10 of the Best Gin Palaces to Celebrate World Gin Day

Far from its humble beginnings in the bawdy back streets of London, gin has become the tipple of the discerning drinker. Our relationship with this most English of drinks goes back as far as the 17th century and much as the drink itself has evolved, so have the places associated with it.

Such was the popularity of gin we even built palaces to drink it in, in all of its juniper-scented glory. Although none of the original gin palaces survive, their design inspired later Victorian pubs, even after gin had fallen from favour. The ornate mirrors, mouldings, etched glass and gilding inspired the late 19th century style, the heyday of urban pub building.

Find out where to quaff your highballs in authentic surroundings on World Gin Day.

1. The Philharmonic Dining Rooms,  Liverpool. Grade II*

Look out for stone sculpture of musicians and musical instruments amid the rich copper and glass interior. A perk for the gents’ – the toilets survive in their original decorative design.

The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool. From the Historic England Archive. Date of photo: 1990. AA011157 © Crown copyright. Historic England

2. The Tottenham, Oxford Street, London. Grade II*

When the Tottenham was built it was located a few doors down from the Oxford Street Music Hall and there is something of the palace of varieties about its interior. One of the best-preserved pubs in London.

The Tottenham pub interior 1 needs copyright info
The Tottenham, Oxford Street. Originally taken for The Survey of London. Date of photo: 2014. © Historic England, Chris Redgrave

3. Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus, London. Grade II*

Although only a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, parts of this pub are little changed from Victorian times. Particularly impressive are the large mirrors which miraculously survived the blitz.

Argyll 6
The Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus. Date of photo: 2015 © Historic England

4. Barton Arms, Birmingham. Grade II*

The best example of its kind in Birmingham, the Barton Arms retains a complete suite of Public Bar, Saloon-Smoke Rooms, Club Room, Committee Room and Billiard Hall.

The Vines, Liverpool. From the Historic England Archive. Date of photo: 2003. AA040505 ©Historic England

5. Punch Tavern, Fleet Street, London. Grade II

A barrel vaulted skylight will greet you at the entrance, leading you to a bar with much of the original design. The previous building on the site was renamed the “Punch Tavern” in the late 1840s because of its association with Punch Magazine which had its offices at that end of Fleet Street.

The Punch Tavern, Fleet Street. From the Historic England Archive. Date of photo: 1986. DD000819 Historic England

6. The Vines, Liverpool. Grade II*

Known locally as ‘the Big House’, this much loved local landmark has a glazed cupola, original bar fittings and two fire places.

The Vines, Liverpool. From the Historic England Archive. Date of photo: 2003 AA040505 ©Historic England

7. Bakers Vaults, Stockport. Grade II

Previously known as the George and Dragon, The Bakers Vault was built around 1775 and rebuilt in the gin palace style in 1861.  It reopened in July 2014 after a seven month closure and it is hoped that the revitalised pub will bring much needed regeneration to the market area of Stockport.

Bakers Vaults, Stockport. © Gerald England

8. Viaduct Tavern, Holborn, London. Grade II 

The fine pub interiors include a wall of alternating mirrors and fine paintings of Pre-Raphaelite style women set in marble and alabaster architraves.

Viaduct Tavern 7
Viaduct Tavern, Holborn Viaduct. Date of photo: 2015. © Historic England

9. The Salisbury, Harringay, London. Grade II*

Magnificently elaborate, the entrances have ornate wrought-iron screens and elaborately tiled lobbies and mosaics. The large room at the front was at one time a concert room. Sip your G&T in the large billiard room beneath the vine painted glass roof.

The Salisbury, Harringey. © Danny Robinson

10. The Princess Louise, Holborn, London. Grade II*

A rich example of a Victorian public house interior. Gents should also spend a penny in the basement WC to see some of the original tiled walls and fittings.

The Princess Louise, Holborn. Date of Photo: 2015. © Historic England


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Visiting a gin palace this weekend? Take a photo between highballs and make your mark on history. #ListEngland


Further reading:

Find more stunning pictures of pubs near you in the Historic England Archive

– How did Victorian Drinking Establishments become family friendly?

– The Public House in England

– Licensed to Sell: The history and heritage of the public house

12 responses to 10 of the Best Gin Palaces to Celebrate World Gin Day

  1. Adam says:

    The canary gin bar in Bath. Such a wonderful place, New style gin bar

  2. Ellen says:

    Ah The Salisbury, happy days drinking there as a student. I wondered why I was drawn to drink gin there and now I know why.

  3. redandblackmanthinks says:

    Eye-wateringly beautiful places.

  4. helen says:

    To find out how gin is distilled, Laverstoke Mill is well worth a visit.

  5. Stan Keaton says:

    The Warrington in Maida Vale is a beauty, as was Crockers Folly which is now a restaurant

  6. Malcolm Redfellow says:

    The Blackfriar in Queen Victoria Street is a teeny too late (1905?) to count; but it took the genre to new excesses — and you’ve got the Phil at Number One, to nobly represent the Nicholson’s chain.

    I’d give an honourable mention to the Queen’s in Crouch End: not quite as OTT as some on that Top Ten list, but still a functioning local boozer, with decent foddering.

  7. Malcolm Redfellow says:

    were this not “Historic England”, I’d not omit the Crown Liquor Saloon, also a Nicholson’s, in Belfast.

  8. Dokka Chapman says:

    Choosing The Barton Arms over Jekyll n Hyde in B’ham is unforgivable.

  9. Chris Mapey says:

    Shame you missed The Angel in Woodbridge off the list…

    270 different gins served in a Grade II* listed building dating from 1678, and a traceable history back to 1153…

  10. Eddie Stachelski says:

    Try the Plymouth Gin Distillery tour… Proper gin!

  11. Penny says:

    I’d like to recommend the Spread Eagle in Wandworth – it was glorious the last time I went in a few years ago…

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  1. […] Usually, I am quite fine with finding reasons to tipple. First tulip? Of course! Last tulip? Even better! But I generally do no think of this in global terms. I don’t imagine millions of tipplers all honoring the same goddess of the day. But, I hear that Saturday is “world gin day”. […]