The town of Windsor on the outskirts of London is famous for its castle, a working royal palace and the much loved home of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. But Windsor isn’t just about the castle. You can have a great day out here exploring the quaint cobbled streets and acres of parkland, cruising by the swans on the river Thames and of course, visiting the lovely old pubs of Windsor and Eton.
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Best Old Pubs in Windsor and Eton
As befits a town which dates back to medieval times and further, Windsor has its fair share of beautiful old buildings. And some of the most characterful properties are pubs – many of which have stood on the same sites for centuries. Pop in to sample a fine ale or a pub lunch and experience some living history too.
Here’s a selection of some of the most charming and traditional old pubs in Windsor and Eton. You’ll find good food, great beer and a friendly atmosphere. And they’re all within walking distance of Windsor Castle so that you can easily fit a pub visit into your Windsor itinerary.
NB Pub kitchen hours can be subject to change. Please check direct with the venue before your visit if you plan to stop for a meal.
Pubs near Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle lies in the heart of the town, contrasting with the modern-day boutiques, souvenir shops and convenience stores outside its ancient walls. And since Windsor is quite small it’s fair to say that all the town centre pubs are near Windsor castle. But these have a particularly close up view!
The Horse and Groom Windsor
The Horse and Groom Windsor is certainly close to Windsor castle. In fact it is on Castle Hill, the route used by the Guards marching to and from the castle during the Changing Guard ceremony. And from the outside tables and the upstairs dining room you have a view of the Henry VIII Gateway to Windsor Castle.
First listed in 1719, the Horse and Groom has lots of the attributes of a traditional old English market town pub. You’ll find black painted timber, low ceilings, narrow steep stairs – and horsy ephemera on the walls. Windsor after all has horses in its blood, what with Ascot racecourse, Smith’s Lawn polo field and of course the Royal family’s long standing affection for equestrian life.
In true traditional pub fashion the decor of the Horse and Groom is eclectic. Think a mix of the collectible: pewter tankards; the antique: military uniform; and the irreverent: life size Royal family cutouts on the loo doors.
Visitors enjoy trying the ales on tap and of course the fish and chips. The kitchen is generally open from 12 to 5pm but check ahead to avoid being disappointed.
Although this is a small pub it does have outdoor tables on Market Street with the aforementioned castle view. The staff are friendly and reviewers all seem pleased with the food.
4 Castle Hill, Windsor
Open 7 days a week: 11.30 am to 10.30 pm (Monday 10pm, Sunday 11pm). Check website for kitchen hours
The Two Brewers Windsor
Another contender for ‘pubs near Windsor Castle’ is the Two Brewers. If you thought the Horse and Groom was quaint and idiosyncratic, wait until you see this!
In pole position at the end of Park Street by the Castle’s Cambridge Gate, the Two Brewers is ready for thirsty customers who need reviving after the Long Walk. It’s been there since 1791, formed from an annex of an even older coaching inn called the Black Horse.
This handsome independent pub is “dedicated to Life, Liberty, Food, Drink and Other Less Serious Matters” as it says on the sign.
This becomes clear once inside as the two small rooms are lovingly maintained and decorated. Solo drinkers can pass the time reading the daily updated chalkboard inscribed with notable – and some forgettable – happenings On This Day from across the centuries. In fact you could read all the walls which are closely hung with sepia photos, engravings and old newspaper clippings.
The customers’ beer of choice here is London Pride and the lunchtime pick is the home-cooked ham with eggs or the sliced beef sandwich. Evening favourites include steak and sea bass and there’s an Old World-only wine list to match.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, in a break from trad pub food, the Two Brewers serves tapas dishes. And it’s worth noting that if you fancy a Sunday roast then best to book at least 2 weeks in advance, more so in the winter.
The Two Brewers is over-18s only inside, which seems fair given there really isn’t room to swing a buggy. And with just 8 tables within and a handful of pavement-side wooden benches, it’s a good idea to plan your visit and get there early.
34 Park Street, Windsor
Open 7 days a week: 11.30 am (Sun 12 noon) to 11pm (Fri, Sat 11.30pm; Sun 10.30pm). Check website for kitchen hours
This is another pub in Windsor that’s tucked down a side street beside the Castle. In fact the Carpenters Arms is tucked down two side streets since it stretches across a block, so you can enter from one street and exit via another. This characterful pub spreads across three levels in an open plan but still traditional manner that makes it unexpectedly light and open.
The Carpenters Arms first appears in records in 1844. Nowadays it’s a Nicholson’s pub, offering a warm welcome, real ales and a good English pub food menu. Pies are the speciality here, from traditional steak and ale to flavours with a modern twist like sweet potato and goat’s cheese. And the fish and chips is cooked with a Nicholson’s ale batter.
4 Market Street, Windsor. A Nicholson’s pub
Open 7 days a week: 12 noon to 10 pm Mon-Wed; 11pm Thurs – Sat; 9pm Sun. Check website for kitchen hours
Next stop is yet another old pub in the heart of Windsor. The Prince Harry was formerly the Three Tuns and changed its name in honour of the Prince’s wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018. It serves a Prince Harry lager too that’s made solely for this pub.
This is a venerable site. It was the original Guildhall in the market place of Windsor back in 1518 and became an inn and pub in 1689.
Recent reviewers enjoy the traditional pub food that includes fish and chips and bangers (sausages) and mash, alongside more modern offerings of burritos and vegan burgers. Whilst local people are regular customers for the Sunday roasts.
8 Market Street, Windsor
Open 7 days a week: 10 am to 11pm. Check website for kitchen hours
The Royal Windsor
The Royal Windsor might not be the closest pub to Windsor Castle – in fact it’s the closest to Windsor & Eton Riverside train station. But it does have a sterling view. Windsor Castle positively dominates the skyline from the beer garden.
A larger and more modern pub than the previous two, The Royal Windsor is a capacious place, inside and out. Although the date over the door states it’s a licensed premises since 1727, the pub was completely re-built in the 1930s which explains its quaint half-timbered Tudorbethan style.
But the Royal Windsor has completely embraced the 21st century with sports screens, outdoor barbecues on sunny days and of-the-moment cocktails. And the outdoor tables with the view of Windsor Castle in the background are a bonus.
This is one of a group of traditional, family-friendly pubs which share similar menus and a varied selection of ales and craft beers. And they take dog-friendliness one step further by offering a dog menu too: including canine versions of fish and chips and roast dinner.
Datchet Road, Windsor. A Stonegate pub
Open 7 days a week: 10 am (Sun 11am) to 11pm (Fri, Sat 1 am). Check website for kitchen hours
Riverside Pubs in Windsor
Strictly speaking there is only one pub with river views in the town centre although you’ll find one or two other restaurants with river adjacent seating.
Once upon a time in the 1800s this pub was nicknamed The Donkey House, so called because it stabled the donkeys who worked beside the river. I suspect the Boatman has come quite a long way since those days. It is now a spacious restaurant with conservatory and terraces on the Windsor riverside.
Although The Boatman is strictly speaking a pub, the restaurant and river views mean it’s a great place to enjoy a meal by the river with stellar views of Eton bridge and the boats – and swans – passing by.
As a pub you’ll find it serves real ales, ciders and wine with hand mixed cocktails. Whilst the restaurant provides a British menu with a contemporary twist. Favourites include the lamb shoulder, which has never left the menu for 6 years, and the sea bass. All the puddings are made from scratch and The Boatman’s version of the classic Eton Mess has been featured on TV.
10 Thames Side, Windsor
Open 7 days a week: 11am to 11pm (Sunday 10pm). Check ahead for kitchen hours
Pubs in Eton
Eton is only separated from Windsor town centre by a footbridge across the Thames so it’s easy to include when you’re exploring. Eton College, the world famous boarding school for boys, was founded in 1440 and the town of Eton is even older. So you can expect to find some interesting old pubs here too.
The George is Georgian by age as well as name, and was built as a coaching inn in 1750. Nowadays the old stables at the back of the building have become the Hop House function room and it is owned by the local Windsor & Eton Brewery.
But the interior of The George still harks back to previous centuries. The low beamed ceilings, fireplaces, old wooden settle and barrel tables give the whole place a traditional air. You can feel like you’ve stepped back in time whilst enjoying an up-to-the minute seasonal menu.
The George sources ingredients from local suppliers including the Royal Farm Estate. Hits include fish and chips – the cod is beer-battered in the pub’s own brew, rib-eye steak and burgers in brioche buns.
It’s a good place to get to grips with the complicated nomenclature of British beer too. Here you can taste their wares in flights of 30ml glasses to work out the style of ale you prefer.
In keeping with its history as a coaching inn The George has 8 en-suite bedrooms, some with views of Windsor Castle or Eton bridge.
77 High Street, Eton. Windsor & Eton Brewery
Open 7 days a week: 12 noon to 11 pm (Fri, Sat 11.30pm, Sun 10pm ). Check ahead for kitchen hours
The Watermans Arms
The Waterman’s Arms, just a short walk from The George, should also receive honourable mention as a Windsor pub near the river since it’s within a stone’s throw of the Thames and certainly sounds like it ought to have a view. Sadly it doesn’t, but as a sister pub to the Horse and Groom it has a heritage to match. This historic pub dates back to 1682 and was a parish workhouse before becoming a public house.
Once frequented by the watermen and lightermen who worked on the river, it’s still a locals’ pub and favoured by dog walkers, ramblers and boat’ers. It caters for the community with quizzes, comedy and open mic nights as well as a popular function room.
The satisfyingly retro decor features black and white photos of moments in the pub’s history such as watermen of old on their annual day out and an occasion when the pub flooded back in the 1940s. Expect open fires in the winter.
The menu is of the traditional hearty pub grub variety, served at lunchtimes. While the bar features real ales, as well as a range of scrumpy style ciders.
Brocas Street, Eton
Open 7 days a week: 12 noon to 11pm (Fri, Sat 11.30pm; Sun 8pm). Check ahead for kitchen hours
Timeline of the Old Pubs in Windsor
History relates that Windsor has has had a thriving selection of pubs for centuries. Back in Tudor times, one of the earliest alehouses, recorded by Windsor corporation in 1528, was the Mermaid Inn. As well as brewing its own ale it provided food and accommodation for travellers. Five hundred years later it is now the Castle Hotel so is a clear contender for the title of oldest pub in Windsor.
The presence of the Royal Court at the castle meant many visitors to the town. And hence a demand for drinking establishments. by 1657 Windsor had 49 taverns and alehouses.
By the 1800s many of Windsor’s current pubs were already in existence. The Three Tuns (now the Prince Harry), the Horse and Groom and the Carpenters Arms all appear in census reports.
ORDERING FOOD AND DRINK IN A PUB
NB Here are a few tips if you’re visiting a British pub for the first time. Customers find their own tables when they go into a pub, rather than waiting to be seated as they would in a restaurant. They also go to the bar to order drinks and food which they pay for in advance. Waiters bring food to the table but they don’t come to the table to take an order. That’s just the way pubs work 😀.
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the relevant websites for the most up to date information eg. accommodation details, tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
What to Read Next
Planning a visit to Windsor? You need to take a look at the Long Walk from Windsor Castle to the Copper Horse statue. It’s a stunning landmark – and you don’t need to walk the whole way to appreciate it!
If you’re combining your trip to Windsor with a stay in London, check out our 2 Day London Itinerary is see all the key sights without hassle.
And our locals’ guide to Non-Touristy Things to do in London will help you to avoid the tourist traps.
If you’re visiting Kensington for shopping, the museums or a show at the Royal Albert Hall, this guide to Best Pubs near Royal Albert Hall has some great spots for lunch, supper or a drink.
Looking for a break from the city that’s just 30 minutes from central London? Try leafy Wimbledon with its country walks, luxe boutiques and, once a year, its Grand Slam Tennis Championships
About the author Nancy Roberts is a former women’s magazine editor and writer. She lives in London and is mum to two 20-something boys. In Map&Family she shares info and inspiration for curious travellers: singles and couples as well as families travelling with teens and young adults.