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Do smoker-friendly pubs exist?

"There really is no such thing as a smoker friendly pub in this country anymore," laments Mark on another thread.

I understand the sentiment – no pub is truly smoker-friendly if you can't smoke indoors in comfort. Everything is relative however and given the legislation who can dispute that some pubs are more 'smoker-friendly' than others.

There are without question smoker-friendly landlords doing their very best to accommodate smokers in as much comfort as possible and the purpose of the Best Smoking Area award is to recognise their efforts.

Anyway, since inviting nominations on Tuesday, we have received many suggestions and some heart-warming comments. Here are a few:

  • "Fabulous outdoor area which is always heated. They even provide you with blankets when it's really chilly."
  • "There is a very large outside area with tables and in the summer there are barbecues and last weekend a hog roast. There are two large umbrellas which cover a number of tables for the smokers and heaters are also provided in the winter months. The manager is a smoker so the place is smoker-friendly."
  • "Tremendous smoking facilities. Wooden and hand built by the locals. Spacious, good seating, plenty of regularly emptied ashtrays and even lighters on chains. A really comfortable structure, appreciated and well used. I believe there is a heater as well!!!!!"
  • "The smoking shelter is a fabulous, warm and convivial space with heaters, benches, tables. It is a pleasure to be there, even on pretty cold nights."
  • "The landlord is a smoker himself and whilst he appreciates that the law and social pressure demands smoking bans inside, he refuses to treat smokers as pariahs and what we have is a sympathetic, creative and well-managed solution that I am sure provides increased revenue."
  • "Delightful pub with a (restricted) yard filled with tables and chairs, big umbrellas and heaters, and surrounded by greenery and climbing plants. An oasis in an urban backwater, very peaceful (and delightful staff)."
  • "Covered seating, tables, lighting and heaters in a charming little courtyard."
  • "The pub has gone to great lengths and expense to provide a comfortable area for smokers consisting of heating, lounge type seating enclosed in a wood and glass building. I cannot believe there could be a more deserving winner."
  • "Excellent smoking area with televisions, sofas and all mod cons."
  • "The pub has a smoking shelter at the rear which is on two floors. The downstairs area has lots of seating and automatic heaters, dart board, and is only a couple of paces from the rear door of the pub. The upstairs area has more comfortable seating plus television screens and pub games. All in all it's a very comfortable experience and it's possible to spend the whole evening outside and only have to go in the pub to get the drinks! I live ten miles away and regularly travel to this pub, via two buses, as it's the only one that I know of that has such welcoming facilities."
  • "The smoking area is in the old stable yard at the back of the pub. It's a large area able to hold comfortably 16 or so double picnic tables. A large purpose built shelter was built for smokers when the ban came in and is also fitted with awnings and heaters as required."
  • "The patio area is used all year round. There are smart black and red rugs left over the back of each chair and heaters are provided to keep the smokers warm. It really deserves recognition so that others can be aware of a very pleasant place to go and to be welcomed as a smoker."
  • "Not ideal but better than the rest in this area. Outdoor area has some plants and heaters. Smokers feel welcomed as opposed to tolerated."
  • "The landlord has extended part of the roof so smokers and their ciggies don't get soggy. He has purchased several sets of tables and chairs (round picnic tables with large umbrellas) and, amazingly, has installed a wood burner which he lights without fail every night to keep us heroic smokers 'toasty warm'. It is all set in a very large and extremely well kept grassed pub garden. The effort and lengths he has gone to are above and beyond the call of duty."

Finally, does this qualify as "smoker-friendly"?

  • "They have an INSIDE smoking area which is enclosed except for having no ceiling. Other than the sky itself. Perfect for winter drinks and smokes."

Except when it rains.

PS. To nominate your favourite smoking area for the Great British Pub Awards leave a comment here or email

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Reader Comments (10)

I'd like to nominate Tigerlily on George Street in Edinburgh, for their palatial smoking area. It's a narrow courtyard with a high cover and warm heaters and it makes you feel as though they really care about their smokers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterRaksha Wolf

I worry that these places will be shut down. If they are comfortable they must be breaking the rules.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 15:47 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I hope you are going to publish a full list of every nomination so that we all have a guide to the best places to enjoy our cigarettes with a beer. And enjoy a welcome.
Some of the places in your post sound marvellous.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 15:50 | Unregistered CommenterSG

There must be the potential to publish a commercial guidebook to the "Best pubs for smokers".

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 15:55 | Unregistered CommenterCurmudgeon

It's a nice idea but such a guide would have to be online. The odds are a book would be out of date very quickly. (Many years ago Forest published two books, The Forest Guide to Smoking in London, and the Forest Guide to Smoking in Scotland, so we know some of the pitfalls.)

There is a website called Smokers Welcome that features smoker-friendly pubs and hotels.

Interestingly, Imperial Tobacco this week launched a smokers’ website that has details of bars, cafes and restaurants with smoking areas in Spain. According to the company, a UK-specific version is "under consideration". See: Spanish online smoking guide launched by Imperial Tobacco.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 17:46 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I'm sorry but l have a real problem with this. l can't vote for something that designates me a second class citizen that puts me in an area with open sides in all weathers. More so, seeing that current air technology can achieve the same result and give me the same comforts that the rest of the clientel get.

l appreciate the efforts put in by some pubs to accomodate smokers but in the end it's still an insult. l simply won't accept something thought up by some anti-smoking zealot(s) where smokers are herded into. The smoking shelter was designed out of sheer spite ... no matter how they furnish it.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 1:01 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Hot

Anti-smoking zealots being berated by an anti-anti-smoking zealot. Carry on snipping, smoking hot, you can't have much nose left now.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 10:48 | Unregistered CommenterSimon (nsc)

Part of me agrees with SH, but at least this competition portrays smoking as a normal activity and perhaps prompts more pubs to create areas specifically for smokers and not just areas where we are left to trade insults with people who haven't figured out why there are far more outside tables than there were four years ago.
Putting myself in the shoes of the anti-tobacco industry: I would rather it wasn't publicised that some businesses are investing in making their premises as comfortable as possible for smokers.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 13:31 | Unregistered CommenterJon

@ Jon

Yes Jon l agree with you that some pubs are doing something about smoking and yet when it comes to summer even in those areas smokers cannot be left in peace. Sure we can have it to ourselves ... in wind, rain, snow and freezing temps.

As l said, l appreciate what some pubs are doing but to me it's like saying thank you for a partially constructed shack with walls missing after being evicted from somewhere with all the mod cons and amenities ... which we carry on paying for!

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 14:54 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Hot

While it is completely ludicrous that landlords have been put to all of this trouble, it just goes to show that, where possible, people will thumb their noses at the bastards and find a way through.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 2:41 | Unregistered CommenterAnto

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