Hoop & Toy

The Hoop & Toy pub is the oldest established pub in South Kensington dating back almost 500 years. It has been a licenced premises since 1760, formerly called the Hoops and Grapes. 

It offers a comfortable, relaxing and friendly place to have something to drink and eat for locals and tourists alike.Check out their menus here … and if you sign up to their Club, you’ll be entitled to special offers and updates on promotions.

The pub has played host to royalty and film stars alike as Lord Rothschild entertained both George III and George IV … and the pub itself featured in a Roman Polanski film.

When the very first London congestion charge came into force in 1796, the owner built another pub just 1 mile up the road on Brompton Road (called The Bunch of Grapes), and as such changed the name of the pub.

The renamed Hoop and Toy now had an added stable to look after commuters’ horses for the day, to avoid the daily charge levied at the Brompton Gate where the Victoria & Albert Museum stands today.

What of the name? The ‘Toy’ is symbolic of a rum soaked leather bound peg which could be placed in a horse’s mouth to stop it grinding its teeth or biting its gums. The original building suffered fire damage in an incident that started at a bakery just three doors east of the pub, and was re-opened at great expense by the new owner Lord Rothschild in 1885.

The current building dates back to just after World War II as much of this area suffered damage from bombing raids as can be seen from the museum walls along Exhibition Road. The Hoop and Toy’s basement is claimed to be haunted. The story goes that it was formerly part of a grave site.

The bodies of Priests were said to be bound and entombed in the underlays of the building. When the tube stations were built, the railway workers disturbed their graves, and subsequently their route to the monasteries and Churches in London were obstructed. As a result, the souls of the priests wander the pub, creeping up and down the stairs as they attempt to find an alternative route to their places of worship!

The traditional decor is enhanced by old books, rustic ornaments and framed prints and cartoons.