When the weather outside is frightful, these hideaways are the most delightful.
Nothing beats nuzzling up in the warm and welcoming arms of your favourite pub on a frosty day. Pint in hand, traditional food in your tum, crackling fire at your feet and comfy chair under your butt – is there any finer way to spend the long, dark evenings? We think not, and there are plenty of pubs in Leeds that’ll help you banish those winter blues. From city centre sanctums to rural refuges, your next cosy corner is never too far away.
1. The Reliance
It’s not just the excellent booze, warm wooden decor and top notch Sunday roasts that make The Reliance one of the cosiest pubs in Leeds. An independent through-and-through, this pub-slash-dining room has a killer combination of heart and ambition.
It’s a smorgasbord of loveliness. Passionate staff, mouthwatering meals, locally sourced beers and wines you won’t find anywhere else all combine to help you forget about biting Blighty and give your soul a serious dose of sunshine instead. They even cure their own charcuterie meats in-house. Hole up next to one of the floor-to-ceiling windows, craft pint in hand, and watch the wintry world go by.
The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
2. Whitelock’s Ale House
When it’s blowing a hooley outside, Whitelock’s is just the city centre shelter you need. Dive down the little alley round the back of Trinity and step into the warm interior of one of the oldest public houses in Leeds. With over 300 years of history behind it, you won’t regret the diversion.
The decor is pure old school charm, all antique stained glass and original tiles, but don’t be fooled. The giant ale list is bang up to date, there are cocktails for the liquor-lovers and the classic pub grub has a few modern twists. Pull up a pew by the original log fire and tuck into black pudding scotch duck eggs and ale-glazed halloumi burgers while you get the feeling back in your toes.
Whitelock’s Ale House, Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
3. Crowd of Favours
In need of a pick-me-up to tackle your miserable day? Crowd of Favours is your new happy place. This delightful city pub is crammed with character and a favourite for beer guzzlers. But there’s plenty more to put a smile on your face, especially when the weather takes a turn.
A seasonal menu of crowd pleasers like Swaledale sausage with mash invite you to stop for a meal, but what really sets this spot apart is their genuine hospitality. It’s the sort of place where you’ll find stockings over the fireplace at Christmas (nab one of the adjacent vintage armchairs for extra smug-factor), steaming mulled wine in winter and regular live music, comedy and film screenings too. It’s chilling, without the chill. Perfect.
Crowd of Favours, Harper Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EA.
4. The Lamb & Flag
Ask a bunch of locals for their favourite pubs in Leeds and you’ll likely hear The Lamb & Flag crop up a few times. The 19th-century tavern is a treasure whatever the weather, but really comes into its own in winter. A warren of cosy little nooks, you can settle down for the day surrounded by exposed beams, hanging lights and quirky artwork.
Delve into a seasonal menu of treats like braised belly of pork with crispy crackling or Yorkshire Dales steak burger, then while away the hours with a novel from one of the many bookcases. It’s a little like holing up on a cold day in your best mate’s house. Except this mate is a culinary genius and has locally-brewed beer on tap.
The Lamb & Flag, 1 Church Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HD.
5. The Adelphi
On the hunt for a ye olde Victorian tavern? When the temperature drops, The Adelphi has all the cosy period charm you need. This Grade II-listed stunner has been recently updated, but we’re glad to report it remains as inviting as ever. Wood panelled bar? Check. Ornate frosted glasswork? Check. Original tiled fireplaces and tempting little snugs where you can chew the fat with friends over a classic roast? Check and check again!
While the decor pays homage to the pub’s past, drinks have well and truly been brought into the 21st century. Expect your fill of craft beers on tap, gin cocktails and even an unusual orange wine alongside the usual reds and whites. Just what you need to take the edge off.
The Adelphi, 3-5 Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.
6. The Rockingham Arms
Escape from the chill at The Rockingham Arms in Tadcaster, an ivy-smothered pub packed with wood burners, battered Chesterfield sofas and a welcome so warm you feel toasty the moment you’re through the door. The decor may be rustic but the food is decidedly contemporary, with pub classics given a sprinkle of haute cuisine.
Daily changing pastas, confit duck leg, hearty fish pies all arrive looking almost (but not quite!) too good to eat. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to round off your visit to ‘The Rock’ with the ultimate winter warmer – sticky toffee pudding slathered in piping hot butterscotch sauce. Yum.
The Rockingham Arms, Main Street, Towton, Tadcaster, West Yorkshire, LS24 9PB.
7. The Queen o’ t’ Owd Thatch
What a name, what a welcome, what a pub. As you may guess from the name, The Queen o’ t’ Owd Thatch is old school Yorkshire to its core. The service is second to none, the passion is palpable, the drinks list is mahoosive (loads of cocktails, wines and spirits as well as beer) and the food is as good as you’ll find in any pub in Leeds.
With a chef and a gardener at the helm of this South Milford treasure, it should come as no surprise that their locally-sourced, gargantuan Sunday roasts are the real showstoppers. They’ve even won awards. Whether you fancy the beef rump, lamb shoulder, turkey breast or veggie haggis, everything comes with giant Yorkshires and pools of luscious gravy. Hole up for a few hours this winter and experience it for yourself.
The Queen o’ t’ Owd Thatch, 101 High Street, South Milford, West Yorkshire, LS25 5AQ.
8. The Chemic Tavern
The Chemic Tavern in Woodhouse may not look like much from the outside, but inside this lovely old boozer is thrumming with community spirit – the sort of place where you can step in off the chilly street and warm up with an Irish music session or ukulele singalong.
Music is big biz here, and in between all the live acts and foot stamping there’s a decent choice of dark, amber and pale ales. Plus a few nips of whiskey for when you really need to combat the cold. Low ceilings, mahogany carpets and dark woods as far as the eye can see, it looks like little has changed in the last 170 years, and that’s precisely why we love it so.
The Chemic Tavern, 9 Johnston Street, Woodhouse, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2NG.
9. The Mustard Pot
In the heart of Chapel Allerton, a cosy hidey-hole awaits. The Mustard Pot isn’t exactly small, but the meandering, rustic-chic layout means there’s always a comfy little cranny where you can put your feet up and forget about the world outside.
Spend a happy day chomping on roast beef butties, cider-steamed mussels and curried lentil pies. Only popping in for a quickie? Their annual winter teepee is a real wonderland, complete with sizzling fire pit, fairy lights and hanging garlands. Where better to huddle up under a blanket and delve into a loaded hot chocolate or glass of bubbly? Nowhere, that’s where. Enjoy.
The Mustard Pot, 20 Stainbeck Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3QY.
10. Kirkstall Bridge Inn
Kirkstall Bridge Inn is a surefire winner when it comes to choosing a cosy pub in Leeds. It has the the unspoken trifecta of a first-rate hideaway – riverside location, country inn ambience and fresh-as-you-like beers straight from the brewery. This is Kirkstall Brewery’s flagship pub, so you can put the warmth back into your belly with a mouthwatering range of pale ales, stouts, porters, pilsners and more.
As if that doesn’t toast your tum enough, there’s delicious home cooked food too. Proper Sunday roasts (complete with Yorkshire puds the size of your head), an array of pizzas (which can be made gluten-free and vegan on request) and build-your-own charcuterie boards. Just what the doctor ordered.
Kirkstall Bridge Inn, 12 Bridge Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3BW.
An intimate drinking den that takes ‘comfort food’ to the next level, Wapentake is all about God’s Own Country. From the name (which is a nod to Yorkshire’s old subdivisions) to the oh-so-scrumptious menus and the unpretentious atmosphere, Yorkshire’s best is put front and centre.
Nestle up in one of the many cosy spaces and work your way through drool-worthy dishes like fish finger sarnies, bacon butties, yorkies with gravy and a whole range of roasts every Sunday. To wash it down? There’s eight local cask and keg lines championing local breweries, a whole shelf of Yorkshire gins and, of course, Yorkshire gold tea. What else?
Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
12. The Brunswick
Boasting just as much cool as cosy, The Brunswick is a gem of a pub. In fact, with its trendy exterior, industrial decor, stripped back seating and floor-to-ceiling windows, you might argue it’s actually a bar. But the ground floor is a must for beer aficionados, a bustling home full of keg, cask, can and bottled beers that change daily.
Sample their best while rubbing shoulders with a welcoming crowd of locals, then sink your teeth into utterly irresistible comfort grub like burgers, roasts and some of the crispiest fried chicken around. Great beer? Sunday roasts? Homely atmosphere? Sounds like a cracking pub to us.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Mabgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
13. The Timble Inn
After a bracing winter walk around the Swinsty or Fewston Reservoirs, there’s one bolt hole you won’t want to miss. It’s The Timble Inn, an 18th-century coaching inn where even the name sounds cosy. And its Grade II-listed features don’t disappoint.
Among the roaring fireplaces, low beams and twinkling fairylights, you can tuck into exquisite dishes like fillet of beef with braised ox tongue, roasted stone bass with cauliflower puree and all the indulgent puds your frost-bitten body is crying out for. Pecan pie with clotted ice cream? God, yes. They’ve managed to pack a whole lot of yum into a snug little space – don’t miss it.
The Timble Inn, North Lane, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 2NN.
14. The Cow and Calf
Imagine the quintessential country pub, and you’ve probably conjured up The Cow and Calf in Ilkley. This spot is the ultimate post-perambulation-pint-pitstop (try saying that after a Doom Bar or two) and never fails to make you feel snug as a bug after a nippy walk over the moors.
The location can’t be beaten, but the interior gives you the warm and fuzzies too. Roaring fireplaces, cosy rugs, local art on the walls – it’s pure gastropub chic. Top tip, try and grab a table by the window, where you can enjoy a dish from the impressively varied food menu (the lobster fishcakes are divine) and watch the changing colours of the frosty moors out the window.
The Cow and Calf, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 8BT.
15. The Chequers Inn
Head out east for a pub in Leeds that’s straight out of a Dickensian novel. The Chequers Inn sits in the pretty village of Ledsham, an ivy-clad stunner where the warm glow in the windows is impossible to resist on a winter’s day. And why would you resist?
Boot-friendly, dog-friendly and just downright friendly, there’s no finer place to settle down next to one of the open fires, sip through regional ales and soak in over 470 years of boozy history. The network of small rooms, arranged around the central bar and strewn with interesting knick knacks, mean you can feel the glow on even the chilliest of days.
The Chequers Inn, South Milford, Park Lane, South Milford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 5LP.
16. The Windmill
Already completely charming from the outside, this 460-year-old picture-perfect pub is as traditional as they come. The Windmill is a classic beauty, the original stone exterior leading into an intimate, low-beamed bar area that manages to remain toasty even when it’s pure brass monkeys outside.
Defrost with a drink in hand by one of the three (yes, three!) open fires, then wind your way through the crowds to the dining area out back, where a vast menu of pub favourites awaits. This is one to keep in your back pocket for summer too – the beer garden out back is immense.
The Windmill, Main Street, Linton, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS22 4HT.
17. The Roundhay Fox
After a crisp wintry walk around Roundhay Park, The Roundhay Fox is your shining beacon of light. Step inside the sprawling gastropub and shake off the icicles among the exposed brick walls, cheerful tartan furnishings and quirky portraits.
Whether it’s thawing out in front of the log burner after the famous fireworks, getting into the festive spirit with one of the 13 gins on offer, or warning off the winter cold with a traditional beef, lamb, pork, turkey or veggie roast, The Roundhay Fox delivers. Located on the edge of Roundhay Park, it has all the charm of a countryside boozer but the postcode of a city sanctuary. Win-win.
The Roundhay Fox, Princes Avenue, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2EP.
18. The Bingley Arms
A number of pubs lay claim to the title of ‘oldest in Britain’, but the Guinness Book of World Records gives the crown to The Bingley Arms and who are we to disagree? Dating back over 1,000 years to a time before central heating, thermal underwear and hot water bottles, you can be confident this is one pub in Leeds that knows how to get its snug on.
Yes you’ll find the obligatory crackling fireplaces and beams overhead. But it has a few surprising nuggets too, like priest holes hidden in the chimney, a Dutch oven in the lounge and curios scattered all over the walls. It’s a fascinating find, cosy as you like, and the hot buttered scones are just the icing on the cake.
The Bingley Arms, Church Lane, Bardsey, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 9DR.
19. The Fox at Menston
The perfect blend of cosy and luxury, The Fox at Menston is an impressive sight. Deep sofas and feature lights mix seamlessly alongside the original brickwork and open fires. But while the decor has been given a thoroughly modern makeover, food-wise The Fox serves up all your time honoured favourites, just with a jot of added flair.
The king prawn linguine and maple-slicked pork belly with scallops are particular standouts. And before you brave the outdoors once more, there’s a final treat up their sleeve. It’s the rum baba dessert, a triumph of delicate sponge, Kirsch-soaked cherries and whipped cream all laced with lashings of rum – it’s sure to give your gut a serious glow.
The Fox at Menston, 129 Bradford Road, Menston, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 6EB.Cover image credit: Lamb and Flag