Photography by diffordsguide.com
Words by Simon Difford
Spaniards Road, Hampstead Heath, London, NW3 7JJ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 8731 8406
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Fri noon-11pm; Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 11am-11pm
Door: Open door
Style: Pub traditional
Recommended for: Beer, Historic interest
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
It's hard to miss Spaniards Inn when driving along the road that cuts through Hampstead Heath. Its white, weatherboarded buildings jut out into the road, causing a traffic bottleneck as the space between the pub and the 18th century toll keeper's cottage is so tight. Both buildings are listed so drivers will continue to yield for the foreseeable.
Originally built in 1585 as a country house for the Spanish ambassador, this did not become a pub until the mid 18th century when two (also Spanish) brothers took over the property.
Several cosy rooms lie off the saloon bar, each oak panelled with low ceilings and old wooden settles - one is tiny, too small to seat even ten people comfortably. Upstairs is a charming panelled room with creaking floorboards. The large garden, where John Keats heard the nightingale's song which inspired his famous ode, boasts plenty of tables and greenery.
Traditional meals and pub snacks are served here, alongside one of the best beer selections in Hampstead including up to five ales and some interesting Belgian bottled brews. The wine selection is also extensive.