Dec 09

THE FT TOP 25 PUBS OF THE 00’s No 20: The Chandos

FT + Pumpkin Publog10 comments • 1,281 views

Sometimes I feel that I am the only one who likes the Chandos – a large Sam Smiths pub near Charing Cross station where the downstairs always feels kind of old and stuck in time, and the upstairs like a velvet throne of luxury and depraved decadence in comparison! Upstairs, I have witnessed sights that should not be seen, downstairs I am pretty much always sure that I will find sawdust on the floor. WHY this pub makes me think of a Globe-era London (are those bear baiters by the fruit machine?), I don’t really know. The stained glass makes everything shine reds and oranges (see below the jump), making yr prettier companions prettier and your beer more lustrous… (as if such a thing could ever happen to the strange unnatural beauty of a pint of lady sovereign ahem).

Perhaps it is THE MAN with THE KEG who safeguards the pub who makes it so great – (if you squint in the above picture you can see him but pub correspondants will be out with their cameras to capture his full glory soon) – plenty vicarious fun can be had in merrily eyeing the door for a minute or so. The man with the keg stands above the door, bearing the keg.
Given kegs are not very light…oOne day that keg is going fall and rain a rain of BEER on the righteous/unrighteous. I have debated whether I would welcome the deluge were it to rain on me. On the plus side, I would smell like a champ. On the negative side, I could have DRUNK that beer. Is the keg a deterrent or an incentive?

Is it true that yon man is called TAN O SHANTER btw? Anyone?!

And speaking of beer, the Chandos can always keep its beer well – unlike the next pub in the list, where I have had sulphurous pints a plenty. OK OK, the Harp down the road might serve a load of indie beer and have liver and bacon bubbling away behind the bar, but good luck if you can ever fit in there without praying to the baby Jeebus and sacrificing a few fried chicken bones well in advance. The Harp also has a split personality – a strangely ornate room upstairs, a bit conference room-y and a little corridor downstairs and whilst I should be so fond of the little indie pub, it can feel a bit insidious in a way that the Chandos never has a pretension of bein’.

To be fair, sometimes it can be crowded, and it is a little southern than my drinking companions usually prefer. It can feel sparse, if you like things like carpets on the floor. Still, one of my softest pub spots is for the Chandos. It is the pub where I like to go and have a pint when I don’t feel like just catching my train and going home, it is where I have gathered Pub Drunks Who Like Doctor Who To Talk About Doctor Who, it is where I dragged my friend to come and meet me straight off her plane from far away climes, and the pub where I made my debut as Russell Brand in Trig Brother 2006 with a knitting needle with a shiny tin foil covering. This is all downstairs, of course. Upstairs has witnessed horrors of which we fear to tread, but the Chandos is all about the downstairs, the booths, the spiral seats in the centre and those stained glass windows.

Apparently they do food as well, but in years of going there, I have never seen anyone eat there. Either downstairs is for VAMPIRES, or food is restricted to upstairs (this is more likely, but THIS WILL NOT STOP ME FROM CHECKING THE DOWNSTAIRS CLIENTELE FOR *~SPARKLES~*). Yay, the Chandos <3


  1. 1
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 5 Dec 2009 #

    I have been in this pub a lot less often than many, but yes, I too associate it with curious events I can’t quite recall and a maze-like structure — PENETRANS AD INTERIORA PUBBIS. Something was invented here — a catchphrase or a concept? — which should NEVER HAVE BEEN. Luckily I have forgotten what it was. But it may not have forgotten me…

  2. 2
    Matt DC on 7 Dec 2009 #

    The coining of the phrase ‘No MILF Today’ is one of the many many bad things that have happened in this pub.

  3. 3
    Mark M on 7 Dec 2009 #

    A daring and intriguing defence of what I had always assumed was a pub all sane people hated, on the grounds that:

    a) It’s a standard meeting place chosen for the convenience of the location, but that convenience is negated by the fact that you can never find anyone there (the same applies to the pub on Argyll St and the one at the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford St, the names of which escape me momentarily).

    b) It’s full of either foreigners who don’t understand the Rules of Pub – which is not a slight on them (I have spent much time in pubs with relatives over from Spain trying to explain the lack of table service, for instance), or kids out on the town or people who ARE JUST SO EXCITED THAT work is over for the day. All of these people have a right to be in pubs, but I would rather not spare my (non)drinking space with them.

  4. 4
    Pete on 8 Dec 2009 #

    The one on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street is the Tottenham, and is the ONLY PUB ON OXFORD STREET. I have never, ever been in there.

    Maybe I should in the 10’s.

    Ditto with the Argyll Arms, though I have been told it has awesome mirrors and mouldings.

  5. 5
    Tim on 8 Dec 2009 #

    The Tottenham kind of forfeits any credit it may have accrued as a result of its ONLY PUB ON OXFORD STREET status because it has that sign on the outside saying ONLY PUB ON OXFORD STREET.

    It’s awful.

    The Argyll does have good fixtures but it is impossible to be comfortable in there, even when it’s not busy.

  6. 6
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 8 Dec 2009 #


    Though to be fair Macdonalds next door is handier and they also do McChicken Sandwich.

  7. 7
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 Dec 2009 #

    Indeed – I have only ever been in the Tottenham to use the loo.

  8. 8
    Alex S on 9 Dec 2009 #

    The Tottenham used to be handy for meeting friends who don’t know London geography prior to a gig at Metro or the Astoria. Now, it is inexcusable.

  9. 9
    Tom on 10 Dec 2009 #

    The Chandos is a little bit unmoored in time – we encountered some hiking Austrians there once who had arrived from 1935.

    (I can’t remember why we assumed this rather than crediting them to 2005, but there must have been a good reason.)

    I think it’s good, but it’s in that second tier of Sams pubs where they all blend into one rather.

  10. 10
    rosie on 26 May 2010 #

    I like the Chandos too. Not least because the Sam Smiths beer is the best value in town. See also Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the best value beer in any tourist trap anywhere.

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