The best Edinburgh bars for a warm welcome on a cold day

The Bow Bar, Victoria Street. Pictured Hannah Cooper, bar staff. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
The Bow Bar, Victoria Street. Pictured Hannah Cooper, bar staff. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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From traditional pubs to candle-lit cocktail bars, Edinburgh has plenty of welcoming spots to enjoy a drink when it gets a bit colder outside. Take refuge on a dark night and visit one of these cosy pubs and bars selected by Gillian McDonald to warm yourself up in no time.

The Royal Oak

The Hanging Bat is a cosy, relaxed bar with a modern twist. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Hanging Bat is a cosy, relaxed bar with a modern twist. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Royal Oak is a famous, no-frills pub which is the perfect place to enjoy a pint of real ale or a dram of whisky. As well as comfortable surroundings and a roaring open fire, The Royal Oak is also one of the best folk music pubs in the city with regular live music and folk sessions. Visit: 1 Infirmary Street, royal-oak-folk.com

Under the Stairs

Tucked away in an Old Town basement, twinkling fairy lights will lead you down to the entrance of shabby chic cocktail bar, Under the Stairs. The eclectic decor features comfy retro sofas and plenty of cosy corners to relax in, along with some expertly mixed signature cocktails. Visit: 3A Merchant Street, underthestairs.org

Joseph Pearce’s

Heads & Tales has an atmospheric, speakeasy vibe

Heads & Tales has an atmospheric, speakeasy vibe

Embrace Scandinavian “hygge” and visit relaxed Swedish bar, Joseph Pearce’s, for a perfectly cosy experience. The welcoming, chilled-out bar area feels more like someone’s living room, so you can spend a few hours enjoying drinks or tucking into a smorgasbord platter. Visit: 23 Elm Row, bodabar.com/joseph-pearces

The Jolly Judge

The Jolly Judge, tucked away off the Royal Mile, is just about as traditional as an Edinburgh pub can get. Expect low-beamed ceilings, a roaring log fire, relaxed atmosphere and plenty of real ale, malt whisky and pub grub lunches. A local favourite, and for good reason. Visit: 7 James Court, 493 Lawnmarket, jollyjudge.co.uk

The Hanging Bat

If you’re looking for a relaxed bar with a modern twist, try The Hanging Bat. The bar specialises in craft beer (with an ever-changing selection of 20 draught beers, as well as plenty of bottles), and the rustic exposed brick and wooden decor lends to The Hanging Bat’s cosy feel. Visit: 133 Lothian Road, thehangingbat.com

The Ba’ Bar

Located in the recently refurbished Dunstane House, a boutique hotel in the West End, the stylish and atmospheric Ba’ Bar is inspired by the owners’ Orkney heritage. Grab an armchair by the fire and enjoy the large selection of whisky, with over 70 varieties of rare, vintage and unusual malt whiskies available by the glass. Visit: 4 West Coates

The Granary

Overlooking The Shore, The Granary is a homely pub and restaurant which is ideal for casual, all-day dining and drinking. From a Sunday roast at the weekend to after-work drinks, the friendly atmosphere, rustic decor and comfort food menu all help to make The Granary a charming, cosy spot. Visit: 32-34 Shore, granaryleith.co.uk

The Bow Bar

Traditional pub The Bow Bar is the perfect place for whisky connoisseurs and real ale aficionados to enjoy a drink – and was recently named the best pub in Scotland. Everything here is simple and classic, from the traditional dark wood bar and bench seating to the lunch menu which consists only of pies. Visit: 80 West Bow, thebowbar.co.uk

Heads & Tales

Hidden away underground in the bustling West End, Heads & Tales is a dark, atmospheric bar with a speakeasy vibe. Specialising in gin (with an Edinburgh Gin still right in the heart of the bar), Heads & Tales offers perfect G&T serves and potent cocktails to enjoy from the comfort of a leather Chesterfield armchair. Visit: 1a Rutland Place, headsandtalesbar.com

Hector’s

Stockbridge neighbourhood pub Hector’s is the perfect mix between a buzzing city bar and a friendly village local. There’s real ale and seasonal pub grub, including traditional Sunday roasts, and there’s even a weekly pub quiz to keep you entertained on long, dark evenings. Visit: 47-49 Deanhaugh Street, hectorsstockbridge.co.uk