Pubs in St Ives are plentiful. The oldest and most iconic is the Sloop Inn. This white-washed, Grade II listed fisherman’s boozer has been on its harbour site since the 14th century. A traditional haunt for artists and locals alike. With low ceilings and hung tankards, the Sloop is great for watching unsuspecting motorists who parked on the slip at low tide, return at high tide to a soggy car. From noon, there is now also The Upper Deck, an outside terrace for over 16’s with it’s own small bar and spectacular views. They also have en-suite rooms that you can book in advance if you want to stay the night.
At the other end of Wharf Road is the family-friendly Lifeboat Inn. An excellent spot for lunch, with flagstone floors and stunning harbour views of Smeaton’s Pier and the golden sands of St Ives Bay beyond. Run by St Austell Brewery, they are dog friendly and pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients in their food wherever possible. They have a quiz night every Thursday evening from 8.30pm where you can win a roast dinner for your team.
The Castle Inn on Fore Street was the preferred watering hole for the great St Ives artists, including Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon. Here they serve Cornish ales and pub-grub in a decor of exposed beams, slate floors and a huge stained glass window. Real Ale is a speciality in this pub, with guest ales frequently making an appearance. Don’t be afraid to ask for some advice as all the staff have lots of knowledge and experience that they are happy to share.
Two doors down from The Castle you will find The Union Inn. This pub also has a Cornish beer bias and is an ideal venue for a fish pie and a pint in front of a toasty fireplace on a dull day. The Union also hosts live bands on a Friday and Saturday night in the summer months, all gigs start at 9pm.
On Market Place, floral window baskets brim with colour outside the dog-friendly Golden Lion. With a front and back bar and beer garden, interesting artefacts adorn walls, including signed David Bowie artwork, who was a frequent visitor to the town due to his interest in Cornish abstract art.
The Queens Hotel on High Street has a Georgian frontage with a spacious, woody bar interior and excellent gastropub menu with rooms upstairs for overnight guests. Another pub that prides itself on tasty, locally-sourced pub grub at a decent price. Family-friendly, The Queen’s Hotel also offer a kids menu and colouring books to keep them entertained before they eat.
If live music is your thing head up Gabriel Street to the Western Hotel. The pub within the hotel, The Kettle & Wink, is known for it’s live music with a gig on every night. They also regularly host open-mic nights and jam sessions for those that want to turn up and have a go. The hotel is also the founder of the famous ‘St Ives Jazz Club‘ bringing musicians from all over the world to perform in St Ives on a Tuesday night.
Out of the top of town on the Penzance back road, about 45 min walk from St Ives, is the Halestown Inn. Built by James Halse in 1831 for the local tin miners, it’s a cosy traditional pub with an eco-ethos. The Halsetown Inn retains lots of its original character but mix-and-match furniture and colourful art work and murals bring a fun, quirky feel. There’s also a nice outside courtyard for warm days. It has one of the best Sunday roasts around and also serves real ales and creams teas – definitely a local’s favourite.
On the coastal path heading west from St Ives, walk 5 miles to Zennor then reward yourself with a pint in the 700 year old Tinners Arms. This pub has had a varied clientele in its long history including villagers, local miners, poets and artists. DH Lawrence is rumoured to have stayed here for 2 weeks in 1916. With roaring open log fires, low timber beams and thick granite walls, it doesn’t get more Cornish than that.