with the most bars per square mile. We take a look at many of the contenders.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
“There are more bars per square mile in St Albans than anywhere else in the country,” the Rotary Club of St Albans proudly says. Indeed, CAMRA even has a headquarters in town, in recognition of a hoppy heritage, if any.
Why so many? Because it’s a historic market town a day’s drive from London, and many of these bars were once coaching inns. One of the most venerable Ye Olde Fighting Cocks dubiously claims to be the oldest pub in England (this interesting podcast examines its claim, among others).
Apart from beer, there’s another good reason to visit St Albans: its cathedral. It dates back to 1077 and houses some impressive medieval art that has been hidden for nearly 500 years.
Sleep it all at Sopwell House. Our reviewer writes: “A popular country house spa hotel on 12 acres just south of St Albans. Guests stroll by the pool in their fluffy white bathrobes or sit in the library sipping glasses of G&Ts or Earl Gray before enjoying premium dining at the restaurant. Do it the same way.
The BBC Radio 4 program on numbers and statistics roughly awarded this Welsh town the title in 2008 after discovering that there were 12 pubs for 2,075 residents, or one for every 173 people. He reviewed proposals from the audience, but eliminated many claimants, excluding small villages and hamlets.
But his findings were not universally welcomed in the town. The landlady of the Lion Royal Hotel (still going strong) said: “That’s a bit of a dubious honor, isn’t it?”
Rhayader is located in Mid Wales near the wonderfully named Elan Valley. Explore by staying at the Lake Country House Hotel & Spa, recommended by our experts.
Otley, West Yorkshire
This West Yorkshire town really takes pride in its drinkers and is another contender for the UK’s bar capital crown. In its heyday, the town (population: 13,668) had 32 pubs, but that fell to around 20 (or one for every 680 residents) in 2015, making Otley the first place in Britain to list every single drinking place as a bar. . community value. That said, if any of them go up for sale, then the good folks of the town have six months to prepare an offer before they go to the open market. There is also an Otley Pub Club that creates an Otley Ale Trail that visits both existing and “lost” venues.
Otley is located at the southern end of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Described as Yorkshire’s “forgotten valley” since it was not included in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in 1954, its breathtaking scenery was officially recognized with AONB status in 1994. Explore part of the Nidderdale Way long-distance hiking trail on foot, or on two wheels – the craggy “Côte de Blubberhouses” nearby was shown when it visited Yorkshire at the Tour de France 2014. For a break with a culinary twist, stay at The Yorke Arms, featured on the 2010 mini-cooking series The Trip. .
Another contender for the title, but tragically rejected by Radio 4 for being too small. In 2008 Manningtree had five bars and 900 people, or 180 per bar. We count four today – The Red Lion, The Crown, The Anchor Inn and The Skinners Arms; or five if you include the Estuary, a wine bar; or ate if you included the Crown and Ark Bar and Restaurant on Cattawade, both across the Stour estuary.
Follow the river upstream and you’ll soon reach some of England’s most idyllic landscapes, many of which are seen in John Constable’s paintings. Visiting Flatford Mill is stepping into his most famous work, Hay Wain. Explore on foot by following the Stour Valley Trail or by bike on the 112-mile Stour Valley Bike Trail.
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
The Office for National Statistics declared this pale seaside town the pub capital of England in 2016, based on the percentage of registered bar businesses in the area (3.1 percent compared to the national figure of 1.4 percent). Second on their list, Weymouth and Portland proved that there is no better combination than the smell of salty air and the taste of fine beer.
Conversely, drinkers should stay away from Castlereagh in Northern Ireland – only 0.3 percent of their businesses were bars in 2016. ONS reports that there are 40,360 public homes in the UK in 2020, up from 30,885 in 2015.
While it doesn’t claim any current records, the Historic Harwich Pub Trail website states that the town was once known to have “the highest density of pubs on land.” These Essex estuary towns clearly have a long-standing love of beer.
Consider all this at The Pier Hotel, recommended by our expert. “Designed to resemble a Venetian palace, the Pier was built in 1864 to accommodate travelers to the Continent,” says Fiona Duncan. “The original Ha’penny Pier is still stunningly pristine, giving its name to the hotel’s all-day ground-floor bistro. Upstairs is the Harborside Restaurant, a beautiful setting for elegant fish dishes. You can soak up the view from the six bedrooms: the Orwell and Stour estuaries in the distance, and tugboats and fishing boats howling in the waters at your feet.”
Legend has it that Norwich has 365 pubs and 52 churches, one for each day of the year, so you might regret your overindulgence at a different one every Sunday. If true, that would equal one person for every 584 residents.
It hosts the City of Ale festival each year, but it’s a reliable bet for a beer all year long. Adrian Tierney-Jones writes in his guide to Britain’s best cities for beer: “Where to start? How about a glass of Adnams’ Southwold Bitter at Adam & Eve, one of Norwich’s oldest pubs, before heading to Vine, where great beers and homemade Thai food are the center of attention. Meanwhile, the groundbreaking Fat Cat (more than 30 draft beers) now has its own brewery on Fat Cat Tap. Craft beer aficionados will set their sights on St Andrew’s Brew House.”
Edinburgh is claimed to have more bars per square mile than any other UK city (a 2007 survey counted more than 700). Follow this link for our expert guide to the best.
But the ONS says Dundee outpaces it in the percentage of all businesses that are bars (2.5 percent compared to the Scottish capital’s 1.8 percent).
Why go to Dundee if not for booze? for culture. The city is home to the first outpost of the V&A. Created at a cost of £80 million, it primarily focuses on fashion, architecture, design and photography. You’ll also find an extinct volcano, a shipbuilding legacy, and an iconic British engineering marvel in the form of the Thai Railway Bridge.