It goes without saying that London is amazing when the sun is shining and the weather is good. Winter in the city can be tough, however, with rain, sleet and even snow to contend with.
Fortunately, the capital has an incredible variety of places to escape the gloom, from cosy bars & restaurants, to elegant hotel lobbies & luxurious spas. Choosing where to go can be difficult, however, so, to point you in the right direction – here’s our guide to London’s cosiest places for winter.
10) Kerb Street Food Market, Covent Garden
Kerb Covent Garden may defy many of the carefully formulated rules of cosiness – no fireplaces, comfy sofas or secret nooks here – but it still makes our list comfortably. So, what makes this Central London food market so warm and inviting? Search us. It just is.
Ok, maybe it has something to do with the intimate lighting, buzzy atmosphere, outstanding food and regular live music. Heck, the venue even has its own bookshop. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that Kerb Covent Garden is the best food market in London. It’s also the perfect place to spend a chilly winter’s evening. Enjoy!
9) Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London, Holborn
Scarfes is one of those wonderful places that immediately makes you feel at the very centre of things. Part of the uber classy Rosewood London, the venue often features on lists of the world’s top bars and after an evening at the venue, it’s really not difficult to see why.
The interiors are gorgeous, naturally. High ceilings, cosy, book lined walls, superb wall art (courtesy of the artist Gerald Scarfe) and a massive feature fireplace set the scene.
The cocktails are good, too. Mixed by a team of highly skilled artisans, the bar’s cocktail list makes use of the globally recognised Enneagram personality test, with drinks devised to represent the poles of each character’s personality.
At the end of the day, however, it is not just one thing that makes the Scarfes Bar stand out. No, it’s a variety of factors, some visible and some intangible. It is that strange, indefinable quality that makes some places feel instantly warm and welcoming – that potent alchemy of mood, atmosphere, attitude, and style. In a word: it’s magic.
8) Ozone Coffee Roasters
No guide to London’s cosiest places would be complete without a cafe or two. The queue to enter this Leonard Street favourite can get pretty long at times – but don’t give up because Ozone is worth the wait. The coffees are the main draw naturally; but the food, service and atmosphere are all top notch, too.
7) Daunts, Marylebone
What is it about bookshops? There’s something incredibly reassuring about that musty smell and those hushed, reverential tones. Daunts is the perfect example. The chain’s shops are all unfailingly warm and inviting.
The Marylebone branch is a particular delight. It’s cosy and warm and perfectly positioned to provide relief for the weary traveller after a day of shopping on Marylebone High Street. Go soon.
6) The Holly Bush Pub, Hampstead
Cool location – check. Cosy interiors – check. Fireplace – check. Hampstead’s Holly Bush pub certainly ticks all the boxes – but there is so much more to the venue than a smart location and some admittedly cool interiors.
This gorgeous 18th century pub has charm by the bucket load – which should come as no surprise to anyone who is famaliar with Hampstead, as the area is renowned for the elegance of its architecture. A great menu and an excellent assortment of beers doesn’t hurt, either.
5)The Prince Albert, Battersea
This must be what pubs are like in heaven. Battersea’s Prince Albert pub oozes calm and tranquillity, from the elegant period fixtures and fittings, to the cosy decor, to the handsome fireplace. The pub is well situated for a cosy pub lunch after a day spent in Battersea Park, too. Grab a glass of red wine, a book, and a seat by the fire for the full effect.
4) The Zetter Townhouse
The adjectives quirky, unconventional and peculiar do not even come close to doing justice to this gem of a hotel and bar in fashionable Clerkenwell. We are not sure who decorated this place, or where they got the many curiosities that adorn the rooms here, (a stuffed cat wearing a dress sits by the fire) but despite all odds, it works admirably.
The lobby bar is a riot of colour, decoration and ornament but its period stylings feel elegant and luxurious. It’s mighty cosy too – with a big, generous fireplace at one end of the room. It makes you feel that you are in a particularly idiosyncratic yet stylish 18th century house. File under “must see” London.
3) The Spa at the Intercontinental Hotel, O2
There is something truly magical about this place. It might have something to do with the consistently five star quality that runs throughout the venue. However, I suspect it has even more to do with the people who work there. The service at the Intercontinental hotel is never short of exceptional, with every member of the IC team absolutely dedicated to providing the highest standards of customer care.
The hotel’s spa is an indulgent treat, too. It oozes peace and tranquillity from the moment you walk in.
From the lovely waiting area with its cosy oversized chairs, to the luxurious showers with their powerful monsoon shower heads, to the humongous pool, steam room and sauna, the Intercontinental gets it all right. And with eight treatment rooms and a comprehensive range of treatments and massage options, it’s easy to understand why the hotel has such a impressive reputation.
2) The Lobby at the Standard hotel, King’s Cross
Lobbies are where it’s at in 2020, but it’s a newcomer to the scene that’s currently making all the noise. We’re talking about The Library Lounge at the Standard in King’s Cross.
The Standard have followed the current open house trend, with a deeply retro lounge that is as cosy and as fun as any you will currently find in the capital. Its seventies styling won’t appeal to everyone, however, but if you’re looking for a relaxed and friendly venue that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then the Library Lounge at the Standard should be at the top of your list.
1) The lobby at the Hoxton Hotel, Shoreditch
Quite frankly, any of the Hoxton’s three London hotels – Shoreditch, Southwark or Holborn – could have made our list, but the chain’s original branch in trendy East London is something special.
The place simply oozes warmth and cosiness, from the huge fireplaces at the entrance, to the comfortable sofas and armchairs, to the chic diner (the Hoxton Grill).
Although the lobby at the hotel is massive, the space feels intimate and personal, which has as much to do with the hotel’s friendly service and open house policy as it does to the cosy decor and furnishings.
The Hoxton is full of quirky yet charming touches, too – from the racks full of old record covers, to the wrap around bookcases, to the cool wall art (broken skateboards, when we last visited).
However, at the end of the day, it’s the staff who make the place truly special. There’s a real warmth and sincerity to the Hoxton’s customer service which makes you suspect that the people who work here genuinely love what they do. It’s this unparalleled service which makes the Hoxton, Shoreditch London’s cosiest place for winter.