On previous visits to Atherstone I've struggled to find a decent pub and have retreated to the rather-too-posh-for-my-liking Red Lion Hotel, which at least sells local beer. I can't have been looking hard enough!
Everyone's idea of a good pub is different, but my view is that pubs are for drinking beer in. I started visiting pubs (legally) in the 1970s and at that time, with the pace of brewery-led refurbishments being less frenetic that today, many of them were still as they had been in the 1950s or even earlier. Over the years I've watched regretfully as most pubs have been modernised out of all recognition becoming pseudo-night clubs or wannabe restaurants.
Atherstone certainly has its fair share of "sports bars" (i.e. pool, football on the telly and lager) but a surprising number of pubs "as I remember them" still exist.
I would therefore recommend - and you might hate -
1. The Old Swan. Every bit as attractive on the inside. . .
as on the outside. (That's not a self-portrait by the way)
2. The Dolphin.
Opposite the Old Swan on Long Street and serving excellent beers from local brewers. Beware though, it's up for sale and may have changed or even closed by the time you find it. I hope not.
3. The Hat and Beaver
Now I must admit it took me some time to summon up the courage to enter the Hat and Beaver. It's exterior is rather unwelcoming and lacking any indication of the beers within. It looks, and is, very much a locals' pub where strangers may not always be welcome. But I'm glad I did. There is a tile-floored bar, wooden bench seats, excellent Draught Bass (once very common, now rare) and - on the night I was there - a bunch of locals who obviously knew each other well enough to air their political differences in some of the strongest Atherstone accents I heard during my time in the town. They also invited me to join in the argument, but I know better than to talk politics in strange pubs!
4. The Market Tavern
This one has been tarted-up a bit, although it hasn't been spoilt apart from the fact that the front door is no longer in use (to allow a few more seats to be squeezed in) and you have to enter from the side. Its main claim to fame is being operated by the Warwickshire Brewery - whose beers I have found disappointing (for a small brewery) in the past but which, I have to admit, were on top form here.
I shall look forward to stopping at Atherstone again!