10 places to…enjoy a fire
When it comes to keeping cosy through the winter months nothing beats the flickering of flames in a grate. the following spots in the Northbank area have real or gas flame fires, which help create the mood for drinks, dining and even spa relaxation
Relax by an outdoor fireplace in the Courtyard, or with cocktail in hand and the sounds of live jazz in the air in the art Deco inspired Bassoon Bar (check the hotel website for details of upcoming acts). it is even possible to toast your toes during post-pampering relaxation in the ESPA life spa where there’s a dramatic modern fireplace surrounded by loungers in the ladies’ changing room.
The historic Middle Temple, one of the four ancient Inns of Court, lights fires in the Prince’s Room. The venue is reminiscent of a grand country house drawing room, with heavy wood panels, bookshelves and portraits, two of which are of men called Jekyll and Hyde and may have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson. The Prince’s Room can be used for receptions of up to 100 people, for photographs after a wedding in the Parliament Chamber or Queen’s Room, or for a band to play in.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
A pub built in 1667 is bound to have a fireplace or two. The Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street is one of London’s most famous drinking holes. It has survived through 16 monarchs and been the haunt of many famous journalists including Charles Dickens. The alleyway entrance leads to a warren of rooms. Fires enhance the timeless cosiness of the ground floor bar, the chop house restaurant and the Williams Room, which is available for functions.
It has been called London’s most romantic restaurant and its fireplaces are a big part of that appeal. The vine-filled conservatory has a retractable glass roof for summery dining but in winter, when it is lit by fairylights, its fire take centre stage, making it a great spot for a toasty proposal. The wood panelled private dining room, for up to 23 guests, also has a roaring fire. French cuisine, an award-winning wine list and a decor that leans towards Provence help further the mood in this “oasis of calm” in Covent Garden.
Naturally, the hip ME Hotel has a contemporary twist on the fireplace. In its Marconi Lounge you can sit for afternoon tea or drinks around a decorative granite-surround fire pit with the flames flickering inside a glass tube. The hotel’s popular 10th floor Radio Rooftop bar can still be enjoyed in winter – heaters and blankets will keep out the chill while you enjoy the knockout views of Trafalgar Square and St Paul’s cathedral.
Rules has been serving up game, oysters, pies and puddings for over 200 years. The traditional food is echoed in warm furnishings and drawings, paintings and cartoons celebrating the restaurant’s role as a favoured hub for writers and actors. During winter, fireplaces are lit in the reception and the upstairs cocktail bar, which, like the restaurant, is lined with wood panels and red velvet banquets. Greenery and baubles make the venue extra special over Christmas.
Step through the famous revolving doors of the Savoy in The Strand into the black and white tiled heritage Front Hall and you’ll find a warming welcome from a fireplace surrounded by a group of armchairs. Linger awhile amid the wood panelling and sparkling marble, then head to afternoon tea in the adjoining Thames Foyer restaurant, a cocktail in the American Bar or golden hued Beaufort Bar or to dine in restaurants that have hosted the great and the good, from film stars to royalty, for the past 125 years.
The Ship Tavern
This pub on Gate Street, dating back all the way to 1549, is hidden down an alley between Kingsway and Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Upstairs in the Oak Room dining area a large roaring fire is flanked by sofas. Mahogany panels and antique pictures add to the warm, timeless feel. It’s the perfect spot for a Bloody Mary Saturday brunch, or a Sunday roast followed by Gin & Jazz in the main bar where there are also cosy booths.
Historic meets modern at this landmark hotel on Aldwych. There are fireplaces in various function rooms, including the executive lounge and executive boardroom, which can be used for meetings or small receptions. Keep the cosy theme going with drinks in the wood panelled, 1920s themed Good Godfreys bar – you can even take a cocktail making masterclass.