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I would like to ask if the tap water in hostels of Ireland and England is drinkable. I never saw someone drink from there, and even in the pubs you have to order for a bottle.

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I've been drinking it for over 30 years ;) Mains water is drinkable. In public areas, if a water supply isn't safe (for example it's off a tank) it's usually signed. –  webdevduck Jul 31 '13 at 22:09
You have to order bottled water in pubs because pubs are there to sell drinks. It's nothing to do with the drinkability of the water. –  DJClayworth Nov 14 '13 at 16:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

When I moved to London for a few years, almost all my friends had filters. The trace calcium / limescale in the water will result in some people telling you it's "hard" water, or "soft water" depending on where in the UK you are.

Indeed, there's debate over where it tastes better or worse:

Is there really a north-south water taste divide?

Hardness of tap water in the UK

Many friends had these filters to try and remove the limescale, and you had to regularly clean your kettle to remove the build up of this stuff.

However, is it drinkable? Sure. No problems at all. Most who buy the bottled water did so purely for convenience, or taste.

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Short answer - you'll need to ask the property to be sure.

All the mains tap water will be fine to drink everywhere in the UK and Ireland.

However... Some hostels may have a tank which feeds some of their taps, so you may find that the taps in the kitchen are mains-fed and fine, but the ones in bathrooms (for an example) could be fed via the tank, and may not be as fresh. The hostel will be able to tell you which ones are fine. Additionally, there are some hostels that aren't on the mains water (eg remote ones in Scotland), so there may not be any drinking water there, other than what you hike in yourself.

In pubs - it's always fine to ask for a glass of tap water, and they'll give you one (it's in their license). However, bottled water may taste nicer, so people not drinking eg beer may well often prefer bottled.

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pff good to know it, in london my friend and I were spending almost 5 pounds per day only for water (each one of us), and we were both too shy to ask. anyway thank you =) –  Katia Marotheodoraki Jul 13 '13 at 9:42
If you don't like the taste of the tap water, go to a supermarket. You can by bottled water in 1.5+ litre bottles very cheaply, very much cheaper than in smaller bottles! Otherwise, drink the tap water, it's fine :) –  Gagravarr Jul 13 '13 at 16:10
The thing about pubs and tap water isn't quite like that. You can make yourself very unpopular in a pub by asking for tap water - they are there to sell drinks, after all. –  DJClayworth Jul 13 '13 at 20:42
@KatiaMarotheodoraki People will always want you to buy bottled water, but it is perfectly fine to drink tap water in the majority of places, (and of course cheaper too). –  Simon Jul 14 '13 at 19:27
Public buildings/hotels etc with non-drinkable tap water are required by law to have a "Not suitable for drinking" or similar sign next to the taps. If there's no sign, the water is fine. –  Jon Story Dec 15 '14 at 10:08

Tap water in the UK and Ireland is drinkable. There are a tiny number of cases where it is not, but the place you are staying at should post notices on any indoor tap where the water is not drinkable.

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