The UK's cosiest pubs

The UK's cosiest pubs

In this article, you'll learn the following:

As Brits, we all love to find comfort in a warm English pub during the long winter months. Whether it’s the crackling fire, hearty Sunday roast, or charming décor, the British pub holds an unmatched appeal. The UK has the highest number of pubs in the world, with England alone boasting over a staggering 39,000 pubs!¹

If you're seeking the warmth and comfort of pubs during the chilly weather, then read on. South Western Railway has conducted a thorough analysis and curated a list of the cosiest pubs to visit in the UK and South West.

We analysed some of the cosiest establishments in the UK and scored each out of 100. The pubs were calculated by analysing sentiment around reviews read for each pub. The pubs were scored for atmosphere, business, cosiness and Sunday dinners.

The top 10 cosiest pubs in the South West

Map of the UKs cosiest pubs

1. The Swan, Cheltenham

The Swan scored so well that it features again as the cosiest pub in the South West. Situated in the heart of the spa town of Cheltenham, this traditional pub offers not only a warm atmosphere but also convenient access to various activities in the vicinity like The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum, Pittville Park and other local attractions.

How to get there: The closest major train station is Cheltenham Spa. From there, it’s a 17-minute bus journey (D) to Clarence Street, followed by a 7-minute walk to the pub.

2. The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

The oldest pub in Salisbury, The Haunch of Venison, features again as one of the cosiest pubs in the South West. With a heritage spanning nearly 700 years, it’s a must-visit for pub lovers and history buffs alike.

How to get there: The closest train station is Salisbury. It’s a 12-minute walk to the pub from there.

3. The Warren House Inn, Devon

Achieving third place is The Warren House Inn, a standalone pub located 434 metres above sea level on Dartmoor. The free house dates back to the 19th century and was originally built to serve the local mining community. Now owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views over Dartmoor and a very warm welcome by the roaring fire, which is said to have been burning continuously since 1845.

How to get there: The closest major train station is Exeter St David’s.There’s a daily bus service from Exeter to Okehampton (via Chagford) on the Stagecoach 6A bus. Get off at Chagford, and it’s a 15-minute taxi journey to the pub.

4. The Compasses Inn, Wiltshire

The Compasses Inn is a gorgeous 14th-century pub tucked away in the rolling hills of Chicksgrove, Wiltshire. The pub is dog-friendly and offers accommodation, an ideal retreat for those seeking a peaceful stop after a day filled with exploration amidst the beautiful surrounding walks. The separate 'Plum Cottage' is also available for guests looking for a self-catering break. 

How to get there: The nearest train station is Tisbury. From there, take a 9-minute taxi journey to the pub.

5. The Wykeham Arms, Winchester

Wrapping up the list of the top five cosiest pubs in the South West is The Wykeham Arms in Winchester. Nestled between the Cathedral and the 14th-century college, this opulent country pub is enveloped in rich historical surroundings. The 18th-century pub is filled with quirky bric-a-brac, including old school desks, hats, flags and prints, and also features 14 cosy bedrooms in keeping with the pub’s historical origins.

How to get there: The nearest train station is Winchester. From there, take the number 66 bus to Winchester bus station, where it is a 7-minute walk. Alternatively, walk from the station, which takes 17 minutes.

The top 10 cosiest pubs in the UK

Map of the UK's cosiest pubs

1. The Royal Standard of England, Beaconsfield

Clinching the top position as the UK’s cosiest pub is The Royal Standard of England, based in Beaconsfield. Having opened its doors over 900 years ago, visitors can anticipate a dining experience steeped in history, as the pub proudly holds the title of the oldest pub in England. From the medieval tiled flooring to the warming smells of wood smoke, this pub places cosiness at its core, rightfully earning an overall score of 99. The Royal Standard is also a dog-friendly pub, so feel free to bring your four-legged friend.

2. The Swan, Cheltenham

In second place is Cheltenham’s The Swan. The interior has a cosy and lavish feel, adorned with wooden tones, brass finishes and smooth leather. The independent free house also serves authentic Indian dishes and delectable roasts on Sundays. Notably, it received the highest percentage of excellent Sunday dinner reviews in the rankings, at 14%. The hearty and warming dishes served here undeniably represent a cosy British staple.

How to get there: The closest major train station is Cheltenham Spa, where you can take a 17-minute bus journey (D) to Clarence Street, followed by a 7-minute walk to the pub.

3. The Ring O’Bells, Compton Martin

The Ring O’Bells in Compton Martin takes third place with an overall score of 80. Nestled in the heart of Somerset, this traditional village pub exudes charm, boasting a history that traces back to the 16th century. The interior encompasses all the classic elements of a traditional British pub, featuring dark wooden beams, wooden flooring, stone walls, and a large inglenook fireplace. The pub goes a step further by offering two dog-friendly and family-friendly bedrooms with picturesque countryside views, making it an ideal stopover for those passing through or seeking respite after a busy day of exploring.

4. The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

In fourth place is The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury, after achieving an overall score of 78. The first record of this medieval pub traces back to circa 1320, and its unique panelled bar counter boasts a rare pewter top, one of only six in the country. Downstairs features a cosy pub area whilst upstairs transforms into a restaurant. Throughout the venue, oak beams, antique furniture, and wood-panelled walls create character and charm.

How to get there: The closest major train station is Salisbury. It’s a 12-minute walk to the pub from there.

5. The Tobie Norris, Stamford

Rounding off the top five pubs is The Tobie Norris, situated in Stamford. Nestled within a historic building dating back to the 13th century, this pub in Stamford stands as a lovingly restored gem, seamlessly blending quirky elements with traditional charm. The pub offers an extensive stone-baked pizza menu alongside a delicious range of mains. Spread across two floors, the establishment houses seven dining rooms, which have been restored to their former glory.

Most dog-friendly and most roast reviews

1. The Dog and Gun, Keswick

Earning the title of the most dog-friendly pub, The Dog and Gun is a classic Lake District establishment. Positioned on the outskirts of Keswick's town centre, it's a short stroll from Derwent Water.

This popular pub caters to dogs with a dedicated menu offering a variety of doggy treats and chews at affordable prices. Meanwhile, owners can enjoy the local Lakeland ales and delicious homemade dishes. Housed in a Grade II listed building, the pub boasts panelled doors, low ceiling beams, and ancient wooden benches, cultivating a rustic and homely ambience.

2. The Swan, Cheltenham

For an excellent Sunday roast experience, head to The Swan in Cheltenham. This independent pub presents an extensive menu of delectable roasts every Sunday, featuring options such as beef, chicken, and vegetarian dinners accompanied by seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Positioned near the Cotswold Way, this pub is an ideal spot for those looking to complement their Sunday lunch with a refreshing countryside stroll.

Sunday roast prices start from £12.95.

If you're feeling inspired for a relaxing pub outing, explore the best waterside pubs in the South West. Alternatively, if you’re planning for sunnier days, discover the best beer gardens in London.

Save on travel expenses by booking train tickets ahead of time and use GroupSave for up to 34% off tickets when travelling with family and friends.

Methodology and sources

Natural Language Processing and Key Word Algorithms were used to analyse thousands of Google reviews across a seed list of 200 of the most historic and picturesque pubs across the UK.

The data metrics were calculated by counting sentiment as a percentage of total reviews per pub, streamlining the process with Python scripts. Using a scoring system, we quantified the 'cosiness' factor, resulting in a ranked list of the top 100 pubs based on these scores.

The Ambience rating was calculated by analysing sentiment around how reviewers are using the words ‘authentic’, ‘atmosphere’, ‘décor’ and ‘rustic’ to describe their experience.

The Quietness rating was created by analysing the word ‘busy’ or ‘crowded’ in reviews, creating a percentage based on a total number of reviews read and then inverting that percentage.

The Comfort rating was created through analysis of the phrase ‘cosy’ used in reviews as well as sentiment around ‘fireplaces’ and whether the pub is ‘dog friendly.’

The Sunday Dinner metric was calculated by analysing the count of Sunday Dinner/Lunch mentioned in the review text.

The above factors were ranked 25/25/25/25, respectively, to produce a final weighted rank, ‘Cosiness Score’, out of 100.

Note: No. of Google Reviews may differ due to the scripts used.


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