The Coach & Horses on Greek Street, which opened in 1847, is considered a London institution. Attended by writers and artists, the bohemian boozer was made famous by journalist Jeffery Bernard, providing inspiration for his Lowlife column in the Spectator. Presided over by Norman Balon, “London’s rudest barman,” until 2006, the pub was also the setting of the famous ‘Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell’ play by Keith Waterhouse, an homage to the Coach’s most notorious patron.
The pub’s current landlord Alistair Choat is fighting to remain independent as pub and restaurant chains spread across the city. He’s been running the Coach for the past 12 years, alongside his daughter Hollie, turning it into a thriving family business that’s famous for its old-school character and piano-led singalongs. A few years back Choat made the bold decision to become London’s first vegetarian pub, a surprising move which proved to be a successful reinvention. Now he’s making an even bolder decision by becoming the capital’s first nudist bar.
The pub was recently granted a nudist license, which means both punters and staff members can enjoy a beer in the buff. You can’t just turn up naked, though. Any nudity must be pre-arranged, in a consensual environment and will only occur on specific occasions.
The idea was inspired by the pub’s nude charity calendar, The Beauty and the Beasts of Soho, which features some of the pub’s regulars completely naked in an effort to raise money for homelessness charity Centrepoint. The calendar is also helping the pub fund a fight against brewer Fuller’s who are attempting a management takeover. A petition to save the pub and keep the independent landlord in place has been overwhelmed with more than 10,980 signatures to date According to the petition, the takeover could “strip [the pub] of its unique character.”