Finding myself with an hour or two to kill in central Dover, I set out to find a decent downtown boozer.

First place I came to was The Castle Inn but pints haven’t been pulled here in quite a while, just around the corner I found the Roman Quay but the shutters were firmly closed at this one too, so I continued.

At the next corner I spotted signs pointing to the Roman Quay, but as I got closer I realized the shutters on this were also firmly closed and it doesn’t look like pints have been drawn for some time .
The first pub I came to was The Castle Inn, but it seems to have been turned into a backpacker hostel
The first pub I came to was The Castle Inn, but it seems to have been turned into a backpacker hostel

It didn’t look like a Spoons day so I avoided the Eight Bells and a few doors down the road also walked past the again tightly closed Lava Lounge.

The Eight Bells was definitely open and I almost ventured there, but for some reason I just didn't fancy a spoon for a Sunday afternoon pint
The Eight Bells was definitely open and I almost ventured there, but for some reason I just didn’t fancy a spoon for a Sunday afternoon pint
The Lava Lounge appears to be a cocktail bar/club and I suspect it may open later in the evening - it was firmly closed by 4pm anyway
The Lava Lounge appears to be a cocktail bar/club and I suspect it may open later in the evening – it was firmly closed by 4pm anyway

Just beginning to lose hope I rounded one more corner and before I saw him I heard the Golden Lion in Priory Street (the loudspeaker outside has music blaring into the street, even on a Sunday afternoon).

I entered through the corner door of this small L-shaped pub and almost went from A to T when I came across a cleverly disguised step dividing one half of the pub from the other. Unsurprisingly, this led to a volley of mickey taking on Olwyn, the Irish bartender, who told me that most customers only stumble when exiting the pub.

I asked what the best beer was but, having already looked down the pumps: Carling; Promotes; Amsterdam; John Smith; Kronenbourg – I decided to try the Madri 4.6%.

After choosing a Spanish lager, Olwyn felt the need to add an appropriate accent, even though regulars dismissed his effort as a mix of Scottish, Pakistani and his own Irish twang.

The loudspeaker above the door of the Golden Lion in Priory Street blasts music into the street, presumably to entertain smokers.
The loudspeaker above the door of the Golden Lion in Priory Street blasts music into the street, presumably to entertain smokers.
The Golden Lion, 11 Priory Street, <a class=Dover CT17 9AA (55372144)” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”ANJBPLPRHS8X3BSB3AMU.jpg” data-ar=”1.33″/>
The Golden Lion, 11 Priory Street, Dover CT17 9AA (55372144)

There were already plenty of other guys sitting quietly at their own tables, so I stuck to the theme and found myself a perch under the jukebox.

To my right was a slightly classier area of ​​the pub with pictures on the wall and books in a display case by the fireplace and this space was occupied by better dressed people wearing smart scarves and oxfords.

In reality, however, this place masquerades as a sports pub due to the fact that it has three TV screens. While I was in two, I showed the Cazoo UK open darts and one, which flashed constantly, featured obscure European football teams playing in their own domestic leagues.

The lower half of the bar has two TV screens, both showing a meaningless darts competition.  If you look closely, you'll notice the disguised step I tripped in such an unsightly way.
The lower half of the bar has two TV screens, both showing a meaningless darts competition. If you look closely, you’ll notice the disguised step I tripped in such an unsightly way.

There is an empty rack, which housed pool cues, and the remains of an old ceiling light indicating that the lower half of the pub housed a pool table. Although, given the size of the bar, there couldn’t be much room to wield a cue.

With no games in the pub, like darts or pool, and no sports to speak of on TV, regulars line up at the bar like three not-so-wise monkeys have decided to create their own entertainment.

True regulars chose to sit at one end of the bar where they could entertain and shock bartender Olwyn in equal measure.
True regulars chose to sit at one end of the bar where they could entertain and shock bartender Olwyn in equal measure.

It consisted of playing dodgy songs on the jukebox and, as Salt-N-Pepa’s lyrics suggested, they chose to “talk about sex”. I had no idea what those sentences meant, although a shocked Olwyn let out cries of horror.

Luckily, the conversation shifted to diets and the three monkeys started debating who was bigger. Olwyn jumped to the toilet and the newly crowned fattest monkey went behind the bar to pour his own Guinness. When she came back, they all disappeared onto the pavement outside the pub for a cigarette.

I took the opportunity to have a second pint and a packet of crisps. The Kronenbourg was exactly the same price as the Madri, an exceptionally reasonable £3.10, but a packet of Tayto salt and vinegar was £1.20. I know people love these Irish crisps, but they usually taste a bit bland and always seem expensive to me.

The advertising slogan on the front of Tayto chips states
The advertising slogan on the front of the Tayto chips reads “The secret is in the flavor”, but in my experience the taste is not worth the price of this particular brand.

At this point a family group of around 10 people entered the pub but were immediately told they could not stay as there was a strict no children policy after 4pm and it was now 10am .

Olwyn’s response was first to apologize for swearing, then to suggest that their best option was to go to the local Wetherspoon, the Eight Bells.

The three bar dwellers continued to dominate, each with their own hacking cough as they cackled at the other’s jokes – oddly enough, you could still hear their conversation perfectly clearly through the gentlemen’s thin single door. On that note, the restrooms weren’t too bad and, although they had a slight smell, generally seemed quite clean.

I decided not to risk the step on the way out and avoided it by using the smoker’s door to exit.

The phrase “too much information” is more relevant here than anywhere else and having checked sexual practices on the urban dictionary there are two related to winter pastimes and an inner galactic operation I can assure you that I will not try.

The gentlemen were reasonably well looked after and clean enough - although the single, slim doorway meant conversations in the bar could still be heard clearly
The gentlemen were reasonably well looked after and clean enough – although the single, slim doorway meant conversations in the bar could still be heard clearly
The gentlemen were reasonably well looked after and clean enough - although the single, slim doorway meant conversations in the bar could still be heard clearly
The gentlemen were reasonably well looked after and clean enough – although the single, slim doorway meant conversations in the bar could still be heard clearly

The Golden Lion, 11 Priory Street, Dover CT17 9AA

Decor: I like the wooden floors throughout and appreciated the beer coasters on every table, although every table in the place seemed to wobble and the unmarked footstep between the bars was deadly. **

Drink: The pint of 4.6% Spanish Madri was very nice and well served but it’s a shame there isn’t a wider variety of draft beers available. I spotted an unused hand pump, but I don’t know when it was last used. **

Price: A pint of Madri (even served with a dodgy accent) was just £3.10. A pint of Kronenbourg was exactly the same, very reasonably priced, but unfortunately a packet of slightly stale tasting crisps was £1.20****

Staff: Olwyn spent most of his time entertaining the three bar dwellers or having fun with them, but also seemed quite cheerful with others. ***

Find all Secret Drinker’s Kent pub reviews here.

Click here to follow Secret Drinker on Twitter.

Want more Secret Drinker? Sign up here for his new monthly newsletter.