The time has come for Londoners to start trading in their sunhats for beanies and sandals for boots as the sun starts setting earlier and a crisp air fills the streets of London.
But there is no reason to be down about that! London is arguably at its peak in the cold season. From the excitement of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park to the crackling fireplaces and bustling kitchens in great pubs across the city, there is nothing better than reclining in the toasty comfort of any of these pub-escapes in the city. That is – if you can bring yourself to part with the devilishly soft pillows and cosy ambience of The Devonshire London Paddington.
In the summer months, the mark of the perfect seasonal pub was big open terraces, light rooms with riverside views and light, fresh meals to really make the most of the daylight. However, as the Winter draws in, we are looking for fireplaces, filling food reminiscent of a homecooked family meal, a rustic ambience that makes you feel like you could be nestled in someone’s living room and, importantly, Winter drink specials like eggnog and mulled wine.
Though you are likely to be tempted to visit The Devonshire restaurant every night of your stay in London, here is an all-directions guide to Winter pubs in the big smoke.
Whether you sit in the dining area or the bar area of this homely pub, you really feel like you have found sweet, boozy shelter from the cold. In fact, the worst part about The Orange is having to leave it. The wooden sash windows, wooden furniture and feature fireplace all combine to create an atmosphere of cosiness. The food is carefully prepared from fresh British ingredients, sustainably sourced to show off the produce of the season. Between their lighter-than-air Yorkshire puddings and impressive list of wines and sparkling wines, you will feel right at home. The pub can be hired for bigger events like office parties or family Christmas parties, as well as just individuals or smaller groups. It is very popular over Christmas time, so it is best to phone ahead and book.
Seasonal highlight: the possibility to hire out The Pimlico Room, a private dining area that the in-house team will decorate to festive-perfection
Address: 37-39 Pimlico Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 8NE
The Dickens Inn
The impossible-to-miss, flower-covered expanse that is The Dickens Inn in Marble Quay is situated inside a reconstructed 18th-century warehouse. The timber-framed outside combined with the wood-panelled inside makes for the perfect spot to escape from the cold outside. It is named after and inspired by English writer Charles Dickens, who many people regard as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era and who is, most suitably, the author of one of the world’s famous ghostly Christmas tales: A Christmas Carol. You would have to be Dickens’ cold-hearted miser, Scrooge, not to love The Dickens Inn.
Seasonal highlight: The homemade pumpkin soup starter on their three-course festive menu.
Address: Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way, Tower Hill, London E1W 1UH
The Victoria is an opulent 19th-century pub in Paddington. It is arguably right up there on the list with The Devonshire London Paddington and the iconic train station of reasons why people flock to visit the area. It has been named pub of the year twice, but you will figure that out for yourself pretty quickly on arrival. It is an often-selected spot for Christmas parties, both corporate and social, because of how readily it embraces the special nuances of the season, from food to decor. Whether you are looking for a seasonal roast or a classic fish and chips, every option somehow seems like it was prepared with your interests in mind. The cauliflower cheese and buttered new potatoes served up with the Sunday roasts taste like Christmas day at home, which is only compounded by the fireplace hearth and the richly coloured decor.
Seasonal highlight: their Christmas-menu Turkey reared in Monmouthshire’s dreamy Usk Valley
Address: 10A Strathearn Pl, Paddington, London W2 2NH
The Ladbroke Arms
Though Notting Hill’s Ladbroke Arms is a pub at heart, you would hardly call it that when you see what an exceptional gastronomical experience is on offer. All the seasonal food offerings are incredible and paired with their mulled wine and Christmas cocktail menu, there isn’t much that can go wrong once you enter through the threshold. It is also coincidentally close to Ladbroke Grove – a road which is significant to the classic Christmas film, Love Actually, as it is the road on which Bill Nighly’s character records his Christmas hit at Westway Studios.
Seasonal highlight: Either the chestnut stuffing or the salted chocolate truffles… You will have to try both to decide.
Address: 54 Ladbroke Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 3NW
The Holly Bush
This pub in Hampstead is a traditional 18th-century, wood-panelled pub in a Grade II listed building comes with the fireplace and namesake to prove it a worthy addition to the list of the best pubs to escape to this cold season. A go-to for cask ales and delicious food for centuries, this historic pub has an upcoming-Christmas menu, a Christmas Day menu as well as a Children’s Christmas menu, making it a port of call for the whole family to enjoy.
Seasonal highlight: The decorative seasonal holly that can be found around the pub (as well as the holly logo that is there year-round as a sort of reminder of the seasonal excitement to come)
Address: 22 Holly Mount, Hampstead, London NW3 6SG
So, wrap up warmly, get some comfortable, waterproof shoes on and brave the streets of London this cold season, b-lining straight for any of these establishments to enjoy a hearty meal in a rustic pub setting – and prepare to start peeling off layers, because they are kept nice and warm throughout the season!
Remember, if you don’t fancy venturing out, you can always sit tight inside The Devonshire Restaurant and enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, drinks and more without even leaving the hotel.