When the weather outside is frightful, escape the cold in one of London’s coziest restaurants, warmed with open fires and snug interiors.
With a history spanning 280 years, Wiltons is an old-world institution in London, known as an aristocratic hideaway with sensational seafood and classic fare. With handsome interiors dressed in plush carpet, muted oil paintings and warm lamplight, there’s no better time to visit than in winter. Menus are delightfully vintage and indisputably elegant, with a full range of fish, in-season game, and freshly shucked and cleverly dressed oysters—a favorite of Queen Victoria, who graced the restaurant with her royal warrant. The silver carving trolley is another charming throw-back, serving a rotating selection of roasts with all the trimmings.
A short stroll from Kensington Palace and the always-buzzing Kensington High Street, Maggie Jones’s takes its name from restaurant regular Princess Margaret, who would go by the alias of Maggie Jones. With glowing taper candles and dried posies of wildflowers, interiors are cozy and country chic. The menu presents comforting homemade classics with creamy soups, oven-hot meat pies, and generous roasts—plus retro desserts like charmingly simple-and-sweet vanilla ice cream with chocolate and brandy sauce and hot apple crumble served with a jug of custard.
Ekstedt at The Yard
A roaring, wood-burning fire is at the heart of the newly launched and much-lauded Ekstedt at The Yard, hidden within the five-star Great Scotland Yard hotel in Westminster. The open fire is used to cook every dish, and the intimate, dimly lit restaurant is laid out so that every table has a view. Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt is at the helm, using British ingredients with expert Nordic methodology. The menu changes seasonally and there is a highly praised tasting menu, as well as a new a la carte offering. Served as a trio, the Snacks from the Fire are a must as an amuse-bouche and include a moreish, savoury lovage doughnut prepared in cast iron and a completely unique, earthy hay-smoked custard, served with an assertive hit of chive and rich trout roe. This is the place to go for special dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.
Bardo St James’s
Swathed in cardinal red velvet and glowing Murano glass-style chandeliers, Bardo St James’s is a cozy subterranean hotspot known for jazzy live music and upscale Italian fare. While the setting is undeniably warm and welcoming and the food heartwarming and generously portioned, Bardo St James oozes with glamour. Though not required, the restaurant makes for a good excuse to dress up this holiday season, in sky-high heels and glittery dresses or tailored jackets and freshly polished shoes. Live music can be enjoyed nightly. Lavish dishes include truffle pinsa (a Roman flatbread); roasted branzino with violet artichokes, Romana style; and frutti di bosco (a fresh strawberry salad) for dessert. This is a must for special occasions, and the service is also known to be impeccable.
Hidden under a yellow canopy and lacy cafe curtains in Marylebone, you’ll find Fischer’s, a old-world Viennese restaurant and cafe. Cozy interiors evoke early twentieth century Austria with simple wooden tables, beer steins and bistro chairs, and the Mitteleuropa cuisine follows suit, with hearty röstis and crispy schnitzels designed to fill you up and keep you warm.