Destination: Holly Bush in Hampstead, London.
Mode of Transport: Pint of Beer
“I saw you there before me, you can order first.”
Small in stature, and looking every bit the dapper casual elder English gent, his gray hair coordinated well with his forest green Donegal sweater, with a blue vest on top. He gestured me toward the edge of the bar once there was clearance.
“Here in England, we don’t mind having to queue for just about anything except for a drink at the pub. Please, you first.”
He was able to tell from my accent or lack of it, that I was visiting. It may have also been my orange knit cap that I was relegated to wearing because there are only three in the household and my wife and daughter have decided to wear the less colorful ones.
There was only one bartender on duty, and he started to look overwhelmed as the crowd started to grow. So much so, that I was handed off to his co-worker who had decided to lend a hand. I ordered a pint of bitter for myself and a half a pint of stout for my wife.
Weaving through the crowd, and sipping my ale along the way, afraid it may spill over, I reached the table having drunk a good portion. I looked back toward the bar quickly just in case I needed to get up there soon again to get another drink, and realized, like me, the waiting crowd had dispersed from the bar and have all found their seats.
The establishment was at capacity, with people sitting tightly together around small tables that seemed to have melded into one. There were belated Christmas wishes and premature New Year’s salutations, hugs, kisses, and most of all, lots of laughter.
Robert Louis Stevenson lived in Hampstead.
The Holly Bush Pub in Hampstead, England can be found in a small nook on Holly Mount. The walk to get to it from Hampstead High Street (main thoroughfare) takes a 5-minute walk up a slightly steep street. This same street also leads to the edge of Mount Vernon, a street that is untouched by time, where writer, Robert Louis Stevenson once lived.
The Holly Bush, established in the 18th Century, is a picture book pub. On entrance, there is a working fireplace to the left, and an intimate setting all around. With old tavern lighting and authentic wood paneling, along with the Christmas decorations, made for a comfortable cosy hue.
Steeped in local tradition, and beautiful old bounded books dispersed throughout, It’s easy to imagine the Scottish Mr. Stevenson having a few pints here himself, and a possibly a place he may have conjured the idea of writing “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.
[Tweet “On a cold, sunny day, we had decided to enter this lovely pub to have a few pints and celebrate the end of a year.”]
On a cold, sunny day, we had decided to enter this lovely pub to have a few pints and celebrate the end of a year. Scanning the room, I saw some tables introducing themselves to each other and partaking in conversation while others called over old friends to join them.
The young gentleman that poured me my pint walked around making sure everyone was taken care of, and looked over to our table and just gave a nod and smile over to us. I, in turn, smiled back at him and looked over to my wife and child who looked every bit as happy and as relaxed as I always hope them to be.
On the way out, I saw the gentleman that showed me kindness at the beginning, and I wished him all the best.
If the love in that pub was a sign of things to come in 2016, then I know we have a chance for a better world.
Cheers and a Happy New Year! How and where did you ring in the New Year? We’d love to know.
[Tweet “If the love in that pub was a sign of things to come in 2016, then I know we have a chance for a better world.”]
The Holly Bush
Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 23:00
Sunday 12:00 – 22:30
Short travel guide to Hampstead, London.
We flew one way into Heathrow Airport from Bangkok via KLM at $300 per person.
Getting to Hampstead:
We took the Heathrow Express from Heathrow to Paddington Station. The price for adults was £21.50 one-way and takes about 15 minutes. It would cheaper to purchase the round-trip ticket at £35.00 but the return must be used within a month. Bailey was free (Children under 15 are free to ride) We are staying longer.
From Paddington Station, we took a black taxi cab to Hampstead, which cost us £20.00. Do check online for discounts on 7, 30 and 90-day advance tickets (which we will be doing on our return).
Where to Stay:
We were so blessed to have stayed with a friend in Hampstead. It is only a few stops from Central London on the tube and it was great to come home to a very beautiful and quiet village. We recommend staying in an Airbnb, which we’ve had great experience with all throughout Southeast Asia.
To help you save some money here is a $20 credit.