As winter rears its frosty head, our taste in pubs changes. We call last orders on the beer garden, let the barbecue burn out and seen off any remaining Aperol Spritzes. Because, in winter, all we want to do is bundle into a snug, cosy establishment and warm our chilly cockles.
With open fires crackling their orange glow, studded armchairs huddled in corners and sleepy dogs curled up on the floor, cosy pubs are a British institution. And London has some of the best. So, if you’re in need of somewhere to wind down, order a pint of good cask ale and savour it in front of the hearth as feeling returns to your feet, read on…
One for the best roast dinner: Fox & Anchor
115 Charterhouse Street, EC1M 6AA
There’s something of the church about the design Fox & Anchor — all dark wood and aged glass panes. Just a meat hook’s throw from Smithfield Market, it’s the perfect place for a roast dinner this winter and, when you undoubtedly overindulge, there are boutique hotel rooms upstairs, all uniquely-decorated and renovated for the upcoming season.
Fox & Anchor
One with great food: The Holly Bush
22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG
With a wealth of cosy corners, a roaring open fire and plenty of traditional 18th-century wood-panelling to make you feel like it’s Christmas Eve all year round, this Hampstead haunt has one of the best selections of food — from Rabbit & Chestnut Pie to Saddle of Venison — we’ve ever tucked into. The stellar collection of cask ales doesn’t hurt, either…
The Holly Bush
One with all the fireplaces: The Fox and Pheasant
1 Billing Road, SW10 9UJ
There’s not one, not two, but three fireplaces in this 1846 pub. And, although it’s been named everything from the Bedford Arms to the Prince of Wales in its lifetime, the cosiness has never changed. It’s a snug pub, dog-friendly and with a dartboard to wile away those long winter nights.
The Fox and Pheasant
One for a winter cocktail: The Running Horse
50 Davies St, W1K 5JE
Calling yourself a ‘tavern’ always promises a certain level of comfort and intimacy — and it’s a level this Mayfair pub more than lives up to. Established in 1738, the most modern spin on The Running Horse’s offerings is possibly the best; a selection of pub cocktails including a Chase Bloody Mary to die for.
The Running Horse
One for a good story: The Victoria
10A Strathearn Place, W2 2NH
This plush 19th-century pub has just been refurbished, and it’s just waiting for you to bundle through the doors and wile away some long winter nights at the bar. Twice Pub of the Year, when you’re not warming yourself or enjoying some home-cooked food, you should be asking about the drinking hole’s storied history.
One for the modern pub experience: The Coachmakers Arms
88 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2PZ
Studded leather benches? Check. A wood-panelled bar? Check. A selection of some of the finest cask ales and warming pub grub in London? Check. This beautifully-restored pub is well in the running to be your new local — something the new cocktail bar hidden on the lower ground floor, The 72, might just swing.
The Coachmakers Arms
One for getting the rounds in: The Eagle
250 Ladbroke Grove, W10 5LP
‘Snug’ has several definitions. And, as well as meaning warm and cosy, it can also refer to a small, comfortable room in a British pub. The Flask has several snugs, real fires, a ghostly past, cask ales, world wines and a great collection of stories about past regular Dick Turpin. Settle in, it’s going to be a snug one.
One for the patriots: The Grenadier
18 Wilton Row, SW1X 7NR
If you’re looking for history, this pub’s for you. A tiny former officers’ mess, The Grenadier is a landmark in its own right, and royalty on the London pub scene. Many things elevate it above your usual insipid gastropub or Wetherspoons — from the famous Beef Wellington to the striking pewter bar.
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