If you're looking for some good old-fashioned glamour with your drinking, a London pub's not going to cut it. You need to pull up a shiny stool at one of London's best hotel bars where the service is seamless, the clientele is classy as hell and every last drink is a showstopper. Sure, you'll pay for the luxury, but you deserve a treat every once in a while, babes. So here’s a list of London hotel bars where it's well worth maxing out your overdraft.
RECOMMENDED: Read our guide to the best cocktails in London
The best hotel bars in London
There’s an old-school glamour to this relatively new bar at Mayfair’s Beaumont hotel. It borrows its slick style of service from the States and combines it with drinks that carry a bit of a kick. The Hollywood greats watch on from portraits covering the walls, so reward yourself with a stiff martini after an Oxford Street shopping trip and you’ll be in very good company.
One of London’s original American-style bars and one of the very first places to introduce US cocktail tradition to British soil, this art deco haven needs to be seen to be believed. Smart staff dress in dapper white suits and serve drinks that are among the capital’s finest. Just consider this for those really special occasions – you’ll be dropping 18 quid per bevvy.
Venue says: “Now taking bookings for lunch with a choice of new dishes from soups, salads and sandwiches to burgers and a selection of lunch cocktails.”
You’ll find over-the-top drinks in an over-the-top room at The Langham’s Artesian, but this level of artistry is still widely considered to make for the best bar experience you’ll find anywhere in the world. Complimentary canapés are pretty epic, but it’s all about those show-stopping drinks presented in all manner of glassware on a section of the menu simply titled ‘surrealism’.
Another one from the pros at the Savoy, a trip to the Beaufort is an equally pricey affair but it’s one that’s worth its weight in gold. That’s because this beauty of a bar is decked in the stuff (and a bit of black). Jazz pianists perform on the regular and champagne cocktails are the specialty, so head here to feel like you’ve been transported to an F Scott Fitzgerald novel.
This Knightsbridge haven is chic, sophisticated and proof that blue is the warmest colour. It’s got blue walls, blue chairs and even blue menus, all part of a look created by late design guru David Collins. Come for a nightcap, when the bar seems more like a moody indigo. Or make it dessert by ordering their divine lemon meringue cocktail.
This is the pinnacle in hotel drinking. Not only is the Connaught Bar draped in plush, silvery furnishings and fitted with a fleet of effortlessly efficient – not to mention dapper – staff, but the place has a dedicated martini trolley. A martini trolley, people. Grab a chair and let the trolley do the rest of the work. You’ve earned it.
Come here for the classics. The Connaught Hotel’s Coburg Bar does them so well in country-house-like surroundings. Furnishings are much softer than in the Connaught Bar nearby, so settle in here for a cosier session with fellow hotel dwellers. Better still, order up a cognac or a glass of fizz – these take pride of place on a menu fit for London’s big spenders.
Venue says: “Come and try Dandelyan's fourth chapter, exploring the different ways that botany has played a role in human vice and guilty pleasures.”
Who said hotel bars had to be old and fusty? Ryan Chetiyarwadana, London’s foremost cocktail creative, brings his fresh take on cocktail shaking to the South Bank’s Mondrian hotel. Despite the slicker surroundings than found at sister bar White Lyan, the drinks are just as wildly imaginative. Ingredients across the menu include pistachio-shell orgeat, plant haemoglobin and, err, cavolo nero.
This hotel bar offers one of the ultimate drinking experiences in London. Come for one of their renowned martinis and you won’t be disappointed once your waiter arrives with a trolley stacked with deluxe ingredients and paraphernalia at your table. The other drinks are equally astonishing – be prepared to spend a little for this bucket-list bar.
One for the fashion set and the cocktail connoisseur in equal measure, the London Edition’s bar is a cosy, cosseted backroom with a roaring fire and a party-sized punch bowl. Sounds like a house party at great aunt Mildred’s, but trust us, it’s way cooler than that. Bar staff look like supermodels and have some serious knowledge about the menu to boot. Try something adventurous on the seasonal menu.
Find one of the capital's finest martinis
It’s the greatest cocktail. For some people, it’s the only cocktail. So perfect in its simplicity – gin or vodka, vermouth, garnish – that it should be easy to make. But bars that achieve perfection still aren’t as easy to find in London. So here are our top ‘tini hotspots.
‘Farley Macallan’ may sound like a character from a Scottish seafaring legend, but it’s actually a Hackney bar-restaurant where a bright neon sign above the counter glows with the motto ‘#Reinventing the local’. A cosy one-room bar with an events space downstairs, it offers brunch during the day Wednesday to Sunday (including the bottomless sort on weekends), classy small plates and a decent wine list in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday. The words ‘Hackney’s fashion hub’ take some getting used to, but according to Farley Macallan’s website, that’s where you’ll find this new breed of higher-end East End boozer: it sits on a shabby corner on the not-so-appealing main road between Hackney Central and Homerton, where there’s a concentrated line-up of shiny discount outlets run by Nike, Burberry, Pringle and other big brands. This place isn’t fashion-y at all, though. The décor is easy and functional, with simple tables, pine chairs and stools, it’s foodie in a friendly way – the staff are happy to talk through their core offering of wines, cheeses and cured meats – and it attracts a young neighbourhood crowd. But beware of just ‘popping in’ to Farley Macallan. The place shuts occasionally for private parties or themed and ticketed nights (they run music and comedy events downstairs). The first time I visited, they were about to have a Caribbean evening, lining up potent-looking punches behind the bar and preparing a special menu (they let me slip in for a quick drink bef