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Sankey's, Tunbridge Wells

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user reviews of Sankey's, Tunbridge Wells

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

Best pub/bar in Tunbridge Wells good beer,friendly staff only slight downside is it gets the odd idiot in which of course can't be helped
juzza - 18 Jun 2012 20:23
Have to say, I was very impressed by this place. Very friendly staff on our visit, 14 draft ales and lagers (and I'd only heard of 4 of them previously), TV was turned off the moment the rugby finished, music played at just the right volume, lovely outside area, door staff were inconspicuous. The best place I've been to so far this year. Only criticism was the smoke from the fireplace does pervade the entire pub. Just needs to invest in a more effective fireplace hood.
filf - 12 Mar 2012 01:07
My wife and I visited the town recently and thought this was the best pub in RTW. Friendly bar staff, pleasant clientele and an agreeable atmosphere. The beer can be on the cold side, though, so make sure you get near that fire.
E.L.Wisty - 2 Feb 2012 09:45
This is about the only decent ale pub in the centre of TW. Good beer, decor and atmosphere. If only the bar staff would show some signs of life.
sussexred - 10 Nov 2011 13:34
Your guaranteed a good pint in there, I can't remember ever having left here sober (come to think of it, I never remember leaving......!!), live music is great too, perhaps a little small for the amount of people that cram in, but it adds to the atmosphere. I'm very interested to see their "Silent Disco's" in action!
Petebuddle - 20 Sep 2011 15:04
Surprised this only has an average of 5/10, I actually think its one of the better pubs in Tunbridge Wells. If nothing else, it definitely has the best and most interesting selection of beers, and the fact that you can get mussels and fish and chips upstairs (from the downstairs fish restaurant) is good.

Personally I think this is up there with The Royal Oak and Ragged Trousers as among the best pubs in town.
noughtpointzero - 3 Sep 2011 19:16
Place seemed busy, have negotiated the rather aggressively natured doormen. The beers are strange unknown brands, which are quite expensive but interesting to try.

Having read previous reviews of unfriendly staff and an unsavoury atmosphere, I would certainly agree with these assessments. I saw people who seemed to be minding their own business get man handled by the bouncers at random. Really unpleasant place and best avoided in my opinion.

GoodNightOut - 1 Jan 2011 17:20
this place has gone badly downhill. went in there yesterday, there was an absolutely battered woman screaming and stacking into things. this was only at 5 0 clock. there was a russell brand lookalike who liked the sound of his foul mouthed tirades too much. the barman was rude and arrogant and there were various other pretentious twats littering the place. such a shame as was good. will not be returning
richieboyo - 14 Nov 2010 15:44
I've worked for Sankeys for about 11 years (at his old place in Hildenboro and this one)...and I don't see much's still one of the best places to eat and drink in...the staff r different, but not much different to me and the others who use to work for him in the 80s and 90s....SO STOP WINGING ON ABOUT THE PLACE! Not everyday is gonna be perfect there - just like anything else in life.....!
carlos.kitchen_porter - 4 Mar 2010 20:47
I have recently been back to Sankeys, having heard that the management had taken heed of negative reports and taken some action: I was really pleasantly suprised to see how great it was.

A really warm and friendly atmosphere, run by effciantly and charming staff, a great slection of well-kept beers and a very good menu. They have cleared out the unsavory characters, painted the walls and cleaned the place up, along with a welcoming fire it has now once again become a really great place to go for a drink. I am taking a party of my sceptical friends there tonight, all of whom, like me have been giving this place a wide berth for over a year!

Well done to Sankeys making changes for the better and once agan making this one of the best places to go in TW.
Kimlikesgoodbeer - 17 Feb 2010 13:43
Have been an irregular visitor to Sankeys over many years and have witnessed its recent ups and downs - notably the latter, as per the other comments below.

Having heard that there had been a change in management (although still within the family), I have paid a couple of investigatory visits - one on a Thursday night, one on a Sunday lunchtime. Found a very pleasant and relaxed atmosphere - friendly staff and no bouncers or coke-heads. Log fire burning on both occasions. Goachers and a house-beer brewed by Westerham Brewery on handpump + the traditional Sankeys selection of interesting keg beers. Intend to return to sample the new menu soon.

What a relief to have this essential piece of Tunbridge Wells back.
Jack_Spraggon - 14 Feb 2010 19:09
All i will say is that they have evil bouncers that bully people, avoid sankeys at all costs, royal wells is much nicer and just around the corner
baddriving - 5 Aug 2009 16:33
All i will say is that they have evil bouncers that bully people, avoid sankeys at all costs, roayl wells is much nicer and just around the corner
baddriving - 5 Aug 2009 16:33
I went back here to give it another go, but I've got to admit that if you want good sea food head to Thorins at the other end of town... fan-bloody-tastic, the chef pops into the restaurant to say hi and makes you feel so welcome and not just a number.... the produce is top draw and cooked to perfection and on top of that 2 course lunch is only £10 including a glass of house wine... Brilliant !!! I'll be back at every opportunity...
KettleChip - 18 Jul 2009 01:42

We were here back in August '08. Having read the reviews here, we went early evening just in case as we were with the family. Ate downstairs and the food was very good.

More recently, we ate in the bar for Mother's Day. The food was perfect, especially considering we weren't in the restaurant, with top marks going to the haddock "roast".

As you can see, I can't comment on the drinking part, but the food is as good as ever.
Bromley86 - 27 Mar 2009 17:20
Not sure what has happened to this place. It used to be a fantastic pub to go for a great crowd of people, full of friendly "locals", and well priced great pub food.
Now it seems to be full of chavs, drug heads and none of the old familiar faces. The food prices have gone up whilst the quality has gone down and the place just isn't the same. Such a shame as I always remember it being a fantastic venue for meeting friends for a relaxed and enjoyable night out.
KettleChip - 3 Dec 2008 19:12
I fully agree with the last few postings-Red Rose in particular.I have seen this veune decline over the last 18 months.The crowd that use it now are a far cry from the times when it was a friendy easy going place with good food.It seems to have been adopted by elements that bring out the worst in people.I witnessed drinking in the street (I mean on the pavement and road) outside the venue only last night during the Bank holiday weekend.There seemed to be no control over what anyone was doing there,shouting abuse in the street,the distinct smell of cannabis being smoked by aggressive over confident chavs.It must be hell to live over the road from this venue let alone try to have a beer there.The Fact TN4 is so nearby doesnt help-but thats for another review.I can understand the owner enjoying the extra income from Drink sales in these difficult trading times but this doesnt make it acceptable to practice poor client control.I know how this story ends,and it aint nice.
Would door staff help?- maybe,a return back to basic's would be better I feel,a strict management policy?Mr Sankey,please,save your venue before its too late.
anonymous - 26 May 2008 13:33
We came for a weekday lunch. The waitress greeted us in a rude manner, telling us sternly to sit down before she would even consider talking to us. The patio was dirty with lots of rubbish strewn under a lob-sided barbeque device. An electrician carried on working on the lighting over adjacent tables, with people sitting all around him. There were no tables set aside for non-smokers - all had mucky ashtrays on them. The waitress stroked the ownwer's dog, that was allowed to run about without any constraint, and then served food without washing her hands. To cap it all my beer glass was filthy with hairy fluff all around the rim.
The food? Very much better value and taste in umpteen other Tunbridge Wells establishments.
Pistol - 20 May 2008 22:19
Funny old world, here we have an establishment that is constantly reinventing itself to please the punters, but the punters aint happy.

I have always regarded Sankeys as the premier lunch venue, agree with earlier comments, would not risk an evening due to the beer heads.

Lunch however is an absolute must.
rantandrave - 18 Feb 2008 12:53
We had heard such great reports about Sankeys however left feeling rather dissapointed. Found the food to be standard and overpriced, the waitress was rather rude and unfortuantely it took an hour and half for main courses to be served. Its a shame because Tunbridge Wells is full of chain style restaurants and bars with substandard food, unfortunately Sankeys is joining them.
Bean330 - 4 Feb 2008 16:22
Things seem to have settled down here a bit recently.A bit quieter than it has been,however over the recent Holidays seasonal out of towners did cause a few upsets (being the silly season and all that)
I know the manager is working hard to revert recent bad trends at the venue and a recent visit confirms this.Perhaps the drinks are a little expensive,but then this is Tunbridge wells & not Blackpool.
ivanski - 5 Jan 2008 14:12
Regulars only!
Annabanks - 4 Jan 2008 13:05
This place used to be a gem. No longer. Beer selection still good, but awful staff with all the charm of rattlesnakes who cheerfuly tolerate antics of some often wired, loud and aggressive regulars. I now avoid. I have not eaten their for years but experiences of friends has been poor on the whole.
kinchen - 29 Dec 2007 13:04
God this pub is outrageously bad. After getting assaulted in there by another girl through no fault of my own I GET BARRED! UNbelieveable, and after all the witnesses and other people drinking there saying it was unprovoked they still threw me out by the scruff of the neck, bleeding and all. Now i can understand they want trouble diffused in a bar, how can they bar the innocent party....? All they had to do was check the cctv, worst manager i have come across with no sympathy or help for what occcured. Thank god the kent and sussex is across the road walking with a fractured collar bone and broken nose would of been painful any further. I think a night at the robin hood in sherwood would be a better bet then a night in this hell hole. Most people i know that go there have seen fights or been tangled up in one... heed my warning stay clear its the pits.
SADE87 - 26 Dec 2007 20:08
Never been there after dark, but in my experience this place offers a civilised spot spend some time during the afternoon, away from the hustle-and-bustle of central Tunbridge Wells. Two good real ales on tap - Sussex and Hadlow, both from Harveys - and a good range of imported beers in both draught and bottled form. Hope this cheers the landlord up a bit!
rpadam - 22 Dec 2007 16:54

It is seriously depressing to read some of these recent articles, especially when we look back to nearly 50 years of commitment and hard work to get to where we are.

Yes - we are the same family that moved into Speldhurst in 1961, same person actually, with some younger generations added!

Occasionally, when one has a popular bar things get out of hand but thatís not to say that we donít take action to avert any similar problems.

We have taken strong measures, liaising with the police to ensure that there is no drug related goings on - a town wide problem. We have banned many and have a zero tolerance policy, we have also raised the minimum drinking age to 21

The very popular Sunday night music has also ceased following neighbourhood complaints about volume.

To further stress our commitment, we have completely refurbished our restaurant and oyster bar. We trust that this will send a strong message that we intend to trade on to our 50th birthday in style. We are proud to announce that we have been awarded the Good Pub Guide Kent eating pub of the Year 2008

Guy Sankey, Patron

guysankey - 19 Dec 2007 10:54
have been out of the country for about a year and got back recently and was looking forward to a good beer in here but cant believe what has happened !! total lack of organization, complete change of clientele, from nice well dressed well spoken people to spitting swearing builders and druggies!! i had to wade through a group of people smoking all sorts of stuff at the entrance to get in, what has happened ??? this place now seems a cross between a soup kitchen and hostel full of people waiting for the festival season to start... what a shame :o(
chevino - 14 Nov 2007 08:39
Is this owned by the same Sankey family that had the George and Dragon in Speldhurst?
arduis - 2 Oct 2007 13:37
This is an update to my earlier review dated 13/01/07
Sankeys now seems transformed after my last visit,though not for the better I'm afraid.As per the last review there have been problems at the venue with some very antisocial individuals which the managment seem unable to sort out.Drug taking (coke, speed heads and dopers)together with sporadic violence seems to be getting out of hand,notably on Sunday evenings.I left after one very swift beer recently as the atmosphere was so tense.The drinks are still good,staff very friendly and helpful,not too expensive for a good range of lagers and ale.The internal problems as the evening wears on end up in the street outside which of course upsets the local residents and hence police attending soon after.Perhaps if the management act quickly things may get sorted.I'm giving it a miss for a few months.Be carefull if you visit and watch out for the problem people,you'll soon spot them.If your the sensitive type I'd give it a miss.
anonymous - 20 Jul 2007 19:29
Another Sunday, another fight! Oh why oh why.......
anonymous - 18 Jul 2007 11:37
Eccentic quirky bar. If you love big bland chains (Pitcher, slug, all bar one) then you just won't get this place at all. It's a bit grubby, a bit smelly sometimes, but I like it. Excellent selection of beers, possibly one of the best i've ever seen. A boozers boozer.
dwayne696969 - 21 Feb 2007 17:43
A strange place! Meant to be up-market but attracts a grungy, crooked teeth, flea ridden hair kind of a crowd. I always feel like I need a good bath (with nit shampoo)when I've been in there!
Food used to be good but now quite un-remarkable.
Redeeming features are thin on the ground although I would say the beer selection is pretty good.
anonymous - 24 Jan 2007 14:27
Recently refurbished and whilst still somewhat gimmicky, this venue does exceed expectations of those who dismiss it as just another theme bar, as it has maintained a certain eccentric cachet of its own which makes for a far more memorable experience.
Sankey's of an evening tends to attract a predominatly youthful crowd, and it certainly is popular. However, it is not a pub that limits itself to the loud and lager-fuelled youth market; it has much to commend it to older and more discerning visitors as well.
The beer selection should be noted; aside from some of the usual mass-produced and over-priced fare there are some unusual imported European beers on tap (Erdinger Dark as mentioned below is a good example). As for real ales, there are only 2 pumps, but both are occupied with interesting offerings not easily found elsewhere in the town: usually Larkin's Traditional from only a few miles away, and a left-field guest (Dark Star Espresso Stout on offer on my recent visit). Needless to say both were very well kept.
This is a really lively venue and it certainly exudes a feelgood factor; relaxed without being down-at-heel, and smart without being snooty. I should also say that the service I received, despite it being a very busy Saturday night, was excellent and one shouldn't have to wait that long for attendance.
Well done.
TWG - 24 Jan 2007 13:09
Nice place,

Different crowd during lunchtime and evenings, lunchtime being the more mature professional workers and the latter being the younger professionals [they all seem to be public schoolboys/girls for some odd reason] who are just chilling out with their friends at the end of the working day, both the staff and regulars are nice people to chat to.

Excellent range of beers on tap [I think possibly the best in Tunbridge Wells] and a very diverse range of wines they have as well.

It's a shame they don't show the rugby as that use to be one of the main reasons why people went there.

The food is usually good but it does depend on the chef working there at the time. [they have two chefs i've been told]

Definitely one of the places to drink if you're in the local area along with the Ragged Trousers in the Pantiles!!! [which wasn't featured here, so i'll give it a mention in this review]
ali75 - 24 Jan 2007 10:53
Busy and well run bar area with nice friendly staff.Bar perhaps a bit too small for comfort when its busy.Food good with some nice choice of wines and beers.Friendly crowd,busy at the weekends of course,live music at present on Sunday eveings which draws a good crowd and is well worth a look.Overall a good,clean and place to visit.
ivanski - 13 Jan 2007 11:26
Probably the best bar in TW
juzza - 13 Dec 2006 17:20
The food is nice enough and the range of beers is great, just a shame that the staff don't seem to care about the customers.
mts88 - 17 Nov 2006 18:27
One of the best range of beers in Tunbridge Wells. The Erdinger dark is a must try.
anonymous - 3 Nov 2006 21:31
Sankeys used to be a great restaurant and meeting place. Now the food is indifferent, expensive, and poorly presented. The Harveys beer is still well kept - if you can find it on!
anonymous - 18 Jul 2006 16:53
i have never experienced such incompetence as i have in this place, very slow and the fish is always nearly over cooked.

a tip, do not eat there at lunchtimes if you only have an hour as a simple baguette can take 45 mins to prepare. they should start thinking about the customer a bit more and open their eyes to the fact that they are not that good!

i also had to put up with tutting (yes tutting from a waitress) when an order was incorrectly delivered to my table (i was only having a drink!) she couldn't grasp the fact i didn't order any.

good beer though.
warbpj - 25 Jan 2006 11:05
My wife and I moved to the area recently and decided to eat at Sankeys with our visiting friends. The food was dreadful - flavourless sauces, over cooked fish, and the owners son was ghastly (which I have since learnt is quite accurace). The service certainly has no suggestion of smile, and when it came to paying - I was not happy to part with my cash. In short I would not recommend this place to anyone. Shame, as its reputation was rather good once I believe.
veryfrank - 9 Jan 2006 12:03
Cosy atmosphere friendly staff.Has some rare well kept real ales including those of the local Larkins Brewery.Fresh fish and sea food predominate the menu. I would certainly recommend the mussels as a main course, and for the larger bowl, have any chips as a side order!
leggless - 28 Dec 2005 19:58
A great pub. Good beer, friendly atmosphere and nice bar staff.
dribbling_ak - 20 Dec 2005 09:58
Some mixed opinions here, im very pleased to see people who enjoy what we are doing are leaving their opinions as well as the ones who we have not satisfied. And for those of you who we have disapointed may i extend mine and the teams appologies, and let you know that all comments on this web site have been noted and used to try to improve where we can.

Sadly though, the time has come for all of us to move on. We are accepting offers and hope that my father can retire well before Xmas. I for one am extreemly proud of what my father has done here and will be gutted when it goes. So I would like to thank everyone who graced us with their presence and all the staff who have put up with us over the years... THANK YOU, its all of you who have made Sankeys what it is today.

Who knows maybe one day we'll be back.

I hope you enjoy our Family's work whilst we are on the home straight.

mattsankey - 21 Jul 2005 17:20
Cherry Lager, ill have a PINT of that thanks...
bilbobaggins - 24 Jun 2005 09:24
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This place use to be great - and then Guy put his son in charge. BIG MISTAKE. He doesn't care about the customers, and treats them with utter disdain. such a shame. Very arrogant.
Lalalalalala - 8 Apr 2005 09:22
Just opposite the K&S Hospital it's a must if you are waiting for an appointment! Been there several times now and only have good things to say about it. The mussels are magic and it's such a nice place to sit and relax and enjoy a drink. The pub is cosy and comfortable. The staff are friendly. What more could you ask - except a hospital appointment you didn't have to wait all day for!
kathyjarvis - 7 Apr 2005 13:08
Went here on Saturday night the bar not the restaurant). It was literally heaving with people, and we must have waited at least 10 - 15 minutes to get served.

However the beer was nice, and when we sat down the guys sitting next to us turned out to be a right laugh! We talked to them for most of the evening, and if they are typical of the sort of people who frequent Sankey's then I would definately recomend it!
mcfarfs - 28 Feb 2005 15:14
this is a very nice place to just sit down and relax during the day time! nice food, but the service is quite slow sometimes....but the staff are friendly, which is always nice! live music usually on sundays so it does get very packed! the pubs in this area of town is definately the area where all the professionals hang out especially now p&p has closed for refurbishment. this place, tn4 and beau nash are a must on your pub crawl list!
sophie_r - 24 Feb 2005 11:30
I have been using this reataurant for around 10 years and always had great things to say and recommended it whenever asked. After my last visit however i will not be returning.
For a start we were told there were no Ice buckets for the white wine and eneded up having to go and find one not being used ourselves. Then the main courses came 3 of which being crab with no crackers or skewer to get the meat out with. After 20 minutes of asking for some. We were greeted by a young boy (owners son) who said he was in charge, and the crackers keep getting stolen so we should get the meat from crab claws with our knife and fork!
The boys attitude might have passed in a fast food restaurant but was well below par and very rude for what was once a very nice establishment.

honest - 13 Jan 2005 15:51
Guy that owns the place is such a nice man and looks after staff and customers alike, with any restaurant you're going to get the odd duff meal and more often than not a bit of a wait.

The person that critisised having to wait for an hour and a half for their main course is either a numpty or doesn't eat out very often, you must expect to wait at the weekend or eat out in the week, have a glass of wine and chat with your friends. Eat out in France and you'll wait all night for your food.

If you compare Sankeys to the crappy dives that litter the streets of Tunbridge Wells, it's a little ray of sunshine.

Adam can be a bit of a tart though.

anonymous - 12 Jan 2005 17:21
Kas's comment on 21 Jun 04 re-tiny mussels is unexpected. In some 40 portions (we go as a group) over the years we have only ever had normal sized mussels - and plenty of them - and the accompanying French bread is the best north of Dover; delicious and thoroughly recommended. Excellent range of bottled and other beers. Good atmosphere.
tony - 4 Oct 2004 11:42
Great Live music upstairs on Sunday Nights..great atmosphere, can get quite crowded if a good band's on though ( local funk rockers Intraverse!) Highly Recommended! :)
Beth - 29 Sep 2004 17:15
Sankeys is my friend Kas's and my local-and favorite bar. The beer is first rate-the fruit beer is a must, suggest trying all of them. Upstairs which as pointed out earlier use to be the 'top class restaurant' is now a bar, downstairs focusing on food. The bar staff are first rate (downstairs particulary; if Sam, Lydia or Pheobe are on then your in luck-very friendly (just say u know Kas and Alex). The only slight shame is if you are drinking downstairs and you fancy a fruit beer as you will have to go upstairs inorder to get one. Apqart from that its worth a few visits-and you dont have to be a local just have a few beers and chat to anyone!!!
ablalex - 23 Jun 2004 15:31
We've been going to Sankey's for quite a few years now and unfortuneately after Friday night will not be returning. After waiting 45mins for starters we were presented with tiny oysters and tiny mussels. A further 20mins after the starters we were told they didn't have any spider crab, and then eventually, an hour and a half after arriving we got our main course. The seafood thermidor was overdone and dry so we asked to speak with the manager, who turned out to be Mr Sankey Junior and was incredibly rude. He whisked away the overdone thermidors without apology or offer of an alternative. We were told that he had a "very busy bar upstairs" so it was basically a case of he couldn't be bothered with someone who complained about his food.
I am now not surprised why the restaurant was only half full on a Friday night.
I'm afraid I would not recommend Sankeys to anyone.

Cas - 21 Jun 2004 11:28
i like sankeys for a couple of drinks to start and evening, or for the live music on sunday's( i think they still do that anyway??) the atmosphere can be enjoyable, but you do get funny looks if you're not a regular. i like the belgian and french selection of beer, a nice alternative to the rest of the town. i haven't been since i was drinking in the garden and some (i asume 18y old's, no older) who had drunk too much, threw up on the patio, very nasty. I hope it's not the norm, but haven't been back to find out.
Ian - 21 Jun 2004 00:26
i always enjoyed the food but not the bar - which is pokey and not very welcoming. regulars love it, but, like so much of tunbridge wells, regard strangers as aliens.
richard - 1 Jun 2004 12:51
I would strongly suggest if you like fish and seafood, donít come here>>>> the place is overpriced, the fish was stale, and I have seen bigger mussels on a sparrows kneecap.
Oh well you might have more luck!

spencer - 14 Jan 2004 15:40
Sankeys has been around for years but the new bit is the big bar upstairs at street level. That used to be a posh restaurant, but more people can get in now. The basement bar was always the cosy drinking bit, but is being worked on at the moment. I hope they don't spoil it.

The previous comment was right about the beers! They sell excellently kept Harveys Sussex and (local brew) Larkins Bitter, and a large selection of Belgian and French lagers on draught and in bottles.

Sankeys is known for its seafood which always tastes excellent as is good value. My favourite is the Moules Frites (mussels with fries and mayonnaise), but there are lots of other options to try.

My only criticism of the place is that it was just so smokey upstairs. Having spent ages refurbishing it, it was a shame they didn't put some better ventilation or air conditioning in.
Graham - 9 Dec 2003 15:12
newley opened, wide variety of beers!
IY - 7 Oct 2003 16:08

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