London's best bars and pubs with open fires

Find the best pubs and bars in the capital that are perfect for a warming winter drink

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Southampton Arms

Southampton Arms © Ed Marshall

Whether it's in a trendy gastropub, a hip new bar or an old man's pub, there's an open fire waiting for you somewhere this winter. The pubs with wood fires have that authentic touch, but gas fires are equally warming. Check out our guide to London's best pubs and bars with open fires. Think we've missed any great pubs and bars with open fires? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

Pubs and bars with real fires

Holly Bush

This welcoming Dickensian pub in Hampstead has an ancient interior, reasonably priced food and wooden booths to slide into. Its two wood and coal-burning fires make the pub the perfect place to head following a stirring walk across the heath – or at least up the steep road to the pub.

  1. 22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG
Book online

Antelope

There’s lots to like about the Antelope in Tooting, not least its good gastropub food. With three fires to choose from (two coal-burning options in the bar and dining room, and a wood fire in the games room) there’s every chance you’ll find a spot near the hearth – just be prepared to do battle for one of the pub’s fireside chesterfield armchairs.

  1. 76 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NG
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Clapton Hart

With a half-finished look and cavernous main bar area, this hipster pub may be spacious, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be toasty warm. It generously keeps three wood fires alight (two in the front bar, one in the dining room), and also serves a simple food menu together with a good selection of British-brewed real ales including Deuchars IPA and Redemption Trinity.

  1. 231 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EG
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Earl Spencer

This inviting Southfields gastropub becomes even more enticing come winter, when its huge wood fire comes roaring to life. The pub’s rustic kitchen style is cemented by farmhouse dining tables and shelves packed with cookery books and jars of colourful pickled savouries. There’s also a pleasing selection of beers on tap.

  1. 260-262 Merton Road, SW18 5JL
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Jerusalem Tavern

Proof that not all ‘new’ pubs have to be homogenised chains, the Jerusalem Tavern serves in a building that dates from the early 1700s, but it has only been a pub since the 1990s. Beer on tap is from the superb (and organic) St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk. The coal-burning fire, just to the right beyond the entrance, fits perfectly with the surroundings.

  1. 55 Britton Street, EC1M 5UQ
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Palmerston

This gastropub is adorned with a gorgeous mosaic floor and the walls are clad in original wood panelling. The beer selection isn’t as notable as it once was, but the food draws both crowds and critical acclaim. Take a seat by one of the two wood- and coal-burning fires and settle in for a weekend afternoon.

  1. 91 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EP
Book online

Prince George

Make merry in Dalston with Czech beer and real ale (Pride, Brakspear, Woodforde’s Wherry) – there are plenty of good wines by the glass too. The Geroge's free jukebox (one of the best in London) means there’s always a party going on, so don’t go expecting to take a quiet nap alongside the wood- and coal-burning fires.

  1. 40 Parkholme Road, E8 3AG
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Southampton Arms

The bulbs are bare and the floorboards worn at this Kentish Town pub. It’s sparse, it’s simple and it’s really rather splendid. The regulars are more mature than in most pubs, and some bring along their canine companions. Purchase some traditional snacks, a pint of scrumpy (this is a cider and ale house, after all) and seat yourself and your dog beside the wood-burning fire.

  1. 139 Highgate Road, NW5 1LE
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Three Kings of Clerkenwell

This popular pub is decorated with an eclectic selection of bric-a-brac, which includes a fibreglass rhino head, a plaster Egyptian dog, an autographed photo of Dennis Bergkamp and old maps of Islington. It’s kitsch but cosy – particularly if you opt for a pint of traditional ale and a strategic position by the crackling coal fire.

  1. 7 Clerkenwell Close, EC1R 0DY
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William IV

A couple of couches next to the fire (which burns a coal/log combo) make this gastropub in Hoxton an exceedingly cosy spot to spend a cold day. Reliable British food and a couple of real ales complete the picture.

  1. 7 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7QE
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Pubs and bars with gas fires

The Bedford

The main room might seem soulless when empty, but this vast Balham institution attracts a diverse crowd in droves. There's a canopy-covered back yard and three further bars, with a gas fire to provide a warm glow.

  1. 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD
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Commercial

There's a lot to like amid the noise (aural and visual) in this pub, not least the most interesting selection of beers and spirits in the area, including Budvar Dark, Paulaner and guest ales such as Pedigree, served in dimpled pint mugs and warmed by a total of three toasty fires.

  1. 212 Railton Road, SE24 0JT
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The Golden Heart

There's a proper community vibe here with old blokes propping up the bar alongside market geezers and tattooed foreign exchange students. This is nonetheless a pub where old-fashioned manners and old-school decor rules – small rooms, crowded tables, pub-industry memorabilia and a couple of open gas fires which look so real that people chuck paper on them.

  1. 110 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ
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Grand Union

Situated by a desolate stretch of the canal after which it's named, this Fuller's pub comes as something of a welcome surprise. The interior is both light and airy, but also cosy – fireside sofas and a snug bar await at the bottom of the spiral staircase.

  1. 45 Woodfield Road, W9 2BA
Book online

Grapes

If you're wondering what the Thames docks might have felt like before their Disneyfication into Docklands, these narrow, ivy-covered and etched-glass premises aren't a bad place to start. Come in out of the cold and huddle up in front of their fire.

  1. 76 Narrow Street, E14 8BP
More info

Rose

More of a pub with food than a gastropub, the Rose has seen a few name-changes over the years, including the Legless Ladder and, most recently, the Fulham Tup. The muted walls are dotted with prints of ladies in various states of undress (more tasteful than it sounds). Candles twinkle and locals lounge on church pews and leather sofas. Eat, drink and get cosy on one of the armchairs surrounding the fire.

  1. 1 Harwood Terrace, SW6 2AF
Book online

Sir Richard Steele

This old boozer oozes battered character: hand-painted Sistine-esque friezes, dripping candles and weird papier-mâché oddities hanging from the ceiling. Clientele is an eclectic mix of older regulars and the Primrose Hill set and there's a roaring yet pretend fire in the back room.

  1. 97 Haverstock Hill, NW3 4RL
More info

Waterway

The bar area, which is separate from the restaurant, has a sloping wood-panelled ceiling and a minimalist decor making it look a bit like a trendy Alpine ski lodge. Add the warming gas fire and a sprinkling of live music and you have a pleasing canalside escape in view of the longboats moored along the banks.

  1. 54 Formosa Street, W9 2JU
Book online

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Craft beer in central London Cask The Cask claims to stock Britain's biggest selection of bottled beer – a staggering 400, in fact – and it's no slouch on the draught front either, with ten cask and 15 keg options. As well as some of the best brews from Germany, Holland and Belgium, you'll find many rare beers from the USA. To eat, there are Forty Burgers, and roasts on Sundays. Craft Beer Company A whopping 37 beers are served on draught here, and the owners work directly with microbreweries to snag some rare and unusual tipples. The USA and Belgium are well represented in the selection of bottles. Look out for exclusive imported beers you won't see anywhere else in London. There are branches in Brixton, Clapham and Islington. Draft House Eclectic beers and pub-style food are clearly proving a good formula for the Draft House mini-chain – currently, it has five branches. Smaller than its older siblings, this pub is more about supping pints (or thirds of pints if you want to vary your drinking) than sitting down to a relaxed meal. Among ten or so fine draught brews you'll find the likes of Camden Pale Ale and Sambrook's Wandle, as well as around 20 bottled beers, including Schneider Weisse, Thornbridge Wild Swan and powerful Duvel Tripel Hop. The other branches are in the City, behind London Bridge, on Northcote Road and near Battersea Park. Euston Tap Far more than a pre- or post-train pint stop, the Tap has eight beers on cask, 20 by the keg and a further 150 in bottle. The

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