As a rule in my universe of prejudice, if a pub is full of tourists, it is invariably disqualified from any further consideration as a drinking or eating venue. This rule is no longer valid, because Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese manages to accommodate all comers, and has done so for a very very long time.
It's a relatively simple formula – take one enormous 17th century building, situate it down an alleyway, throw away the spirit level, ignore any ideas of allowing natural light to penetrate, line it with dark oak, heat it with sulphurous sea coal, ensure that innumerable literary luminaries ruin their livers on the premises, serve cheap, good quality beer, allow for any number of gradual increments in service and comfort, ranging from a pint of beer on a stool in a wine cellar to a slow-cooked shank of lamb in a booth with a waiter, simmer gently in port, tobacco and sawdust for around three centuries.
I have to admit a degree of bias on this one, because I'm professionally obsessed with history and personally drawn to beer and darkened rooms. This viewpoint forces me to defend the name of the establishment, given that it is a genuinely old pub and is therefore allowed to spell “the” with a Y – it is not their fault that everyone else wants to be old and characterful, nor are they responsible for being good enough to draw the attention of international visitors.
Despite the insanely low price of beer, there never seems to be any trouble. Perhaps its a result of the palpable age and atmosphere of the building, as if Dr Johnson is watching you, as if you're drinking with a venerable and somewhat disapproving uncle, as if there have been too many important words exchanged to add too many of yours too loudly. Perhaps its just that those who seek and have found the Cheese are of a certain temperament. Perhaps it's the lack of music, TV, Stella and sofas. That might be it- the Cheshire Cheese is a sort of anti-pub, that has found a good thing and has refused on principle to change it since… about 1800. You just don't mess with that.