Visitor's guide

The fancyapint? guide to pubs, ale and drinking

Here you'll find the answers to questions we frequently get asked by visitors to London. There's information on basic pub and bar etiquette, some basic beer facts, how old you have to be to drink in the UK, normal opening times, how to get to where you’re going and getting back again, staying safe while having a drink and our guide to smoking in public places.

Don't worry if it all sounds a bit bewildering – you’ll soon get the hang of it. If you're not sure about something, just ask someone who works in the pub. In our experience, as long as you respect the other people around you, you should get on fine.

The Fancyapint? guide to pub etiquette

Pubs are usually pretty relaxed and informal places, so there aren’t too many rules, but visitors do sometimes get caught out, so we've written a few pointers, covering such issues as:

  • Ordering drinks - top tips on avoiding crowds, how to order, pub conventions and getting served.
  • Paying for drinks - Running a tab, cash and minimum payments on cards
  • Tipping - Whether or not you should tip and how much you should tip.

Quick guide to beer

Beer in the UK varies considerably from most continental beers and a lot of the most common beers found in the US (though we know the States are starting to catch up with some of its micro-brews).

When you go into a pub, there are a few basic kinds of drinks you’ll find available on the pumps and here’s a quick guide to what you’re likely to find.

Cask Marque

Cask Marque is an award made to pubs that excel in cellar management: not only do these pubs serve good beer, but they look after it properly, ensuring you, the customer, gets the best possible pint.

Drinking age in the UK

You can buy an alcoholic drink in the UK if you’re over the age of 18. A few words of advice: if you look young, you may be asked for identification...

Getting to the pub

Getting where you’re going and getting back are obviously important, and if we can help you do so safely, so much the better.

Pub opening times

Pub opening and closing times are down to the licence that applies to the establishment, although most pubs stick to a pretty standard schedule.

Late night drinking

The law changed in 2005 and now pubs can theoretically open at any time in a 24-hour period. However, it is often difficult to find out which pubs do have late opening hours...


Legislation was put in place a few years ago to make all pubs, clubs bars and restaurants smoke-free zones...

Best Bar None

Best Bar None is an award scheme supported by the Home Office aimed at promoting responsible management and operation of licensed premises.