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Children in pubs...

Hi all,

I did a search to find an answer to this question, but the results are all fairly old, so I figured I'd give it a new shout.

Our family of five (9, 8, and 1) will be traveling throughout the UK in June 2020, and to experience a part of British and Scottish culture, we'd love to stop and check out historic pubs and eat (and have a pint of cask ale) along the way.

We'd be looking at lunch or very early dinner hours - is it okay to bring our kids in for a meal in general? I realize some places may be more friendly than others when they see kids turn up, but do you wonderful people have any advice for us?

We will be in London near Holland Park and then near Russell Square, as well as York, and then Edinburgh if you've got specific recommendations. We load our girls up with art materials, books, etc. so they don't need to be catered to - but avoiding the places that definitely don't want kids would be great.

Thanks for all your help!

I

Posted by
504 posts

They let dogs in pubs. I don't think children should be a problem. That said, London pubs can get very crowded, with standing room only. They can also be quite loud, just from all the chatter. It may not be the best place for little ones to concentrate on a meal. However, I don't think you'll get thrown out.

Posted by
25740 posts

It is worth asking the individual pubs, or checking their websites. Some don't permit children at some hours, some don't permit at all, and some don't mind.

Posted by
103 posts

Greg,
Your kids will be more than welcome in the pub and quite a few that I have been to have high chairs even. They are called public houses for a reason. You should know the crowd usually gets rowdier the latter it gets, but this is usually past your kids' bedtime anyway. I have taken my then 14 year old son all over pubs in Cardiff and Gloucester no issues. Additionally, we just visited York this past July with our 12 and 14 year old girls with no issues at all in the pub. Might I recommend the Rose and Crown in York just outside Walmgate for a cozy wood-paneled interior, friendly staff, and great food. Try the Guinness steak pie. You guys will love the UK I hope ya'll have a great trip!

Posted by
4744 posts

As has already been stated, many pubs don’t allow children in and some will only allow them in the dining areas, not at the bar.

You are more likely to get restrictions in central London. Check online before you go.

Posted by
103 posts

Oops, I was typing my response at the same time as Nigel above. I didn't encounter issues with kids in a pub (perhaps just lucky) but since Nigel and Jennifer are from the UK better listen to them. Sorry.

Posted by
5294 posts

I can say that for sure some Pubs in Central London restrict children at certain hours in the evening. Those cases seem to be well posted. Of course, even adults approaching a Pub in Central London after 17:00 would think twice about going in as people will be spilling out into the street and the bar shoulder to shoulder with the after work crowd.

I would look into websites for the Pubs you are interested in. The further from the Business areas you get, the less likely you will run into restrictions, if the place focuses more on food than beer, it is also less likely they restrict children. Lunches are generally fine anywhere.

Posted by
279 posts

My contact with pubs has been mostly in the country. When traveling canals by narrowboat we would usually eat dinner at a canal side pub. These were always family oriented. I clearly remember a sign “Dogs and Children Allowed”.

Posted by
4367 posts

Any child under 18 cannot be in a pub after 9 pm. Whilst children are allowed in pubs the decision to permit them is at the licencee's discretion.

In general, country pubs and those geared towards tourists are more accommodating for children whilst others that are considered a 'proper' pub, somewhere for drinking and a bar snack or two will not be so accommodating towards the prospect of children running amok, babies and toddlers crying and screaming etc. Such pubs can also be a bit raucous and not particularly somewhere I'd want to expose my children to.

I have no particular recomendations to make as the only pubs I've taken my kids to have been quiet country ones in areas you're not visiting. In general I prefer to take my kids to a restaurant.

Posted by
4666 posts

Agree with JC - things are so varied now and it depends on the culture of the specific pub.

Posted by
18876 posts

I just want to support the comment upthread about crowding in London pubs after working hours. I noticed that again and again as I was walking back to my South Bank hotel from the V&A. Large knots of people were standing around outside pubs, sometimes blocking the entire sidewalk. My impression was of youngish, after-work crowds. I don't know that the pub interiors were so crowded; it occurred to me that folks might be outside because the weather was quite nice, or because one of their group was a smoker.

Posted by
20 posts

We have traveled to the UK many times with our children since they were infants. We were in the UK last week with them, they are now 8 and 9.

At countryside pubs we have always found the atmosphere to be very suitable and welcoming of children. In London it is very much a case by case basis. We could always tell from the street if it was somewhere we would want to take the kids in. After work hours were especially challenging (same goes for big football or rugby matches). That said we had several lovely pub stops in London in the afternoon time. I would advise that you plan for more pub stops in your time outside London and whilst in London plan for evenings in restaurants and afternoon pints. York should be a great opportunity to enjoy some quieter pubs, and if you have any time further out in the country even better.

Last week in London we really enjoyed The George in Southwark (building from the 17th century), The Plume of Feathers in Greenwich and The Windmill in Mayfair (excellent pies. try to book a table upstairs, much too crowded after work for children downstairs).

Posted by
5654 posts

UK Licensing Act 2003 adddresses children in pubs. Look at Part 7 Section 145 which address childfen (defined as 16 and under) unaccompanied by an individual 18 and older. Children are allowed on a licensed premise if accompanied (and presumably supervised) by a person 18 and older.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/17/part/7/crossheading/children-and-alcohol
145Unaccompanied children prohibited from certain premises
(1)A person to whom subsection (3) applies commits an offence if—
(a)knowing that relevant premises are within subsection (4), he allows an unaccompanied child to be on the premises at a time when they are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption there, or
(b)he allows an unaccompanied child to be on relevant premises at a time between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. when the premises are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption there.
(2)For the purposes of this section—
(a)“child” means an individual aged under 16,
(b)a child is unaccompanied if he is not in the company of an individual aged 18 or over.

Posted by
4666 posts

Not really in central York - I travel there fairly frequently for work and a lot of the pubs in the city centre get very rowdy in the evenings. (I remember one Friday night I passed a bar with a guy outside fighting three bouncers at six in the evening. I subsequently mentioned that to the bartender at my hotel and he said "That's York".)

Posted by
512 posts

You might also want to bear in mind that the drink drive limit differs in the UK depending on if you are in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Government guidelines state that the limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

In Scotland the limits are 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 22 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

Posted by
1128 posts

I’m American but have been to the U.K. 7 times and the answer is ‘it depends’

A place with a separate dining area is most likely going to be child friendly during lunch and early evening. The atmosphere in there is more likely to be like an Applebee’s or Chili’s than a bar. I’m not certain you’ll find the equivalent of a children’s menu, however. But they’re likely to have starters (appetizers) and those could work for the 8 and 9 year olds as a meal. I assume the 1 year old won’t really be eating much.

Posted by
4367 posts

In pubs that serve food above a selection of crisps or a begrudgingly made sandwhich you'll find childrens menus.

Posted by
31 posts

Decades ago it was easy, pretty much no pub let children in - some back then let accompanied 14 year olds and up in on Sunday lunch time, but that was it. However, that was in the day when pubs shut in the afternoon.

Today it is very different, lots of pubs serve food particulary in tourist areas and children are welcome as they need the custom, some like the Harvesters franchise are set up for children, even those that don't have a significant food offer often allow children. However, it is worth keeping an eye out, as some pubs may have have a time bar, these are normally well signed and generally kicks in from around 7pm. Others will expect children to well behaved particulary if the dining and drinking areas are well defined and the children intrude into the drinking area. It is generally a no-no to send children to the bar to be served.

There are still pubs that are only 18 only, but they are not so common these days and you'll be unlikley to come across one as a tourist. If you do, walk on by to the next one.

Posted by
31 posts

"It’s not unusual to see pubs/bars with signs saying 21yrs+ or 25yrs+ depending on the clientele they are trying to attract and/or avoid."

That is normally to say who they will and won't serve alchol to, my local has one of those saying "we operate challenge 18". But you would struggle to find a more family orienated pub.

Posted by
90 posts

The Harvester chain is not a pub, they are family restaurants/carvery style venues that have a bar.

Posted by
2023 posts

We took our tweens into the George Inn for lunch due to Borough Market across the street being packed--it was a Saturday. However I would not take kids to Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub--never have seen children there but I doubt they would be turned away if taken on the early side. Pubs aren't kid places.

Posted by
31 posts

"The Harvester chain is not a pub, they are family restaurants/carvery style venues that have a bar. "

Semantics, perhaps but isnt that what a large amount of pubs have had to turn into? Whilst the attrition rate on pubs closing has dropped recently, it is still running at about 40 closures a month. A significant number have had to turn to serving food and need be children friendly, to meet the changing societal needs to survive.

I believe Harvesters are owned by Mitchells and Butlers, despite not being as well know as the likes of Bass they are one of the brewing giants that emerged from the Midlands in the later half of 19th Century and own a huge number of pubs up and down the country. It might be a quirk, but the one near me has a largish bar and drinking area attached to the resturant, not that I would drink there, or come to it even eat there. But, they are a good pointer to how the UK's drinking and eating habits have and are evolving.

I digress.

Posted by
1247 posts

"Pubs aren't kid places"

That used to be true but, for good or ill, the world has moved on. Go into many suburban or rural pubs - where they're relying on regular local trade, rather than tourists or post-work drinkers - and you'll find they are very family-friendly, at least during the day and early evening. Near my England home, the only local pub that doesn't allow children is one whose trade is largely student based so they're going for a different market. The others are happy to have kids, even providing high-chairs, games and children menus. The days when parents would go inside with the dog, but leave the children in the car with a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps, are mostly over.

Posted by
4367 posts

The days when parents would go inside with the dog, but leave the children in the car with a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps, are mostly over.

Those were halcyon days. Early 80's, the local pub with a large garden and play equipment and a couple of hours spent with a packet of crisps and a bottle of Appletiser or two whilst dad had a couple of pints and mum worked behind the bar. Nowadays my 12 year old refuses to choose from the kids menu although I made him order from a kids menu in Spain last week and the burger was so small that to call it a slider would be generous.

Posted by
843 posts

When we were in London spring 2018 with two seven year olds, we ate all our dinners exclusively in pubs. Our hotel was in South Kensington area but we ate in other locations depending on where the day ended. We are early eaters (before 6pm) and we were usually exiting the pubs as it was becoming very crowded. I did search for “pubs with good food” to narrow it down for us. I suppose it does depend on the establishment, but the five pubs we went to were very welcoming and the food was good, and there was always a quaint separate from the bar seating area for eating.

Posted by
213 posts

I am a bit late to reply to this, however, I suggest you get the most recent CAMRA Beer and Pub Guide book. CAMRA has an extensive list of pubs that keep the real ale tradition alive, however, for each and every pub listed, they note if the pub welcomes children (and dogs) and until what time. Getting this book will eliminate any guess work.

Posted by
3465 posts

Pubs aren't kid places

Why not? A properly managed pub is a family gathering place. There is food, entertainment, and of course drinks. Just because we don't have a similar type of gathering place in the US (unless you count Applebee's and similar places as pubs), doesn't mean a place serving alcohol as only a part of its total offerings cannot be enjoyed by the whole family.

But then maybe I am thinking of Irish pubs where I have always seen entire families enjoying the environment.

Posted by
4528 posts

I would not take kids to Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub--never have seen children there but I doubt they would be turned away if taken on the early side. Pubs aren't kid places.

The Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of those eccentric Sam Smiths pubs which can have a very strange ambiance these days; you aren't for example supposed to use a smart phone in them (for calling or internet).

Posted by
504 posts

The Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of those eccentric Sam Smiths pubs which can have a very strange ambiance these days; you aren't for example supposed to use a smart phone in them (for calling or internet).

You say this like it's a bad thing.

Posted by
1128 posts

I always thought Sam Smith’s pubs don’t have WiFi and don’t allow mobile phone conversations, but you’re ok to use them silently. There’s also no television or music.

Posted by
4367 posts

You say this like it's a bad thing.

It's the draconian aspect of it all. If I want to read the news on my phone what difference is that to reading a newspaper? Or reading a book, keeping up with emails etc? The owner is a luddite who see's mobile phones as something to use solely as a telephone.

I don't like the rules so I don't go into Sam Smiths pubs plus their beer offering is bizarre. Also the food in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese looks dire so it wouldn't be somewhere I'd recommend to a visitor in London. There are far better pub experiences in my opinion.

Posted by
25740 posts

There’s also no television or music.

Yay! Yay! Thrice Yay!