Kent’s Cosiest Winter Pubs
Pubs are something we do extremely well in Kent. No matter which area you live in, or are visiting you are sure to find a cosy winter pub with a roaring log fire, beamed ceiling, wood-panelled walls and perhaps even some of our native hops finishing things off perfectly. Here are some of the cosiest of those cosy pubs to enjoy as winter truly sets in.
The Pullman // Folkestone
The Pullman is the kind of pub you imagine when you think of somewhere warming and welcoming, complete with a roaring open fire to top things off. For comfort and that special feeling of serenity that only comes when you find your ideal space, The Pullman is the place to be. The food here is excellent, as is the atmosphere, and head chef, Robert Clements aims to use only the most local and fresh produce he can. Everything is cooked to order and the specials board changes weekly, so make sure you take a good look at it every time you go inside.
The Three Chimneys // Biddenden
The Three Chimneys is one of those idyllic country pubs that’s like a magnet for those who are seeking somewhere peaceful to have some time to themselves, or some quality time with loved ones. With dark oak beams, a large open fireplace, and aged hops hanging from the ceiling, this pub has much more history than you might imagine. It looks the part and it feels the part too, and you will always be welcome to come through the door out of the cold and into the heart of this most Kentish of Wealden villages. Surrounded by stunning scenery, The Three Chimneys dates back to the Seven Years War (1756 to 1763), when French prisoners who were kept at nearby Sissinghurst Castle were allowed out every now and then – but only as far as the local pub!
The Sun Inn // Faversham
The Sun Inn has been around for many centuries; since the 14th century, in fact. Step inside and you’ll find a range of gorgeous original features including dark wooden beams, a lovely courtyard, and of course the impressive inglenook fireplace. Not only can you eat delicious food and select your favourite tipple from a large choice of drinks – including a number of different real ales for the aficionados among you – you can even stay the night in one of the 12 lovely rooms. Although the pub itself doesn’t serve breakfast, the attached coffee shop next door certainly does.
The George and Dragon // Speldhurst
Perhaps one of the oldest cosy Kentish pubs on our list, The George and Dragon at Speldhurst dates back to the 13th century. As well as the requisite crackling and cracking open log fires and fine examples of how things used to be built (the gorgeous oak beams are a prime reminder of the way things were), The George and Dragon is all about community. No wonder it is so loved by everyone who steps foot within its ancient walls. The ingredients for the wonderful concoctions served up here come from Kent wherever possible, and sometimes from nearby Sussex (the Ashdown Forest, to be precise) – as long as it is produced within a 30-mile radius, it is considered to be part of this great pub’s fine offerings, but it really does have to be excellent to make the grade. This is where you can order a pint of Larkin’s bitter, which is only made three miles from Speldhurst, and a good pie, and settle in for the night. Or, if you want something a little more decadent, why not try the local Kentish lobster?
The Chafford Arms // Fordcombe
In the picturesque village of Fordcombe, found between Tunbridge Wells and Penshurst, you will find the most delightful of village pubs – The Chafford Arms. The food served here is wonderful and honest, and diners ale consistently impressed with the range and flavour of what’s on offer. Everything except the ice cream is made in the pub’s own kitchen, thanks to the skilled hands and clever minds of the kitchen staff. The whole family is welcome to enjoy the many wood burning stoves at The Chafford Arms, including dogs who love to lie by those fires and warm up.
The Wheatsheaf // Bough Beech
The Wheatsheaf in Bough Beech near Edenbridge is a Grade II listed building, and an impressive one at that. The owners try to stay as true to its original heritage as possible, which means that the pub remains as hospitable and charming as it ever was – with a dash of real Kentish atmosphere and cosy fixtures and fittings thrown in. The Wheatsheaf offers comfort, great dining and a good choice of drinks. Look out for the ‘graffiti’ stating ‘1607 Foxy Holanby’ (possibly a local squire) and take the time to check out the roof timbers, where you’ll spot a rare medieval crown post. Once part of the Hever Castle estate – a hunting lodge, it would seem – there is history in abundance here, and that history even includes a rather famous visitor; none other than Henry VIII himself. Deal with a home winter emergency.
The Griffin’s Head // Chillenden
The Griffin’s Head is an idyllic Kentish country pub and the inglenook fireplaces are certainly testament to that. The pub was originally a farmhouse back in 1286 when it was first built and over time its handy position and welcoming atmosphere have seen it turn into a much-loved tavern, inn and now pub with a menu that everyone will appreciate. There are Kentish ales on offer here too, giving you the full cosy pub experience in one gorgeous place.
The Green Man // Hodsall Street
Hodsall Street is a tiny village near to Meopham, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for with its centrally located pub, The Green Man. This pub is what anyone looking for the quintessential Kentish country pub would imagine and is ideal for stopping off on a wander through the local countryside. Something of a destination pub in recent times, thanks in part to the enormous and tasty menu and the easy, welcoming ambience, The Green Man is lovely at any time of the year and really comes into its own during the winter. With an open fire, low ceilings, beams and friendly staff, it’s a real home-from-home place to be. There is often live music at The Green Man, so you can pop in for a ‘swift half’ and stay for a while.
The Rose and Crown // Pluckley
It’s wonderful to walk into a pub and immediately know what that same pub would have been like many hundreds of years earlier. At The Rose and Crown in Pluckley, this is exactly what happens because so many of the original features – dating from the 1600s – are still there and are as wonderful as they have always been. Those features include atmospheric beams and open fires galore. But, that’s not to say that there are no modern day delights to be had at the pub; the food is fantastic – made to order by the talented chef using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and the range of drinks is all you could ever want including three real ales, one of which comes from the Whitstable Brewery, just two miles away.
The George and Dragon // Sandwich
The George and Dragon in Sandwich was originally built in 1446, and it retains so much of its traditional charm that it is like stepping back in time when you walk through the doors, although subtle modern touches serve to remind you that we are indeed in the 21st century after all. With craft beers and an impressive wine list as well as a lovely menu, this is the kind of pub where you can sit and while away the hours in complete comfort.
The Peacock Inn // Goudhurst
The log burning stove at The Peacock Inn, Goudhurst is a centrepiece and somewhere that people love to congregate, drink in hand, to relax, unwind, chat, and otherwise enjoy themselves. It’s a beauty of a bar and somewhere that locals and passing visitors all feel instantly welcome in.
The Compasses Inn // Crundale
The wonderful open fire at The Compasses Inn is huge, and it manages – despite being slightly tucked around a corner – to warm the entire bar and restaurant area. You feel, as you walk through the door, as though this is truly the place to be, thanks to the smell of great food, and the cosy atmosphere in winter. Crundale itself is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, so that adds to the loveliness of the place, but it is the pub itself that offers the most charming and relaxing of experiences. And to make things even more interesting, some of the fruits and vegetables used in creating the mouthwatering dishes on the menu actually come from the pub’s own garden.
The Woolpack Inn // Romney Marsh
The Woolpack in is over 600 years old and was once a place popular with smugglers. There is a huge amount of history here and all of it fascinating – and utterly Kentish. Today, you can see beautiful old beams covered with hops, a quarry-tiled bar and an attention-grabbing inglenook fireplace. A favourite with walkers, The Woolpack Inn is the ideal spot to refuel. Everything is locally produced and seasonal, and with a menu that includes homemade chilli con carne, steak and ale pie and the traditional mixed grill, you just can’t go wrong.
The Milk House // Sissinghurst
Sissinghurst is such a beautiful part of Kent that any pub located there would have its fair share of visitors. But the fact that The Milk House is traditional, comforting and a real hub of the local community makes it all that much more special. This building was once a 16th-century Tudor hall and the owners don’t want that fact hidden – there are gorgeous wooden beams that exude history and a large open fireplace that one can’t help but want to sit by when it is roaring away during the winter. Local wines are a big feature of the menu and there is a wide range of food to choose from including items from a grazing menu if you only want something light to nibble on.
The Lion // Farningham
Ever since the 16th century when it first opened, the Lion has been Farningham’s favourite go to place for a good drink and some truly wonderful and cosy fireside chats. This was where all the most important village meetings took place, and today it is just as welcoming and just as impressive. This is a traditional country pub and the evidence is there for all to see in the large fireplaces, the beams, the wood panelling and the casks that sit behind the bar.
The Little Brown Jug // Chiddingstone
A proper country pub on a proper country lane is always something of a joy, and The Little Brown Jug situated near to Penshurst in the Kentish Weald is exactly that. If you have been out for the day visiting Hever Castle, Penshurst Place, or Chiddingstone Castle, The Little Brown Jug is the perfect place to rest your tired feet and sit for a spell. The pub is bigger than it seems from the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cosy – it definitely is, thanks to the lighting, the intimate corner seating, shelves filled with books, old pictures on the walls and of course the traditional roaring open log fires. Enjoy filling food in the restaurant or, for the hardier visitor, try one of the three heated huts out in the garden.
The Beau Nash Tavern // Tunbridge Wells
Although The Beau Nash Tavern is just a short walk from the centre of Tunbridge Wells, once you step through the door it feels very much like a country pub should. The fire, wood-panelled walls, church pew seating and friendly atmosphere all make The Beau Nash feel comfortable and welcoming, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a great meal and a couple of drinks in cosy surroundings. Not only can you sit in peace and quiet and enjoy time to yourself or with friends, but there are special events taking place here on a regular basis including live music, open mic nights and quiz nights.
The Kings Head // Wye
The Kings Head in Wye is the epitome of relaxation. Whether you choose to stay the night in one of its lovely rooms, pick a table in the restaurant to enjoy some of the locally sourced, seasonal food, or you want a spot by the fire to sip a good drink and nibble on some bar snacks, the choice is yours. You can bring your dog too as they are always welcome here. After a long country walk in the crisp winter air, there is nothing better than finding the ideal country pub to warm up in for a few hours, and The Kings Head definitely offers the chance to do that and then some.
The Chequers Inn // Laddingford
A traditional 15th-century inn, The Chequers at Laddingford near Maidstone is a gem in the countryside. If you are interested in history, in particular the history of hop growing and hop picking in Kent, this pub has plenty of fascinating artefacts for you to enjoy. Plus, with those roaring log fires and dark oak beams, you’ll feel right at home. For ale lovers, you should know that The Chequers has been listed in the CAMRA Good Pub Guide, and has even been awarded the Cask Marquee Award for serving quality real ale – it was one of the very first pubs in the area to receive this honour.
The Bricklayers Arms, Chipstead
The Bricklayers Arms can be found in Chipstead, a delightful village just outside of Sevenoaks. It sits on the edge of a lake, and so immediately there is the bonus of beautiful views. Besides that, there is a level of comfort and tranquillity that makes this one of the cosiest pubs in the area. Serving Harvey’s Best Bitter from the barrel , The Bricklayers is a favourite for locals and visitors alike. The name comes from Winston Churchill, who was a master bricklayer and who lived at Chartwell, just a few miles away in Westerham.
Botolphs Bridge Inn // Hythe
There are many good things to say about the Botolphs Bridge Inn – the food is excellent and the décor is traditional and welcoming. The atmosphere is also just what you want when you are looking for a peaceful pint or glass of wine, or of course some quality cask ale, which is something the pub is renowned for. However, one of the most lovely things about this unique place is the fire – it really is a beauty, and it is where you can spend many a comfortable hour warming yourself and feeling right with the world.
Five Bells Inn, East Brabourne
Once upon a time, it was only the most hardy (or most local) people who would venture into the Five Bells Inn – not because it wasn’t welcoming (it’s always been exactly that), but because it is located in a pretty remote location. Today, however, thanks to sat navs and cars that can contend effectively with country lanes, the Five Bells doesn’t have to worry about being forgotten about; it’s found regularly and enjoyed immensely by travellers from near and far. The inn dates from the 16th century when it was the ideal resting place for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, or travellers venturing towards France. It rests neatly on the famous Pilgrims Way and makes the most of its unique and enviable position by being utterly charming and unforgettable. Passersby aren’t often able to resist its open fire and beamed ceilings, especially on a chilly winter’s day.
The Cricketers Inn, Meopham
Since Kentish cricket is said to have originated in Meopham in 1776, it seems only right that this most central of village pubs is named after the sport. The bar’s red ceiling really does bring home the cosiness on a nippy winter’s day. The log fire is slightly raised and that’s a nice touch as it means that no matter where you choose to sit in the bar area, you can still enjoy not only its warmth but its look too.
The Man of Kent // East Peckham
This pub’s very name evokes images of our wonderful county and the atmosphere and interior do not disappoint. The huge inglenook fireplace is impossible to miss and sets the tone for the rest of the décor; there is no mistaking the fact that this pub is one to take your time in.
The Castle Inn, Chiddingstone
The Castle Inn has recently been renovated and has reopened to showcase its traditional charm. The pub’s heritage has been reclaimed, and there is a definite feeling of history when you enter the building. Originally built in the 15th century, here you’ll find locally sourced food, all home cooked and served by the people who know and understand it the best. Chiddingstone itself is mostly owned by the National Trust and to find that this pub has been renovated so sympathetically is a treat indeed. Sit by the fire and learn about the area’s history, you’ll be surprised by the amount of information there is still to know.