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Royal Oak, Tunbridge Wells

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user reviews of the Royal Oak, Tunbridge Wells

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

Popped into the Royal Oak on my way back from a trip to the High Street after a recommendation from a friend and was delighted I did. It may look a tad tired outside, but inside is a world away from the bland Ikea-look pub owners seem to think everyone wants. Wooden panelled walls, old-style gentleman's club leather sofas, a bar billiards table, all fantastic. The beer was excellent, I had the Larkins, and good value. The landlady, though running the place on her own dealing with Sunday roast and drink orders always acknowledged people who came to the bar to be served and apologised for what turned out to be a short wait away - how often do you get that these days? The regulars also all seemed friendly and the pub is highly recommended.
BothamsAshes - 24 Oct 2016 13:38
Ivan is something of a fibber, and a bored regular in this pub.

This is a good boozer, friendly staff, excellent beer and hygiene.

But maybe Ivan was in a Freud like mood.....

And should have a chat to himself.

If he can find him.

wealdman - 18 Oct 2013 21:56
updated review:
What a change from the last visit I made in 2011- now nominated and registered as a community asset preventing its sale or development into flats or a super market local. Sounds good eh' ! errrr no. Not really.
The venue is now looking tired and in very bad need of refurbishment. Rainwater now leaks through the flat roof onto those unfortunate to choose a seat to avoid the lazer like gaze of the seemingly unfriendly and androgynous female landlord/lady. The ales and drinks are good enough- and cheap too! But that doesn't make up for the oppressive "local" atmosphere , this is a pub after all, not some kind of postcode club where those on first name terms get service and all other "outsiders" - no matter how courteous , are looked on with disdain and pretty well ignored. Its has its old pub sort of charm I guess. Will it survive? Maybe. In an age of wine bars, gastro pubs & town centre bars our old style pubs are endangered very much, I hope it can improve here but I have to say without major businesses model changes it wont make it. Ohh and one more thing, 5-7 year old kids in a bar at 10pm on a Saturday night with drunken parents who seem to think they are at a wedding reception for cast of "The Only Way is Essex" does not make for a good night out for those who prefer what a pub should be rather than a struggle to make money over the bar at any cost with a manager who, it seems, has a clueless business sense . we shall see....
ivanski - 18 Oct 2013 19:52
Big pub, 10 minutes walk out of town. Made the effort to go here with a large group on a Friday evening and it was like we were an inconvenience. A shame as the beer was alright. Unlikely to go out of my way again
sussexboy - 12 Oct 2013 13:53
I was delighted to 'rediscover' this pub, which was a favourite of mine some years ago, but which I hadn't visited for some time; even more delighted to find that, in essence, it hadn't changed a lot. The photo above could mislead you into thinking the whole place had been done over in the style illustrated; in fact most of the pub is much more traditional. Though it's a biggish place it has quite a cosy atmosphere, with several different drinking areas around the central bar.
Personally I'd prefer it without the TV on all the time, but the sound's generally turned down, and it's not too intrusive.
Excellent range of well kept beers, with local breweries always well represented; pleasant and knowledgeable bar staff.
Altogether highly recommended.
earlydrinker - 27 Nov 2012 14:33
Rather good. Possibly one of the best pubs in TW. Warm, comfortable and spacious. A decent range of well-kept beer. Affable atmosphere. Definitely recommended.
palecitrus - 9 Jan 2012 19:38
Went here to see a band and really liked the place, roomy, comfy little seating booths, nice large bar with a good selection, good service, very friendly- thing is though the mens toilets ( a bit ewwww!) , they spoil what is otherwise a nice pub. The beer garden to the front is great for the smokers among you, I only wish I lived nearby, I'd use it all the time if I did. Its good to see a venue like this doing well
ivanski - 4 Sep 2011 13:03
Thanks to the managers of the Royal Oak! They have now taken some steps to refurbish the toilets, their efforts are greatly appreciated, a lick of paint and new fixtures and fittings make all the difference.

As usual a brilliant choice of well kept beers, friendly bar staff and a wonderful atmosphere. If you are a grown-up and you like a nice night out look no further. I recommend this place to everyone I meet.
Mrs Spraggon
Jack_Spraggon - 10 Oct 2010 20:05
Fortunes here have changed very much for the better with well kept choice of ales including the excellent Darkstar
A sense of community here too, unusual for a town type pub.
Sadly TV screens and fruit machines but are low key and not intrusive during my visits
All in all very good
kisstaker - 26 Sep 2010 12:43
Prompt, friendly service and a lovely pint of Larkins Traditional in the garden. Very enjoyable!
ace1973 - 8 Aug 2010 14:52
I see my partner has hijacked my login (see below).

Excellent beers, excellent staff. One of my favourite places for a civilized drink in Tunbridge Wells. Food looks very interesting, although I have yet to sample it.

However, 'Mrs Spraggon's' comments about the Ladies apply equally to the Gents!
Jack_Spraggon - 26 Jul 2010 16:30
The new landlords have really turned this into an excellent place for a drink, a warm and friendly atmosphere, well trained staff, great selction of beers and plenty of space to sit and chat without being annoyed by loud music. The monthly jazz lunchtimes are great. However, the experience is spoilt by the terrible ladies toilets: dirty, dark, peeling wall paper, broken soap and towel dispensers, fithy flooring and graffitti everywhere. I don't expect they've decororated for decades. I know they have already invested alot in the pub and refurbishment may be in their future plans but it doesn't cost much to clean the toilets properly or replace the soap!
Jack_Spraggon - 1 Jun 2010 10:25

Love it now that the new management have gotten it sorted out. Good drinks, good food and good music.
NickyD1978 - 13 May 2010 22:44
Called in today having heard excellent reports on the real ales. Harveys Best, Larkins Original and Porter along with Dark Star Hophead were available. [the Porter was in excellent condition - shame I was driving]

The food menu was somewhat restricted due to the snow a deliveries but was perfectly adequate and of very good quality when it arrived Will definitely return.
thebrewingman - 13 Jan 2010 16:16
A decent spot for a pint or two, located just a few minutes walk from Tunbridge Wells's main shopping streets. The interior layout has been opened out at some stage, leaving an island bar with three open sides; but various partitions mean that there are several cosy spots (including the little 'library' area with the Chesterfield sofas). Harveys, Larkins and the excellent Dark Star American Pale Ale on when I visited.
rpadam - 29 Dec 2009 23:30
I have known this pub for many years and it has had some ups & downs. The current owners have certainly done a great job in making it an excellent pub to visit. The pub is comfortable with a very friendly welcome.

The food is good – not an extensive menu but good quality and well-priced.

The beers are extremely well-kept, with 4 real ales normally being available. Harveys and Larkins’ Traditional Bitter are always available. Hobgoblin and something from the Darkstar brewery normally feature as well. On my last couple of visits they have been selling a superb Larkins’ Porter.

Keep up the great work.

PlainSong - 2 Dec 2009 09:13
Nice friendly pub with good atmosphere. Relaxing seating areas with an interesting supply of reading material. Several real ales on hand pump including Dark Star and Harveys Armada.
Colourshifter - 18 Aug 2009 19:42
First thing to say is that any reviews that pre-date the change of ownership of the Royal Oak can be safely ignored. The new landladies, who took over about eighteen months or so ago, have made a huge effort to move the place on from the run-down and slightly depressing dive that it had become.

The bitters are great and well kept; there's usually something new and interesting to try, and the wine options, while small, are well chosen too. Good simple, home-cooked food is available every day apart from Monday and Tuesday, and while I've never tried the Sunday lunch it always seems to attract a full-house.

The monthly quiz night is also packed out, and there's regular live music too if that's your thang. All in all it's well worth a visit - while not particularly quaint or gastro, if you're looking for a nice honest local with good food and beer, and a friendly welcome too, the Royal Oak fits the bill perfectly.
bucklershard - 23 Apr 2009 13:21
Have been watching this pub with interest as it gets better and better. Interesting guest beers, Dark Star Brewery featuring recently. Staff and manegment very friendly.
KentishScot - 1 Mar 2009 14:38
This pub is run by 2 gay girl's, 1 is highly strung the other a very nice person. Guestbeer this pub has had the same beer 4 year's (try something new) As 4 the service & food sorry not up 2 my standerd will not b returning.......sorry
ccheza - 21 Oct 2008 14:47
Forget the past reputation, this is now an excellent venue thanks to the new ownership.

Very friendly and food is excellent value for money.

Worth visiting!

paulvonline - 18 Jul 2008 14:42
New owners in this pub, and the hospitality & food are excellent. They have guest beers, I had Harveys and mmm lovely!!!!!
I will be going back, especially for the summer fruits pudding which was to die for!
colinda - 9 Jan 2008 10:41
We went for a few pints on Saturday night. There must have been three full tables during the three hours we were there. The food stopped at 7.30pm. The music was early 80s soul/funk. The pub is huge, dingy and the person serving the food walks about in a sweaty-looking T-shirt and shorts.

The beer was OK, but that was about it. The service was borderline surly. The paper was off the wall in the gents and the state of the bogs was worse.

It pains me to write this - there are few good pubs in T Wells, and the location of this pub is great, right on a main crossroads, within walking distance of many houses. I take it that as we would have been pushed to get up a quiz team on the busiest night of the week the locals have voted with their feet and gone elsewhere.

I would avoid this pub like the plague.
pvenables - 18 Apr 2006 09:59
Good home cooking and well kept real ales make the Royal Oak well worth seeking out.Value for money food menu, with OAP specials ,combined with a friendly Landlord resulted in a good lunchtime crowd on my visit.Its certainly makes a change from some of the overpriced establishments nearer the town centre.
leggless - 10 Mar 2006 15:05

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