The Princess Louise, part of the always muzac-free Sam Smiths group, is one of the finest Victorian pubs in London. Its restoration a few years ago to its 19th-century splendour won awards – deservedly, for downstairs the several small bars all retain their original panelling, tiles and mirrors. If you want to eat you must go upstairs where the restaurant now has a new chef and markedly better food. Prices are still reasonable, however. Better still, traditional thick curtains, carpets and SOFT FURNISHINGS absorb noise and ensure that sound does not bounce back to drown out conversation, as happens in far too many places redecorated in minimalist style. Perhaps because of this, the restaurant can get very busy at lunch time. In the basement the lavatories still proudly display original Victorian brass plumbing and tiles. The pub is only five minutes walk from Holborn underground station and is open 11 to 11 six days a week, though the restaurant stops serving food at 2.30.
London WC1V 7EP