Ladies Welcome

Pubbing In London

Feb 22, 2011 by

As a frequent single traveler, I must admit that finding an appropriate form of evening entertainment while on the road in an unfamiliar city can be a challenge. Let’s face it – a Single Girlfriend in a bar or a restaurant always looks somewhat suspect, although that never stops me. My primary motive is to have a nice night out on the town and perhaps meet new and interesting people, while practicing a certain amount of discretion to insure that I return to my hotel in one piece.

That was my intent when I was in London several years ago for an art workshop, which was held at a artist’s studio in a residential neighborhood. On the way from my B&B to the studio, I noticed a pub that looked rather inviting so I planned to stop there in the evening after class. But throughout the day, I kept hearing a conversation I once had with a former British boyfriend about a certain etiquette concerning ladies and British pubs.

First, a lady never enters a pub alone. (There goes my plan, right at Step One).

Second, only the men sit at the bar, while the ladies and their companions sit at the tables where a waiter takes their order.

Third, a lady never orders a pint of beer…..half-pints are considered more appropriate. I might argue that since half-pints are priced at more that half the price of a full pint, it seems that this might be more of a profit issue for the bar rather than any form of political correctness…..but I digress……

Anyway, I spent the whole class alternately talking myself into and out of stopping in that pub on my way home. By the end of the day, I still wasn’t sure, so I peeked in the pub windows as I walked past. Sure enough, the single men were at the bar and the ladies, along with their friends and significant others, were seated at the tables. Drinking half-pints.

I continued walking for about a block, then turned around and went back for another look.

It seemed pretty safe. I gathered my courage and walked in like I knew exactly what I was doing. I thought about sitting at a table, but didn’t want to sit alone, so I threw caution to the wind and headed straight for the bar. Heads turned as I seated myself comfortably and ordered a full pint of Guinness (not to make any particular statement, I just didn’t want to pay the extra for two half-pints). No one seemed to want to engage in conversation, so I pulled out my sketchbook and started drawing, sipping my beer and enjoying my audacity.

After a while, I noticed a young man in his late 20’s was looking over my shoulder. “Are you an artist?” he asked. “Yes, I am,” I replied and thus began a conversation that lasted well into the night. He was a musician, a fellow creative, and we spent a delicious evening drinking pints of beer, smoking fat cigars and discussing art and music. When it came time to go, he made sure I caught a cab before hailing one for himself. A real gentleman.

I’m sure there were people who wondered about me that evening – this American woman sitting alone at a bar, drinking pints and smoking cigars, and I am forever grateful for the one person in that pub who saw me for who I really was. And I’m glad I dared to break the rules.

About the Author

Serena Kovalosky Has Written 10 Articles For Us!

Serena Kovalosky left an 18-year corporate career in the travel industry in search of a more creative lifestyle. Establishing herself as a successful professional sculptor, Serena now travels with the eye of an artist, exploring artists' studios, eclectic restaurants and cultural gems off the beaten path, chronicling her discoveries and sharing stories of the creative people she meets along the way.
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  1. Debra Pearlman


    I think you sum-up what atsGf is about. Obama may have had the Audacity of Hope, but YOU had the Audacity to Dare and it paid off in spades (no politically incorrect pun intended). When I live in NYC, I spent many an after hour in a local drinking establishment near my abode. My job got me to the pub around 2 am (I worked a 6p-2a shift in an editing facility). It was right at the place I exited the subway and about 2 blocks from my apartment. The bartender always had a glass ready for me and made sure I did not walk home unescorted. He also made sure I was comfortable and welcome. It took me some time to work up the courage to stop in the bar each night, but I’m so glad I did. I met the wonderfully strange sort of New Yorkers you only meet at 2 am….artists, musicians, poets and travelers. Good on ya Mate!

    • Thanks, Debra! Isn’t it great to step out of “social norms”? Look at all the great people we meet when we do! And how wonderful to have a Gentleman as your bartender in NYC! I often find wonderful Gentlemen everywhere when I travel! Thanks for sharing! – SerenaK

  2. Janet – Welcome to All The Single Girlfriends! So glad you found us. Anyone who puts together girlfriend cruises is def a Gf of ours ;-)/Toby

  3. Love the site! It is so hard o find Girls over 40! I am 48. Have raised 5 grown kids but NOT considering my self an empty nester…instead, Chapter 2 just started!!

    • Welcome Janet! I love that you’re looking forward to what comes next now that the kids are grown. Here’s to your next chapter! – SerenaK

      • OH! They are already out of the house!! They are actually never gone! But on a daily basis, they dont require my energy. Which is good because I can now do the things that make me more than a mommy! YES girls…there is life after the chickens fly the coop!

  4. Serena – Love your chutzpah! Interesting how people have different ways to “keep them company” when they dine alone. Yours is a sketch pad, Rebecca’s a book, Tish’s people watching. For me it’s a notebook where I draft thoughts.

    • Thanks, Toby! It’s a great way to meet new people, and a little “prop” often serves as an excellent conversation starter. It changes the energy from, “I’m here alone” to “I’m comfortable with who I am in everything I do.” – SerenaK

  5. Rebecca Crichton

    Good for you to break the ‘rules,’ Who makes them anyway? It sounds like you had a great evening and made a new friend. Having your sketch book at the ready was a great idea. I think it is time for me to always have a journal at the ready. I never travel without a book to read – which I often do if I am dining alone – but I like the idea of being present as an observer of wherever I am. Thanks.

    • I sometimes bring a book, too. But I agree with you, Rebecca, that it is nice to be “present as an observer” as you say – and a sketchbook or journal does exactly that. And I find that people are more likely to come up to me and talk if I’m writing or sketching rather than reading. – SerenaK

  6. Hi Serena! Great story! reminds me of what often happens when I go to New York, and to restaurants by myself. If the place is small, with a big window, I always end up sitting in the window. Perhaps I still look good enough to be a draw for them? who knows. But it’s always fun sitting in the window and people-watching.

    • Hi Tish! I adore people-watching, too. I used to do it all the time when I lived in Montreal, with their outdoor cafes. Bravo to you to get the window seats at restaurants!


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