Please note, this venue is now closed. Time Out Drinking editors, Oct 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the view is everything at Vista. This hotel bar, perched at the top of the Trafalgar Hotel, affords a great vantage point of the capital’s most targeted tourist destination. You’ll have a bird’s-eye view of Trafalgar Square’s selfie-stick mob. And from up here, riding a lion statue while balancing your cameraphone at arm’s length looks like quite the skill.
You’ll feel pretty special practically hanging out with Admiral Lord Nelson too, but you’ll pay a premium for keeping such high-flying company. The bar has introduced an admittance fee of £5 per person before you even taken the lift six storeys up. Rooftop bars in London have a well-earned reputation for dizzyingly high prices, but an entrance fee is a tall order indeed.
Each year a new booze sponsor puts its name to Vista, and Bloom Gin has taken pride of place this summer. Bloom-branded flower boxes abound on a fairly generic terrace, with rattan furniture laid out for lazy afternoon sessions. But the crowd here are mostly suited and booted business types, so it’s doubtful much lounging ever truly takes place. You’re better off perching on bar stools around the perimeter and watching all the fun happen down below.
Cocktails don’t meet the mark, unfortunately. From the tipples we tried (at around £13 a pop), The Perfect TEN – Vista’s take on the classic Clover Club cocktail (gin, lemon, fruit syrup and egg white) was too heavy on frothy egg white, while a Youthoria was ill-balanced and fairly synthetic in flavour. You’re best off sticking with a straight-up gin and tonic or selecting from the Champagne list. The tourist crowd will probably enjoy a menu packed with more hashtags than Kim Kardashian’s Twitter feed, but it’s perhaps a tad intense for a client meeting.