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Let’s face it, the internet has created a whole new world of travel opportunities, and has made making new friends over a computer entirely possible. Social media has taken over the travel world, and meeting new travel friends has never been easier. Recently, on my annual trip to London, I was given a most unique opportunity to meet an acquaintance that I had only met on-line, and to take a room in a historic 17th century building.
Every November, I head to London for the world’s second largest travel industry gathering, World Travel Market, at Excel. The conference is a four-day, mega travel show with just about every country in the world bringing an entourage of local tourism specialists to showcase their great nations travel and tourism options. It’s also my time to visit one of my favorite cities in the world, London. As a self-proclaimed ”city boy,” I find London intoxicating. It draws me in like no other city. Like, New York, I can get lost strolling London’s streets for hours and every twist and turn provides a new sense of adventure.
Four years ago over the business social network Linkedin I met an Australian living on the Greek island of Crete, David Hawkins. I have a fondness for Australia and for the Aussies in general, dating back to an overland trip though Oz as a youth. I have yet to meet an Australian that I didn’t like. Dave and I quickly became friends. Even though we had never met, Dave and I would keep in contact via email and on Linkedin. David moved back to London, where he had been living for many years, but somehow during my yearly London sojourns, we just never were able to find time for a meet and greet. This would be first time that Dave and I would finally meet, and for me to pay a visit to his 17th century, George & Dragon Pub and Kitchen in Acton, London.
Amazing Caribbean bronze statue make for a classic decor at the George & Dragon
The George & Dragon was established in 1689 by owner Daniel Sinman when Acton, London was actually an industrial laundry services area, given their bountiful supply of water. The pub is now owned by remarkable pub and restaurateur David Hawkins. In 2007, the pub was the winner of the ”fancy a pint” award in 2007. It’s a place where Acton locals congregate to enjoy great food and libations with great tunes. The likes of live jazz, local bands, or Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. playing in the background. A culinary delight, mouth-watering dishes include the freshly sourced salmon and the ever surprising and popular kangaroo burger. Jazz band Acton Collective Plays every 2nd week of the month.
On the premises, the building also houses Gallery W3, up and running as a venue run by local artists as of-October of 2012. In the future the building will also be housing a freshly sourced organic shop with local vendors selling high-end products.
This is the oldest building in Acton. The dating of its first landlord is actually only a standing date for the first recording of all pubs in London, the pub had probably been in existence, possibly 50 years prior.
Jen – “the hostess with the mostess”
Having friends around the world is one of the blessings of an international traveler. You get to experience a destination with a local. Also one can save a ton of money by staying with friends, especially in pricey cities such as New York and London. This past World Travel Market, I had planed my trip very late, and reasonable hotel rates were long gone. So, here I was in a bind. Where to stay in London would be problematic. Thankfully, my friend Dave, came to my rescue, offering up a room above his Acton pub and restaurant, The George & Dragon.
Proudly serving Fuller’s London Pride and Twickenham Fine Ales
As a world traveler, who has experienced just about every sleeping arrangement possible, the thought of my room being above an English pub excited me. I would be able to sample some of England’s finest liquid nirvana, and already be at my local abode. In my travels I have had some rather interesting sleeping arrangements. I once slept on an army base in Spain, only to be woken up by soldiers with machine guns. Sleeping on beaches and roof tops in Greece was common place in my youth. Trains in India, tea houses in the Himalayas, travel is about experiencing life as a local. In the words of the rock band Metallica, “where I lay my head is home.” From the life of a backpacker to luxury accommodations in five-star resorts, the likes of the Oriental in Bangkok and Crillon in Paris, life is simply one big adventure. You need to get out and explore. So, when opportunity knocked, I jumped at the chance to sleep in a room above a 17th century traditional English pub-restaurant.
The back bar complete with cozy couches to hang out
Upon arrival at Heathrow airport, I headed for the Acton Town tube station on the Piccadilly line, a short distance from Heathrow. One thing that amazes me about London is how fast and efficient the London Underground is. You can traverse West London to East London, or North to South in a little over an hour or less.
Upon arrival at Acton Station, the pub was a short walk to High Street and eventually to The George & Dragon. Finally, I would finally meet my pub owner, restaurateur friend Dave and his wife, Jennifer.
Doing Jaeger shots with new friends
The moment I met the gregarious owner, Dave Hawkins, his stunning wife Jen, and laid eyes on the 17th century traditional English pub, I fell in love with the George & Dragon. It was clear that we would be good friends. I soon refered to Jen as “Miss Moneypenny” as she is blessed with the classic English good looks of a Bond girl.
Many travelers might not be comfortable, staying in an English pub with a person that they had never met. For me, it was simply another adventure in the life of a world traveler. If you don’t take chances in life, if you do not seek the unknown, then how can you call yourself a traveler?
George – The Bar Cat – We quickly became good friends
The George and Dragon is a friendly pub that features a separate dining area, a restored antique bar, coal fires and comfy leather sofas. The menu offers organic, local dishes such as corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with brie and sage, wild mushroom risotto and daily specials. The salmon is cooked to perfection. The drink list also boasts rare handpicked lagers and ales, such as Twickenham fine ales, showcasing the best selection that England, the U.K. and Europe has to offer.
A bar to die for complete with an excellent selection of hand crafted ales
Friendly bar staff serving some of the frothiest libations around
One of the figurines – Bronze Statue in the back bar area
Chef Dave – prepares perfectly cooked, ”melt in your mouth” salmon
Sleeping in the George & Dragon was a far greater experience than passing out in a bar.
On your next trip to London, be sure to drop by the George & Dragon for a cold beverage and perhaps, even a Kangaroo burger.
George & Dragon
183 High Street
phone: (020) 8992-3712
About the Author: Nick Kontis
Born on possibley the most recognizable island on the planet, and raised as a native San Franciscan. Nick is known as the founder of the discount around the world airfares in the United States. After traveling to 85 countries, Nick brings his travel expertise to his World Travel List. After 50,000 world travelers follow World Travel List.