A very quirky, speakeasy bar hidden away in an apartment building in South Kensington. The small entrance to this establishment is covered in Mickey Mouse wallpaper. To enter, a doorbell has to be rung, then the bar staff use a quirky hatchet opening in the door to see who it is before opening. This cozy bar has an outdoor space and is full of quirky artifacts, including a defaced painting of the Mona Lisa, an old typewriter, several clocks, Polaroid pictures and American style car plates. To top it all off, the cocktail menu is hidden within a book. How quirky is that! Cocktails are very imaginative and the best I have had in London, and that’s saying something! Served in various quirky ways, from teapots and teacups, Laurel and Hardy mugs to wooden boxes, each cocktail comes with a surprise. On Wednesday nights there’s a great guy singing live on the keyboards and he takes requests too. This place is definitely my favorite hidden gem.
A totally unique bar in South London, with an ever-changing décor, because patrons are encouraged to be creative and doodle anywhere and everywhere they can find a blank white space. Found along the river in a former Victorian dairy, it is part of a versatile arts and events space which holds life-drawing classes and innovative exhibitions. Its entrance is off the beaten track, down a dark alley, maybe hard to find for first-timers, but it is worth the effort. It is like coming to a playschool for adults. There is a terrace which has a ping-pong table and overlooks a Thames dock. As this bar is commonly used for events, please call beforehand to ensure its open to the public.
An opulent cocktail bar found on the ground floor of the Great Northern Hotel. Located in the newly generated part of London, it has the Kings Cross station concourse on one side and St. Pancras International on the other. Mirrored ceilings with glass chandeliers make this bar really glamourous. The cocktails are amazing, must try the signature 'Spilt Milk' cocktail! There is leather booth seating and a mezzanine floor, overlooking the bar, which can be hired for private parties. Open from 7am for breakfast, till 1am at the weekends, when there is a live DJ playing classic 80s music and pop. A live pianist also features on some nights of the week. The food menu at the bar is very extensive offering exquisite seafood and meat dishes at very reasonable prices. A rarity for a centrally located bar in London. A definite must visit for a night out in the Capital.
The highest bar in London! Found in the Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, at Level 52 this is the best view in London by far. Due to the structure of this unique building, the higher floors have proportionately less space. However, this is an added benefit for the bar as it has three distinct sections each with a different view. The champagne bar has cosy sofas and has the best view of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, make sure to get the table at the far end by the window. The main bar is in the smallest section with views of the city of London, including St Pauls, Tower of London and all the new additions to the ever changing city skyline such as the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater. The skypool area, which is only open after 8.30pm, is where you can relax on chaise lounges and sip cocktails admiring the highest pool in London, albeit very small, with London’s skyline as a backdrop. Look out for the London Eye. There is an area at the far end of the skypool which can sectioned off for private parties. Gong is a great place to impress a date, client or even family and friends. Expect fabulous service and premium priced cocktails which is understandable for the best view in London. As with all hotel bars, little nibbles are served with your drinks. The tempura seaweed crackers served here are so moreish! Make sure to reserve a table at the bar as the hotel’s ground floor hostess will check if you have one. My recommendations for the perfect table are: for romance the Champagne bar, for clients the main bar and for a group the skypool, having experienced all three bars on three separate occasions. Yes, it is my favourite bar in London! Security is tight at the Shangri-La, your bags will be checked before you take the first lift to the hotel reception at level 35. From there the second lift is taken to Level 52. Yes, you need to take two lifts! Enjoy the experience it is well worth it. The bar is open from 5pm daily.
A glorified gastro pub/bar in West London, with alarming décor of Angels, Mother Mary, chandeliers and bird cages hanging from the ceiling. Gorgeous banisters give access to various rooms over two floors. One of the rooms on the second floor has a DJ playing till late at the weekends. Distinct karaoke rooms are available to hire too. To top it all off there a small roof terrace which is open all year round.
Found in the ever so magnificent Rosewood London Hotel in High Holborn, a 1914 Edwardian, Grade II-listed building, Scarfes Bar, is the first bar to be themed around caricature art. Gerald Scarfe is the infamous artist behind the work which adorns the marble walls. Named after him, the bar showcases his artwork on large canvases with over 70 caricatures depicting well known personalities and celebrities such as David Beckham, Harry Potter, Boris Johnson and even Royalty with the first ever caricature of Prince George. A definite talking point!
The bar has cosy sofas, quiet corners, a central fireplace, comfortable bar seating and gives the impression of a sophisticated living room with plenty of book shelves filled with antique books. Open to the general public, the bar serves a unique lunch offering of curries and casseroles with a twist and in the evenings there is nice selection on the bar snack menu. Entertainment in the evening starts with a pianist and then moves on to a live jazz band.
The comprehensive drinks menu comes in a hard bound folder. Take note of the cover it is actually the imprint of Jerry Thomas’s (the father of mixology) first edition Bartenders Book (1862). At Scarfes, each spirit is listed by country of origin and after going through the listings if will be hard to select what you like as you will have covered the whole world! An exclusive drink, which is only available at the Rosewood and nowhere else in London, is the Austrian Rochelt ‘Eau-de-viux’ (Water of life) which is a colourless, fine-fruit flavoured brandy packaged in an exotic bottle with a bespoke silver cap individual to each bottle making it totally unique. This relaxed hotel bar has a great atmosphere and lots of quirks about it. Enjoy what’s on offer.
Found in the Hilton Hotel at Tower Bridge, a stone’s throw from the river front, this bar brings some glamour to the southside. Soft lighting, cosy sofas, sophisticated cocktails and live DJ sets on Thursday and Friday night. The funky music does create a vibrant atmosphere. The bar is a long room with separate seating areas sectioned off by quirky metal curtains. A great place to have a group gathering or even an intimate drink. The TwoRuba taster is a nice quirk to the bar menu, four bite sized dishes are paired up with four mini champagne cocktails to bring out the flavours in each. The combinations are interesting: Foie gras parfait, cream soda jelly on toasted brioche served with French soda foam cocktail, spicy squid with lemon vodka cocktail, pulled pork slider with ginger beer cocktail and a chocolate brownie with an orange inspired cocktail. A great way to sample the cocktails and bar food.
Watch out, the cocktails are potent! There is a private area which can be hired out. A nice space with leather seating along the walls and a central seating area, with the option to have your own DJ.