Real Ale Pubs and Bars in Coventry, England

by SteveRogerson

A look at some of the best real-ale pubs in the city centre of Coventry, England

For those who have some time to kill in the city centre of Coventry in the UK, here is a guide to a selection of the many pubs in and around the area. The focus is on pubs that serve real ale or, more specifically, a selection of real ales. There are, of course, many more bars in the city but this is a good starting point.

Old Windmill in Coventry
Old Windmill in Coventry
Photo by Steve Rogerson

The city of Coventry in England’s West Midlands is famous for is gorgeous new cathedral – built after the old cathedral was bombed in World War Two – and being the venue of the infamous horse ride by Lady Godiva. In fact, much of Coventry is new as it suffered heavily during the war but some old building survived, including the first of the bars listed below.

All the pubs covered here are either in the city centre or within easy reach of it. The city has a league football club called Coventry City that play at the modern Ricoh Arena, which also hosts conventions and other events.


Whitefriars Olde Ales House, 114 Gosford Street

A grade two listed timber-framed building that dates back to 1335, this lovely pub has only been selling beer since 2000. From 1850 till 1976, it was a butcher’s shop and then it was left empty and was in danger of falling down until renovations that preserved its character saved the day. There is a small snug to the right as you come in. The pub is narrow with the bar about half-way along serving up to nine real ales. There is a small beer yard at the back. Sadly, the large screen showing sports and the fruit machine spoil the ambience a little.


Phoenix, 122 Gosford Street

If you fancy somewhere a little brighter, just a few doors up from the Whitefriars is the Phoenix, an airy pub with four real ales and five craft beers on keg. There is a back room with a large screen for showing sports, though the main bar also has smaller screens scattered around. There is a beer yard with artificial grass and the bar is geared up for serving hot meals.


Old Windmill, 22 Spon Street

Spon Street is short but full of timber-framed buildings, not all genuine, hosting pubs, shops and restaurants. There is even a traditional butcher’s and the Coventry Watch Museum. One of the pubs is the Old Windmill, which used to claim to be the oldest pub in the city but has since amended that to “one of the oldest”. Locals call it Ma Brown’s after a former landlady. Up to seven real ales are available – Camra members get a ten per cent discount – and there is a traditional fire to warm the cockles in winter. There are three small snugs at the front and another little room at the back. The main room is comfortably sized – not too big and not too small – and can be warmed nicely by the fire. On food, they are famous for their pork pies.


Town Wall Tavern, Bond Street

Between five and eight real ales are available from this pub just off the city centre. Split into small rooms, the tavern has a traditional snug at the front. Children are not allowed in at all. The food menu claims to contain the best pub food in Coventry, and they may have a case. Food is only available though from noon to 2.30pm on Mondays, apart from a couple of months in the summer, from noon to 3pm and 5.30 to 8pm from Tuesday to Thursday and from noon to 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday lunch is available from 12.30pm to 3pm, again apart from the summer. As well as main meals, they do hot filled ciabattas and freshly made sandwiches.


Flying Standard, 2 Trinity Street

This is a largish Wetherspoon pub with up to ten real ales available. The large split-level downstairs bar includes a separate family area. There is also a small bar upstairs with an outdoor beer yard for smokers. This is handy pub for city centre shops and the Lady Godiva statue, and it does the normal Wetherspoon cheap-but-filling food range.


Updated: 08/14/2016, SteveRogerson
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Veronica on 12/17/2022

I have enjoyed re reading this. It is a good idea to look back at old articles and refresh.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/13/2022

The computer crashed before I put the second question after my first one in the comment box below.

Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Lexington, Kentucky, has what is marketed as Kentucky® Bourbon Barrel Ale, which involves ale aging in "freshly decanted" bourbon barrels.

Is there an equivalent on your side of the Atlantic pond? If so, would you be familiar with it -- or with the above-mentioned Unitedstatesian version -- and what would be your judgment?

DerdriuMarriner on 12/13/2022

The next-to-last subheading, Town Wall Tavern, Bond Street, ends with a reference to "hot filled" ciabattas.

On this, west side of the Atlantic pond, I know of cool, fresh ingredients such as sliced cheese, chicken, peppers, sausage, squash, turkey, zucchini sometimes served on cool, fresh or quick-, semi-warmed ciabatta.

What would be hot fillings?

SteveRogerson on 08/18/2016

I must admit, not being a cider drinker, I didn't check on the cider situation, but these days a lot of real ale pubs also do a real cider.

frankbeswick on 08/16/2016

Do the pubs that promote real ale also sell genuine cider?

frankbeswick on 08/16/2016

Cistercians are monks under the Benedictine vow of stability that binds them to a specific monastery unless there is good reason to move. Friars are like monks, but are mendicant, meaning they are more mobile than monks are. Cistercians never chose to dwell in towns, for they preferred remote rural districts where they could farm sheep, such as the Yorkshire Dales. Hence there would never have been a Cistercian monastery in the town of Coventry. Cistercians were not good in working with the common people, so they would have avoided the towns. But friars worked with the common folk, so their friaries were in the towns. This, along with the name White friars, makes me think that there was a Carmelite priory in the town. There is mention that in the sixteenth century John Bird was warden of the Carmelite house in Coventry, so it is certain that the Camelites were there.

Veronica on 08/16/2016

Many think that Godiva rode through Coventry without her veil and badges of office. This would be as bad as riding naked through the streets.

There is almost certainly an overlap between the pagan associations and an actual event re Godifu the pious wife of Leofric.

Cistercians wear white.

frankbeswick on 08/15/2016

Cistercians were not friars, they were monks. Friars and monks are different. White friars were Carmelites.

I don't see Godiva's ride as infamous, despite what the article says. Consider, Coventry was sacred to the goddess Coventina in pagan times, so there may have been a tradition that a naked woman rode through the town to represent the [fertility] goddess {Paganism survived long in England and still does.] If the Christian Godiva's husband said that he would lower taxes if she rode naked through the town he was asking her to do a pagan action, against her faith, something he did not expect her to do, so he could avoid lowering taxes. But she did it to protect the people against oppression. Godiva was therefore a good woman who performed a wonderful and brave action for the people of the town. And her memory is appreciated by many.

Veronica on 08/15/2016

These look like lovely places. The old windmill especially and also Whitefriars Olde Ales House seem very olde and traditional. The term Whitefriars would suggest a Cistercian House somewhere close perhaps ?

blackspanielgallery on 08/15/2016

These seem interesting.

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