Afraid as we are to say it, winter has arrived in London. But as the grey nights give us plenty more evening to enjoy ourselves, we’ve decided to focus on getting cosy. Some of us here at Hg2 are avid skiers – others…not so much. But there is one aspect of winter sport we can all agree on, and that’s apres ski. Gathering around a roaring fire with a steaming cup of mulled wine while the snow falls gently outside…yes, please!
So even if you haven’t planned any ski holidays from the UK this winter – if you do, we recommend heading somewhere like Courchevel or Chamonix – you can still enjoy the apres ski life at these cosy winter bars in London.
Newly opened in the basement space at already-cosy Archer Street is the ski-themed Piste. All kitted out in retro Swiss ski styling, actual wooden skis and old snowshoes don the walls at Piste, while banquettes and tables are done up in comfy woollen fabrics, faux animal skins and of course with plenty of candles to finish off the atmosphere. From the bar you can get traditional tipples plus several special cocktails with a wintry bent: think apricot and cinnamon Bellinis. Oh, and an in-house box of lederhosen, goggles and ski boots is available in case you really want to get into the ski spirit.
Another new kid in town, Bodos Schloss has turned traditional Austrian mountain life into a massive party where DJs meet lederhosen. From 5pm, they’re serving a menu of Austrian favourites – Weiner schnitzel, pretzels, dumplings and charcuterie boards with Alpine cheeses. Later in the evening, the DJ booth (which is an actual ski gondola, by the way) gets going and the place transforms into a mountain party hotspot.
The Montague Ski Lodge
Returning for its sophomore year, the pop up ‘Ski Lodge’ at the Montague at the Gardens has transformed the hotel’s back deck into an Alpine style cabin replete with pine trees, fairy lights and ski racks. The traditional winter warmer here is vodka – that’ll warm your cockles! – done up in festive cocktail flavours like candy cane, toffee, spiced apple and Turkish delight. Other hot drinks will include Winter Pimm’s, hot chocolate and mulled wine, and a small menu of Alpine-style bits is available – think bratwurst, turkey burgers and cheese and leek muffins. The Montague Ski Lodge has also thankfully extended its opening this year until February 4th.
Freeze by Elit at Harvey Nichols
The Stoli Terrace on the fifth floor at Harvey Nichols has been transformed into a winter-themed pop-up, complete with pine vistas of snow-capped peaks. The cocktail menu is understandably heavy on Stolichnaya vodka, but done with some pretty nice twists; for example, the Jalabarbinger, made of Stoli Hot vodka, pressed lemon, Harvey Nichols London honey, rhubarb liqueur and fresh ginger. There’s also an 8-seat log cabin that can be booked for groups.
The people who over the summer brought us the successful rooftop pizza supperclub pop-up Forza Win have evolved their offering for winter by covering their (rather changing) East London rooftop and serving an unusual Northern Italian version of fondue called fonduta. Ticket prices include a 3-course meal including fonduta, a hot arrival tipple and live entertainment. Their full bar does plenty of other winter warmer cocktails like mulled wine and cider and there are plenty of standing heaters to keep the space cosy. Above photo by DanielRM.
Leave it to Shoreditch to do something a little different. The Queen of Hoxton has transformed its rather spacious rooftop into a wintery, hipstery teepee (‘wigwam’ is a broader term for a domed dwelling used by Native Americans). Plenty of cosy, floor-level seating surrounds an open fire pit (where you can roast marshmallows) and offerings include spiked hot chocolate, warm cocktails and hearty winter BBQ.
Boisdale on Ice
There are a lot of ice rinks open in London this year, but the Canary Wharf rink is the only one that has a “skate path” that leads skaters under trees and fairy lights. Overlooking the skate path is the pop-up Boisdale bar and partner Wright Brothers Oyster Shack, so even if you don’t want to get your skates on, you can still partake in the winter wonderland over a cup of something warm and a few fresh bites.
The Elk Winter Wonderland
Another summer pop-up transforming for the winter months is the Big Smoke BBQ at The Elk in Fulham, which has transformed into ‘Winter Wonderland’. The lovely large back garden space has been strung up with fairy lights, snowflakes, icicles and glowing reindeer for a kitschy, cheerful mood. The Elk’s Big Smoke BBQ smoker is still going, but now with a wintery bent (think smoked sausages with sage and onion relish and cranberry mayo) and lots of warm holiday drinksies to wrap up with.
The EDGE Cafebar
If you actually do want to get your skis on (or someone in your party does), the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead is an indoor practice slope made of real snow. Two bars offer views of the slope and cocktails, hot drinks and winter warmers and Hemel Hempstead is accessible by train from London Euston.