RIP-OFF places which take advantage of tourists and couldn’t care less about their punters.

There’s a view pubs in the Lanes only care about raking in the cash and to hell with the consequences.

So, I had a real sinking feeling when I received a begging letter from PubSpy superfan, “Mac”, imploring me to visit the Bath Arms in Meeting House Lane.

I’d only heard good things about this historic watering hole, but previous regular Des described it in the past tense and talked about “kids on a bloody piano, a scruffy barmaid and a lack of good ales”. He even said, horror of horrors, they’d hung up a TV.

I was therefore hesitant as to what I might find as I pushed through the heavy curved doors earlier this week.

The first thing to greet me was a massive waft of festive loveliness, a cheery smile and a general feeling of bonhomie.

The bearded barman was obviously new, but he couldn’t have been more willing to please.

I tasted a Breaker pale ale from the house brewer at 4.1 per cent, but although it was sharp and zesty the smell of the mulled wine bubbling away and the tinsel wrapped round the lights had me in a Christmassy, winter way of thinking and I opted for the more warming, 5.0 per cent Bishops Finger.

I’d forgotten just how good this drop of dark, hefty ale can be.

Mrs P was greeted as “luv” a couple of times, something she quite appreciates, and selected the Old Mout she favours.

There was a great open fire, though if I’m being really picky, it could have done with a good poke.

So, do I agree with Mac? Sorry my old mucker but based on my experience I reckon this is still a brilliant boozer.

You’ve got the traditional big windows, hefty dark red and blue flocked wallpaper, old mirrors and even roses (minus the prickles) in an old cream bottle on each table.

There’s no pool, no darts, no jukebox, no TV screen (and I looked everywhere for it Mac).

In fact, this a great historic pub, clean and well run that has no interest in ripping off tourists and, what’s more, it keeps decent ale.

OK, there is a piano in one corner and I must admit I was glad there weren’t kids bashing away on it – but I reckon this adds to the tradition. And it was piled up with traditional games – Monopoly, Battleships, Trivial Pursuit, Play Your Cards Right.

There is so much to love about this place I don’t know where to start. And, I wasn’t alone in loving it as even on a Monday evening there were stacks of folk in, groups, couples, single folk – all enjoying themselves royally.

By now I’d shifted from the Finger, via a mulled wine at £4.35, to a pint of Whitstable Bay Blond. Again, another well kept, well-served pint. This time I was served by the barmaid and noticed the first part of her tattoo read: “Love me…” There were other letters, but they weren’t visible – I couldn’t decide what they might say. What I can tell you is she was super-efficient, hard working and cheery to boot.

Other touches I particularly liked were the fact the Christmas decs haven’t been overdone, the music didn’t knock your ears off, there’s a beautiful old skylight and the fairy lights look as if they are only up as decorations. I even appreciated the thinking behind the wifi password “drinkmorebeer”.

The stripped floors and wooden tables and stools are all present as you’d expect, there are even the old hooks for your jacket on the large, central wooden bar.

I particularly liked the sound of the traditional pub sandwiches served with chips – good value at £7. The food coming out all looked and smelled great and the barmaid was kept busy scurrying to and fro when the buzzer went off behind the bar.

Two lovely ladies, one tall and one old (their description, not mine) sank into the low-level green leather sofa and were immediately approached by a jovial, rotund 5ft 4in truck driver keen for them to join his group. The tall lady kindly offered to stand back-to-back to demonstrate why they might not be compatible before heading off with her older mate.

I saw several hounds wander in and out, so dogs are definitely welcome and being on one level with wide doors it also provides good access for the disabled.

The loos were clean but are a touch on the snug side, left for the gents, right for the ladies, which were also small with just two traps, but fresher smelling than the gents.

All I can say Mac is that if you think the Bath Arms has gone downhill then it must have been the best pub in the world previously as I still think it’s bloody marvellous. Take my advice and give it another chance. Everything changes occasionally but I honestly think this one’s retained all the best values.

Bath Arms – 3-4 Meeting House Lane, Brighton BN1 1HB

Decor - five stars: Everything a good pub should be, welcoming without being overbearing

Drink - four stars: Mac feels there’s less choice, but I had a great ale, a tasty mulled wine and a tangy lager

Price - four stars: An Old Mout, a mulled wine, a Bishops Finger and a Whitstable Bay all for £19.15.

Atmosphere - five stars: The perfect stopping off point while shopping – totally buzzing, even mid-week

Staff - four stars: The new friendly barman was expertly directed by his more experienced barmaid/manager.

Email me: pubspy@theargus.co.uk

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