Address: 18 Argyll Street, W1F 7TP (020-7734 6117, nicholsonspubs.co.uk/theargyllarmsoxfordcircuslondon).
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, 10am to 11.30pm; Fri-Sat, 10am to midnight; Sun, 10am to 11pm.
Transport: Oxford Circus tube.
Go for: Wonderful Victorian décor and excellent ale.
There’s been a pub here since 1742, when Argyll Street was built, but the current establishment dates from 1869 and was remodelled in the 1890s. It’s a large, Grade II listed, Nicholson’s establishment, with lots of original Victorian fittings, including etched glass, mahogany, mirrors and an ornate plaster ceiling. It also has screened-off drinking areas known as ‘snugs’ and designed to separate the social classes (something the status-conscious Victorians were keen on).
The Argyll Arms might be sited at one of London’s busiest pedestrian hubs, but it’s relaxed inside and has a ‘beer menu’ with a wide range of well-kept British and international brews. You can taste before ordering, with a ‘sip before you sup’ approach, while the upstairs bar has table service for the traditional pub grub on offer.
As you’d expect from its central location, the pub attracts a varied international crowd, which is younger and livelier on Fri-Sat nights. So go at other times if you want a contemplative pint in one of London’s best late Victorian pub interiors.