Croydon’s cosiest pubs for Christmas: our insider’s guide/3

The White Bear: a tavern, not an over-large drinking cavern

KEN TOWL’s  on the last leg … on his last legs? … as his search for Croydon’s cosiest Christmas pub nears its end

The pubs run by the large brewery chains in Croydon town centre certainly upped the amount of tinsel and pine needles in their premises.

But my quest for the ultimate in Christmas cosiness in Croydon’s pubs was not yet over, with the best (in my opinion) yet to come.

Hearing that they had a real fire, I was drawn next to The Cricketers Arms (47 Shirley Road, CR0 7ER).

The fire was real, all right, and the landlord gets extra points for coming over and setting us up a table in front of it and then chucking more wood on to it (the fire, that is, not the table). A pint of Harvey’s while listening to the burning wood hiss and crack would have been the height of cosiness, had it not been for the unfestive music that appeared to have been set at maximum volume in order to drown out the cries of the children. Still, at least it is family-friendly.

Christmas cosiness factor: 7/10

Inside and out, the halls of the White Bear are decked with holly and all sorts of Christmassy stuff

In search of a more bucolic experience, I headed out past New Addington to The White Bear (Fairchildes Lane, CR6 9PH). For crying out loud, it is a 16th century inn. It is by definition cosy. I am 6’3″ tall so I notice features like oak beams and The White Bear has more than its share. It did not hurt that it started to snow just before we arrived; entering the dark, warm and pleasantly decorated pub was all the better.

The polar bear, a perennial feature of the garden to the front of the pub, adds to the Christmas magic. You can get a roast turkey dinner here for £11.95, or great slabs of beef for £12.95 – well worth it. You even get a free mini-mince pie if you order a coffee. Why would you, though, if you can get beer from the nearby Titsey Brewing Company? It is difficult to imagine a cosier haven from the snow but I am going to take a mark off because, despite its Croydon postcode, it sits just outside of the borough.

Christmas cosiness rating: 9/10

Country inn-style pub, inside the boundaries of Croydon: the Wattenden

So, a country village-style pub inside the boundaries of the Cronx? It had to be the Wattenden Arms (Old Lodge Lane, Kenley, CR8 5EU). It is an attractive pub, it is not too big, and they are currently offering a twist on the traditional seasonal menu. You can go for the traditional roast turkey at £9.29 or you can try the turkey pie for £9.99, or the “festive burger” for £10.49.

They were clearly understaffed and we had to wait 20 minutes to have our orders taken – this does not lend itself to feelings of cosiness. However, when it came, the turkey pie was very good. I would recommend it. The festive nature of the burger, however, expressed itself through the medium of dried out slices of stuffing and a couple of limp pieces of turkey. The promised bacon and mature cheddar made no appearance at all. On the other hand, the tree was cheerful and the ambience enhanced by the provision of santa’s hats for all the guests to wear should they so choose. One party so chose and they appeared to be enjoying themselves. I’m adding a point for the hats but taking two off for the missing cheese and bacon.

Christmas cosiness rating: 7/10

But what are your favourite, or recommended, pubs in and around Croydon for a seasonal get-together with a few family and friends, a glass of something and maybe a bite to eat? Drop us a line, with “Cosy Christmas in Croydon” in the subject field to:

Now I need to lie down. I have to recover in time for Christmas… Ho, ho, ho.

  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
  • 1 MILLION PAGE VIEWS IN 2017 (January to September)
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Ken Towl, Pubs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Croydon’s cosiest pubs for Christmas: our insider’s guide/3

  1. jackgriffin1933 says:

    I know it’s subjective, and Ken may not have been able to get round them all (yet): but no Oval, no Builders? Those are the sort of omissions I’d expect from a small circulation Guildford-based ‘newspaper’…

    • Ken Towl says:

      Both of those pubs would have fitted in nicely, but there’s only so many pubs I can visit and still be able to write about it.

    • Poor old Ken. He’s been out and about around the pubs of Croydon, imperiling his liver in a noble cause, and you demand even more from him? Did you not see the appeal for further contributions from readers? Are you one of these “glass half empty” types?

  2. jackgriffin1933 says:

    I’m only glass half-empty insofar as it’s an opportunity to fit more ale in.

    One would help with these Chrismassy reviews, yet one tends to withdraw socially at this time of year to avoid the amateur ‘two pot screamers’ who emerge annually to behave like they invented drinking.

    And until they introduce ‘professional lanes’ in pubs for those of us who think it’s a good idea 365, that will sadly remain the case.

    Plaudits to Ken for braving the seasonal drunken zombie throng!

Leave a Reply