Top 15 secret cosy spots in Euston

We pick the most comforting – and eclectic – bars, restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops to while away the winter

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Our #1: Reading Room, Wellcome

“Read in an attractive room, and from time to time let your eyes gaze upon beautiful objects so that you will come to love what you read,” said Profiat Duran waaay back in 1403. This is the opening quote in the Reading Room Companion, a book that acts as a guide to the unique space on the top floor of the Wellcome Collection.

The Reading Room is a hybrid exhibition/library space: it is filled with intriguing items – namely statutes of ‘poore lunaticks’ from Bethlem Hospital back in 1676, a lateral slice of a human body, and a terrifying-looking hundred-year-old x-ray machine. Each item is intended to get visitors’ creative juices flowing, and the walls boast a vast selection of books and magazines to further help the cause.

The room is divided into sections: alchemy, food, mind, faith and breathe, to name but a handful. It is a truly unique space in a remarkable and free institution: it enables conversation and interaction as much as it allows people to pop a pair of headphones and spend the day lounging on a beanbag. Read about current show Living with Buildings here. Open daily (except Mondays), 10am-6pm (10pm Thurs), 183 Euston Road NW1, more info.

Shaker & Company

With its crepuscular lighting, bare brick and dark panelling, this stylish candle-lit neighbourhood cocktail bar is probably our best tip for a strong libation in the most comforting of Euston surrounds over the winter. It’s made even better by the juxtaposition of its location on un-lovely Hampstead Road; it’s well worth a diversion for a warming negroni or espresso martini, especially during its happy hours (two for £10) which offer various offers and food deals early and midweek. Mon-Wed, 5pm–12am, Thurs-Sat till 1am, 119 Hampstead Rd NW1, info here.

The wheel at P21 - cosy places in Euston
P21: the eye-catching wheel light. Photo: Dan Hall

P21 Gallery

This two-storey space for contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art is exhibiting Faces From Erased Places, large, sepia-toned photos created over a five-year period which grew out of conversations that US artist John Halaka recorded with four generations of Palestinians – most of them refugees – living in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Afterwards, visit the café for cockles-warming Arabic coffee with cardamom, and awesome maamouls: crumbly semolina-based cookies filled with pistachio, walnut or dates. Unmissable is Mohamed Nabil Labib’s eye-catching bicycle wheel light artwork light studded with bulbs; an artist centrepiece. Open Tues-Sat, 12-6pm (4pm Sat), 21 Chalton St NW1, more info here.

Prince Arthur

An imposing Victorian building on Eversholt Street, this characterful boozer with wood-panelled walls and homely furnishings is well worth the five-minute walk north from Euston station. There are wonky lamps, candles, and ceiling hangings galore: a rack of ties (presumably wrenched from the necks of tipsy businessman), a globe or two, sailing boats, ships’ steering wheels, lanterns, pots, pans and jugs. Taps include Adnam’s, Meantime and Lagunitas, with a classics food menu and cocktail list too. Open daily, 80-82 Eversholt St NW1, more here.

Colourful wall art at Black Sheep - cosy places in Euston
Colourful wall art: Black Sheep. Photo: PR

Ravi Shankar

One of three vegetarian Indian restaurants on Drummond Street, specialities at this institution include bhel puri and some of the best tasting thali (pictured above) on the street. Our other tip? Dosas: similar to filled pancakes, Ravi Shankar serves them deliciously thin, light and tasty: packed with fresh paneer and spinach, or spicy potato, they’re incredibly moreish, served with a variety of savoury fillings and chutneys to accompany. Open daily till 11pm, 133-135 Drummond St NW1

Inviting interior of Euston Tap - cosy places in Euston
Inviting interior of Euston Tap. Photo: Clare Hand

British Library

The building that houses the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook and the original Beatles manuscripts needs little introduction, and is always teeming with visitors and tourists, alongside academics from all fields. But want a tip on where to nestle this winter? The cosiest nooks are the leather sofas on the second floor, the perfect spot to get some work done or lounge about and take it all in. Don’t walk past the little café at the entrance level – it’s surprisingly peaceful and ideal for people watching. Meanwhile, the detached Last Word Café in the road-facing courtyard has floor-to-ceiling windows, so we recommend going armed with a book on a rainy day. Open daily (Mon-Thurs 930-8pm, Fri-Sun till 5pm), 96 Euston Road NW1, more here.

Euston Tap

You may not think this wildly popular craft beer house especially cosy, but did you know about the secret first floor lounge? Perhaps not. Accessed up a rickety spiral staircase in the corner of the old station building, it makes a strong case for a secret rendezvous with a beer from one of the 27 taps, which are basically an A-Z of the world’s best. The beer excels, whether you pick NYC brewery Captain Lawrence or Redchurch Paradise Pale. And if you get a comfy seat, you’ll be oblivious to whatever the weather’s chucking down outside. Open daily till 11pm (12am weekends), 190 Euston Rd NW1, more info.

An array of goodies at Mestizo Mexican Marke - cosy places in Euston
Mestizo Mexican Market: an array of goodies. Photo: SE

African Kitchen Gallery

Serving up top-notch West African and Caribbean grub, this is one of Euston’s most beautifully embellished eateries, adorned with an array of Nigerian and Ghanaian masks lining the walls, and a herd of stout wooden elephants sitting in the window. For proper hearty fare try the doughy plantain fritters with mellow parsley dip, or generous portion of warming goat curry, tender shoulder meat in a bowl of thick, spiced sauce. Guaranteed to radiate some heat on a frosty eve. Open daily lunch and dinner (till 10pm), 102 Drummond Street NW1, more info.

Cosy Kettle

Deep in the basement of Chalton Street gastropub the Somers Town Coffee House lies the promise of cakes ‘n’ cocktails. Does anything suggest a cold-weather cure more strongly than that? It’s a surprisingly cavernous space, with the emphasis on homely rather than sexy. There’s a mish-mash of eclectic styles, colours and textures, from glass cabinets to reclaimed chairs, painted wood to soft furnishings. And the drinks menu boasts the usual range of libations, from French Martinis to Mojitos. Plus it serves until pretty late. Open five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday until 2am (12am Tues and Wed), 60 Chalton Street NW1, more ino here.

An appetising thali at Ravi Shankar - cosy places in Euston
Enjoy at thali at Ravi Shankar. Photo: Clare Hand

Friends House Library

Interested in learning about Quaker philosophy? Their compact but impressive bibliotheca holds the key: the wooden mezzanine houses over 80,000 books and pamphlets whilst the collection of visual resources includes photographs, lantern slides, paintings and drawings. Hunker down in what’s a really calming spot and soak up the group’s ideology. Elsewhere, the enticing bookshop is home to a multitude of informative titles focusing not just on Quakerism, but sustainability, peace and the environment, whilst the peaceful café is a relaxing haven to refuel with a sandwich or homemade soup. Don’t leave without sampling their ethically sourced Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Open Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, 173-177 Euston Road NW1, more info.

Doric Arch

A welcoming din greets visitors to this snug first-floor watering hole by Euston station. Named after the propylaeum once situated at the entrance to the railway that was demolished in 1961, the boozer is a reminder of days gone by. Head up the short flight of steps and grab a bevvy at the L-shaped bar. The walls are plastered with train memorabilia, framed historic prints and a huge assortment of beer mats; seats are filled with commuters and passers-by. Pull up a pew in one of the comfy leather banquettes, or for a bit of bit of privacy bag the alcove. Food-wise, munch on classic pub grub such as steak and ale pie or fish and chips. And did you know one of the stones is ‘proudly’ on display behind the bar? Open Mon-Sat 8am-11pm, (Sun 10.30pm), 1 Eversholt Street, Euston Square, NW1, more here.

Neon signage of Cosy Kettle - cosy places in Euston
Cosy Kettle: striking neon signage. Photo: Dan Hall

Mestizo store

Hampstead Road’s Mexican colourful marketplace – the sister store to the beloved and always-rammed Mestizo restaurant – is inarguably the place most likely to make you feel warm inside in Euston. Step inside and you’re met with a cornucopia of handicrafts, home-wear and clothing, either originating from, or inspired by Mexican arts and culture. Walls are lined with multi-coloured fabrics and Aztec prints while banquet tables come laden with calaveras (adorned skulls), candles, crockery, jewellery and shoes. Plus plenty of odes to Frida Kahlo dotted around. Stroll in on any day of the week and Mestizo is filled with Spanish chatter, with many ocustomers jumping off the bus when they spot it on Hampstead Road. Everyone we spoke to seemed to be in awe at its warmth and exuberance. Open till 9pm (Sun 6pm) 101 Hampstead Road NW1

Black Sheep Coffee & Cocktails

Dimly lit and inviting, this is a tempting place to take refuge, whether it’s sunny and crisp – or sleeting. The unit may be sizeable, yet it manages to be snug at the same time, its brushed concrete walls working as a backdrop to a handful of striking murals. On our most recent visit we opted for punchy espresso made using Blue Volcano beans from Papua New Guinea and rich hot chocolate. For a tasty treat, we recommend the baklava – sweet and sticky two-bite morsels. Don’t forget this café cum bar also serves BrewDog on tap, a top selection of vino and an array of expertly mixed drinks, the ideal pit stop before checking out Boys or The War of the Worlds at New Diorama (see p.2). Open Mon-Wed 7am-7pm, Thurs-Fri 7am-10pm (closed Sat & Sun) 338 Euston Road NW1, more here.

Inside Shaker & Co - cosy places in Euston
Hunker down at Shaker & Co. Photo: Clare Hand

Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant

It may take some convincing that an eatery in Euston station is a useful retreat from the ferocious weather, but telly chef Gino D’Acampo’s gaff, with its turquoise booths and high stools, is the real deal: it’s like a cross between an intimate 1950s beach-style diner and a private members’ club. Once ensconced here, you’d never know that you’re not in a West End dining room (that is, apart from the loud speaker announcements). Passionate chefs busy themselves in the open kitchen and you can, if you wish, pull up a pew and eat, watching the sizzling drama unfold as they cook. Comfort food tip? Meatballs, naturally. And here they succeed in getting the herby veal patties just meltingly tender without drying out (not to mention a rich, velvety sauce, parmesan cheese and pine nuts). You might find yourself missing the train accidentally-on-purpose to linger with another glass of red. Open daily till 8pm, mezzanine floor, Euston Station NW1, more info.

Roti King

It’s half five on a windswept Tuesday evening: the cult Malaysian restaurant already has a queue up the stairs and along the pavement. Inside the dinky basement steam bellows from the open kitchen and the atmosphere buzzes with diners eagerly awaiting plates of spicy southeast Asian fare. They may be famous for their flaky and oh-so-moreish hand-spun roti canai bread served with bowls of warming spicy curry, but our top tip? National favourite char kway teow: fiery noodle stir fry with a tangy shrimp paste that coats prawns, chicken and egg. Devour at one of the communal tables. Open daily lunch/dinner (till 10.30pm, closed Sun), 40 Doric Way NW1, more info here.

Main image: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Words: Stephen Emms, Clare Hand & Laura Evans

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