Whether you’re about to meander through the Big Smoke or brave the elements on a rural escapade, don’t leave home without a check-list of snuggly watering holes to warm up in. From a design lover’s dream in the heart of the Cotswolds to a Welsh hotel bar brimming with many a mountaineering tale, pull up a chair and try a local tipple at one of our favourite cosy pubs in the UK.
This guesthouse, pub and dining destination overflows with as much Cotswolds charm as enviable design: from its traditional stone walls covered in ivy through to its whitewashed guest rooms with modern minimalist touches, a stay or quick pit-stop here makes for a delicious breath of fresh air. Its oh-so-pretty 18th-century pub offers a rustic setting that comprises stripped-back walls, open fireplaces and back-to-nature simplicity in the form of hand-crafted furniture, artisan beer, and wines from neighbouring vineyards. If you work up an appetite exploring the surrounding rolling hills, the restaurant at The Wild Rabbit has recently been awarded its first Michelin Star.
Location: Church St, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6YA
Perhaps better known as The Hole in t’ Wall, Bowness’s oldest pub has more to shout about than its 400-year-old history – starting with a quirky and endless display of ceramic jugs, hanging overhead across a dark wood ceiling. You’ll find no shortage of real ales here, including award-winning Robinsons flavours, plus spirits and wines. Dim, atmospheric and not unlike the cosiest of Alpine hideouts, it also serves home-cooked British fare for those looking to stave off any hunger pangs.
Location: Robinson Pl, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3DH
Blending traditional ivy-clad charm with a seriously scenic mountainous backdrop, Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel sells itself as a gem for mountain lovers – to little surprise, what with its location at the foot of Snowdon mountain. Head to the Resident’s Bar, where drinks, mountaineering memorabilia from the 1953 Everest expedition, and a soul-soothing fire perfectly complement the friendly and inviting atmosphere. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cosier spot to knock back a drink or two in this region.
Location: Snowdonia National Park, Nant Gwynant, Caernarfon LL55 4NT
Give your next pub outing an opulently Tudor twist with a trip to this dramatic, red-hued property in Brixham. A former manor house set in a Grade II-listed building, old paintings and tapestries adorn its walls, while suits of armour, rich carpeting and chandeliers add further characterful touches. As well as its perfect village setting, it offers an authentic escape into a bygone era – complete, of course, with a rather well-stocked bar.
Location: Church Road, Churston Ferrers, Brixham TQ5 0JE
Far removed from London’s bustling centre but still close enough for a pub lunch is The Flask, whose suburban location in upscale Highgate puts relaxation at the top of the menu. After a day of plodding through Hampstead Heath’s grassy expanse, settle down with a real ale or international wine at this neighbouring hideout. Here, you’ll find that candles, a brick fireplace, utterly traditional décor, and a structure dating as far back as the 17th century all contribute to its pleasantly homey and historic atmosphere.
Location: 77 Highgate W Hill, London N6 6BU
With a long history dating back to the mid 1300s, Scotland’s oldest surviving pub offers a most historic experience, complete with an eclectic country-style twist and roaring fireplace. As well as an extensive drinks list ranging from wine and real ale through to classic cocktails and G&Ts. You’ll also find lunch, dinner and Sunday menus from which Wagyu burgers and slow-cooked pork belly with seared scallops make particularly tempting options. Located on the edge of Holyrood Park, at the heart of which you’ll find Arthur’s Seat, it opens daily from 11am (or 12pm on Sunday) until 11pm (or midnight on Friday and Saturday).
Location: 43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA
Since being voted best pub of the year in 2011 by the Good Pub Guide, North Yorkshire’s Tempest Arms has continued to maintain a level of country pub excellence, as well as offering a comfortable night’s sleep within its 300-year-old walls. It’s perfect for those seeking a slice of laid-back heaven after a day exploring surrounding sights, including Skipton Castle and the dramatic landscapes that make up the Pennine Way. The pub opens between 11am-11pm Monday to Sunday, and Sunday between 12-10.30pm.
Location: The Tempest Arms, Elslack, Skipton BD23 3AY
Where cosiness is concerned, London pubs don’t get far better than the ultra-plush Victoria: as well as shelves stocked with craft lagers, seasonal ales, cider, spirits and exclusive wines, it features three separate bar spaces that each command attention with their distinctive, old-world décor. Head to the wood-panelled and brilliantly-lit Main Bar, take in the Theatre Bar’s characterful draped curtains and intricate embellishments, or enjoy added seclusion in the Library. With a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and TimeOut Love London Awards win to its name, it isn’t one to disappoint.
Location: 10A Strathearn Pl, Paddington, London W2 2NH
Cosiness is the order of the day at the 16th-century, wood-beamed Cat Inn, where settling down by an open fire with a Sauvignon Blanc, real ale or malt whisky is never frowned upon. Get your fill of warm, locally-sourced fare first, whether braised pork belly with pancetta and mustard velouté, or a vegan-friendly sesame and quinoa-coated tofu with glazed figs. Open 12-11pm Monday to Saturday (12-5pm on Sunday), this pub is a no-brainer if you’re in need of some respite from windswept walks across hilly surrounds – it’s listed in the 2017 Good Pub Guide, Great Britain and Ireland Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide, after all.
Location: North Ln, West Hoathly RH19 4PP
Set in a small stone property in Carbost, on the scenic western coast of Scotland’s Isle of Skye, this rather unassuming waterfront free house pub is a true haven for locals as much as for passersby. Recommended by the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), it naturally offers a fantastic pint of beer as well as award-winning fare – all served up in a modest space that puts friendliness and welcoming warmth at its core. Live music fills the inn with merriment on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, too.
Location: B8009, Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8SR
Set near the River Windrush in the medieval town of Burford, this 16th-century inn boasts a refurbished pub and Cask Marque accreditation, retained every year since 2011. Wine and real ales are a popular choice here. You can also grab a plate of classic gastropub fare – including beer-battered fish and chips or toad in the hole – if ever you’re feeling peckish. A whole host of wins and recommendations – including the 2013 Food Pub of the Year title and several Hook Norton Brewery Awards since 2012 – make this deserving Cotswolds retreat all the more attractive to the discerning pub-goer.
Location: 14 Witney St, Burford OX18 4SN
If you’re headed to Helford, don’t miss a stop at this modern spot on the shoreline of the Helford River. A leafy setting, quaint maritime-themed décor and far-reaching views of Helford Passage are not all this pub has to brag about: the food menu prizes local produce, including crab, lobster, monkfish and mackerel (as well as freshly made curry every Friday night from 6pm), and an outdoor beer garden with direct access to the waterfront steals the show in the summer months. Of course, the drinks alone are reason enough to visit no matter the time of year, whether you’re in the mood for local cask-conditioned ales, cider or a healthy list of spirits – including more than 20 rums.
Location: Helford, Manaccan, Helston TR12 6JX
Tucked along a cobbled street in southeast London’s Rotherhithe, this traditionally English, TimeOut award-winning pub shows off particularly distinctive décor on the banks of the River Thames. As well as sporting a heavily nautical theme, enhanced by bold red walls and a lively atmosphere, it offers a chance to see the original 1620 mooring point of the Pilgrim Father’s Mayflower ship. With so much history behind it, sea-lovers may just forget their reason for visiting: a chance to try the recommended craft beer, local gin or fine wine. During warmer months, nab yourself a seat on its outdoor deck for some scenic river views.
Location: 117 Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4NF
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