Summer evenings lend themselves to outdoor entertaining, be it a glass of beer under the stars with the cat on your lap, or a full blown, guest-heavy BBQ extravaganza. Unfortunately, the UK climate can be quite unforgiving, and save for the odd occasion when you can sit outdoors beyond 10pm without the castanet accompaniment of your own chattering teeth, you’ll probably need something to take the chill off the cold night air.
The obvious, ubiquitous, outdoor heating option is the chimenea. Hailing from Mexico, they were originally used for indoor cooking and providing warmth for the household, but in recent years have been appropriated by a nation of gardeners and BBQ enthusiasts looking for something suitably rustic to place on a patio or outdoor area.
Today’s chimenea market is hot; models available range from the traditional clay chimineas to architectural metal designs. But which chimenea is best for you? Chop up the wood and marinate those chicken thighs – here’s eight of the best.
1. La Hacienda Sunset Chimenea with Grill: £84.99, Garden4less
This traditional two-piece chimenea is a handsome chap, hand-painted and adorned with a sun motif in a rustic Mexican style. Not only does it burn through logs at an efficient rate, the flue lifts off to reveal a chrome plated grill for sizzling meats and other BBQ-based treats. It’s squat and sturdy, easy to light and comes with a chimney lid to prevent your chimenea turning into a giant rain receptacle when not in use.
2. Gardeco Extra Large Toledo Cast Iron Chimenea: £139.99, World Stores
There’s a certain traction engine aesthetic to this heavy, metal beast. It's constructed from cast iron, so will get hot quite quickly once you've got it going, and will retain warmth long after the fire inside has died. It feeds on charcoal as well as wood, and you’ll be able to do a spot of cooking on the handy swing-out grill. Unlike most, this chiminea has rudimentary heat controls – fiddle with the air vent in its belly to regulate the intensity of your fire.
3. George Home Pyramid Chimenea: £79, Asda
This well-priced, contemporary chimenea has three open sides, inviting patio guests to gather round it, campfire style, and bask in its fiery glow. The matt black paint job is heat resistant, so it will retain its shop-fresh looks after numerous firings. Anyone who has attempted to clean a chiminea after an evening burning through logs will appreciate the handy pull-out ash pan in the base.
4. Gardeco Ellipse Mexican Chimenea: £199.99, Wayfair
Sitting pretty on your patio like a flaming Eye of Sauron, this large oval chiminea will attract admiring glances from your garden guests. The wide mouth makes it easy to stuff with logs and, when fully fired-up, belts out bags of heat. There’s no need for assembly – just lift it onto its steel tripod and away you go. Available in other colours.
5. Castmaster Pizza Oven Chiminea: £225, Cast Iron Chimeneas
You’ll need the help of a brawny friend to wrestle this BBQ-ing behemoth into position. It’s extremely heavy (weighing in at 63kgs), but is a great choice for those fond of alfresco cheffery. The chimney hatch yawns open to accept pizzas and other oven-friendly treats, or you can lift off the chimney section entirely and use the grill for a spot of open-top sizzling. Will accept logs, but feed it charcoal for best results when using it for cooking.
6. La Hacienda Morse Steel Chimenea: £179.99, Whitestores
Eschewing rustic stylings for something a little more cutting edge, this imperious steel chiminea will stand sentinel-like over your patio, belching heat from its laser-sliced chimney vents. The log holder in the base is a nice touch – it keeps your fuel close to hand and affords the chiminea extra stability. At 181 cm high, it’s the loftiest on test.
7. Heta Tipi Garden Steel Chimenea: £395, Fireplace Products
This swish Danish sculptural piece is made from corten steel that forms patina (a kind of ‘protective rust’) when exposed to the elements. Think Anthony Gormley's ‘Angel of the North’ sculpture, only significantly smaller. It throws out a fair amount of heat when fully stoked, and you can purchase a separate, triangular grill for sizzling the odd sausage. This chimenea will arrive flat packed, so rudimentary DIY skills are required before you can fire it up.
8. Gardeco Botella Mexican Art Chimenea: £139.99, Primrose
This elegant, urn-like chimenea is a good choice for smaller patios. It has a flat back, meaning you can shove it up against a wall to save a bit of space, but will also sit unaided quite happily thanks to the heavy base. The hand-painted finish will eventually start to fade and weather the more you use it (like most painted clay chimeneas), but this only adds to its rustic charm.
The Verdict: Chimeneas
For a handsome patio companion for summer evening soirees, we’d recommend the versatile La Hacienda Sunset Chimenea. It’ll keep you warm, it’ll cook your sausages, it’ll impress your guests – you need look no further.
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