Great pubs with open fires,
Sometimes it can be – ahem – difficult to extinguish one from another.
So, with the frigid winter months nearing, we’ve pulled together a list of what we’d consider to be the best & cosiest in the city, and what makes them so. Which means all you need to do is sit back, crack the spine on a good book, and order a hot toddy…
The Albion, Islington
Left over from when Islington was fields and farmland it boasts a wisteria-filled beer garden for summer; and low hanging chandeliers,wood-panelled walls, and log fires for the frostier months. On Sundays they serve five different award-winning roasts (including a nut roast for veggies), whilst Saturdays see a whole roast suckling pig on offer.
Details: 10 Thornhill Road, Islington, N1 1HW
The Southampton Arms
After a long winter walk across Hampstead Heath you might find yourself here – at the South-Eastern corner – and should that happen to be the case you’ll also find a guaranteed minimum of 18 beers and ciders, as well as an upright piano and open fire by which to enjoy them.
Details: 139 Highgate Road, Highgate, NW5 1LE
The Bull and Last
Filled with heavy wooden furniture and adorned with a variety of stuffed animals on the walls the B&L are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which – with dishes like wild venison & handmade gnocchi with chestnuts and slow-cooked mushrooms on the menu – is definitely a great thing. Plus there’s a rotating assortment of ciders and beers, as well as a lengthy wine list, to wash it all down.
Details: 168 Highgate Rd, Highgate, NW5 1QS
The Spaniard’s Inn
This 16th Century pub wears a lot of badges: not only is it one of London’s oldest drinkeries, it was also immortalised in Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, AND is thought to be where Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale. It has a beer garden, roaring fires and mulled wine in the winter, plus a daily changing food menu to suit every occasion. Literary.
Details: Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, NW3 7JJ
Think deep sofas, log fires, and board games. The beer list is big, the wine list is long, plus they’ll even knock you up a cocktail if you fancy it. And they’ll do it wells.
Details: 30 Well Walk, Hampstead, NW3 1BX
The Queen’s Primrose Hill
A stones throw away from Regent’s Park they offer up a large selection of craft beers and wines, as well as an impressive food menu. In the summer time you might opt for the terrace (overlooking Primrose Hill itself) whilst in the winter you’ll more likely be fighting for a spot by their fire. There’s a weekly pub quiz and on Sundays they do a roast, as well as live music come evening.
Details: 49 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1 8XD
The Old Queen’s Head
How do we love three? Let us count the ways. 1. Booze. 2. A week quiz night. 3. A carved stone fireplace. 4. Hot dogs, Under Dogs, and Chilli Cheese Dogs. 5. Sunday Socials with roast dinners, Bloody Marys, live music, board games, and free use of the karaoke room. 6. The Karaoke Room. 7. The Karaoke Room.
Details: 44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LN
This pub is a true Kentish Town favourite, as proven by the time it was threatened to be turned into flats – the locals rallied round and petitioned so hard the decision was not only overturned, but the pub actually got listed as an English heritage building to boot. As well as the usual hard stuff they serve pretty decent Thai food all days of the week. And there’s a pub quiz on Mondays, and an open fire when cold.
Details: 51 Leverton Street, NW5 2NX
Like every good flask they’ll keep you both warm & watered, with a heathy drinks list, pub grub, and a fire seven days a week.
Details: 77 Highgate W Hill, Highgate, N6 6BU
The Drapers Arms in Islington
Once owned by famed food critic Faye Maschler’s son, is it any coincidence that The Draper’s Arms holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand? A fact which falls second in line to the fact that every Valentine’s Day new owner Nick Gibson donates the entire day’s earnings to charity. Pretty heart-warming stuff. That and the log fire.
Details: 44 Barnsbury Street, N1 1ER
Tucked away on a Hackney side street, this is the cosy kind of place you’ll come and lose an afternoon to (in the best way). Lowly lit, with exposed brick walls, and a brick fireplace for winter, they offer up a wide selection of real ales, from all over the country. Plus there’s a large beer garden out back, and a couple of seats out front should you be one for staring at the moon.
Details: 15 Mehetabel Roadd, Hackney, E9 6DU
It’s a bright and spacious place, the type you’d head to with a group of friends confident you’ll find a table. Although there’s also a few nooks and crannys for playing board games (or footsie) if that’s what you’re in the market for. They have an open fire to cosy up to in winter and out the back is a large beer garden where you can knock back one of the many craft beers, real ales, or wines on offer.
Details: 231 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EG
The Owl and Pussycat
Image: Tom Gold Photography
…went to sea and came back with a whole load of booze. They’ve been storing in an East London pub since the since the 1600’s, serving it up alongside a decent menu of British food. Oh and they have a terrace for summer and a big blazing fire for the frostier months.
Details: 34 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DP
People’s Park Tavern
Not only is this place a pub, it’s a brewery too which means, alongside a food menu boasting dishes like half a free range jerk chicken with sweet potato fries and slaw, or a goats cheese burger with green pesto and red onions, they serve up a whole load of house-made booze which you can either enjoy wrapped up in their massive fairy-lit beer garden or toasty next to their open fire.
Details: 360 Victoria Park Rd, E9 7BT
We’ve heard Will and Kate are big fans. Which is unsurprising seeing as it’s another East London boozer promising warmth in winter. Hidden down a backstreet, you can drink and dine to the tune of an old jukebox, with a notable number of stuffed animals to keep you company.
Details: 40 Parkholme Road, E8 3AG
The Carpenters Arms
It’s a warm and safe place with only a touch of excess hair. Headline qualities are a heated roof terrace, their Sunday Roast, and beer from all over the big wide world.
Details: 73 Cheshire Street, Brick Lane, E2 6EG
The Jerusalem Tavern
Real ales and fruit beers served up in a cosy setting of dark green and brown. Or so would be the elevator pitch.
Details: 55 Britton Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 5UQ
The Grazing Goat
You can feast in the downstairs bar decked out with wood panelling and large French doors, or alternatively the dusty green, warmly-lit, first floor dining room might be more your thing. Either way there’s beer, wine, and plenty of cocktails to help ease it all down, not to mention a conveniently located hotel one floor up should things get a little grazy.
Details: 6 New Quebec Street, Marylebone, W1H 7RQ
The Princess Louise
Like every good princess she’s lined with oak and drenched in booze. And she’s been going strong since the Victorian era at that. You’ll want to visit if you’re after a cosy spot with beautiful decor (or a place to play hide and seek with your friends).
Details: 208 High Holborn, WC1V 7EP
Did you know before banking Barclays dabbled in beer-brewing? The Antelope did. In fact it’s Barclays who founded it in the 1800’s and it’s been offering up booze, great food, drawing classes, pub quizzes, and banjo lessons ever since. There’s a beer garden out back, and just in case one fire wasn’t good enough they went and got three.
Details: 76 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NG
A quick skip from Camberwell Green and you’ll come across this local’s local, and no wonder really considering the shabby chic decor – exposed brickwork, textured wallpapers, and quirkily recycled furniture – two huge beer gardens, and open fire.
Details: 61-63 Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, SE5 9NS
Watsons General Telegraph
It’s a beauty. With its 20 beer tap wall, vinyl-only music policy, giant all-weather-permitted beer garden (filled with sofas and fire-pits), it’s almost enough to literally write home about.
Details: 108 Forest Hill Road, SE22 0RS
Once upon a time U2, the Police, Van Morrison, and Frank Sinatra all played in the Half Moon’s back room. Sadly in 2013 it had to close due to flooding – and alhough it’s open once again, music is much less of a focus. However it does boast four bars, and a beer garden filled with fire pits fit for late night, winter hangs. Throw in enough beer and/or wine and who knows… you too might start singing after all.
Details: 10 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill, SE24 9HU
It’s true, many West London pubs are unapeeling but The Orange certainly isn’t one of them. In fact it’s a particularly beautiful place loaded with earthen-aged walls, wooden furniture, and vintage artwork. Like every decent pub does it serves a long list of cocktails, wines, and draught beers, all of which can be enjoyed downstairs in the ground floor bar or by the fire, overlooking Orange Square, in their upstairs dining room. And if that’s not won you over there’s still the food menu to discuss: wood-fired pizzas, plus a whole load of classic British dishes including toffee cheesecake with grilled banana, and peanut parfait for dessert. *Drops the mic.*
Details: 37 Pimlico Road, Pimlico, SW1W 8NE
The Drayton Arms
Booze, food, big sofas, and board games. Go back to where you came from Twitter, 140 character’s plenty.
Details: 153 Old Brompton Road, Kensington, SW5 0LJ
Lass O’ Richmond Hill
The perfect resting place after a long walk in Richmond Park. The walls are lined with thick wooden beams, the skirting’s painted dark olive green and there are big leather armchairs pulled up close to open fires. Plus if the weather’s right for it/you haven’t already overdosed on fresh air for the day there’s a big, leafy garden out back.
Details: 8 Queen’s Rd, Richmond, TW10 6JJ
Duke on the Green
If you’re a Parsons Green local this one’s for you, particularly if you’re into your craft beer. And if beer’s not your thing? They’ve also got plenty of fine wines & cocktails for the taking. Setting-wise think patterns (a lot of them) but in a genuinely tasteful way; there are striped sofas with floral cushions, pendant lighting, wooden tables, and painted mustard chairs. Food is an all day affair made up of traditional pub grub, pub grub we’d list in totality if we had the time… but for now we’ll let the slow braised beef, ale and root vegetable pie, creamed mash, and buttered kale to do the talking.
Details: 235 New King’s Rd, Fulham, SW6 4XG
There’s 20 beers on tap, plus an extra 40 bottled, and a 51 strong wine list exclusively sourced from small, family-owned vineyards to back them up. Food-wise their fish is delivered daily and their meat changes weekly, brought in solely from British farms.
Details: 12 Sutton Lane North, Chiswick, W4 4LD
You know that time old phrase ‘never judge a pub by it’s cover’? Well, they definitely hadn’t visited The Elgin before writing that. It’s white, tiled counters, distressed wooden floors, and exposed brick walls illustrate beautifully just how good their beer tastes and how glorious their food is, too.
Details: 96 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, W11 1PY
The Alfred Tennyson
Named after Britain’s first poet laureate, quite fittingly this is a beautiful place. Set over four floors, you’ll find pink velvet booths, leather sofas, oak tables, open fires, and large sash windows. Drinks-wise there’s a long list of beers both bottled and on tap, as well as a healthy wine list and cocktail selection. Food is served all day, and moves from smoked ham hock with poached egg, english muffins, and hollandaise to Hebridean lamb, Jerusalem artichokes, savoy cabbage and rosemary jus, with baked lemon cheesecake for dessert.
Details: 10 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, W1X 8LA