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Opera House, Tunbridge Wells

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user reviews of the Opera House, Tunbridge Wells

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Fully reopened and functional - after lockdown.

A considerable amount of scaffolding is in place, though.

Over a large portion of the indoor area.

Although no work seems to be happening.
randolf7 - 26 Jul 2020 14:47
Just before coronavirus, this unique Wetherspoons closed for internal refurbishment.

The listed building has many delicate features to be maintained - such as the intricate plaster work, on the walls and ceilings.

On reopening, hopefully, the work will be fully completed - as Tunbridge Wells has no other pub in this league.


tradervic - 25 Apr 2020 09:40
Arguably the finest Wetherspoons pub - in the country.

Where operas are still performed, occasionally.

One of the bars is on stage!

Seemingly this listed/historic building is in need of some TLC.

No reopening date was posted externally.
tradervic - 7 Mar 2020 15:40
Might well be the best of the Wetherspoon 1,000.

Historic, well run and very busy.

Was bombed during WWII.
tradervic - 30 Oct 2016 08:09
Wetherspoon's finest. Impressive building, opened 1902 as an opera house - and later a cinema and bingo hall.

Periodically, operas are still performed - when the pub closes to allow them; the stage, and much of the original seating, still exists.

A lovely and unique setting for a few ales - with the venue's history illustrated on the walls. Now a listed building.


dolphox - 24 Oct 2016 15:28
Our last pub of the night and it’s a visit to Tunbridge’s Wetherspoon’s.

Having done no research on this pub we literally stumbled across it & wow is all I can say about the interior….what a cracking building, the Opera House is stunning, absolutely stunning.

We come in on Saturday tea time & it’s half full but the place is huge with plenty of tables on the old stage area for diners. We stay for several hours and around 8.30pm the atmosphere & clientele changes as the Saturday night youngsters come out.

11 hand pumps on the bar, I chose Rockin Robin Brewer’s Pale Side of the Spoon @ 4.2% as my first pint and stick to it all night. The pub itself is a regular ‘spoons but what makes this place is the interior.

Decent ‘spoons, gorgeous building…so for that I score this place 8/10.
lezford - 18 Aug 2015 11:36
Impressive are the insides of this pub as it used be a theatre. Trouble is there is very little natural light in the place. Good choice of ales, decent bar staff and most of the punters seem well behaved and friendly enough.
Masterpint47 - 16 Oct 2014 22:29
The most amazing interior of any Wetherspoons pub I've been in, with it being a working Opera venue. Centre of Tunbridge Wells, a town lacking volume of pubs, coupled with the fact its a 2 minute walk from Job Centre Plus = Avoid.

The worst Wetherspoons clientèle I've encountered.
pubking78 - 17 Mar 2014 14:06
In here last Saturday and OK by me.
There are two bars, one as you enter on the left is "L" shaped and has 12 hand pulls split 6/6 on each side. The near side has 6 guest ales, 3 from Westerham Kent Beers and 3 others. The far side has 2x Ruddles 2x Doom Bar & 2x Abbott.
I tried a pint of the Westerham Pride of Kent which was very nice @ £2.49 a pint.
The bar at the far end of the pub has 6 hand pulls with a mixture of the above.
If you can't find anything you like from that lot you are not trying!!!
bjbrummiejohn - 13 May 2013 13:00
One of the poorest Wetherspoon's houses we've been to: a poor selection of beers, indifferently kept; bar staff that couldn't get their heads around an order of a panini and a wrap with chips to share (we didn't get the chips). We also had breakfast here which was served lukewarm - though that isn't unusual for Wetherspoon's. There are far better pubs in town.
E.L.Wisty - 2 Feb 2012 09:56
Curry on a Thursday is ok, so is the Beer and a Burger offer
The rest of the menu? Don't bother? Sunday lunch roast is never served hot!
Seagulls - 22 Dec 2011 13:13
Unfairly marked down for being a 'spoons. It's pleasant enough. The beer's well kept. The staff are fine, likewise the clientele whenever I've been there. However, I'd avoid it on Fridays and Saturdays given the noisy kids that descend on the place and the consequent need for 'door security'. The air con's a bit annoying too.
palecitrus - 10 Nov 2011 21:30
I can only speak as I find and I thought this 'Spoons was one of the best I've visited. Friendly, attentive staff, well kept ale and a great steak in pleasant surroundings.
skatalite - 24 Oct 2011 08:57
I should have added that getting into and out of the place requires that you run the gauntlet through the smokers on the steps and under the front canopy. The staff have clearly not told them that was made illegal in July 2007! I have nothing against smokers, but it does make the entrance and exit a little awkward and uncomfortable.
BeerMonstersBall - 31 Dec 2010 13:44
I have to say that this is the worst run Wetherspoon's Pub I have ever attended. The staff are disorganised and often non-existent, the beers are never on (12 pumps and quite often only 2 or 3 beers on sale) and although it is a splendid building, for an Opera House, it has no natural light or ventilation, which makes for a somewhat gloomy feel. This pub has been so bad at times that I was motivated to write to Tim Martin about it; but alas nothing has changed.
On a more positive note, when the beer is on, it is in good condition and when you can find a member of staff they are generally polite and amiable, with a few exceptions!
BeerMonstersBall - 31 Dec 2010 13:38
Only popped in for a drink around lunchtime, was asked a number of times by bar staff if I was being seen too which is always encouraging. The food being served on the tables around me looked well prepared, but I didn't have any myself due to plans later in the day. I have been in a lot of Wetherspoons, but the decor inside this one is breathtaking, much of the original opera house remains, and you spend most of your time looking up, and around while seated on the main stage. One breathtaking pub!
kgilson - 30 May 2010 11:46
Wetherspoons usual bargain-priced booze and food, but in splendid surroundings. It's a credit to the chain. Being Tunbridge Wells you also get a better class of deadbeat. Highly recommended.

Beerwig - 23 Apr 2010 10:47
People moan about this place but you get what you pay for. Prices on the (very) low side. Food is consistent and good value and it has to be the cheapest place in town for a good quality morning coffee. Hats off to them for the selection of real ales, they seem to be favouring Westerham Brewery at the moment which is no bad thing. What a spectacular building too, I'm glad it's now a pub as anyone can appreciate the fabulous architecture.
sussexboy - 21 Feb 2010 11:34
I hope the refurb is completed soon - the front entrance is closed and so the disabled entrance must be used, and that was blocked by the nicotine-fiends, with the hallway stinking of smoke.
1.75 for a pint of Spitfire is a good reason to enter, and the heating was full on. Always seems to be busy, even at noon.
MrBabble - 6 Feb 2010 13:53
Worth a visit to admire the decor. Go through to the bar at the far end, turn round and look up. It's as if your standing on the stage. The ornate boxes and the circle seating are all still in place and the ceiling, walls and lights are impressive as well.
However the rest leaves much to be desired. The beer and the service is average at best and for a building which must have hosted many great performances throughout it's history the place is sadly lacking in atmosphere now.
outtamehead - 24 Jan 2010 06:19
wonderful building,terrible staff,even worse customers--best thing about the place is seeing drunk seventy year olds totter about after 2pm.very entertaining.
1dave - 31 Oct 2009 18:29
Had very mixed feelings about this place - a lovely venue, but to see an old opera house turned into a pub didn't seem right somehow to me. It certainly is interesting inside. Maybe it was the only way to keep it open. I'm certainly glad that Wetherspoons didn't take over the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill as was once suggested. I keep going back to Wetherspoons despite my misgivings, the choice of ales was excellent and food good value and promptly served.
Floyd - 22 Dec 2008 20:23
Had Sunday roast with my wife yesterday 6.95 each including a pint of beer each, excellent value as found nothing wrong with the food or beer. The roast consisted of 4 slices of pork, 4 roast potatoes, yorkshire, stuffing, apple sauce, gravy, 2 or 3 types of veg. The plates and meal were red hot although the pub was busy as it was exactly 1pm we only had to wait for about 8 minutes for it to arrive. My beer was a pint of pedigree and the wife's beer was a pint of guinness. Facinateing place to have a pub in an old opera house, very unusual.
real_ale_ade - 27 Oct 2008 20:46
How this establishment can stay open with the service and terrible food the "chefs" serve up remain a mystery. Would they serve burnt and inedible food to their own families at home? I doubt it.

The Wetherspoons chain should be very ashamed to have this venue, especially with teenagers as young as 15 being served alcohol in there, but then that's probably due to the staff being too young to know any better and some don't even speak English.
paulvonline - 18 Jul 2008 14:38
Good for Grannies get their cheap lunches..the food is awful. the atmosphere is awful...its awful
Annabanks - 4 Jan 2008 13:00
Sometimes ok, other times awful. There seems to be no way of judging beforehand which it will be. Occasionally some interesting theatre provided by some of the customers, occasionaly involving paramedics
kinchen - 28 Dec 2007 16:25
I COLLECT MY JIRO ON A TUESDAY ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE AND ME AND MY MUCKERS GO IN THERE AND SPEND THE LOT.....

GET THE PICTURE
SADE87 - 26 Dec 2007 22:00
Admittedly I have never been there in the evening, but I can't understand the low rating for this "pub". In fact, it's the least pub-like drinking establishment that I can think of, and you just have to go inside to understand. It always has a great range of real ales (somewhere around 10 to 12, depending on whether they have any guest beers on at the smaller bar at the far end). Perhaps, like the trains, it's better to go off-peak if you can?
rpadam - 22 Dec 2007 16:46
NOOO-----Never again without a stab vest!!
Roastie - 26 Nov 2007 14:39
Possibly the worst pub on god's green earth. If ever there was a place to shatter the notion that Tunbridge Wells is a charming town where gentlemen in tweed suits roam parks with butterfly nets and where ladies in formal dresses and sun hats take turns along the pantiles then it's this pub.
magic_numbers - 11 Jul 2007 12:22
A fantastic buikding ruined by the usual dregs of society, especially those in the evening, whosr idea of a good night out is getting tanked up on cheap alcohol, a mass brawl, followed by projectile vomiting.

An excellent example for the arguments in favour of a neutron bomb - the building remains standing, whilst those inside are blown to Kingdon Come!

3/10 - for the building alone.
5thearlofwimbourne - 25 Feb 2007 12:39
Large and poorly run pub with the usual friday and saturday night binge drinking mob.Bar service dreadfull at busy times so best during the week when its quiet and you can then settle into a nice alcove somewhere at the back of the very large non-smoking area.Drink very cheap as is the microwave pub ready meals served.The whole bar and pub area is now well overdue for decorating,ie,carpets worn and filthy,doors,tables,chairs damaged etc.Door staff do their best to limit trouble but it can still get violent on occasions.visiting is best just for a quick real ale or chilled lager only.
ivanski - 13 Jan 2007 11:18
As a building, rates alongside Folkestone as the most interesting Wetherspoons that I've visited.
stuartandmonica - 13 Nov 2006 10:52
Grand theatre conversion. Pub is on three levels - stage, orchestra pit and stalls. Has a large TV screen in one of the boxes. It is a beautiful building, though there is a sense of sadness that nobody is walking the boards any longer, declaiming thunderous lines from Shakespeare or singing, cracking jokes or just generally entertaining and stimulating people.
The pub is currently poorly managed and organised, and can get very packed. Beer quality is variable and can be served too warm. The atmosphere and acoustics don't generate a good atmosphere. The building itself is worth looking at, but as a JDW pub it falls below average.
SilkTork - 29 Apr 2006 13:04
The usual cr*p, full of winos desperate for a beer at 10am will serve absolutely anyone just like most wetherspoons a complete toilet
juzza - 1 Apr 2006 15:32
Certainly is a fantastic setting for a pint, but absolutely no atmosphere. Whilst I appreciate you go to the pub mainly to socialise the constant and deafening sound of a million conversations sends me almost to the brink of insanity. Come on JD, some light music would improve matters considerably.
PMan - 6 Mar 2006 21:02
The Opera House can hardly be described as a bog standard Wetherspoons. I have been in enough Wetherspoons to last a lifetime and I dont recall too many being located in such opulent surroundings. The building first opened in 1902 and has been used for opera, theatre and as a cinema. The interior has been restored to its finest glory with its ornate boxes and splendid ceiling. The drinking area is in the stalls but for a more unique experience, try sitting on the stage and milk the imaginary applause. It can be argued that turning such a magnificent and historic building into a pub is a rather tasteless example of cultural vandalism and many old performers who have played here in the past would probably turn in their grave to see such a building put to such an uncultured use. Personally I would rather see the place taken over by Wetherspoons than being turned into a carpet warehouse or pound shop. Everyone has a view on Wetherspoons and yes, some of their pubs are located in hideous office blocks with absolutely no character. This cannot be said of the Opera House. I have been here a couple of times, the last time just before Christmas with my wife and 2 friends from New Zealand. We had a great time with decent enough food, good beer and good service in a rather unique setting. As far as I am concerned, the good people of Tunbridge Wells have one of the best Wetherspoons in the country so dont ignore it just because of its brand name, go in and savour the character of the building. Albatross anyone?
RogerB - 6 Feb 2006 16:35
Good place to start a night as it's cheap! Can get pretty crowded and sometimes takes ages to get served. Often have new ales to try which is always fun.
Rich_F - 6 Feb 2006 13:19
Cheap and nasty. FACT.
dribbling_ak - 20 Dec 2005 09:45
Typical bog standard weatherspoons pub - what do you expect!!
arduis - 25 Jul 2005 15:00
Dont bother!
Cheap but if that is all that matters in your life then you need to get 1

MollyMG - 22 Jun 2005 20:12
They will be banning smoking soon, so should thin out even more chavs...

good place to go for a few cheap drinks then move on to better pubs... also the curry is ruddy good!
bilbobaggins - 11 Mar 2005 12:01
I can't see what all the hype is about.

Unless you get there early, you may well find yourself having to stand up most of the evening, as tables are lacking.

Cheap though!
mcfarfs - 28 Feb 2005 15:03
Time has passed this place by, and so have I...........on many occasions!!!!
5thearlofwimbourne - 9 Feb 2005 16:06
(Shudder)
anonymous - 12 Jan 2005 17:34
ok, well firstly, it doesn't have any music cos it's a wetherspoons, so it can't really help that! and u can't wear caps in there anymore, so is now thankfully lacking on all the pikeys. very cheap, and good for a sociable drink, but if u want entertainment, or room to move on a friday or saturday, then u should prob go elsewhere!
rachee - 12 Aug 2004 00:01
Feels like going back to school as it is full of kids, seem to have trouble in there and outside quite a lot too. Avoid in my opinion. No music too so although it is a great building to see, it lacks a "pub" atmosphere. If you want to blend in, wear your Burberry cap.
David - 2 Aug 2004 11:19
What are you talking about spoons as we call it is a wicked place you can pick up all kinds of chicks there some even have two eyes. A good place to drink we get there at 9am and leave at 4. we get very drunk. never noticed it was an opera house till i walked past i when i was sober. I am not sober now im in spoons with a pint of dooleys. Tuesdays are the best its my day off and im thirsty. Dont let my wife read this. Spoons rules double jim beam and coke is like
2.how can u hate that.
Matt Cann - 6 Jul 2004 14:44
i loathe myself every time i go in here, but i live nearby and it's a quick cheap beer, and if you like people watching, then you get alsorts in here, mostly those who you'd happily see stay there as you go off somewhere else
Ian - 21 Jun 2004 00:14
not bad as wetherspoons go. the decor is interesting but soon gets tiresome. hardened boozers during the day, all sorts at night but mostly kids. ok beer - very cheap. its biggest drawback is occasional lowlife en masse and no windows. in summer - a bit sepulchral.
richard - 31 May 2004 17:54
The only things going for this pub are the building and the cheap booze. Sad but true. If you're that strapped for cash, buy a bottle, stay in and invite friends round...no really.
Canuck - 28 Apr 2004 20:32
As with all Weatherspoons, full of interesting people who love to drink in the day (all day, every day!). The Opera house itself is a fantastic building, shame it couldn't have been used for what it was orignally for!
P.Evans - 8 Jan 2004 12:46
This is a weatherspoons basically and all I can tell you is that despite it being cheap and chearful you really have got to look at yourself closely and ask if its the sort of place you would feel comfortable in.

=> during the day inhabited by the sort of people you can imagine queuing up to collect their dole money
=> during the evening inhabited by 18 year olds
=> no music (ever)

Mark Barraclough - mbarraclough99@hotmail.com - 3 Jan 2004 23:37
big pub which is packed full on the weekends, and full during the week! average food but its cheap, and try the sweet or dry Westons cider ooooo it'll knock ur socks off.
Jack.Bryant - 9 Oct 2003 09:31
typical wetherspoon's pub, cheap beer etc.
IY - 7 Oct 2003 16:10
Large Wetherspoons pub in the restored Opera House serving standard JDW food menu and bar selection. The building has a lot of character and there are two bars - the one up on the stage is in the non-smoking area. Beers appear to be kept well. Very popular both at lunchtimes and in the evening.
Graham - 4 Sep 2003 23:06

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