'Tis the season for holing up in a cozy pub by a crackling fire. As the days get shorter, hunker down with a mulled wine or a pint of ale and fill up on hearty dishes in one of London's coziest pubs.
At the edge of Hampstead Heath, the Spaniards Inn dates to 1585 and is one of London's oldest pubs. With its wood paneling, roaring fires, nooks, crannies and pet-friendly garden equipped with a dog-washing machine, it feels like more like a country retreat than a London pub. Tuck into dishes like slow-cooked lamb shoulder and roasted pork belly with fig stuffing and toast former patrons including Charles Dickens and John Keats.
Tucked away in a former warehouse on Redcross Way, a 5-minute walk from Borough Market, the Boot & Flogger opened as London's first wine bar in 1964. It's one of only a few London bars that can sell wine without a license owing to a charter drawn up by Queen Elizabeth I in 1567. The wood-paneled space is dotted with leather armchairs in which to sink and order a glass of champagne served in a silver tankard.
This off-the-beaten-track pub in Holborn dates to the 16th century and was once used to shelter Catholic priests during the English Reformation period. Traditional British fare (Beef Wellington, steak and ale pies) is served in the Dickensian-style first-floor dining room, where the tables are lit by candles. Downstairs, the gin cabinet is stocked with 60+ gins from around the world and there are regular live music events.
In an 18th-century merchant's house in Clerkenwell, this teeny tiny pub is packed full of character. The dimly-lit bar serves an impressive selection of beers from St Peter's Brewery in Suffolk. Work your way through the brews beside the roaring open fire. Lunch is served every day but the pub is closed at weekends.
Step back in time to 16th-century London at this riverside pub in Rotherhithe. The dark wood paneling and low ceiling beams create a cozy atmosphere and the pub is lit entirely by candlelight every Sunday evening. Pair a traditional pie with a pint of ale or order an American craft beer to salute the the Pilgrim Fathers who set off from this very site on the Mayflower ship to explore the New World.
Sip a pint where Dickens once propped up the bar at this medieval drinking den off Borough High Street. Referenced in Little Dorrit, this is London's last remaining galleried coaching inn and is owned by the National Trust. There's a large cobblestone courtyard for summer drinking but inside it's a split-level warren of creaky floored, wood-paneled rooms with fireplaces.
Charles II romanced his mistress, Nell Gwynne at this 17th-century riverside pub in Hammersmith. Order a seasonal ale and some classic British bar snacks and pick a cozy spot in one of the creaky rooms under the building's original ceiling beams or wrap up warm and head out to the riverside terrace.
On the banks of the river Thames overlooking the O2 Arena, the Gun takes its name from the cannon fired to celebrate the opening of the West India Import Docks in 1802. There are several snug areas with open fires in which to linger over seasonal British dishes (the fish is sourced fresh from the nearby Billingsgate Market). It's tricky to get to but the pub offers a free pick-up service from Canary Wharf station if you book in advance.
Founded in 1691, the Plume of Feathers is the oldest pub in Greenwich and arguably its coziest. After a stroll in Greenwich Park, find a spot by the fire and admire the original fireplaces, maritime trinkets and historical paintings. There's a spacious beer garden outside and the pub hosts a popular pub quiz every Wednesday night.
Overlooking Wimbledon Common, this cozy 18th-century pub, with its exposed brickwork and wooden beams, wouldn't look out of place in a cute country village. Dine on hearty home-cooked food and save room for a traditional British dessert, like fruit crumble or sticky toffee pudding.