First things first, By Appointment Only is housed in a stunning space. We’re talking jaw to-the-floor opulence made all the more awesome by the entrance, a tiny wedge of a building with Turkish embellishments that are incongruent with the slick City surroundings. The bijou exterior belies the scale of By Appointment Only: you descend to a whopper of a room with multiple alcoves and a side room hosting the main bar. The ceramic walls glisten gold, the tiled floor beams brightly and drapes hang exotically in this former Turkish bathhouse, a remnant from the Victorian era that looks like a sultan’s sex palace.
Yet it was clear quite early on that the drinks would never live up to this flamboyant setting. Staff had a weak grasp of the menu, unable to recommend cocktails with confidence. Still, the City crowd and out-of-towners seemed to enjoy the presentational thrills. The Wash, Rinse… Repeat, for example, was a sort-of-negroni separated out into three bottles of ingredients and served in a mini bathtub. But staff seemed to have no clue how to mix it for the best result, so it became one of several lacklustre drinks on our visit.
Although By Appointment Only is a case of style over substance, it’s the kind of style that allows anyone to be sultan for a day. Book in a visit for when you fancy bathing in glory.