In Europe, Life as an Expat, London, Travel

A Visit to Winston Churchill’s Grandparents’ Local Pub

As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend Paige was recently here on a visit. Today’s post is all thanks to her, as she discovered the Churchill Arms—the eighteenth-century pub in Kensington that Winston Churchill’s grandparents used to frequent. The pub’s current name is due to its historic connection to the prime minister’s family.

What better way to get in touch with British history than by heading to a historic London pub?

Flowery Façade

The pub itself is 100% worth seeing—inside and out. Its façade is extraordinary. The only pub to win the Chelsea Flower Show, the Churchill Arms’ exterior is absolutely covered in live flowers. In April the display was gorgeous—colorful and eye-catching with tulips, violas, primroses, and other popular London flora.

Churchill Thai Kitchen

If you want to do more than look at the pub’s exuberant exterior, though, make sure to book a reservation. The restaurant is tiny—with only about ten or so tables in a cozy greenhouse-like room.

With live plants hanging from the ceiling and small café-tables, the place is quaint and petite.

Head’s up: due to the popularity of the Churchill Arms’ restaurant, you can only reserve a table for one hour. Make sure to show up on time in order to properly enjoy your food!

Today this 1750s landmark is more than just a typical British pub. Rather than serving Sunday roasts and traditional pub fare, the adjoined restaurant, Churchill Thai Kitchen, serves only Thai cuisine. Big Thai fans, we headed to the Churchill Arms for some history and a bit of curry one night during Paige’s visit.

Speedy and Spicy

The service is efficient—our food came after only about five to ten minutes—but it’s necessarily impersonal and can feel rather rushed. I wouldn’t recommend going to the Churchill Arms for a heart-to-heart (it’s quite noisy, cramped, and bustling), but it’s definitely worth a visit.

The food—I had Pad Thai while David and Paige each had curries—was delicious, although we discovered that, unlike most places in London, the spice levels are much more authentic. Usually, even at Indian and Thai restaurants in the city, London food is far from spicy.

David, who has an extremely high spice tolerance, ordered dish that was so spicy he actually couldn’t finish his meal. My mild Pad Thai was perfectly fine for my low spice tolerance, though, so just plan accordingly.

After finishing our pints and noodles, it was time to go. The waitress politely informed us that our table was needed and we headed out. One quick photo in front of the beautiful floral façade outside and we were off.

Worth a Stop

Anyone wanting to try something a bit different should make a reservation for the Churchill Arms. The garden-themed decor of the Thai restaurant is very fun and unique. The pub itself seems less crowded, so you could also just grab a pint and admire the Churchill artifacts strewn about the traditional paneled walls.

If you don’t have time for a drink or quick dinner, just plan a stroll along the bustling Kensington Church Street and you’ll be sure to catch a glimpse of the Churchill Arms’ fantastic flowers!

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