The Harp in Covent Garden has become the first London pub ever to win the Campaign for Real Ale's (Camra) National Pub of the Year competition.
The award recognises atmosphere, decor, customer service, value for money, clientele mix, and the quality of the beer in pubs.
Owned by celebrated real ale pioneer Bridget Walsh, the Harp sits a short distance from Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, serving eight real ales and a wide selection of real ciders and perries at any one time.
Kimberly Martin, Camra's London regional director, said: "I never ceased to be impressed or surprised by the continuing success of a pub staffed by individuals so passionate about the real ale industry. The Harp is a perfect example of how the London cask beer scene is reaching out to new drinkers."
Bridget Walsh first took on the Harp as a tenanted pub in 1995 (buying the pub outright in 2009) and went about transforming it into a pub dedicated to real ale, real cider and real sausages. With more than 40 years' experience in the beer and pub industry, she has been winning Camra awards for her cellarmanship skills since the 1970s. The pub has also had several recent successes, winning Camra's West London Pub of the Year in 2006, 2008, and 2010, as well as London Regional Pub of the Year in 2010.
Walsh said: "This news came as a complete shock but of course we are delighted to be named Camra's National Pub of the Year. We pride ourselves on the range and quality of our real ale and to be London's first-ever National Pub of the Year is a real honour. I would like to thank my locals, Camra members and particularly my brilliant staff, who made this a real team effort."
Julian Hough, Camra pubs director, said: "The most impressive aspect of the Harp is that it retains its appeal as a true local, even though situated in the tourist heart of the capital. What makes a great pub is the ability for it to welcome both regulars and first-time customers alike and this is something it does to perfection."
By Neil Gerrard
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