In the atmospheric season of winter, where better to warm up than these welcoming bars in London with crackling fires
The British certainly know how to do a good fireplace. Whether in pubs, restaurants or bars in London, crackling fires keep punters toes’ warm – and provide the perfect ambiance for a mug or few of mulled wine. Whether you opt for historic pubs like The Spaniards Inn, The Bull and Last or The Star Tavern, or one of the more sophisticated cocktail bars in London, there are plenty of fireplaces to choose from in this town. Let’s just say the city’s had a lot of practice in keeping the cold away.
Fancy snuggling up under a cosy blanket by a roaring fire while star gazing in the centre of London? Well, throw in a cocktail or two and we have a winner. Guests need only amble downstairs to the elegant Garden Lounge, gather a throw about them and sip on a warming winter cocktail. There’s hardly a better seat in the house than the two sofas just next to the fire… well, apart from the two sofas in front of the other fire at the opposite end of the lounge!
Another vestige of London past, The Princess Victoria pub in West London has a history that dates back to the early 19th century and once operated as a Victorian gin palace. These days, it’s still a Victorian-styled gin bar, and two handsome, marble fireplaces with crackling fires keep customers warm like it’s 1829.
How did literary legends like Dickens and Keats keep the cold away during the winter months? Visitors can find out if they stop by The Spaniards Inn, a Hampstead pub on the edge of the Heath that was once frequented by both scribes – and which has been a local legend for the last 400-odd years. There’s a cosy fireplace in its midst, and plenty of nooks and crannies to hide away in.
The Star Tavern is known far and wide for being the pub in which the Great Train Robbery of 1963 was planned, but Belgravia residents know it as a cosy little local. Settle in with a flagon of sloe gin or a dram of whisky next to the crackling fire.
Merchants Tavern is not only a superb restaurant but also one of the best bars in London for expertly mixed cocktails. Brick walls and dark wood channel a midcentury vibe, while braised meat and roasted veg are upscale yet still wonderfully hearty. Settle in by the corner fireplace – both warming and the source of fragrant waftings of kindling wood.
Known for attracting Soho’s dandies for the last 80 years, Quo Vadis has long been a staple of London culinary culture, an old reliable that serves bubbly atmosphere and sophisticated eats that aren’t beholden to temporal trends. Further embellishing its ambiance is the cheeky member’s area upstairs. With a pool table, a piano, and yes, a roaring fireplace, this is certainly one of the best bars in London to warm up in.
Its unusual name comes from the fact that this pub was the last stop in London for those bringing cattle to and from market, but these days The Bull and Last is frequented less by herders and more by food and drinks lovers. The seasonal menu beckons, the quirky interior (complete with plenty of taxidermied creatures) entertains, and the fireplace does its job with aplomb.
Often labelled as London’s most romantic restaurant, Clos Maggiore is accessible to all, whether it’s romantic heat or physical heat that you’re after. Garlands, flickering candles, and fine French fare take care of the former; looking after the latter is a log-fed fire. Adjacent seats are coveted turf – book in advance for the best chance of scoring a fireside table.
In the summer, The Albion attracts punters with its extensive, wisteria-filled garden – but this pub isn’t just a fair-weather friend. In winter, it’s the interior that beckons, and what a beaut it is: wood floors, chandeliers, and a deliciously warming log fireplace.
Though it’s perhaps best known for being London’s oldest restaurant – having opened in 1798, it’s seen everyone from Charles Dickens to Clark Gable come through its doors – Rules isn’t solely favoured by history buffs. Plush booths and carpeting, low lighting, and naturally, a fireplace, make for a most winter-friendly milieu. There are even a couple of seats to perch on near the fire, should your backside need defrosting.