London (Marylebone) – The Volunteer

Since I was in the Marylebone area I was going to pop into a pub listed in the Good Beer Guide, but unfortunately most of the ones around here haven’t re-opened yet. So, the Volunteer looked quite historic and interesting, located opposite Regent’s Park and also on Baker Street, of note to Sherlock Holmes fans.

There was a very prompt and polite welcome from a team member, so it felt a friendly location. I was asked if I wanted to sit inside or out and I opted for inside as it’s still hot in London and there’s still been no rain to cool things down a bit. The pub’s web-site notes that “come along to The Volunteer, get cosy and escape from the cold in our pub”, but it was the reverse that I was trying to achieve. I had just been near frozen in the Metropolitan Bar, the local Wetherspoons, and I very much liked that, but this pub was a bit too warm for my liking. But, the weather is ridiculously hot, there’s a limit to what they can do.

The beer choice wasn’t very exciting at all, the real ale choice was limited to Doom Bar. That meant I was only going to have half a pint, although the beer was well kept and tasted as it was meant to. They did apologise for this limited beer choice, I was unfortunate that they were between barrels. Whatpub mentioned they usually have three guests as well as Doom Bar, so the choice isn’t usually this limited. Customers seemed happy with the food and drink being offered and although I didn’t eat here, the menu looked like a mix of traditional British dishes and some more contemporary options.

I was pleased to have visited though, there’s plenty of history to this pub and they explain some of it on their web-site. it takes its name from when it was a recruiting office in the nineteenth century (other stories for the pub’s name exist) and there are a few war-themed sections in the pub. The owners say that it’s haunted, but I’m pleased to note that I didn’t sense anything when I was there. The story goes that there was once a large property on this site, but it was destroyed by fire, and it’s the ghost of the owner of that building, Rupert Neville.

The pricing was reasonable and the pub seemed well managed, feeling safe from a health point of view. I wasn’t asked to leave my name for track and trace, but they did have a QR code system to register on-line. The tables had already been socially distanced and I liked that staff were prompt to welcome customers at the front door. The main reason I like this pub is that it isn’t branded around Sherlock Holmes, even though they are just a few doors away from the museum. The pub could have felt quite tacky if they’d taken it down that route and hidden its own identity, so I thought it was all well thought through.