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. Pubs with wood fires have that authentic touch, but gas fires are equally warming. You'll find them all in our guide to London's best pubs with fires – get down early to guarantee the warmest armchair or sofa spot.
The best pubs with fires in central London
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.
Don't let the name put you off, Soho's Old Coffee House is a pub through-and-through. If its dark, worn and dated features and old man-ish clientele aren't comfort enough for you, make a beeline for the coal-effect fire in a rear corner and rejoice in the fact that 'proper' pubs like this still exist in the capital.
This old Mayfair boozer has been lovingly restored with a horsey theme and a toe-warmingly beautiful fireplace, backed with British Racing Green tiles and topped with horse sculptures on the mantelpiece. Chesterfields surround it, making it all the more snug, paricularly around Christmas time, when a beautiful tree sits beside the curling flames.
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.
The best pubs with fires in north London
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.
Venue says: “Join us for one of the best roasts you'll find in London – according to us and Time Out.”
This Newington Green retreat gets the thumbs up from us for its cracking Sunday lunch, welcoming staff and impressive board game line-up, but add to that a real fire to curl up next to and you'll understand why it's hard to steer clear come winter. You may even make friends with Sidney the dog if you're lucky enough to bag fire-side seats.
In this grand old building at the north end of Green Lanes you barely have to share bar staff: it's absolutely massive. You may have to fight for those fireside armchairs, though! Taxidermy cases and ornate cornicing decorate the central, beer-focused bar, a jukebox plays music in the main room and a projector plays sport in the second.
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.
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.
A gorgeous log-burning fire greets regulars – both human and canine – at backstreet boozer the Wenlock Arms. A large hearth helps spread the fire's toasty heat around the room, with banquettes and stools nearby hotly fought over. Order from brilliant beers and salt beef sandwiches for even more comfort.
Popular with Highgate locals (students and celebs alike) the Wrestlers has a large roaring log fire to the right as you enter, whose comforting smell fills the room and mingles with delicious Sunday roast aromas. A beaten chesterfield sofa is near-enough to feel the warmth but not make your glow too rosy.
The best pubs with fires in east London
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.
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.
Situated by the Thames, the Gun is a fine spot in the summer thanks to its terrace. But don't underestimate the pub in its winter guise. Its red walls and dark wood complement a real open fire complete with tall-backed leather armchairs by its side. Rumour has it Lord Nelson used to meet his mistress here, so plan your own cosy tryst at the Gun.
Victoria Park's most handsome pooches hang out with their owners in this welcoming and somewhat sprawling boozer. Lucky them, as they curl up by a log burner on nearby sofas while their masters work their way through the papers or gaze on at the big screens showing match day highlights.
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.
The best pubs with fires in south London
This craft beer haven is operated by Big Smoke Brew Co, and if we know anything, it's that there's no smoke without fire. An adorable ornate fireplace is well stocked with logs and decked by two comfortable leather armchairs. A great position from which to sample the brewery's range.
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.
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.
The best pubs with fires in west London
This warming gastropub in – you guessed it – Ealing serves comforting food in a smart-casual setting complete with a fire. A circle of short leather armchairs curve round the fireplace, chopped logs are stacked up by its side and a series of taxidermy animal heads are mounted on the wall above for a bit of countryside chic in the capital.
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.
Venue says: “Express lunch two-for-one menu, Monday to Friday – only £15 for two people!”
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.
Find more bars for a cosy night
Do you like having to yell at your friends when you go out drinking together? Fine, it’s your shout. We like to cater for everybody, so we’ve put together a list of ten places where talking is easier – ideal for those quiet catch-ups or maybe even date night.
Strongroom Bar & Kitchen
Strongroom Bar & Kitchen has been a Shoreditch fixture for nearly 20 years which, admirably, makes it something of a stalwart in a part of town not exactly averse to a whim or two. It's home to Strongroom recording studios, a free late-night music venue and a restaurant serving food from breakfast onwards. The kitchen hosts three-month pop ups. It's now being looked after by Salt & Dry - a street food duo specialising in pizzas, own-cured meats and grills cooked up on a barbecue set up in a burned-out Morris Minor. Dishes range from pulled pork and kimchi pasties, poutine and hot wings to salads, a burger made with Hereford blade, mackerel escovitch and a Ghurka chicken curry. The extensive beer lays heavy emphasis on microbreweries both home-grown and international. Check their website for details of live music and DJ nights.
Venue says: “Every Tuesday is #RubyTuesday here. Join us for a range of freshly cooked, delicious curries from Salt & Dry. And your first drink's on us!”