Winter is the time of year when London’s pubs really come into their own. With roaring fires, real ales on tap, mulled wine and comfy armchairs to sink into – the rain and snow give you the perfect excuse to spend some time down the local boozer.
So in honour of winter, we’ve brought together a list of some of the most cosy pubs in London. How do we define cosy? Well, ideally there’s an open fire to warm up beside, so you’ve got a place to go when the weather turns cold.
1. The Red Lion & Sun – Highgate
This charming gastro pub is a relaxing place to go for a rustic Sunday “roast” in front of the fire.
They also have a good whisky list to really warm the cockles. It’s also dog friendly, so man’s best friend can relax in comfort after a winter walk.
2. Plume of Feathers – Greenwich
This is the oldest pub in Greenwich, which has been keeping drinkers warm since 1691.
Settle down in the maritime-themed bar in front of the open fire and enjoy a pint of real ale, or visit their candlelit restaurant.
3. Spaniards Inn – Hampstead
You can try seasonal ales on tap, as well as their own mulled wine recipe, in one of the capital’s oldest watering holes.
Take a seat next to one of the open fires, take in the romantic features, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported out into the countryside.
4. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – Fleet Street
This pub’s rustic charm has inspired many writers over the years, like Charles Dickens and P.G.Wodehouse, who escaped from the busy street outside by heading down the narrow passageway and into the side entrance.
The wood-panelled interior is dark, with dining rooms, bars and lounges on different levels to get lost in, and you can also warm up next to the open fire.
Popular with tourists thanks to its location and history (it was rebuilt following the Great Fire), it doesn’t have wifi or a website, but it’s worth finding to discover one of London’s oldest pubs.
Cosy features: Real open fires
Getting there: 145 Fleet Street, St Paul’s, London, EC4A 2BU
5. The Flask – Highgate
Wood panels: tick, mood lighting: tick, real fires: tick, ghosts: tick – this 18th century pub has all cosy bases covered.
They have a great restaurant with a seasonal menu, and offer a range of cask ales, international bottled beers and wine.
It even features in a new book, Great Pubs of London.
6. The Holly Bush – Hampstead
This is another historic Fullers pub, with real fires, ornate decor and wood panels.
Enjoy a candlelight pub dinner or just a real ale in the inviting interior of this Grade II listed building.
7. The Black Lion – Hammersmith
Another proper pub, with a glorious riverside setting. While the Black Lion pulls in the punters during the summer with its riverside garden (it’s a great place to watch the Oxford / Cambridge boat race), customers come back in the winter to sit by one of their roaring fires.
Have a real ale, a bite to eat, or if you really want to warm up – a game of English Skittles in their alley.
8. The Hare & Billet – Blackheath
There are plenty of winter warmers in this pub’s range of keg beers, many from local craft brewers.
Pull up a chair in front of one of their fireplaces and have a drink, or try something from their menu, think traditional British comfort food with a stylish twist.
9. The Prince Albert – Battersea
There’s nothing like a nice drink in front of a roaring fire after a brisk winter stroll in the great outdoors – so it’s fortunate that this pub is right next to Battersea Park.
They have a seasonal menu of Gastro pub grub and a lengthy wine list to warm you up.
10. The Chesham Arms – Hackney
This spacious Victorian pub has plenty of fires, as well as a huge beer garden for when the weather turns warmer.
With exposed brickwork, wooden floors and a classic gastro pub menu, the local community certainly want to keep this as a traditional pub – it was designated an “Asset of Community Value” and saved from redevelopment.
11. Waxy O’Connors – Soho
Despite being on six levels and having four bars, Waxy’s still manages to have a few cosy rooms tucked away, with fires to keep the winter blues at bay.
Skip the cavernous main bar and head to the smaller lounges, where you can sit back on the comfy seats and try a great range of beers.
12. The Cellars – Stoke Newington
You’ll have to get there early to bag the best spot in front of their fire – but at least there are plenty of real ales to try if you do make it.
They’re also dog friendly – we’re sure they’ll appreciate you taking them for a walk that ends up here.
13. The Jerusalem Tavern – Clerkenwell
They bring their real ale in from St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk, and you can get your beer straight from the cask at the back of the pub.
Full of quaint, tiny nooks and crannies, the building dates from the 18th century, but the sympathetic refurbishment to turn it into a pub makes it feel much older.
While it’s not the roomiest of pubs, its tucked down a side street so you’ll feel far away from the crowds, and if you’re lucky you might just get a spot near the fire.
Cosy features: Old fashioned fire places
Getting there: 55 Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 5UQ
14. Scarfes Bar – Holborn
Most evenings you can enjoy some live jazz in this bar which is part-genetleman’s club, part stately-home drawing room.
Pull up a velvet armchair, choose a cocktail or speciality whisky and check out the work of artist and caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe which adorn the walls.
15. The Southampton Arms – Kentish Town
This cash-only pub has earned a reputation for its ale and cider offerings, they have 18 handpulls to pick from, from small brewers across the country.
They pride themselves on their no-frills approach, individuality and independence (you won’t be able to reserve a table near the fire or anywhere else).
16. The White Hart – Barnes
Not only is it one of the best riverside pubs in London for the summer, but it also has a few roaring fires to keep you warm in the winter.
Pull up an armchair in front of the fire in the downstairs bar and check out the wintry water scenery outside.
17. Beach Blanket Babylon – Notting Hill
While you can head to the restaurant for some fine dining by the fire, you can still score some cheese and charcuterie from the bar snack menu if you’ve snagged a good spot by the fireplace.
Sit back and relax in the decadent setting, which is all subdued lighting and fine wine and cocktails.
18. The Gun – Docklands
This Grade II listed building has been a popular haunt of dockers, smugglers and even Lord Nelson over the last 250 years. Now after being carefully restored you’re more likely to find Canary Wharf workers propping up the bar.
Head to their Red Room and pull up an armchair in front of the fire for a cosy night by the river.
19. William IV – Shoreditch
This gastro pub is housed in a lovely Georgian building and you can either flick through the paper or challenge your mates to a board game in front of their fire.
Enjoy a comforting Sunday roast, washed down with a real ale, before settling down for an afternoon or evening in the warmth.
20. The Rookery – Clapham
Wood floors, exposed brickwork and dinner by candlelight would be cosy enough, but if you throw in the fact they have a real fire, the warm and fuzzy feeling just gets better.
They serve up British classics and have a long wine list with grapes from across the globe to keep you fed and watered through the winter.
More winter warmers
If you’re stuck for things to do in London in the Winter – we’ve got 50 suggestions to keep you going right through to the spring.
Finally we’d love to hear what your favourite cosy corners of the capital are. Let us know by leaving a comment below.