London, United Kingdom
September 4, 2001
The William IV, Hampstead High Street (normal pub hours, 12.00pm to 11.30pm)
The 'Willy' as it is affectionately known (I wonder why?) doesn't belong in north London but in a far off English county. Hampstead has a rural feel and this pub is so rustic looking that you expect farmers with muddy boots to step over the threshold. To reach it take the northern line to Hampstead and head south out of the tube station. The pub is 500ft away to your left.
It stands on fashionable, expensive Hampstead High Street with its designers shops and restaurants. Inside is just as rustic and cosy as you'd expect with pannelled walls, oak beams, velvet curtains and even a stuffed fox above one of the doors. But it is wonderfully friendly and if you strike up a conversation here you can have a good night and meet new friends. The ale is good with Theakstons, Ruddles and Speckled Hen on tap, and in the summer there is a beer garden out the back.
The William IV is worth the trek from central London if you fancy a bit of quaintness and Englishness. And Hampstead Heath is nearby to work of all the calories you received through drinking good ale.
'The Black Cap', Camden High Street, (12.00pm to 2.00am)
Camden is well and truly on the tourist map due to the famous market. But if Italian teenagers in flourescent back-packs get to you there is always 'the Black Cap' to retreat to. South of the market along the High Street (tube:Camden town)'The Black Cap' is a hidden treasure. It was an old coaching inn and was notorious for highwaymen in the 18th century (as you enter there is still a mural on the wall) and still contains the old 'long bar', it is now famous for its entertainment. And you are almost guaranteed a good night out.
It consists of a downstairs stage, dancefloor and bar where the main entertaiment occurs. This gets very busy at night and there is a mixture of gay men and lesbians who both seem to lap up the atmosphere. The acts are nearly always good and audience particpation is nearly mandatory. Upstairs is a traditional bar with wood panelling and a lovely garden out the back where you can relax with friends.
Well away from the tourist trail, you will actually meet Londoners at the 'Black Cap'. Get there now before it gets discovered, fashionable and ruined. Enjoy.
From journal "Wilde about Oscar" - Gay and Lesbian London