Situated on an island in the midst of the busy A41, where Finchley Road meets Avenue Road, one of London’s aged treasures, Ye Olde Swiss Cottage is another Samuel Smith’s pub just across the street from the Central School of Speech and Drama (where I did my MA). All well-trodden carpet and wood panelling, Ye Olde Swiss embodies that your-nan’s-livingroom-feel we love in our pubs; chesterfield sofas, little stools, wooden tables and high-tops where old men stand with their pints and chat.
Busy without being crowded, the demographic is a mixture of older locals and students, with a light sprinkling of tourists. Samuel Smith’s pubs get their signature feel from what’s absent. Lacking televisions, music, and other distracting entertainments, it’s all about interaction with friends. You might not notice immediately, but the absence of all those whirligigs leads to a more present experience, and this effect is magnified by the lack of wifi. They only serve their own beers, so there’s not a huge variety, but their brews are pretty good, so we don’t mind the restriction. I love the organic cider, and Trish’s favourite is the organic lager.