The Duke of Hamilton is a traditional, independent old English pub steeped in history and character situated in the heart of leafy Hampstead just a two-minute walk from the tube station and Hampstead Heath, tucked away from the traffic and bustle of the main street making it an ideal stop after a walk in the park or shopping on the High Street.
The pub has earned itself a place in the good beer guide for 32 years running, recognition as the CAMRA Best London Pubs Winner and as Best London Pub in 2011. It is the only pub in Hampstead featured in the good beer guide which is exemplary of the care and attention given to selecting only the best for its customers.
The owner, Steve Coxshall, is there most days, if he’s not out on his bike, greeting and mingling with customers so you can get a real feel for his passion for life, community, music, animals and sport. He was a stock broker in the city for 22 years before moving into the music industry to manage artists such as Blue and Ray Quinn and then going on to acquire the Duke of Hamilton Pub. As you will deduce from the pictures and memorabilia around the pub, he races for a sponsored team called CASP Racing Team and competes in the British Masters and many of the national ranking events. As he also writes music and plays the piano if you are very lucky he might get the piano and serenade you as he has been known to do on occasion… Watch out ladies!
Steve, or Cocky as he is also known, is responsible for the transformation the pub has undergone over the past decade from a stench ridden old man’s drinking pub to a haven with a welcoming lounge atmosphere, jazz music playing, candles, positive people, energy and staff and a real sense of community where technology is stripped out and professionals, families and people from all walks of life are brought together to socialize, play board games and enjoy the warm friendly atmosphere that has attracted a loyal local following as well as drawing in regular customers from further afield. Because of his links to the music industry you may even spot some famous faces from time to time.
In line with his vision to keep the true British pub culture and community spirit alive the pub also raises awareness for charities and has raised money for prostate cancer, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Parkinson’s. Steve’s chair, the “King’s Throne”, is invitingly placed by the window as you enter the pub with a sign on the wall stipulating that £1.00 is to be donated to the Parkinson’s charity if you sit there. If you don’t notice the sign, someone will be sure to point it out to you.
The pub has a resident dog named Dylan and cat named Duchess who are very popular with the customers. Dylan arrived with the landlord and Duchess wandered into the pub one day back in 2007 becoming a permanent fixture and even achieving fame appearing in a book published about London pub cats. Animals are very welcome and are even likely to be fetched a treat from out the back by the landlord.
Let’s not forget to mention the beer garden filled with picnic tables where BBQs are occasionally held in the summertime creating a great party vibe and more importantly The Rabbit Hole, the pub’s intimate underground Jazz, Music and Theatre venue which is a regular host of the Camden Fringe Festival and the prestigious ECG London Jazz Festival, which is indicative of its reputation and the quality of musicians that have performed on its stage. Tickets are sold at affordable prices making the events accessible to all. The pub has also featured in many films and TV broadcasts.
Come along and make the most of what is really one of the last true independent traditional British pubs left in the Hampstead area, it really is a must see!