Crackling fires and comfy seats are a must. A proper cosy pub should induce the best kind of drowsiness, the kind of place where a Sunday can be lost amongst a pile of newspapers and the smell of an open fireplace.
There are lots of cosy pubs in London but here are just some of our favourites. So grab a drink, order the pie and mash and settle in.
1. The Southampton Arms
If the sign outside reading "ale, cider, meat" doesn't get your attention at this Kentish Town pub then you're in the wrong place. The Southampton Arms is a truly old fashioned pub, with a wood burning fire, cash-only policy, 18 hand pulled ales and ciders and even a pub dog and two pub cats.
2. The Leather Bottle
This legendary West London pub pulls out all the stops at winter time, putting the BBQ into retirement and utilising its massive beer garden by converting five garden huts into cosy winter chalets, each with its own TV screen. The food is well sourced and Youngs provide the ales.
3. The Dove
Beat the winter boredom at The Dove on Broadway Market, where board games, British micro-brews and Belgian beers are the order of the day. Food covers all the classics, from fish and chips to British-sourced burgers and legendary Sunday roasts.
4. Davy’s Wine Vaults
Following an afternoon exploring Greenwich Market or a crisp winter’s walk around Greenwich Park, head down into the warm embrace of Davy’s Wine Vaults. There may not be any roaring fires, but this cosy space makes up for it with candles, antique furniture and the smell of mulled wine in the winter.
5. The White Horse
This favourite of the well-to-do Chelsea set has the whole package, an always impressive selection of real ales, good food, roaring fires and chesterfield sofas. Expect a posh crowd in a pub that has earned the nickname “The Sloaney Pony” over the years.
6. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
This pub is an oldy, but a goody! A Fleet Street institution, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese dates back to the 16th century and Charles Dickens, Dr Johnson, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have all raised an ale under its roof. As you would expect for a pub this old it is small and cosy, with an open fire making it something of a time warp. The added bonus is that the prices are nice and old-fashioned, as the pub is run by the Samuel Smith brewery.
7. The Spaniards Inn
Another well-known name in an area with plenty of gastropubs to choose from. The Spaniards Inn also counts literary royalty as ex-locals, including Dickens, again, and Keats. It’s a perfect pit stop to shake the dew off your boots following a walk on Hampstead Heath. Sunday lunches are well regarded here and beer matching is taken seriously.
8. William IV
Even in trendy Hoxton the charm of a cosy pub isn’t lost. William IV offers all the traditional must-haves, including a real fire, real ales, board games, newspapers, Sunday roasts and comfy chairs, but this being the East End you can also get a craft beer and brunch at the weekends.
9. The Plough
After a walk amongst the deer in Richmond Park, and lunch in this gorgeous East Sheen pub, you won’t feel like you are 10 minutes from central London. The Plough maintains its traditional 18th-century inn look and there are open fires and British ales to enjoy inside.
10. The George Inn
Former coaching house The George Inn is the only National Trust owned pub, and it’s a good one to have. Tucked away down an alley near London Bridge, this sprawling pub maintains its rustic beams, beautiful gallery and cosy interior. The courtyard area also has heaters and old-fashioned lamps to cater for the often-heaving crowd of drinkers.
11. The Gun
This storied riverside pub isn't just great for history buffs (Lord Nelson lived just down the road and The Gun has been serving Docklands workers under the same name since the 19th century) but it also happens to be one of London's best gastro pubs. Sunday roasts are amongst the best in London and there are lots of cosy corners to snuggle into under the towering presence of the Canary Wharf skyscrapers.
12. The Antelope
An absolute mainstay of the quickly gentrifying Tooting in south London is The Antelope. There are eight hand pumps with a rotating selection of regional and locally sourced real ales and the food has a European twist (but don't panic, they serve a mean Sunday roast). The interior is an eclectic mix of church-pew seating, wood panelling and stained glass windows, all while still attracting a young, trendy crowd. You will have to get a spot early if you want one of the coveted fireside sofa spots though.
13. The Anglesea Arms
When in Hammersmith the temptation is to head straight for the riverside pubs, but fight the urge and you will be rewarded by The Anglesea Arms, a cosy pub tucked away just outside the green space of Ravenscourt Park. The wood-panelled bar gives it the requisite cosy feel, as well as a warming fire, a traditional menu and six rotating Real Ale pumps.