The best cosy pubs in Manchester city centre to hide away on a winter’s day
Our pick of the bunch as the cold weather sets in.
There’s no better feeling than being tucked up in a pub all warm and cosy little pub on a cold day in Manchester, and we should know — we get more than our fair share throughout the year.
Wind, rain, sleet or snow, there’s nothing that a couple of pints in one of our many beloved boozers won’t remedy and when it comes to the festive season, especially, there aren’t many places that make you feel as welcome as you would in your own front room like a cosy Manchester pub.
That’s why we’re giving you a heads-up on some of the very cosiest and most classic Manc pubs for you and yours to pile into when it’s miserable out.
We’ll cheers to that.
The 20 cosiest Manchester pubs
Let’s start with a personal favourite of ours that’s rather handily just around the corner from our office.
1. The City Arms – Central
If you want to get out of the house and settle into a lovely little pub right in the city centre, then The City Arms is the perfect place to hide away from the weather whilst still enjoying the buzz of city life.
Calling all cask ale lovers, this place is your paradise, with some top-class ales on offer as well as some great meaty, veggie and vegan pies.
2. The Vine Inn – Central
Just next door — and we mean that quite literally — is The Vine Inn: another Manc office favourite that gives you the perfect blend of ‘old man pub’ vibes but with the kind of mass appeal that sees countless punters piling into the pub and crowding outside on the streets, it’s that loved.
Luckily, you should be able to squeeze inside when the temperatures drop as it’s spread across three quaint, almost mini-floors (with two separate bars, by the way) that make it feel kind of like a beer bungalow, and that’s why it’s one of the cosiest pubs you’ll find in Manchester.
3. Lass O’Gowrie – Oxford Road Corridor
“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour”, so the song goes, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Morrisey was singing about the Lass when he wrote this; there’s always plenty of cheering, laughing and, most importantly, drinking in this popular city centre boozer.
Located just off Oxford Road, it offers everything from big screens showing the footy, hearty roast dinners perfect for this time of year, live comedy, music and more. What you’d call a traditional Manc pub kitted out with local memorabilia and filled with good people, you’ll hear no complaints from us.
4. The Circus Tavern – Portland Street
This is Manchester’s smallest pub and as if that wasn’t cool enough, it’s also one of the oldest pubs in the region, so it’s a must-see if you ask us. A perfect little Hobbit hole to cram in when it’s cold outside.
Built back in 1790, The Circus Tavern became a pub in 1840 and has been frequented by the likes of Georgie Best and many other famous Man United players down the years, many of whom you’ll see photos of on the walls. A tourist spot in its own right and, needless to say, very cosy indeed.
5. Mr Thomas’/Sam’s Chop House – Central
Just off Cross Street on the corner of Back Pool Fold, you’ll find what is, for our money, one of the ultimate cosy pubs you’ll find anywhere in Manchester city centre: Mr Thomas’ Chop House, a.k.a. ‘Old Tom’s’ — and then, head literally across the road and you’ll find its twin, Sam’s Chop House.
Set up by the Studd brothers of the same name, these two sibling boozers have been serving Mancs for over 150 years now and have grown a glowing reputation both for the beautiful condition of their historic bars and for their incredible food. If it was good enough for Lowry, it’s good enough for us.
6. The Marble Arch Inn – Ancoats
Heading over beyond Ancoats way and onto Rochdale Road, we have the birthplace of Marble Brewery and the company’s award-winning flagship venue, The Marble Arch. If you’re up for doing a winter’s day ‘the right way’, then The Marble Arch has to be involved.
With its gorgeous mosaic floors, ornate bar, nine hand-pull pumps serving brewery-fresh cask beer, eight carefully selected keg lines on rotation and a partridge in a pear tree, it’s simply one of the prettiest and most traditional pubs you could ask for. The food’s mega too.
@the.manc Friday means a pint is needed, so Daisy took us to her favourite pub The Marble Arch 🍻 #manchesterpubs #manchesterbars #manchesternightout #fyp ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
7. The Kings Arms – Salford
Heading over to Salford now and we’ve got another beautiful boozer in The Kings Arms: a long-standing and simply sublime pub located not too far out of the city centre that’s well worth running into if you’re over that way and happen to get caught in the wind and rain.
Owned by adopted Manc musician Paul Heaton and made even more famous by live-in celebrity cat, Charlie, this real ale house with six curated hand pumps is a Manchester institution, not to mention great for live music and stand-up. Come on, what’s more cosy than a pub that comes with its own cat?
8. The New Oxford – Salford
Sticking in Salford for a spell but down the road to Bexley Square, we always feel the lovely little spot that is The New Oxford never gets anywhere near as much credit as it should given its charm and incredible lineup of real ales and Belgian beers.
Situated on a scenic cobbled corner that could easily be mistaken for some rural road in a small Cheshire village, this place is always packed with footy fans and a few extra on its courtyard during the summer months, but the regulars always know what’s up — not to mention they do a decent pint of Guinness too.
9. The Crown & Kettle – Ancoats
Described as having the ‘oldest pub ceiling in the world’, you can collapse into a comforting armchair by the fire and muse over The Crown Kettle‘s 286-year-old history, pint in hand and plenty of tunes filling the room for sure.
With live music and DJ sets, regular beer-centric events, bingo, the odd pub quiz and plenty more, it’s no surprise this almost statuesque Manchester drinking staple has been named one of the best in the region — and it’s plenty cosy too, believe us.
10. Peveril Of The Peak – Central
If you close your eyes and picture a proper English pub, there’ll be round tables, old tiles stained with decades of history, an unbeatable selection of beer, and a jukebox that’s regularly manned by loveable regulars who always make sure to keep the room filled with a warm and fuzzy atmosphere.
That’s exactly what you get with the Peveril Of The Peak: an iconic Manc boozer whose green exterior you can spot from a mile off. It’s only a small gaff but packed with all the best people and it’s still being looked after by the city’s longest-serving landlady to this day. A truly legendary watering hole.
11. The Briton’s Protection – Central
From one historic pub to another, you can head over to Great Bridgewater Street and channel your inner Tommy Shelby as you neck a neat bit of bourbon or scotch to warm the cockles and listen to the crackling flames of the open fires at The Britons Protection.
Another oldie but a goldie, the Briton was established in 1811 and has remained a local favourite snug pub ever since, showcasing over 300 whiskies as well as homemade pies and pasties at lunch. This piece of public house heritage has been under threat for a while now but us Mancs are keeping it alive.
12. The Thirsty Scholar – Oxford Road
How much more Manchester can you get than listening to a cracking live band tucked under a graffiti-covered railway bridge whilst sipping on a few bevs? Sounds like the perfect winter’s eve to us.
Considered one of Manchester’s very finest for live entertainment, The Thirsty Scholar is perfect for dancing those chilly nights away, with a classic and unpretentious vibe, a brilliant selection of beers, retro games and even Northern Soul nights to keep you twisting as the trains thunder overhead. Simply mint.
13. The Eagle Inn – Salford
An award-winning music venue and a bloody good pub, ditch the open-air venues and stuffy bars this winter and dip into the cosy Eagle Inn instead and bask in its comforting warmth.
Combining a traditional pub that delivers a real sense of ‘old Manchester’ with live music and three small rooms off a central corridor with a central bar — historically known by locals as ‘The Lamp Oil’ — The Eagle can’t really be called Salford‘s hidden gem anymore: it’s a rite of passage at this point.
14. The Wharf – Castlefield
Heading over the other side of the Irwell and to the picturesque canals of Castlefield, waterside pub and restaurant The Wharf is undoubtedly one of the cosiest pubs in Manchester, with the ground floor feeling like one big lounge, the upstairs making for the perfect cost date night spot and the outdoor terrace just as much a dream in winter as it is summer.
With amazing pub grub, a massive and ever-rotating drinks menu, as well as a patio that feels just as warming as the indoors with its big tipi and overhead heaters come winter, plus live music, hosting local clubs and various other events throughout the year, this place has it all. Plenty of cute pups too.
15. The Molly House – Gay Village
Back into the centre now and toward Gay Village for what remains one of the most cosy feeling pubs we’ve ever been in full stop, let alone just in 0161. If you’ve never been to The Molly House then you seriously need to right that wrong.
With a name that harks back to a fascinating backstory, there’s nothing more welcoming than the sight of the open hearth, the waft of their irresistible tapas menu; the glow of their multi-coloured Tiffany-style lampshades and a drinks menu to suit all tastes. It’s even better at Christmas. Enjoy!
16. Grey Horse Inn – Portland St
Just a couple blocks over and back on to Portland Street, you’ve also got the Circus Tavern’s equally pokey little neighbour, The Grey Horse Inn. Once again, it’s among the smallest you’ll find in Manchester but is much more than a mere hole in the wall.
This single-room pub is one of the oldest buildings anywhere in Manchester and is run by Hydes Brewery. Basically just one not-so-big living room plonked right along one of the busiest roads in the city, this place is another very thing slice of Manc hospitality history.
17. Cask – Castlefield and New Islington Marina
Circling back towards Castlefield again, you’ll find the original Cask and its lovely owners who have been serving local crafts and fine Belgian imports for over two decades now. The staff are beyond sound and always happy to talk you through the lineup; they even let you bring in your chippy from next door.
With a nice little garden area tucked away in the back, cosy booths and board games to be enjoyed, it’s no wonder they wanted to replicate their success with the sister bar over towards Ancoats and the Marina — and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Two very welcoming spots all year round.
18. The Bay Horse Tavern – Northern Quarter
Not too far from there, you’ll find an NQ favourite in The Bay Horse Tavern: two floors of pure warmth, good vibes, proper food and a steady flow of the good stuff.
From its twinkly fairly light-draped interior to the perfectly dim-lit interior and variety or deals running throughout the week, the Thomas Street staple is busy no matter the season but there’s something very special about it in the winter. Top-tier Sunday roasts incoming.
19. The Old Wellington – Exchange Square
Our penultimate stop is yet another historic site and cultural cornerstone that stood in Manchester for centuries — just not quite the same spot. Shambles Square feels fitting given how many times we’ve stumbled out of this place of a weekend.
Famously put up on stilts and relocated along with the attached Sinclairs Oyster Bar (also not a bad shout for this list), The Old Wellington might just be the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re in Ye Olde England, stumbling across a tavern and bedding in on a rainy night with tankards full of mead. At least that’s what we always imagine when we’re in there, anyway. Long live The Old Welly.
20. Castle Hotel – Northern Quarter
Last but by no means least, no list of cosy Manchester pubs is complete without the always popular and music-filled Castle Hotel over on Oldham Street — another storied venue that only seems to get better with age.
Whether it’s live music or the jukebox, a solid Guinness or a pint of Robinson’s, this tightly-packed space is one of those where you’ll never leave without bumping into a familiar face or having a friendly chat with a total stranger. With multiple rooms, an upstairs and a simple but classic British pub aesthetic, you just can’t beat spots like this.
We hope that puts you in good stead for places to enjoy a cold one this winter, pardon the pun.
It goes without saying that lists like these are never going to every corner of Manchester justice and there are countless other cosy pubs that we would heartily recommend you settle in at when it’s baltic outside, but the list would go on forever if we did that and this should get you started at least.
The same goes for the rest of the 10 boroughs; we’re sure wherever you live in Greater Manchester you’ll know plenty more than us about the cosiest spots near you, but in case you’re looking to venture further out of the region, we’ve put together a list of a few corkers that are a bit more out of the way.
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Featured Images – The Bay Horse Tavern/Kings Arms (via Instagram)/Amie Johnson (via Unsplash)