Winter is a time of creature comforts: cosying up on the couch with a giant bowl of soup, or bundling up in scarves to brave the cold streets. But the ultimate in creature comforts has got to be tucking into a pub meal by a roaring fireplace while your friends order another round at the bar. It’s like staying at home—if your home had a few chefs in the kitchen, a well-stocked bar that isn’t just beer and a half-drunk bottle of vodka, and attractive strangers who could metaphorically start a fire in your pants.
Here are some of Melbourne’s best pubs with fireplaces, for when icy winds and incessant rainfall make you appreciative of the rustic warmth of a well-lit hearth, and you want to hibernate outside of your bedroom for the night.
Marquis of Lorne
The Marquis of Lorne is a classic Fitzroy pub which offers a comforting hidey-hole when the weather is lousy. Freshened up with a refurb in 2014, it retains its old-school charm with hearty pub grub and a roaring open fire in the dining room on the first floor. Taking it back to basics, the menu is full of classic counter meals like crisp, juicy chicken schnitzel and Tabasco-smothered cheeseburgers. You can follow up your main meal with a chocolate brownie sandwich and an interesting red from the impressive wine list. And if you’re worried about not scoring a table close enough to the fire to feel its heat, don’t be—this baby warms up the whole room.
As well as a crackling fire, the Wesley Anne offers mulled wine and a relaxed but hearty menu full of meals that will warm you inside and out. Rumour has it that when it first opened in 2003, Fitzroy and Collingwood’s locals called for a courtesy bus to reduce the pain of the journey to Northcote, but now it’s an institution in its own right. A pub that really comes into its element during the winter months, the candlelit bar at the Wesley Anne glows under the large wrought-iron chandelier while indie bands play in a room equipped with a great wood-burning stove. Commandeer a plump couch and order the slow-cooked lamb shoulder and a tasty cheese platter to share.
The Palace Hotel
Despite its regal-sounding name, the Palace isn’t pretentious or fancy—it’s the type of pub that you instantly wish could be your local. The staff are friendly, the menu deals in both pub fare and pizza, and they offer a cracking all-day Sunday roast. The best seats in the house are right up in the bistro area where you’ll find long cosy banquettes snuggled around a roaring fireplace set into the exposed brick wall. Go on a Thursday, when you can choose between three different house-made pies for just $15, and wash your meal down with a dark beer by Moo Brew or Three Ravens.
The Great Britain Hotel
Hightail it to the first floor at this dark and quirky bar to find one of the finest flickering fireplaces in town. Infamous for its boozy milkshakes and cheap beers, you might be surprised to learn that the GB does a roaring trade in tasty pub food with a British twist. Try the beer-battered flake or the pan-fried teriyaki mushrooms, or treat yourself to a handheld dinner with a double-decker cheeseburger. Snag a seat near the fire for Happy Hour—5pm-7pm every day.
The Last Jar
The Irish know a thing or two about dealing with the cold—after all, it’s the country where for 90% of the year, it fecking rains. Irish-owned and largely staffed too, The Last Jar is the perfect spot to sit by the fire with a freshly pulled pint. The food is authentic, with Guinness-braised cuttlefish and grass-fed scotch fillets served with whisky peppercorn sauce, and the bowls of chips come just as they should—with mayo. On Friday nights, $7 pints of Guinness, Kilkenny or Boag’s Draught are available from 5.30pm-6.30pm, and you can also eradicate the chill in your bones with a whisky or clove-infused ‘hot toddy’.
In the back room of this beloved East Brunswick local, you’ll find an old-fashioned fireplace and a board game collection that practically beseeches you to settle in for the night. Stylish and laidback, it’s not strictly speaking a pub as it doesn’t have its own kitchen, but Sicilian-themed food can be ordered in from neighbouring Bar Idda. There are plenty of warming red wines on offer as well as international craft beers by the bottle and some classic cocktails. Fun fact: the building the Alderman is housed in what was once ‘a kind of hippie squat’, and still channels a sprawling share-house vibe.
The Town Hall Hotel
This slightly dingy but decidedly cool pub on Errol Street is always busy and has a homey vibe that’s amped up by the roaring fire in winter. A proper old-school pub with eclectic rock memorabilia and live music every single day of the week that won’t cost you a dime, it’s a Melbourne icon. The menu runs from steak sandwiches to bangers ‘n’ mash, and the bar is stocked with sturdy draughts, ciders, ales, lagers and stouts. Bonus: if the area around the fireplace is jam-packed, the beer garden boasts individually-heated booths.
Windsor Castle Hotel
The wonderfully garish Windsor Castle Hotel sits resplendent in lime green and hot pink paint behind Windsor train station. The front bar contains a pool table, fireplaces and couches, and there’s a cosy dining room just beyond it with horseshoe-shaped velvet banquettes. The carb-centric menu offers parmas, burritos, pasta and fried cheese to guzzle down under the reassuringly dimly-lit lights, and you can also venture outside to the heated tiki-style beer garden.
Want more of the best Melbourne bars with fireplaces? Here's one we prepared earlier.
Image credit: Nick West