After Hours: Albert stands out
October 3, 2007
LONDON — First, there’s always your local pub, where a familiar face can quickly dish out a cold pint of lager and a familiar fish-and-chips platter.
Second, there’s the town high pub, you know the one, with a sitting room broad and ornate like the galley of a 19th-century trans-Atlantic steamer. In this pub, airmen, family and friends can gather on a Saturday after supper for a jolly night out.
And then there’s The Albert, yes, capital “The” because there is only one like this.
Built in 1864, the building survived the Nazi blitz on London and then the rampant urbanization of much of the St. James neighborhood of Westminster. The Albert has history, charm and staying power.
I happened upon the architecturally unique — the building is triangular with a narrow entrance that yields to a spacious, but normally packed main hall — drinking establishment during a recent pub crawl through London.
Compared to the throngs of characterless gray stone-and-rotting-wood pubs crammed into central London, The Albert stands out like a beacon of Victorian grandeur refusing to yield to the surrounding march toward homogenization.
The pub is named for the consort of Queen Victoria, and the former sovereign would be proud of the pub’s condition. Brass trim reflects sharply the dark oak wood while fine lattice work covers the ceiling and walls.
The bar is a gorgeous dark mahogany and the windows are etched with simple icing that adds to the building’s style. And rumors of members of Parliament stopping in for a half-pint between sessions certainly complement the pub’s allure.
It’s the kind of place that draws tourists and locals in equal numbers with its singular aesthetic, choice location, colorful clientele and reasonable prices.
The pub is only a five-minute walk north from Westminster Abbey, and at night provides a gorgeous view of the historic house of worship through the second-floor window.
I recommend The Albert as part of a Westminster pub walk. There are dozens of tucked-away watering holes where Londoners congregate at day’s end to chat over a pint. They make for a colorful night out.
See previous After Hours reviews here.
Location: 52 Victoria St., London.
Drinks: Beer, ales and wine.
Food: Typical pub fare, but nothing special.
Entertainment: The colorful characters populating the pub.
Clientele: London tourists and Westminster locals.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 10:30 p.m. Sunday.