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Wetherspoons Pubs - Watford, Hertfordshire, UK

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Watford High Street has two pubs owned by Wetherspoons - The Moon Under Water and Lloyd's Bar. While they may both be owned by the same brewery, the ambience and atmosphere specific to each makes them quite a different drinking experience.

The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water once went by the nickname of The Moon Underage, as many 15 to 17-year-olds would head there due to the cheap drinks and the rear entrance to the beer garden that enable them to bypass any bouncers. Having gained access to the establishment from the gardens they would make the most of the chance to partake of the cheap drinks - most drinks come in at under £2, and pitchers of various cocktails are available from about £6 (some sort of Reef mixture) up to about £8 (Vodka Red Bull).

In recent years though, the management have become wise to this sneaky detour through the back, resulting in smoke ring-blowing teenagers1 without ID often being thrown off the premises (only to come in again round the back when no staff are present, and sending associates to the bar for drinks).

The Moon is a reasonably-sized single floor pub with one bar, and the aforementioned beer garden. At night they put on heat lamps for those happy to socialise outdoors. Food is on sale, and is pretty good. They offer a decent range, from the usual selection of burgers to curries. The decor includes wooden tables scattered around for general drinking, tall tables near the bar (presumably for those keen on keeping the source of alcohol close to hand), and a smoking area which ingeniously has no carpet. Usually, the pub's not too busy - the exceptions being after 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and when the football's just ended and the fans are turned out of the football ground. Monday nights are also of special note in Wetherspoons bars, as they run a 'Monday Club', where most bottled drinks are just a touch over £1.

The Moon doesn't play music, which is probably why many people stop by to quickly down a few drinks before heading off to noisier venues and nightclubs. As this is the only point in a typical pub crawl where everyone will be capable of coherent conversation, the relative serenity is often used to plan the rest of the evening.

Lloyd's Bar

If talking to those drinking with you seems less important in your list of priorities, an alternative is to start the night in Lloyd's Bar.

Although appearing radically different to the Moon, Lloyd's has but a few differences. The most obvious of these is the presentation. Whereas the Moon's decor is in a traditional style, Lloyd's is far more modern - neon lights sit atop a large glass front with tables packed far more tightly together inside. Unlike the Moon, Lloyd's has no rear entrance and is far more stringent on checking the ID of anyone entering. There's normally a queue to get in, and unless you get there early, you have little chance of getting a seat. Towards the back of the bar, there are very large round tables, with a sofa wrapping halfway round. It can be assumed that these are meant to enable large groups to all sit together, but usually there are two to four small groups of people trying not to sit too close to each other.

Another difference from the Moon is that almost the entire bar is a smoking area, with a small non-smoking section at the back2.

With respect to the actual bar, things are much the same as in the Moon. Same drinks, same prices, same Monday Club. Apparently they also serve food, but given how packed the bar usually is it's probably not a good idea, unless you like your food cold and late.

The most obvious difference in Lloyd's is that it plays music. As such, it may be necessary to stretch the definition of music in this instance to include a sound delivered at that special volume where you have to shout to be heard over it to an adjacent person, yet no lyrics can be discerned. The bar also has lots of little LCD screens mounted around showing seemingly random videos that invariably have no conceivable connection or relationship with the music being played.

Special note to the first-time visitor is that behind the door of the gents' toilets is a large wall-mounted mirror that can scare the hell out of you when drunk3.

People who care little about conversation or sobriety, often start at Lloyd's Bar instead of the Moon because of the unusual focussing effect that its atmosphere has to offer. Given that the volume of the music prohibits conversation, a mouth that might otherwise be engaged in idle chatter can instead concentrate on the task of drinking.

1It is unknown as to why teenagers often try to blow smoke rings. It impresses no-one not under the influence of narcotics and almost instantly summons an ID-requesting member of staff in most bars.2This restriction is usually ignored a few hours into the evening.3As such, there is no account to hand as to whether the same experience might be had in entering the ladies toilets.

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