2 Castlehaven Rd, London NW1 8QU
Being a regular in Camden Town, I must admit I haven’t done a lot of pub exploration in the area. In an attempt to be more adventurous and try new things, I have recently started making the rounds. This time, my thirsty Carouser 6th sense brought me to the Hawley Arms. What was once a well-known Hell’s Angel hangout, has now become a trendy Camden spot. It’s home to many musicians and celebrities like the late Amy Winehouse and Noel Fielding, which have gained The Arms popularity. Located in a street just across from the Camden Market, it was one of the buildings damaged in the 2008 fire. While the flames tore through most of Camden Canal, the Hawley Arms survived – albeit a bit wounded. A testament to a pub that is here to stay.
Mounted on it’s walls, you find autographed pictures of celebrities and rock stars. A fire place in the downstairs bar, gives it a very cosy feeling. I am drawn immediately by their great booze selection in the mirrored backdrop behind the pub counter. Directly to my right is the whiskey section with a vast variety of bourbons; Buffalo Trace, Bulleit and Jack Daniel’s to name a few. I go for some Buffalo Trace and sit in the outdoor area to enjoy one of London’s last summer evenings.
Eventually my bladder reaches capacity, so I head to the toilets. The toilets are covered in writings and messages to Amy, ‘We miss you Amy’ reads one. As I sit down it dawns on me, only a few weeks ago I had seen Amy Winehouse’s poo in a jar. This week I’m pissing in the toilets that Amy may or may not have pooed in. Amy’s shit keeps haunting me from beyond the grave.
To my astonishment, at 10pm the pub is still pretty dead for a Thursday evening. I ask around and the barflies tell me that it is a much livelier pub on the weekends. Taking advantage of having no queues and each whiskey costing £4.50, I realise I am getting intoxicated pretty fast – and there’s nothing pretty about that. Not having had any dinner I decide to go for some bar snacks. The bar tender casually hands me a pint of hula hoops, skips and several other crisps. I find it a bit bizarre at first, but I’ve seen worse things inside a pint glass.
Throughout the evening, I hear the likes of The Cure, The Rolling Stones and my own guilty pleasure – Queens of the Stone Age. Mocked often by many of my friends for listening to them, I take pleasure in the fact that I know no one around and I lip-sync like no one is watching. The bartenders tease us with a bit of Thin Lizzy ‘Under The Moonlight’. Not satisfied with only one song, I head to the bar to get myself another Buffalo Trace and request more Lizzy. Almost instantly ‘Jailbreak’ hits the speakers and I go back outside and relish in the greatness of the music. I start to think this pub does have potential.
As I embark in this pub crawl (quiet literally crawling) around Camden, I am so far pleased with the results. I have met many nice people and enjoyed decent atmospheres. Although nothing has yet beaten my regulars, I can finally say I’ve been to other pubs other than the Dev, Camden Head and the Black Heart. Slight exaggeration there but unfortunately not too far from reality.