6 of the best winter bars
by Deborah James
Let's face it – the best bit of a skiing holiday is the edible off piste activities. Avoid avalanches, broken arms and slope rage; instead enjoy hot chocolates, gooey cheese fondues and warming boozy beverages, all from the comfort of our six favourite London based alfresco terraces. Salopettes not needed.
Best for... feeling Christmassy
The Gun, Docklands
27 Coldharbour, London E14 9NS
At this alfresco ski lodge-styled bar sponsored by Jägermeister it's probably just as well you don't have the option of toddling off down a black run after a visit. There's a multitude of cocktails, beers, hearty food bowl options and even the occasional carol singer to get you in the festive swing whilst staying safely off piste.
Best for... ice skating
Fortnum's Lodge, at Somerset House
Somerset House Trust, West Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Are you being forced to ice skate at Somerset House this year by over-enthusiastic colleagues? Fear not. Discover an old ankle injury that's 'flaring up' on arrival and disappear instead into this very swanky Fortnum & Mason après bar. Watch Dave from accounts shuffling around the rink in terror, whilst enjoying lobster burgers, mulled cider and Swiss-style cheese fondue.
Best for... CHEESE-aholics
Le Pont de la Tour
Butlers Wharf Buildings, 36 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE
This fine French restaurant has an outdoor fondue terrace bar AKA cheese heaven. Make yourself comfy under faux fur throws before getting stuck into some savoyarde – a fondue melted mix of gruyere, tomme de savoie and beaufort cheeses with white wine – and raclette served on parmentier potatoes with bacon lardons.
Ooh. La. La.
Best for... pretending to be a Nordic warrior
Valhalla Vodka Bar at the Skylounge
7 Pepys St, London EC3N 4AF
Vodka. Meat. Meat. And more meat. Vegans be warned, this outdoor terrace is a mecca for the hunter gatherer. Wholeheartedly embracing the Viking way of life – but with less pillaging and more cocktails – customers can keep warm under animals skins whilst chewing on Scandi style hunks of yes, you've guessed it, meat.
Best for... being outdoors but indoors
9 Hildreth Street, Balham, SW12 9RQ
A beautiful pop up restaurant designed like a cosy authentic alpine mountain retreat. We tried the Artisan cheese fondue, which came with bread for dipping, potatoes and green salad (£16 each) and the charcuterie selection (£12 for two), which was far more than we could eat between two (if you opt for a starter, make sure you leave room!) it's a great option for a novelty night out with a group of friends – share a flask of Andean mulled wine (£18) to wash down all of that cheesy goodness.
Best for... getting a ski holiday vibe
No.1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ
Finish work in the city and then head straight off on your ski holiday. Well, kind of. Catch the tube to this fancy restaurant and its beautiful heated outdoor terrace complete with vintage ski props, luxurious fur blankets and even some, erm, tiny polar bears will make you feel like you're in a traditional French chalet. The indulgent tartiflette, fondue and warm cocktails all help with the alpine vibe too.