Best cosy London pubs

Gordon's Wine Bar, Embankment
Gordon's is reputedly London's oldest bar

Brrr… it’s cold out there, so here is our pick of the best London pubs for a winter warmer, complete with log fires and hot toddies a plenty

Gordon's Wine Bar, Embankment
Gordon’s is reputedly London’s oldest bar

Lamb & Flag, Covent Garden
Hidden down a side street away from the throng of Covent Garden is this delightful watering hole, a regular haunt of Charles Dickens. A pub has stood on this site since 1772, and while in summer customers spill out on to the cobbled streets, as is the want in London, come winter, you’re much better off sneaking up the creaky stairs to the Dryden Room, all oak beams and low ceilings, to escape the boisterous crowds below. And once you nab a seat, keep it, as they’re valuable in this part of town.

The Lamb and Flag pub, London
One of London’s oldest pubs, the Lamb and Flag was frequented by Charles Dickens

The French House, Soho
This Grade II listed building on Dean Street is something of a Soho institution. Although it was actually called York Minster until 1984, its regulars had long referred to it as ‘the French house’ in reference to its previous patron Charles de Gaulle who reportedly used the pub as his London base. A cosy retreat from the often-gimmicky neighbouring pubs and bars, it is a warm, understated drinking den that serves a healthy selection of wines and champagnes as well as Breton cider and Ricard, and its no music and no mobile phones rule makes it popular with conversationalists.

Gordon’s Wine bar, Embankment
Reputedly London’s oldest wine bar, the discrete Gordon’s – blink and you’ll miss its dusty shopfront beckoning drinkers downstairs – is a cellar bar, with low ceilings and candlelight creating a romantic cave-like interior, drenched in history: Samuel Pepys lived in the building before it was a bar in the 1680s and Rudyard Kipling lived here in the 1890s, and it feels as though little has changed over the years. Choose from a heady list of wines and ports, from the affordable to the vintage, accompanied with a cheeseboard for the ultimate in winter decadence.

Gordon's Wine Bar
The exterior of Gordon’s Wine Bar belies its romantic interior

The Palmerston, East Dulwich
Tucked away in the pleasantly gentrified suburb of East Dulwich is this elegant gastro pub, which welcomes you like a well-worn jumper. The wood paneling and roaring fire create a snug setting, while modern British dishes such as grilled 35-day aged Galloway porterhouse steak, or roast loin of venison, will put the colour back in your cheeks. You can also warm your cockles with the pub’s own mulled wine or Rekorderlig warm winter cider.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street
This Fleet Street mainstay dates back to the 16th century, although the present building was rebuilt following the Great Fire of London. Its maze-like layout provides lots of nooks and crannies for a quiet drink away from the humdrum of the city.
Contact: Tel: 020 7353 6170

The Gun, Docklands
This pub is a real treat for those determined enough to find it. A pub has stood on this site for 250 years and it was here that Admiral Nelson wooed his lover Emma Hamilton in the upstairs room, now the elegant River Room. It was also a popular spot for smugglers who would sneak their cargo through a covert tunnel – even today there is a spy hole in the secret staircase where they would keep an eye out for the ‘revenue men’. Today, it is regularly voted one of London’s best gastro pubs and its comfy seating by the open fires offer perfect places to melt off the winter freeze.

The Spaniard's Inn, Hampstead

The Spaniard’s Inn in Hampstead is immortalised in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers

The Spaniard’s Inn, Hampstead
This historic pub has earned its stripes: immortalised in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, it’s also said to be where Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale. Located by the sprawling Hampstead Heath, with muddy dogs at the bar and real ale on tap, this 16th century inn is as close to a country pub as you’ll get in London.

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