Stop in for a pint!
Visiting London this winter? What could be better than a classic British pub with a crackling open log fire, soft cozy sofas and a spicy mulled wine? How about a secret gin lodge or an authentic Nordic winter garden? From classic pubs to unconventional pop-ups, London has some truly cozy places to drink.
Top Picks for You
The Spaniards Inn
This gorgeous 16th-century public house is one of London’s oldest pubs and was even mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Legend has it that The Spaniards Inn was frequented by the likes of Charles Dickens and Keats, so you’re in good company. With its quintessentially English décor and welcoming log fire, it will be difficult to resist a warming glass (or two) of mulled cider. After a brief stint on the Northern line, and glimpses of Hampstead Heath, you’ll feel like you’re in a country pub in the middle of a quaint old English village.
WHERE: St. James’s Market
If you’re looking for something a bit more upmarket, Aquavit is a Michelin-starred restaurant that transforms into a Nordic winter wonderland every winter. The coolest Scandinavian restaurant in London is lined with a forest of natural spruce trees, silver birch branches, and hanging moss, promising an authentic Nordic experience. Have a glass of Blossa glögg; Sweden’s traditional mulled wine made with aged spice macerate and delicately sweetened with sugar.
After whizzing around Oxford Street in the January sales, rest your aching feet in this enchanting 18th-century inn. Andrew Edmunds will instantly help you feel relaxed with candlelit tables, famously friendly bar staff, and welcoming atmosphere. It has an exceptional wine list, which is decently priced for central London, and if that doesn’t tempt you, their unpretentious chalkboard menu will.
Beach Blanket Babylon
WHERE: Notting Hill
If you’re looking for something extra decadent, this elegant cocktail bar won’t disappoint. The enchanting Rococo-style interior will blow you away. Beach Blanket is a sophisticated haunt made up of small snug spaces – perfect for hiding from London’s cold grey winter. Pop in for brunch, a meal, or indulge in one of their fabulous signature cocktails including their famous Porn Star Martini.
The Bulls Head
You’ll feel like you’re in a friend’s living room at this relaxed drinking hole. This west London haunt overlooks the River Thames and is famous for its regular live music sessions. Snuggle up with a lovely glass of red next to the lapping fire and enjoy some live jazz. Or, just watch the rugby on TV with a nice pint of Guinness. And if you’re feeling hungry, The Bulls Head is renowned for its fish dishes.
WHERE: London Bridge
What better way to watch a wintery sunset than gazing from the 31st floor of London’s tallest building? Aqua Shard is one of the highest restaurants in London and boasts a three-story atrium bar. Go for the typical English experience with afternoon tea, or go full pretentious and sip cocktails overlooking the twinkling skyline.
WHERE: Covent Garden
Every winter, J Sheekey is transformed into a festive haven. The Winter Terrace will keep you warm and cozy with outdoor heaters, warm blankets, roaring log fires, and mulled wine. The Atlantic Bar menu boasts warming delights including the steaming-hot fish stew. Even their cocktail menu takes on a special winter makeover with tantalizing favorites like the Somerset Sour, made with cider brandy and maple syrup.
The Running Horse
As traditional old English pubs go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Built in 1738, The Running Horse considers itself the oldest pub in Mayfair. While this boozer is in the most expensive part of London, that certainly isn’t reflected in the prices here. A fabulous range of craft beers, quality British food, and a crackling log fire welcome you. Make sure you get there early to bag the seats by the fire.
Monkey 47 Winter Lodge
Three words for you: mulled sloe gin. It doesn’t get much better than this. Hidden away in a courtyard in Holborn, this cozy pop-up bar is the perfect retreat to warm your cockles. The German gin brand Monkey 47 promises a range of enticing gin cocktails and warm mince pies.
INSIDER TIPThis gin-themed winter paradise pop-up is only open until the end of January.
The Old Dairy
WHERE: Crouch End
It’s hard to find a pub as spacious as this in London, and as you might have guessed from the name, it used to be an old milking dairy. Surprisingly cozy given the size, the dim lighting, exposed brick walls, soft leather sofas, and buzzing atmosphere all help you feel right at home. Be sure to check out the charming architecture and sculptures in the exterior walls. The Old Dairy always feels welcoming and you can smell the mulled wine as soon as you walk in the door.
WHERE: Tooting Broadway
Dubbed one of south London’s best pubs, this cozy boozer is popular with locals and young trendy drinkers alike. The décor is tastefully speckled with antique taxidermy and the wood-paneled walls create a cozy welcoming English feel. This 200-year-old establishment is renowned for its comedy and events—stick around and you might just end up taking a drawing class or even a banjo lesson. The Antelope has a fine collection of real ales, friendly bar staff, and a choice of three real log fires, so you’ll find it very hard to leave.
WHERE: City of London
If you’ve really just had enough of winter and want immediate summer, pop down to Kanaloa. This summery tiki paradise will lure you in with its Hawaiian-inspired tropical treats. If you’re visiting with a large party, expect to be decorated with leis as soon as your walk in the door. Once you sip your first sparkly cocktail, you’ll forget it’s dreary and cold outside. Kanaloa is kitsch, silly, and what vacations are for.