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Albert, St James's

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user reviews of the Albert, St James's

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

After drinks at the Channel 4 studios where I was invited to a screening of something my wife is in, we all piled into the Albert nearby in St James. It was pretty functional and I imagine they get a lot of passing tourist trade. Victoriana crossed with coffee shop chain décor, some seasonal Christmas ales (one of which was the Hobgoblin one, I forget the other). They also do 50p off for CAMRA members although don't advertise it. Overall I'd say it's the sort of pub you'd be happy to go with work colleagues, or after a visit to Channel 4 but nothing spectacular otherwise. I did think the shape of the building was impressive and beautifully contrasted against the modern office buildings either side of it.
Richard_ReadingFC - 1 Dec 2013 21:28
Tourist trap, avoid avoid.
Oldham_drinker - 29 Jul 2013 15:56
"beercritic" seems to be obsessed with this pub, judging by the amount of comments s/he posts. Very strange behaviour.
catbert - 9 Feb 2013 17:03
Paul the manager trying to inject some life into this pub which is a big tourist attraction. In need of a refurb to bring it to to date. Would help if they did away with mock victorian theme.Staff very good. Suffers from the coffee bar syndrome whereby too many tourists think it is a starbucks to the detrement of people who actually want a drink.
beercritic - 26 Nov 2012 06:28
An attractive looking pub close to Victoria Railway Station. Wonderful engraved window glass. London Pride OK and the place had a friendly, comfortable atmosphere. But why of why the need for loud rock music. Completely out of place in the Victorian surroundings. People wanted to drink and talk, not get deafened by that row. The Chelsea Pensioner on our table tucked into his steak & kidney pudding and chips which looked nourishing. Not a bad pub at all.
Paul_Rochdale - 12 Nov 2011 23:32
I last went here some time ago wasnt ackowledged by the bar staff and rated it at 4. Giving it a second chance I was served and the barman was friendly, beer was fairly priced for area. The food looks fair at best, far better to be had less than 1/2 mile walk away upgraded it it to a 6...
steviewonder - 26 Apr 2011 15:14
Another "out of the box" pub - bad music on the stereo - Harvester-esque, no soul - wont return.
adamwalsh - 24 Oct 2010 21:39
What a shame to hear that such a grand old pub so popular with locals and tourists is serving up a carvery. Pub is owned by Punch and nothing surprises me with these guys! Many of the grand old pubs of London that were once owned by Grand Metropolitan are now owned by Punch and they really don`t seem to have a clue...what a waste!
mikeSWANSEA - 20 Oct 2010 09:48
My wife and I just had an almost surreal experience at The Albert. We had a carvery meal that made you think that the advances in British food culture had never happened. It was a meal from a know-nothing cook from the mid-70s. Hilarious. All the comments from Stallywag above are absolutely on the nose. The only depressing/informative thing I would add is that the place was ROCKING (with, I think, bus tour clientele, all in their 60s/70s). This was embarrassing food. We stuck with it because our 3-year old had just fallen asleep, and we had had to carry upstairs.
mgwynnjones - 17 Aug 2010 22:52
Ruddles and Directors in good nick. Not totally touristy: popular with Chelsea Pensioners too.
alecstewart - 6 Jun 2010 19:23
Yes, there are a lot of tourists here, but lots of locals too. This place has a good atmosphere, reasonable prices and in 15 years I've never had a problem with the staff. I can't comment about the food, but for a friendly pint you could do much worse.
mollymoggs - 3 Jun 2010 16:16
The problem with this pub is the large amount of tourists that it attracts. Unfortunately they tend to want coffee rather than drinks. this causes long delays and gives the impression that staff are slow,which is not the case. Would suggest that they introduce a counter point for the purchase of coffee and meals which will free up the bar for drinkers.
beercritic - 23 May 2010 05:40
Years ago I worked in Victoria Street and even then this was one of the pubs in the area to avoid. There are far better pubs quite near
wyndham - 18 Apr 2010 19:43
Food atrocious!

Ate upstairs in the carvery recently. Too be honest, don't expect too much of most Central London pubs. But the Albert looks like a nice old fashioned Victorian pub. The staff are friendly enough, if a bit amateurish and bumbling.

But the food... oh dear. The joint of topside beef was grey and dry; the pork had what looked like a layer of crackling but on closer inspection was a piece of rubber. The yorkshire puddings were partly burnt and dry and broke into powdery crumbs as you attempted to eat them. The carrots weren't al dente - just uncooked and maybe held under the hot tap for a few moments. Nothing was edible - it really was that bad. I almost felt sorry for the staff, jolly and welcoming enough, but the place is hopelessly mismanaged and incompetent.

Truly dreadful food experience. God help the tourists....

Stallywag - 15 Feb 2010 10:41
Beer OK, atmosphere very much ''couple of pints after work'', food adequate at best, but plenty of room. Tourists flock to places like this which isn't great news for the locals. You can do much better!
mally_drinker - 22 Dec 2009 14:00
Walked in waited and waited, barstaff didnt ackowledge, full of miserable tourists eating their over priced London fare, didnt bother with a drink and left.
steviewonder - 16 Nov 2009 14:36
TWG says it's "pubco-by-numbers" and he's exactly right. It's also got a rather transient feel to it: lots of people in here at any one time, but everyone seems to be passing by. Three or four unadventurous real ales; my pint of Deuchars was averagely served. Found it difficult to warm to this.
grecian - 3 Sep 2009 11:04
Talks the talk, but fails dismally to walk the walk.....big and beautiful on the outside, tourist rip off on the inside...
yankinlondon76 - 6 Aug 2009 23:56
This on the surface appears to be a glorious, well-preserved architectural gem of a pub that was once commonplace on the larger thoroughfares of London. However, its external grandiosity leads, arguably, to a somewhat disappointing experience once inside.
Don't get me wrong, the interior decor is fitting and well-maintained. Clearly plenty of money has been deployed in the pub's direction. It is smart, offers a range of 5 ubiquitous but on my recent visit properly-conditioned ales, and a carvery which seemed popular with the punters - a mix of locals, tourists and sporty types on a Saturday afternoon.
The issue here is that it is pubco-by-numbers. Anyone looking for something slightly individual; slightly off-beam, will be left feeling bereft, as despite its pleasantly conspicuous outward appearance, this could be any average pub in the capital from the inside out. And I concur with the previous review regarding pricing - not unusually high for this area, but nevertheless one could legitimately expect a little more for one's money.

Like so many of its ilk, any real character has sadly long-since been left behind. But otherwise, one could do far worse than this and it offers a reasonable standard experience, which if nothing else will keep unsuspecting tourists comfortable in the belief they have experienced a "true" London boozer, and keep the royalties flooding in for whichever outfit owns this place.
TWG - 8 Jun 2009 17:42
Food very poor quality, beer expensive, barstaff did not give correct change.
d_k - 3 Jun 2009 23:42
The Albert is a grand old Victorian-era pub and is situated along Victoria Street and in close proximity to both the St James Park tube station and The New Scotland Yard building. I decided to pay a visit on a recent Saturday afternoon and left looking forward to a return visit. Interior is rustic, charming, slightly tatty - and yet, a definite sense of grandeur is most evident. To the immediate right as you enter, is a raised seated area for dining and to the left are some red leather-padded seating: a lone Chelsea Pensioner chose here as his spot to sup a, err, pint of Stella Artois. The L-shaped bar veers round to the fireplace and some additional seating. This is very much a food-orientated establishment and the upstairs is home to the Victoria Dining Room. Clientele within, as expected, where made up of the backpacker and daytrip-to-the-capital brigade. Background music was pleasingly sedate and selected choices restricted to non-offensive rock ‘n’ roll. At the front bar, three of the five hand pumps were in operation: Adnams Broadside, Bombardier and Deuchars. The latter was served in perfectly drinkable condition. There are two further hand pumps along the side bar, which, by the look of things, would usually be displaying London Pride and Courage Directors Bitter - though both clips were disappointingly turned on my visit. Staff encountered were friendly and service was prompt and with a smile. One more thing to note: Being the hawkeyed individual that I am, I could not help but observe the rather tacky collection of t-shirts, rugby and polo shirts on sale. Who buys these? To conclude: despite the aforementioned clothing, here is an excellent example of a well preserved historic SW London pub – give it a go.
HTM69 - 27 Mar 2009 14:39
I saw some signs up advertising the famous 135 seater carvery restaurant upstairs and the waitresses seemed to be darting around in the bar area with plated of food so you can guess what the pub smelt like.

Adnams, Directors, Pride, Deuchars and Bombardier were all available along with a selection of standard and premium lagers. The Pride was located on the smaller bar area around the side past the small glass food display case.

The Pride and Deuchars were good and the staff polite, but I doubt that I’d return unless eating.
Strongers - 25 Mar 2009 14:47
Better than you might expect, given its location, with a proper 'London pub' interior. Five real ales on, including a good pint of Adnams Broadside which was reasonably priced for Central London at £3.03. Busy, but not crowded, and quite a relaxed mid-evening atmosphere.
rpadam - 23 Mar 2009 22:13
Give Julio and his wife their own pub.They work hard and would be a bonus to any pub.
beercritic - 26 Jan 2009 09:29
I love this pub. I've visited on several occasions when in the area and always found the staff welcoming and the service good. Because it's a popular pub, I do expect that I won't always be served immediately during the busiest times but I've never had to wait longer than a few minutes and they've always had what I wanted.

There really is a feel of a traditional British London pub about the place so it's not surprising it's popular with tourists but generally when I've been in at around 6 in the evening it was mainly full of office types.

I've eaten in the carvery upstairs several times and always had a great meal at a very reasonable price.

My last visit was a few days ago when me and my work colleagues had our Christmas lunch there. It really was superb, food, service, attitude and atmosphere were all first rate - and the decorations this year are outstanding.

I'd say congratulations to the current management, I think this is one of the best pubs in London!
julie69 - 18 Dec 2008 16:42
Best christmas decorated pub I have seen in along time. Worth a visit
beercritic - 5 Dec 2008 15:07
Bland and touristy, but I did once see three very merry Chelsea Pensioners fall off their bar stools, one after another, toppling like a set of red dominos. They were laughing so much they couldn't get up for some time. Maybe they'd just been told the price of the beer.
Tom_Goldsmith1 - 7 Sep 2008 13:53
Situated in a tourist area it is neither a local or tourist pub. Trade varies accrding to time of day. Suffers from americans wanting to taste every beer without regard to waiting customers. Also suffers the tea and coffee brigade. Why dont they go to a cafe? Ever changing staff,ut this is due to management.Glad to see they have stopped children coming in the bar areas, tourists used to think it was ok to let their brats run rampant.
beercritic - 11 Aug 2008 07:23
We went to this pub after the FA Cup Semi Final and they were happy to serve us and take our money. On returning after the Final, we were refused service as we were wearing football shirts. When we asked would it be ok if we covered the shirts with jackets, we were told we would not now be served as we were "getting lippy". I hasten to add that we were predominantly a group of 40-somethings who were just looking for a place to have a few quiet celebratory beers. Clearly more interested in fleecing the tourists. Avoid.
copnorsteve - 20 May 2008 20:53
Reasonable, if pricey boozer. Food was good and actually not too dear.
copnorsteve - 10 Apr 2008 20:37
Large pub with traditional decor, popular with tourists.

Staggeringly however, on my visit at approx 8 pm yesterday evening, none of the 5 real ales were available as the lines were apparently being cleaned ( all at the same time !?).

When I therefore ordered a pint of Guinness, the barman replied " I'll just have to go downstairs to change the barrel".

Its a nice pub, but they need to get their act together better on the drinks front to warrant a return visit from the John Bonser roadshow

JohnBonser - 25 Jan 2008 09:37
great staff crap management
anonymous - 4 Nov 2007 08:08
Came in very handy when I was looking for somewhere to have breakast and they did a great Full English that was good value £4.99. I liked the atmosphere so much we returned later in the day to sample the beer which went down extrememely well after a day pounding the streets of London.
nwingfield - 15 Oct 2007 10:07
beautiful fittings in this pub and it should have bags of atmosphere. dunno why, but it doesn't. too many tourists?
mozzzzzz - 7 Sep 2007 17:58
Seems to be re etablishing itself after the refurb. However they should teach the staff how to pull a decent pint,espsecially guinness, a 2 inch head isn't appreciated. Could do with more staff when it gets busy.
anonymous - 2 Sep 2007 06:42
Not much has changed following the minor refurb. Still attracts the tourists in great numbers.Not as busy as it once was at weekends but that's like most of the pubs in the area which are overpriced and totally average.
anonymous - 13 Aug 2007 07:04
I remember this pub from 70s when it stank of cats and had threadbare lino on the floor. It has been refurbished several times maintaining a victorian theme that goes down well with tourists.The pub benefited when Liz took over as manager and lifted the place out of the doldrums.Has benefitted from yet another refurbishment but needs something more to become one of the really goods in the area.
beercritic - 23 Jun 2007 09:07
Not been in since the refurb, but previously this was a decent pub in a very handy location, with a good choice of real ales. The upstairs carvery lunch was excellent value for money!
alexw - 28 May 2007 15:57
Note: The Albert is closing temporarily from mid March to early April for (much-needed!) refurbishment in all departments. The food, drink and service are already great so with the refurb (and the upcoming smoking ban) this pub can only get even better.
Trev - 5 Mar 2007 14:47
Elegant old pub with its frosted glass and wooden panelling. Seems to have retained its Victiorian character well. Always busy, but big enough to cope. I always get the impression its a bit tatty and grubby, but looking round last night I couldn't pin down why, and decided that it really isn't. Whenever I am drinking in this area I nearly always go either here or to the - sublime - Cask and Glass round the corner. Good range of ales and decent food.
Greshon - 22 Feb 2007 17:34
Functional and that really sums it up. It has potential but certainly not up to the standard of some of the pubs nearby.
WaitorseBoyz - 2 Feb 2007 15:47
I can't add much to the last poster. It looks good from the outside and inside is quite nice and dusty looking but a bit disappointing compared to outside. The beer i had in here wasn't great but not bad. I don't know why but I wouldn't go out of my way to go again.
mitomighty - 26 Sep 2006 13:11
This wonderful large Victorian pub juts out like a brick peninsula from the jungle of steel, concrete and glass office blocks that now dwarf it. The downstairs has been knocked through into one continuous room, the front being an open spacious area with plenty of tables, large etched windows with grand curtains, a high decorative ceiling and different areas divided by wooden screens. To the rear is a smaller cosier area with a fireplace, fruit machine and several old pictures of either Royalty or Parliamentary themes, pride of place being Queen Vitoria’s wedding. The L shaped bar has a traditional frame with an inbuilt clock and still has gas lights attached. There are usually 5 Real ales albeit nothing adventurous (Pride, Youngs, Courage Best, Bombardier, Deuchars if you are lucky) on offer at fairly reasonable prices given that the pub can be very touristy - Westminster Abby and the Houses of Parliament etc are a few minutes walk away. Personally I have never had any problems with getting served. The staircase to the right of the bar is adorned with portraits of distinguished prime ministers, many of whom have dined in the upstairs restaurant. The choice of bar food is not particularly extensive given that they seem to do a good lunchtime trade – expect to pay around £6.00 - £7.50 for a main course although there are specials on the boards near the bar. It must be said that parts of the pub are getting a bit tatty in places, notably some of the seat coverings but this former Evening Standard Pub of the Year (1984) still carries enough grandeur to keep it as a regular main entry in the Good Pub Guide. The pub is generally relaxed with unobtrusive piped music and a fair bit of character. Apart from tourists and office workers, it seems to be popular with Chelsea Pensioners whose presence feels so in tune with the surroundings. Despite its shortcomings, if you like traditional pubs with a bit of character then you won’t go far wrong here.
RogerB - 29 Aug 2006 15:15
If you have an hour or two to spare - then this is the pub for YOU !! It takes that long to get served mainly because of the hordes of far eastern tourists. I think the pub has a 'deal' with a coach firm, because no sooner had one party of tourists departed, then another appeared.

Beer was average and certainly not worth the wait ! Pub itself is okish - reasonable decor - but as I went in for a drink (not just to pass the time), it lets itself down at the bar.

Avoid unless you have time on your hands.
FattusBlokus - 5 Feb 2006 20:21
Nice looking pub from the outside. Inside is fully of tourists leading to quite a wait at the bar. Food is truely awful.
Dickster - 15 Sep 2005 20:50
Not a bad pub but not memorable by any means. Seemed to have a few resident drunks and the food looked a little off......
lennie384 - 11 Apr 2005 12:13
Still full of tourists, and dust from the recent building work next door hasn't helped. One to avoid.
YoungElvis - 5 Mar 2005 12:29
Overpriced, full of tourists, staff aren't very good and always seems really smokey. Avoid this, there are so many better pubs around Westminster.
Paul - 5 Nov 2004 12:07
Preferred two other pubs in the area, but this was passable - very smokey, and tour busses in the area - those people ate upstairs in the dining room. No friendly staff.
Carolyn Bountress - 17 Oct 2004 03:58
Not much going for it. Rude barstaff. Smoky horrible carvery thing. Characterless.
stoichkov - 30 Jun 2004 11:04
I too visited The Albert as part of an all day tour. It was a okay experience, as far as food goes, but then we were tourists, and if they had any disdain for us it didn't show. The staff and other patrons were certainly pleasant enough. It is an interesting old building.
DeeDee - 29 Jun 2004 03:47
The food is dreadful, it's overpriced and full of tourists. And civil servants. But it's quite big and the staff are friendly. You'd be better off with The Sanctuary round the corner on Tothill Street!
Laura - 28 Nov 2003 16:32
Rather unpleasant, dirty English pub with not much to recommend it at all. Totally forgettable.
Maurice McKay - 25 Jul 2003 17:14
One of Central Londons better pubs.......had a great night chatting away to two very interesting Chelsea pensioners from the nearby home
ian - 2 Jun 2003 14:19
Went to this pub as part of full-day tour. Food and atmosphere was very satisfactory.
Doris - 17 Mar 2003 20:01

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