Among Ye Olde Mitre Tavern’s many charms, not least of them is its inaccessibility. Located in a tiny alley off Hatton Garden in the City of London, the place is near-impossible to find if you’re not looking for it—or even if you are.
But fear not—I’m here to help. Here’s what you do: Find your way to the first block of Hatton Garden, between Holborn and Greville Street (the nearest tube stops are Farringdon and Chancery Lane). Walk along the east side of the street and keep your eyes peeled for a tiny passageway tucked among the jewelry shops. It’s only as wide as an ordinary doorway, but walk a few steps down it and you’ll emerge into a little open courtyard, where, with a giddy sense of finding hidden treasure, you’ll discover the Olde Mitre in all its obscure glory.
Make no mistake, however; the secret is definitely out on this adorable (there’s no other word for it) über-historic pub. Its location in the heart of the city inevitably makes it a favorite haunt of the suits who work nearby, and on our weekday-afternoon visit, most of the other patrons were lawyers and businessmen quietly talking shop. But no matter: we were far too taken with the place to quibble over its clientele. The moment I got my first glimpse of the exterior—the ground floor done in gleaming polished wood, with ivy spilling over the large, many-paneled windows—I was charmed.
A nearby door led into a tiny front lounge, but we chose instead to make our way along the side of the pub, down another lovely narrow passageway adorned with flowerboxes, to a separate door that led to the slightly larger back room. And… wow. But for the men in suits and electric lamps, we might have been back in the 17th century. The walls were paneled in dark wood, an ornate carpet covered the floor, and the furniture was of the solid-old-fashioned-wooden variety. I half expected to catch sight of Henry VIII off in a corner, necking with Anne Boleyn.
Stepping up to the bar, we ordered pints and their specialty snack, "toasties"—toasted cheese sandwiches with ham or tomato, only £1.50 a go. A staircase led to an upstairs room, but it was closed, so instead we took over "Ye Closet," a snug little nook off the main room. There we sipped our pints, wolfed down our toasties (which turned out to be quite good), and repeatedly remarked to each other what a very, very nice place this was. In between times, I fantasized that I was Queen Elizabeth, or possibly Nell Gwyn. The time to leave came all too soon, and I had a remarkably hard time tearing myself away. Now that I’ve been to the Olde Mitre (pronounced "MY-tur," by the way), I don’t think I could ever come to London without making a stop here—nor should you.