London pubs for a cosy catch-up
A petite, low-ceilinged, old-school boozer down the Islington backroads where bullseye windows get frosty on busy evenings (most of the time, since new owners took over). The Compton used to be favoured by George Orwell for cosy sessions, and he knew a thing or two about drinking in style. Grab a pint of ale and a stunner of a sausage roll and head to the saloon bar. You may have to share your table with strangers, but that’s all part of the cosy charm.
Year-round, this central London pub has a jumble of old ornaments hanging from its ceiling and making it feel a bit cramped (in a really great way, obviously). But add to that the seasonal tinsel and you’ve got one of the most festive-feeling pubs in London.
This sprawling Belgian beer pub just off Broadway Market is great for getting the circulation going again after a winter saunter down the market stretch. Get rosy-cheeked on wheat beers and blondes and find further warmth in overflowing bowls of moules marinière. There are plenty of corner tables at the rear or there’s sofa seating near the bar for group gatherings.
It’s a diddy little pub near King’s Cross, but the Queen’s Head makes its own atmosphere with jazz nights round the piano and with board games to help happily pass the time in quieter moments. The craft beer selection is cracking and should give you that edge on the next round of dominoes.
The first thing you should know about this Fitzrovia pub is that it’s Guy Ritchie’s new gaff. The second is that it’s pouring beer from his Wiltshire farm. It might be trying quite hard to be an authentic, old-fashioned, cosy pub, but it does get the cosy bit right.
Two words: pub cat. Lenny is the Pride of Spitalfields' resident mog and he’s practically a local celeb. Other cosy things about this 'proper' boozer include patterned carpets, a wood-burning stove, charming locals and free roast potatoes handed out to customers for snacking on every now and again.
The Holly Bush is a maze of tiny rooms that prove popular with many punters as a place to nurse a quiet pint by the roaring fire. Those who don’t come from London can pretend they’re back in the shire thanks to the villagey feel you get from the Hampstead location.
While this former bowls club is quite roomy, it has two compact spaces to the rear and the side that channel some serious living-room chic. Get settled in on an old, beaten armchair under a lamp with its shade set off-kilter and you’ll get all the cosy feels.
This perfect pub has a horseshoe bar at its centre and is surrounded by Victorian carved wooden doors and partitions. Enjoy the villagey feel of drinking pints of real ale delivered to the pub from Lewes' Harveys brewery, great for washing down a pickled egg or two. Head here after a trip to Borough Market for a festive day to remember.
Who’d have thought you could find such sweet shelter in central London? But this pub has been turned to for cosy sessions for centuries, since strangers here are just friends you haven’t met yet. If you can bag a corner or a seat at the bar, the atmosphere will warm you through and through, especially with a glass of vin rouge in hand.
Etched mirrors, tall ceilings, greenery and a ridiculous amount of comfy sofas make this backstreet Islington pub a great go-to in groups. Bag yourself an armchair in the pub’s parlour for added cosiness and revel in the slightly out-there colonial vibe the pub seems to reach for. Visit on Tuesdays for the camaraderie of quiz night.
Find Greenwich’s second most famous Cutty Sark down by the river, where three floors of cosy-cornered spaces all offer a view of the Thames. Soft furnishings, low ceiling beams and a menu of rich pub grub complete the warming line-up, even if the walk by the river to get here can be fairly brisk.
The best things come in small packages – particularly when they’re micropubs. And squeezing into Tottenham’s diddy boozer The High Cross feels even more thrilling given that it used to be public bogs. Just trust us; the setting has been appropriately spruced for an extra-cosy sesh.
You have to pull back a thick, velvet curtain to even get inside this cosy AF pub down a Kentish Town backstreet. Then, battle it out for front row seats by one of its fires. Our personal favourite is found down one side of the pub and is flanked by a stack of board games. Get settled in; it’s cosy o’clock.
Welcome to snob screen city. This wood-clad Victorian pub is so divvied up, you can have a little area all to yourself if you time your trip well. Duck down to get through tiny doors and pretend you’re living back in ye olde days when everything was 100 percent more cosy.
The Churchill has been dubbed London’s most festive pub thanks to the display of Christmas trees and lights that covers the inn's exterior each year. But duck in early for a tipple and feel just as comforted by old-school carpets, bric-a-brac on the ceiling, a roaring fire and equally fiery Thai food.
This old Mayfair boozer has been lovingly restored with a horsey theme and a toe-warmingly beautiful fireplace. It’s for aesthetics alone, but backed with British Racing Green tiles and topped with horse sculptures on the mantelpiece, it’s a beaut. Chesterfields surround it, making it all the more snug, particularly around Christmas time, when a beautiful tree is added to the mix.
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