You have likely heard of the concept of a “third place” in life. You have home and work, but the “third place” refers to somewhere that anchors you in a community. In a sense, it’s a home away from home.
Pubs in the UK are the perfect example of a third place. The bartenders know the patrons, know their orders, and they offer a real sense of community. When I was a student at the University of St Andrews, a number of pubs around town were unquestionably my third place, especially during the dark winters. Some of those same bartenders who were friends in college now know my wife and son nearly a decade after I graduated.
When you’re in St Andrews for a golf trip, the pubs don’t become a third place for you, but for that brief time, they’re a home away from home. They’re a place to recap rounds, make new friends, and escape the troubles of life.
In this post, I shed light on the pubs of St Andrews and the best place to relax and reminisce over a round. My credentials? I lived for four years in St Andrews while attending the University of St Andrews and each year I travel back at least once to visit my favorite place in the world. Safe to say I’ve enjoyed a few pints in the Auld Grey Toon!
The Golf Pubs
The Dunvegan – The Dunvegan is the most famous 19th hole in St Andrews. The atmosphere is unique with photos of famous golfers in the Dunvegan adorning the walls (and ceiling) and local characters often sitting at the bar. The only negative of the Dunvegan is its popularity – it can get very busy during high season. Get in there early and get a table! The photo below is my buddy Josh enjoying a pint of in the Dunny.
The Jigger Inn – The Jigger Inn is located just short of the 17th green at the Old Course and it’s the only pub that could beat out the Dunvegan for fame. The outdoor seating directly beside the 17th fairway is unbeatable for the view and it’s a perfect place for non-golfers to wait while their group plays the Old Course.
The Beer Pubs
The Central – An “English Pub” with a central bar and tons of beer on tap. The Central specializes in ales, but also serves your typical lagers. No TVs or frills – just beer (and food if you want).
St Andrews Brew Pub – This is the tasting room for St Andrews Brewery and it’s a fun place to go. It doesn’t have the best prices, but you’re supporting local. The Brew Pub also offers the most craft-style beers of anywhere in town.
The Whisky Spot
The Keys – While most of the pubs on this list have whisky behind the bar, the Keys has the most (see a glimpse of their selection below). The bar staff is also notoriously friendly and happy to explain different whisky types and regions. If it’s not too busy, you may get to taste a few before making a purchase.
The Food Pubs
The Dunvegan – Yes, the Dunny is double dipping here, but it offers some tasty food right in the heart of the action!
Hams Hame – The gastro pub closest to the Old Course, this business is affiliated with the Old Course Hotel. It’s a fun place to go, but doesn’t have the most exciting atmosphere or best prices. A solid option for a meal.
One Under – The One Under Pub is directly beneath the Rusacks Hotel adjacent to the 18th fairway of the Old Course. This is a gastro pub where I wouldn’t recommend going to grab a quick beer, but it’s a good spot for a meal.
The Sports Pubs
Criterion – I struggled with how to characterize the Criterion. I lived down the street from this pub for two years and I’d be tempted to call it a “beer” pub. It’s a great spot for a catchup and there are always sports on the TV, so for this review, it’s in the sports category.
Whey Pat – When I was a student at St Andrews the Whey Pat was a generally older local crowd. On a recent trip the vibes seemed to have changed with a ton of young people playing darts, catching up, and enjoying a pint. The Whey Pat has always had good nachos and I hope that never changes!
18 – This rooftop bar is in the Rusacks Hotel right on the 18th hole of the Old Course. The views are second to none! It’s not a pub as much as it is a bar and restaurant, but don’t miss a drink at 18 (see the view below).
Road Hole Bar (Old Course Hotel) – If you’re willing to walk down to the Old Course Hotel, the Road Hole Bar offers incredible views of the Old Course and beyond (see below). The 17th hole is directly below you, and you can see for miles. It’s a high-end bar, so don’t plan to go have rowdy post-round pints with your buddies.
Have I missed any of your favorite St Andrews pubs? Leave a comment below with your favorite pub story from the Auld Grey Toon!