They may be closing at a rate of knots, but the British pub isn't dead yet. Far from it, in fact. There are plenty thriving in independent hands as well as with the smarter pub chains, something I see a lot of in London.
Britain's capital is over-flowing with top-notch boozers (like the Guinea Grill off Berkeley Square, near my office, or The Only Running Footman across the square on Charles Street, both stonkingly good).
That said, one of the country's most splendid pubs is on Hope Street in Liverpool, a few minutes' walk from my house. It has a cameo role at the denouement of Put Right and it is, quite possibly, the most ornate pub in Britain. It goes by the name of The Philharmonic to the unitiated and The Phil to everybody else.
Its gents' loos have won the prize for the best pub loos in the UK for years and female tourists frequently pop their heads in to have a nose whilst you're mid-stream. This being Liverpool they get regaled with witty asides and everyone walks away smiling.
The pub was built in 1898 by Thomas Cain who was competing with other regional brewers to make drinking respectable among the upper classes. Cain's fine beers are still served to this day. The mind boggles at what it would cost to build nowadays and I'd imagine the buildings insurance premium would make your eyes water.
Other similarly ornate drinking palaces in the city include The Vines on Lime Street; the Midland and the Central, which are neighbours on Ranelagh Street; and the Crown next to Lime Street station. And whilst they're close to the Phil for grandeur they run second to it in terms of the beer, the craic, the crowd and the location in my opinion.
But what do you think? Do you agree with Tom Paver that this is the best pub in Liverpool?