This winter, don’t curse the cold. Beat the chill with one of these cosy winter hideaways. Think steaming mugs of tea, roaring fires, sheepskin rugs and hearty grub in snug, cosy pubs, hot tubs and cafes around the UK and Europe.
Don’t shiver from sub-zero temperatures; come in from the cold and take your partner, friends or family to a European winter hangout where you can snuggle up, get cosy and keep your spirits high – even when temperatures outside are low.
1. The Bridge Inn – Devon, England
The Bridge Inn is one of England’s last traditional ale houses and is a must for any ale connoisseur. Run by the same family for over a century, the 16th-century architecture and décor of high backed settles and rough stone floors hasn’t changed in all that time. A roaring fire in an ancient grate makes this a super-cosy place to warm your chilly hands. Get stuck in to some real ales, local cider and delicious gooseberry wine with a side order of fresh bread baked by the nearby farm. This is as good as winter relaxation gets. Find flights to Exeter
2. Idiot Café – St Petersburg, Russia
The Arctic temperatures of Russia may keep many away from this glorious country but a trip to decadent, magical St Petersburg is well worth the cold. A perfect place to watch the snow fall comes in the shape of the Idiot Café. Not the most promising name perhaps, but this intimate, snug little place with its warm 50s’ style, wooden furniture, antique lamps and record players, is a local institution. Eating hearty Russian cuisine is a great way to add some extra padding but for an instant warmer – try a shot of two of vodka. Guaranteed to should banish any winter blues. Find flights to St Petersburg
3. Shakespeare and Company Bookshop – Paris, France
This gloriously offbeat bookshop is famous in Paris, both for being the best English language bookshops in the city but also the cosiest and most unique. If you are looking for somewhere to snuggle down with a good book, this is the place. This quirky little shop is stuffed from floor to ceiling with books of every persuasion. There are odd nooks and crannies with squidgy armchairs and even beds where you can lie down and read until you’ve thawed out. You’ll be following in exalted footsteps as Ernest Hemingway and Allen Ginsberg, to name but a few, enjoyed a cup of tea and a read in this Parisian haven. Find flights to Paris
4. Hotel U Raka – Prague, Czech Republic
Meaning ‘At the Crayfish’, the Hotel U Raka is a hidden gem and one of Prague’s best kept secrets, nestling in the shadow of imposing Prague Castle. From the outside this hotel looks like a tiny wooden cottage complete with picket fence and timber walls, but inside it’s a gorgeous family run boutique hotel that simply oozes local charm and cosiness. After walking the snowy cobbled streets of spellbinding Prague you’ll be more than ready for a slice of real Czech hospitality with home-cooked food, roaring fires and a dash of local Slivovice (plum brandy). Find flights to Prague
5. Sheep Heid Inn – Edinburgh, Scotland
Even though it’s just a short walk from Edinburgh’s busy centre, the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston village feels a world away from the city. Reported to be the oldest pub in Scotland, this is the most wonderful place to stop after a long walk up Arthur’s Seat (the nearby extinct volcano that watches over the city) and the epitome of a cosy village pub. Old photographs and memorabilia hang from every inch of the wood panelled walls and ceiling, and if the heart-warming Scottish grub or wide selection of whiskeys doesn’t warm you up then a game of skittles in the traditional skittle alley should!
Dogs snooze by the open fire as steaming plates of haggis, neeps and tatties wind their way around the cosy armchairs and tables laden with board games. It’s not hard to get comfy here, but it’s very hard to leave! Find flights to Edinburgh
6. Ada Ciganlija Island – Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is as much of a party city in winter as it is in summer, the only difference is the temperature, which in winter can drop down to some pretty harrowing lows. One of the best places to warm up is Ada Ciganlija – an island on the river/lake Sava. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting a swim! Wonderful wooden shack-like café bars line the edge of one side of Sava Lake where you can slurp down steaming bowls of soup or something a little stronger.
There are two things Ada Ciganlija Island does well: warmth and hot chocolate. Roaring fires crackle in great pits that lie at the centre of the room while the cosy seats come with blankets to wrap up in. The hot chocolate, meanwhile, is nothing short of sinful. It’s more or less melted chocolate in a cup and a spool to eat it with. There’s an open-air skating rink close by so you can burn it all off later. Find flights to Belgrade
7. Cafe Hawelka – Vienna, Austria
Cake, coffee and cream make a delightful winter combination especially in the dazzling city of Vienna with its elegant architecture festooned in fairy lights and the coffee houses it’s so famous for. In an unassuming street under a modest sign is one of the best in Vienna; Café Hawelka. An oasis of cosiness and warmth with its faded leather banquettes and wood panelling, books have been written about this café that has been frequented by writers and artists from all over Europe.
The interior was designed by renowned architect Adolf Loos and has remained untouched for generations. Still owned by the Hawelka family, their home baking is legendary, particularly the famous Sacher torte. A coffee here will warm even the hardest to reach of cockles. Find flights to Vienna.
8. Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik, Iceland
There is no better place for snow lovers than this, the most northerly capital in the world. After a day of skiing, husky sledding or building snowmen in air so fresh and cold it could cut glass, something is needed to bring back the feeling back to your body parts. You could hit the vodka bars which would certainly warm you up, or even dance the night away in a cool Reykjavik club but by far the best way to get toasty is a visit to the Blue Lagoon.
Mesmerising milky blue geothermal seawater steams soothingly away, tempting even the most terrified to get their kit off in the snow and jump in. At 39C, this is a hot bath like no other, with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and volcanic landscapes and maybe even the Northern Lights if you’re lucky. Find flights to Reykjavik