The cocktails in the Bassoon Bar are very good, expensive, yes, but very, very good. Not only that but the bar has a piano which is both a musical instrument, complete with ivories to tinkle, and a bar where drinks can be purchased. Amazing. No surprise that the bar within the luxury Corinthia Hotel London has attracted an A-list clientele - Colin Firth, Jemima Khan, Cuba Gooding Jr, Mariella Frostrup have all stayed here. This is a grand hotel, in fact, the 19th-century building was one of Victorian London's original grand hotels. At the Bassoon Bar this heritage is alluded to in the cocktail list which includes colonial-inspired drinks including the Victorian Moijto, Pimm's Cup and English Tea Punch. Homemade sodas are carbonated to order in the tumbler - which sounds as colonial as it gets. The decor is art deco, courtesy of David Collins (also responsible for the Connaught Bar and Artesian), but it's the cocktails that people will come for, to sip stylish drinks in one of London's most glamorous hotels.
London's Best Hotel Bars
A Jazz Age speakeasy atmosphere with a piano that doubles as a bar.
Corinthia Hotel , Whitehall Place, Westminster, London, SW1A 2HE
As the name suggests, this sophisticated bar's furnishings are universally blue.
Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, Belgravia, London, SW1X 7RL
Having a cocktail in the Blue Bar is akin to sipping on gin and tonic in a very posh - and possibly eccentric - grand dame's sitting room. The universal blue colour chosen by designer David Collins is named 'Lutyens Blue' after the Edwardian architect who originally designed the room - and extends from the carpet to the walls and furniture. In the heart of Knightsbridge, this diminutive bar punches above its size and is well known as a funky little spot within the more sedate - some may say old fashioned - Berkeley Hotel. With the hearty French cooking from Koffmann's restaurant and this heaving bar the Berkeley has found a way to appeal to a sophisticated thirty-something crowd within the traditional stucco surroundings.
Located in the old ticket office, this bar striking bar serves cocktails, punches and ales.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, King's Cross, London, NW1 2AR
Tube: King's Cross Station
Located within the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, in what used to be the ticket office of St Pancras Station, The Booking Office Bar takes its inspiration from the days when the hotel first opened with punches and drinks recreated from the Victorian era and served in hand%u2010made copper punch bowls. Opened in 1873, the Midland Grand Hotel, as it was originally called, launched at the height of a mixed drink explosion. Alongside revived Victorian cocktails and punches are ales by Meantime beers which arrive in pewter tankards. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Booking Office's all day menu offers a range of daily specials from braised beef cheeks to Lancashire hot pot. But most striking of all are the dramatically high ceilings of George Gilbert Scott's interior, updated with the addition of a 29 metre-long bar and modern sofas and armchairs. Guardian writer Sally Shalam was impressed by the ornate brickwork and arched windows describing it as, "surely the most inspiring new public space in London". And, if you head up to the platform level bar, you can enjoy al fresco dining while watching the Eurostar come and go.
Dress code: Casual
Award-winning bar that oozes style and glamour.
Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL
Tube: Bond Street Station
If you're after perfection in a glass in an ultra-stylish location then look no further than the main bar at the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair. The bar has been lavished with awards: senior mixologist Erik Lorincz won the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2010 and Agostino Perrone won the International Bartender of the Year 2010 at the Tales of the Cocktail event, New Orleans, with the Connaught Bar picked up the World's Best Hotel Bar 2010 award in the process. The bar also now offers a signature serve of whisky and bespoke chocolate tasting to enhace the characteristics of the whiskies. It's not cheap (you won't get much change from £30 for two drinks) but given the shimmering platinum silver leaf décor, the superb individual service and the meticulous attention to detail that goes into everything that you sip, you'll agree that being treated like royalty is money worth spent. What's more, the bar snacks are refilled regularly and come at no extra cost.
High class cocktails can be supped at this intimate, relaxed and inviting bar.
Connaught Hotel, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL
Tube: Bond Street Station
Beyond the doormen in top hats and white gloves outside the Connaught Hotel there are two outstanding bars, the second of which is the swish Coburg Bar, a traditional bar with a modern designer twist. Parisian designer India Mahdavi recently added to the long-standing comfort of the intimate and inviting bar with a few contemporary enhancements. Wood panelled interiors and antique pieces are counterbalanced by modern art works by Julian Opie, plush velvet and leather seats and geometric print carpet. Cocktails are expertly made - an apple martini, for example, uses the hotel's home-marinated cinnamon, pear and apple liqueur. There's even a special Bacchanology menu which provides a history lesson into the origins of each drink on the menu. Granted, it is on the expensive side, but service is excellent, there's a great vibe to the place and the cocktails are scrumptious.
This bar can lay claim to providing the inspiration for James Bond.
Dukes Hotel, St James's Place, St James's, London, SW1A 1NY
Tube: Green Park Station
Any bar which can lay claim to providing the inspiration for James Bond has to make a best-bar list in our books. Ian Fleming was a regular at the stylishly old-fashioned bar at the luxury Dukes Hotel in St James's - and rumour has it the bar's famous martinis (no doubt shaken, not stirred) fuelled the author's imagination when he was shaping his legendary 007 character. Some even say the martinis, expertly made at guests' tables by dapper waiters, are amongst the best in the world. A renovation in 2007 transformed the Dukes Hotel and contributed to the bar's new cool and sophisticated atmosphere, making it one of the area's most popular destinations. Thankfully, the place still maintains its former charm, with ornate furniture and leather chairs the order of the day and old portraits lining the walls. Besides martinis there is also an excellent selection of cognacs, some of which are more than 150 years old.
This chic and relaxing bar is the perfect place to start an evening.
1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 4BZ
Named one of the top five hotel bars in the world by the Sunday Telegraph, the Lobby Bar at the chic One Aldwych hotel is renowned for its fresh and inventive cocktails in a superb, airy location. Contemporary sculptures, vast flower arrangements, bespoke furniture, dark oak panelling and a polished limestone floor all combine to make the Lobby Bar a stylish yet unpretentious haven from the hustle and bustle of the West End. Smartly dressed, polite and extremely talented bar staff mix together original cocktails and martinis - some of the best in the capital. Bar snacks include Welsh rarebit, Dorset crab, goujons of pollock and a selection of cheese - while every drinks order comes with a trademark bowl of hot assorted nuts (work the trip alone). The Lobby Bar can get quite busy depending on the schedule of the many nearby theatres and so you may not always get a table - but with double-height ceilings and loads of floor space, you can easily stand in or around the bar without being shunted around the place. Described as "probably the most beautiful hotel lobby bar in London" by the Evening Standard, the Lobby Bar is a firm favourite of discerning drinkers off The Strand. With such a chic and relaxing atmosphere it's the perfect place to start an evening.
This exclusive sanctuary possesses one of London's longest bars.
Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T3NG
For a little refinement and an expensive tipple, the Sanderson Hotel's Long Bar and Courtyard Garden is a very exclusive sanctuary. The courtyard is something of an urban oasis; modelled on a Japanese garden, it is crammed with colourful mosaics, Oriental flowers and streaming fountains. In the evenings the tiny little night-lights shine out from beneath the undergrowth. The Long Bar is hugely chic but is still one of the more accessible of London's many flashy bars. Inside, it's sleek, modern and starkly white and - as you'd expect from the name - it possesses one of London's longest bars, some 80-feet in length. Posh punters perch on eye-stencilled bar stools to see and be seen. Providing you're dressed to kill, you'll find the staff and clientele a little less aloof than in London's other high-brow establishments. The bar serves all manner of Martinis and champagne cocktails, including some outstanding house specials. This modish saloon gives you a taste of the high-life even if it just for one night.
Private members' club that comes at a hefty price.
Ebor Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6AW
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
In a former tea warehouse in the part of town where the City meets the East End you'll find the swanky £6.5m members-only bar/restuarant club from Soho House founder Nick Jones. The bar is home to media hipsters who want to see and be seen. With members willing to pay £700 a year to be part of the crowd and only 1,000 memberships available exclusivity is key. The group's other 'houses' - Soho House, Babington House, The House in New York - all share the same cool, minimalist wood and glass interiors. Added extras this Shoreditch branch comes with include bowling alleys, cowshed spa, gym and, the biggest draw, a heated rooftop pool - where Calvin Klein bikinis are de rigeur, naturally.
A bohemian hideaway that serves delectable cocktails and food.
49-50 St John's Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V4JJ
The Zetter Townhouse is a few steps from the original much larger and more modern Zetter Hotel. A quirky refurb of two Georgian townhouses, the venue has just 13 bedrooms, a few private event rooms and the Cocktail Lounge. Collaborating with the mixologists behind 69 Colebrooke Row, this Islington cocktail bar is widely regarded as one of the best in London and boasts cocktails by the renowned Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby Limon and interiors by Russell Sage. On top of this, Bruno Loubet has created a menu of light meals, nibbles, and afternoon tea that perfectly accompany the impressive cocktail selection. The bohemian hideaway also encompasses an open fire and a cosy décor, creating the feel of visiting an eccentric relative who has an intriguing flair for making cocktails
1st February 2015
IN THIS ARTICLE
Bassoon Bar, Corinthia Hotel
Blue Bar, the Berkeley
The Booking Office Bar, St. Pancras Renaissance
The Connaught Bar
The Coburg Bar, Connaught Hotel
The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych
The Long Bar, Sanderson
The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge
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