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Holiday Inspiration

Five of the spookiest pubs in London

By Susan Ward Davies

The Ten Bells

East London's hippest crowd come for the pared-down decor and great music, but little do they know that before this corner pub had its £1million refurb, and was inhabited by their sharp brogues and trimmed moustaches, The Ten Bells was the stomping ground for some of Jack the Ripper's women of the night. The serial killer is something of a sinister attraction in the East End - with the pub even being named after the villain in the 1970s - and two of his victims solicited outside. Inside, think back-room tavern with wooden stools, splashes of leather and real ales, and award winning menus courtesy of chefs from The Ledbury and Noma.

Address: Commercial Street, London E1 6LY; 020 7366 1721; tenbells.com

The Grenadier

The Grenadier is as spooky as they come - so haunted, ghost tours actually beeline to this small drinking den in Belgravia. The story goes that a young officer was flogged to death after cheating in a card game and now haunts the pub with regular sightings of a silent apparition and objects moving in the middle of the night. But don't let that put you off. Down a charming cobbled side street, pop in by day for a quaint English countryside feel - just remember where you put that drink.

Address: 18 Wilton Row, London, SW1X 7NR; 020 7235 3074; taylor-walker.co.uk/find/pubs/grenadier/

The Spaniards Inn

There's something instantly wonky about the Spaniards Inn. The white-washed coach house, perched on Hampstead Heath, is full of nooks and crannies and it feels like history oozes from the walls. Well, actually it does. Dickens wrote about it in The Pickwick Papers and Keats penned Ode to a Nightingale here, but it's the ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin skulking in the rafters and his trusty horse parading the car park that attracts the inquisitive.

Address: Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JJ; 020 8731 8406; thespaniardshampstead.co.uk

The Old Queen’s Head

If it wasn't one of north London's coolest nightspots, The Old Queen's Head would probably be the set of an elaborate murder mystery. With Clinking chandeliers, candlelit corners and a creaky upstairs live music room, there's definitely something lurking in the Chesterfield sofas. Myth has it that the pub is home to a maternal ghost and a weeping girl. But hey, another pair of hands behind the busy bar is always useful.

Address: 44 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN; 020 7354 9993; theoldqueenshead.com

The Black Cap

If you think your faded local has history, this infamous haunt claims to be one of the oldest in the capital, dating back to the 1750s. The lanky red-brick building nestled among Camden's street vendors is associated with sordid stories of witchcraft and murders - and that's just from the former terrifying landlady. Now, expect a lively crowd with cabaret and a large gay following. Go any night of the week.

Address: 171 Camden High Street, London NW1 7JY; 020 7485 0538; theblackcap.com

Looking for something even spookier? Check out our best Halloween Events in London

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