The Kings Arms

King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10

Like so many eat-and-drinkeries in Greenwich, the clientele at The Kings Arms is feast or famine. It’s either heaving with tourists – or utterly empty. So it took me a while to time it right so that I could go in when it wasn’t totally dead, but there were at least a few seats available.

In the today’s climate, where pubs are ‘regenerated’ to the point of unrecognisability at the drop of a knife on laminate, it’s rather refreshing to see that The Kings Arms has at least tried to keep that traditional boozer feel. The dark wood panelling with obscure glass panels, the busy red and gold carpet, maroon anaglypta ceiling and un-matched chairs keep the feel, but it’s not grotty like one down the road I won’t name but which closed recently. It’s what I’d call ‘cosy’ – better, IMHO, in the winter, with its comforting fireplace and low lighting, which can be a bit gloomy in summer (though of course then you’d sit outside in the rather nice beer garden anyway…)

The decor has a local feel – old pictures of Greenwich, especially the Observatory – don’t miss the painting above the fireplace which depicts the Observatory during the war, complete with aerial and planes. The rest of the decor tends towards pub knick-knackery – not unpleasant – I confess I quite like the comfort of a load of bits and bobs around me.

When we went in the other day, we were initially drawn by the sign advertising ‘mulled wine,’ particularly appealing given the weather. I have to admit we were totally put off when we realised it was an instant mulled-wine machine which somehow just seemed wrong, so it was beer after all. The staff were not at their best – I’m not convinced they had their minds on what they were doing. It took sometime to be served despite the quietness of the evening and even during the transaction I got the feeling that I was in the way of their quiet night.

But the beer is good and the atmosphere (among the locals) seemed friendly. It was an enjoyable visit, and definitely somewhere I’d return, especially since we didn’t test the food on the last occasion. BTW, there’s an interesting domed glass lantern in the Ladies. There isn’t an equivalent in the Gents.

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