Some pubs will never die and The Zetland is a prime example. It is the quintessential meeting place pub near the tube station (in this case South Kensington). Pre-event or post-museums, this is an ideal place to come, either to meet up or wind down with a drink.
Taverns in Town picks out a key feature of the 1970s incarnation:
“This is essentially an active pub; and for the stranger who wishes to sample first hand a little typical London life as manifested in the bonhomie of the pub, this is the place to come to…its patrons do not visit it, they use it, it is a positive part of their lives. People come to a pub such as this to while away an evening in conversation; but for some reason they do not as a result cause it to seem a private club.”
On my visit I was somewhat less impressed. Unfortunately this is now part of the Taylor Walker chain. This is a company who seem hell-bent on removing the individuality from their pubs. At the same time they can be an attack on the senses. If you like ‘pubs-R-us’ piped music, gaudy fake chalkboards and encouragement to drink Coke with your burger, rather than a pint, this could be the place for you.
Not that you’d want to pay £4.50 for a pint of flaccid, over-warm St Austell Tribute. It was a rugby day when I visited too, which meant it was particularly busy and it was hard to find a spot to perch.
This summed up the pub. Doing a roaring trade, due to its location, but not quite knowing what it wanted to be. The Zetland is like a teenage girl. Not comfortable in her own skin and lacking the confidence to let the inner beauty shine through, then in some way over-compensating with a lot of unnecessary noise, make-up and baubles.
I left the pub to hurry on to my next destination. As I departed, a flash chap in a Ferrari, not paying attention, did his best to knock me down as I crossed the road. It was an early sign of what an interesting place the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea was going to be.