Wondering which watering hole to head to in Stratford-upon-Avon? We’ve got it covered. We’ve narrowed down the town’s extensive list of drinking joints to give you our pick of the local pubs and bars.
Nightlife in Stratford-upon-Avon
Old Thatch Tavern
We’ll get things started on the High Street. The Garrick Inn is – if reports are to be believed – not only the oldest pub in Stratford-upon-Avon but the oldest building too. Parts of the public house date back to the 14th century, long before Shakespeare helped put Stratford on the map.
As you’d expect from a place with more years under its belt than Westminster Hall, The Garrick Inn has a rather interesting history. If its walls could talk, they’d tell you about the ghost that haunts the pub, or the fact that a bout of plague began there after a weaver’s apprentice decided to die on-site. Don’t let all of that put you off though. Nowadays, it’s a lovely old-fashioned pub that’s packed full of character, does decent food and has a great selection of drinks, particularly ales.
The Dirty Duck is unlike any other pub in the country, and you’ll never guess why. It’s licensed under two names: The Dirty Duck and The Black Swan. The latter is its proper name but at some point in time, it was given its less-flattering, more-popular moniker. Depending on whose story you want to believe, it stems from the brewery families who played darts in the pub or from an influential group of actors. Or was it a group of American GIs during WWII? Who knows for sure? One thing’s for certain, The Dirty Duck stuck.
As the pub is a couple of minutes’ walk from The Swan and the Royal Shakespeare Theatres, The Dirty Duck has grown to become synonymous with the RSC. It’s a popular choice for directors, actors, critics and theatregoers alike – you can see signed photos of Judi Dench and Richard Burton on the walls. Laurence Olivier is known to have visited for a drink, as has Richard Attenborough. Oh, and there’s the small matter of Peter O’Toole smashing the world record time to drink a yard of ale there.
The Old Thatch Tavern is Stratford’s last thatched building, dating back to 1470. Ghosts must like these old pubs because apparently – like The Garrick Inn – it’s reputed to be haunted. Again, don’t let that put you off; The Old Thatch Tavern has well and truly earned its place in the Good Beer Guide with its great selection of real ales.
A few doors further down Greenhill Street is where you’ll find our favourite – The Stratford Alehouse – a micropub that features in the Good Beer Guide. It doesn’t have any distracting TVs or loud pop music, it’s just a great place to go for a drink, where the selection of cask ales and ciders changes almost every day and largely consists of lovely things that you won’t find anywhere else in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Stratford-upon-Avon doesn’t really do bars and clubs, with the exception of Shakespeare Street, which is a stylish cocktail bar and lively nightclub all rolled into one, just seven minutes’ walk from our Central hotel. It’s split between two floors with separate bars and music selections. It means that downstairs, you can enjoy an expertly-mixed drink in the cocktail bar before heading upstairs to bust a move while the resident DJs blare out a blend of R&B, soul, dance, pop and disco.