We went inside the ‘Super-Spoons’, the biggest Wetherspoons in the UK
It’s the second biggest pub in Europe
It’s the one-word question which has launched a thousand messy sessions. The name conjures up all sorts of images: colourful carpets and two-pound pints, blue patterned plates and cocktail pitchers, sticky tables with flimsy menus and morning regulars nursing a quiet one in the corner.
What you probably don't think of is a gorgeous two-floored Edwardian building offering 551 tables, 150 staff and almost 11,000 square feet of customer space right on the edge of a sandy beach.
Yet that is exactly what the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate will be giving customers from 8am today onwards.
The grade II listed building was formerly a seafront casino and dance hall but has stood derelict since 2008, with a serious fire ravaging the site in 2011.
Now a £4.5 million renovation has made the Pavilion into the second biggest pub in Europe and the jewel in the crown of the Wetherspoons empire.
The most striking thing upon entering is how light and breezy the atmosphere feels. Cream pillars and an aqua paint scheme give it an airy, nautical feel, with the rays of the sun streaming in through the main glass windows that look onto the seafront.
Elegant hanging lights emphasise the size of the room, whilst a huge bar running along the ground floor wall immediately catches the eye. However it's the grand central staircase which dominates the centre of the room, looking, as it does, like the famous fictitious one in Titanic.
As with all the fine establishments in the Wetherspoons chain, the open kitchen – mahogany panelled in this case – means you can watch your food being whipped up before your eyes as you quaff a pint, or seven.
Fans of the legendary Spoons carpets will surely be delighted with the Pavilion's offering: a blue, orange and gold number that builds on local motifs and heritage.
From the mezzanine balcony, you can see all the activity buzzing below: staff scurrying to tables clutching hot dishes, day trippers supping at the bar or reading one of the framed panels that proudly showcase the town's history.
Yet it's the outside area which will surely draw the punters. Stepping out of the French windows, captivating views greet you from wherever you turn to look. In front lies the golden beach, to the side lies the bustling harbour whilst behind are the seaside attractions of Ramsgate town.
Scattered around the terrace are palm trees and bushes, giving a somewhat Hawaiian feel to the proceedings. Sunlight shines off the massive signs proclaiming the names of "Wetherspoons" and "Royal Victoria Pavilion".
Despite its size and chain status, the Pavilion retains a convivial and welcoming atmosphere. Every punter has a smile on their face – though whether due to the blazing sun or alcoholic refreshment is unclear. The staff are warm and friendly, clearly sharing in a quiet collective pride in the pub, even if, as one barmaid said: "It's the only place I've not been ashamed to work at."
So if you're looking for a charming pub in superb surroundings with decent priced drinks and welcoming staff, head to the Super Spoons in Ramsgate, because you're probably not going to find it anywhere else.