Zetland Arms, South Kensington

By | May 16, 2014


After 20 minutes traipsing around the Natural History Museum, my mind began to wander towards the pub.

Two hours later, with my legs about to buckle beneath me, I literally stumbled across the Zetland Arms in South Kensington. I was gasping for a pint.

In a semi-delirious state I jostled past punters stood outside this boozer and found the place awash with colour.

The vibrant red-painted ceiling was barely visible under a layer of flags of the nations competing in the summer’s big footy tournament.

This part of London is awash with cash too, and that’s certainly reflected in some of the Zetland’s clientele.

I edged towards the bar bumping my cheap old man-bag into posh people who I suspect have names such as Tarquin, Octavia, Marmaduke and Cressida, all of whom had the obligatory quiff and smug smile you’d expect from polo-loving members of the aristocracy.

After a short wait, I placed my order of Thwaites Wainwright with the barmaid.

As pleasant and well presented as she was, the lass was as deaf as my old Auntie Morag, who just happens to be about the last woman left on the planet who still uses an ear trumpet.

I had to repeat my order three times before this female Harry Potter look-a-like scurried off to pour my pint.

She soon returned to tell me that the ale, named after legendary Lake District author and walker Alfred Wainwright, would set me back £3.80.

Although the price was approaching the £4 mark, I didn’t think that was too bad considering the amount of money that’s sloshing around these parts. Aristocratic ale lovers certainly wouldn’t think twice about paying £5 for a pint.

When it finally arrived, the beer was worth the wait. Wainwright (4.1%) is a lovely golden ale with bubbles that aren’t too intrusive. It’s refreshing and certainly goes down well on a blazing hot summer’s day.

The Zetland doesn’t only attract rich locals through its doors. Students from nearby Imperial College mingle with tired tourists, frazzled after visiting either the Science, V&A or the Natural History museums, all of which are located just around the corner.

Throw in a liberal dose of painters, decorators, plumbers and plasterers – rich ones, of course – and all these diverse groups make for a lively atmosphere.

Flags and football adornments aside, the pub has got plenty of booths, seats, stools and high tables at which you and your pals can laugh at Cressida’s 1980s-style pleated skirt or Marmaduke’s monocle and cane combo.

But be warned, it can get pretty busy at the bar, so be prepared to stick your elbows out and stand your ground.

There is music in the background but it’s usually drowned out by the sound of banter and laughter, and on hot summer’s evenings punters spill out on to the pavement.

The Zetland, with its pretentious punters and pricey pints, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s location near to the museums, college, tube stop and fancy eateries make it a pretty handy port of call for common people like me who just want some liquid refreshment.


ADDRESS: THE ZETLAND ARMS, 2 Bute Street, Kensington, London, SW7 3EX.

ATMOSPHERE **** Lively, thanks to a good mix of people and constant flow of fresh faces.

DECOR: **** Bright and beautiful, even with the tacky flags. There are some lovely bright stained-glass lampshades above the bar too.

PRICE: *** £3.80 for my pint of Wainwright. It’s a lovely pint, ideal for summer. However, the price is not so lovely.

SELECTION: *** I saw four beers on tap, although one was off on my visit.

SERVICE: *** Staff needed eyes in the back of their heads, such was the demand for booze. Once my barmaid understood what in the blue blazes I was ordering, she was pretty helpful.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The Zetland has an upstairs function room available to hire.