This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you buy something but with no cost to you.

Lush Guide to the Best Bars in South Kensington & Chelsea (updated 2024!)

Traditionally if you wanted a great cocktail in South Kensington, you made it yourself. Now the tide has turned and some of the best bars in South Kensington are some of the best bars in the world. Not only have they become part of the neighborhood, but they are also winning awards for their cocktail creations! 

Lush Guide to South Kensington and Chelsea, London

Perfect for a special occasion, date nights, happy hour or a relaxed drink, these bars are only steps away from the Royal Albert Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Come for the dinosaurs, stay for the daiquiris!

Where is South Kensington

Just to get your bearings, the main road in the heart of South Kensington leading west and out of town is Cromwell Road. Other roads that make up the area are Fulham Road, Old Brompton, Queensgate, Exhibition Road, and Gloucester Road. Earls Court is the farthest east South Ken goes.

If you are on Kings Road, you are in Chelsea, with its own set of great bars and Kensington Church Street off of High Street Kensington will lead you up to Notting Hill Gate.

The bars that make up my Lush Guide to the Best Bars in South Kensington have all been tried and tested by me!

(In alphabetical order)



Last year, an addition to the South Kensington scene, located on Kensington High Street and a hidden gem among the takeaways and pharmacies, Amaro was not to be missed and it continues to go from strength to strength. Their pedigree is without fault. Former Head Mixologist of the Savoy’s Bars, Elon Soddu, has moved into town and wIth him, he has brought a slew of slingers who formerly worked at HomeBoy, Kwant and 69 Colebrooke Row.

You can order any of their signature cocktails you want or choose from their cocktail masterpieces – they don’t call them that, I do! They have not put one foot wrong with their Pomegranate Negroni, Pomelo and Peach Gimlet, Pear Old Fashioned and every other one on their signature cocktail list. If you are feeling flush, there is a vintage cocktail list on hand if you fancy a 1970 Hanky Panky.

  • Amaro, 15 Kensington High St, London W8 5NP
The Bar at Sloane

Bar…At Sloane

For design connoisseurs who also demand great cocktails, a bar has opened in Sloane Square that cannot be missed. With interiors conceived by architect and decorator François-Joseph Graf, the Bar…At Sloane was bound to be a stunner – think the Hotel Costes in Paris or La Mirande in Avignon.  

The bar has its own private entrance separate from the hotel, so walk around the corner to Holbein Place. Down the stairs you go to be welcomed into a warm, wood-paneled lounge with a bar at one end and a fireplace at the other. Low tables with plush seats and velvet covered banquettes invite you to settle in for the evening, perfect for a rendez-vous for two or more! There are also two small snug, private rooms for even cozier tete-a-tetes!

The bar menu is all about the classics, such as three-olive Martinis, Spicy Margaritas made with their homemade jalapeno-infused tequila, and the Joan Collins, a Chelsea twist on the Tom Collins. The team is working on a signature cocktail list which should be done this Spring.

Remember that the bar has a strict door policy based on dress code, think ‘Parisian chic’ – so don’t come in your skivvies unless they are Agent Provocateur!

Bar 190

Can a bar ride on the fact that it was the venue for the launch party of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album! You bet. Bar 190 has definitely not lost its coolness after all these years. In fact, it’s only getting better. A few years ago, Bar 190 would not have made the Lush List, but now they’ve shaken off the dust, hired some great bartenders, and are making some fabulous cocktails.  

Make sure you head there immediately after the Royal Albert Hall lets out or you will be sent away. More than one famous performer has been disappointed when being told there was no more room! I saw it with my own eyes!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: Don’t miss the art work!! Yes! Those are photos from the original Rolling Stones’ party in the 70’s!

  • Bar 190, 190 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5EX
Callooh Calley Chelsea - Norwich

Callooh Callay Chelsea

Although this bar is technically in Chelsea, it is close enough to South Kensington that it deserves to be on this list! For those of you who might not know of Callooh Callay, get yourself down here or to their bar in Shoreditch asap. It is really one of London’s most respected establishments, not only known for great drinks, but also their award-winning cocktail menu design. (Learn more by tuning into my podcast with Rebekkah Dooley, the designer of one of my favorite menus, The Callooh Callay Mixed Tape presented in a cassette tape holder).

Their signature cocktails have been created with passion and care and this menu should no be missed if you are in London. Also I can’t not mention the new food menu – from fried chicken bites to shrimp tacos, a perfect pairing for these incredible cocktails.

Top Tip(ple)🍸: Even though every drink I had (5!) was superb, I adored the story of the “Norwich!” During WWII, a naughty soldier might drop in the word “Norwich” in a letter to his loved one. It was an acronym for: (k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home!”

Esq bar, South Kensington


Hidden underneath 100 Queensgate Hotel is the Esq Bar. Don’t think this is any boring hotel bar. They are cranking out some pretty good cocktail here! The bar is launching a revolving concept menu which changes to a new geographical location every six months. Right now, we are in Asia with a delicious Asian-inspired food and cocktail menu. Using Asian spirits, the cocktails are fresh and innovative. Giacomo, Zach and the rest of the team are a delight!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: Read the menu from cover to cover. It is a delight!

  • ESQ Bar, 100 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5AG
The Franklin Bar

The Franklin Bar

How apropos of The Franklin Bar in South Kensington/Knightsbridge to use the Grand Tour as its inspiration for their new cocktail menu. I’m not talking about the Jeremy Clarkson Amazon TV show, but the original Grand Tour – that rite of passage for every upper-class British gentleman from the 17th to almost the early 19th-century.

Heading out to see the world, these lucky Brits would travel from Britain to Italy and further abroad to continue their education. Think of it as the grandest gap year (or years) ever. I’m sure many vivants of the Franklin Hotel’s chichi neighborhood had their bags packed and were ready to go as soon as they turned 21.

The bar team at the Franklin led by Head Bartender Antonio Papariello have created a fabulous new menu (as of October 2022) that reimagines the Grand Tour for the 21st Century. Each guest is asked to choose what type of traveler they are: Collector, Early Bird, Pioneer or Escapist. A different British vehicle is assigned to each type of traveler: a Mini Copper, Range Rover, Aston Martin, and Jaguar – no horse and carriages needed for this Grand Tour. Then you pick from one of the signature cocktails in your group named for the Italian city you are headed to!

Now in the Summer of 2023, we are invited to head off on the Grand Tour Chapter 2 – driving thought the South of Italy from Rome to Calabria, with a stop off on Italy’s islands!

The Roma celebrates its seven hills and its famed amatriciana pasta by using Seven Hills Gin and guanicale as ingredients! The Amalfi wouldn’t be right without a touch of its famed lemons, which appear in its use of Staibano Limoncello, lemon curd, and lemon juice. The islands get their due with the Palermo, the Porto Cervo and the Cagliari to name a few! The hard work and creativity dedicated to this menu shines through – they just don’t sound good on the page, they taste truly fantastic.

It sounds a lot more complicated written down than it is. Really it’s just a bit of fun that you will be delighted to play along with because the cocktails are so worth it. Of course, you don’t have to play along, but that would be missing out on the immersive cocktail experience they’ve work so beautifully to create.

I highly recommend you seek out the Franklin even if you just want to have a classic cocktail that is not on their Grand Tour. It’s a jewel of a bar in a gorgeous boutique hotel. In the summer, the garden is in fully bloom and you can sit outside. Also the bar snacks are a cut above, thanks to the genius of Michelin-starred Chef Alfredo Russo overseeing the menu – still dreaming about the ‘Nduja Arancini.

Harrods Baccarat Bar - Cocktail

Baccarat Bar at Harrods

They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but how about a cocktail by its glass? I think its safe to say that at the Baccarat Bar you can and you must!

It is fitting that one of the chicest bars in South Kensington, or even I would go as far as to say in all of London, is nestled below Harrods, the iconic British retailer. This magnificent bar is a collaboration between Harrods and Baccarat, the prestigious French crystal manufacturer and the cocktails are as fabulous as the glassware they inhabit!

The divine Bar Manager Michal Janusz Maziarz welcomes you in and, if you aren’t familiar with Baccarat and their new Metamorphosis Menu, he makes sure you are by the end of the night. His passion and dedication to not only the bar, but also the new menu is contagious. It was inspired by the ability of Baccarat’s craftsmen to transform simple materials into objets d’art. The bar team took that know-how and brought it to their own techniques, turning simple ingredients into innovative cocktails.

They’ve employed 12 different methods, including fermentation, caramelization and oxidation, to create a 16 refined cocktails and four non-alcoholic serves. Of course, each of these is presented in its own fabulous Baccarat crystal glass.

Not only are the cocktail exquisite, but the bar itself exudes sophistication, adorned with Baccarat’s exquisite crystal chandeliers, glassware, and decorative pieces! The banquettes and seats are plush and comfy and the whole staff is knowledgeable and passionate, not only about the cocktails but well-versed in the history and heritage of Baccarat!

Don’t forget you can always purchase a glass or two for your home bar after your gorgeous evening here!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: Don’t miss the Coalescent – a bubbly subtle twist on a Pornstar Martini – but not bubbly just from champagne, but a heady foam of bubbles that make drinking it all the more fun. You have to experience it to believe it!

  • Baccarat Bar at Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL, United Kingdom (Lower Ground Floor via street-level access on Hans Crescent or in-store (Door 5a))

Cocktails at the K Bar

K Bar

One of the best hotels in the area has to have one of the best bars, right? Right! Sitting on the corner of Queensgate and Old Brompton Road is The Kensington Hotel, part of The Doyle Collection. Bustling and full of life, The Kensington Hotel and its K Bar is always busy and it’s rare to find a table free come cocktail hour. Still there is a relaxed atmosphere and you can always sit at the bar before settling into their comfy leather armchairs. As of this year, they’ve even extended the bar to make room for everyone to sit.

This January (2024) sees the launch of their new menu, Reflections, created by the amazing Adrian Gonzalez Parrondo and head bartender Jonatan Bou Guardiola! Taking the concept of how the world reflects back at you, each of the new menu’s cocktails is inspired by the team’s diverse backgrounds, cultures and ages. When handed the menu, you might not able to read it – why? You’ll have to come down and see why!

Each cocktail is made with house-made picklings, sherbets, bitters and infused liqueurs as you would expect, but it’s how they put them together in a cocktail that’s totally unexpected!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: Their classic cocktails are truly classic, with a Corpse Reviver No.2 and Brandy Crusta on the top of the list. Don’t miss trying these as you can’t get them made better anywhere else. Off the Reflections menu has to be the one in the photo above – the Panthalassa – think the ocean that once enveloped the supercontinent of Pangea, but made of Botanist Gin, Darjeeling and a touch of spirulina – gorgeous!

Twice Shy

Twice Shy

Lucky for us, the geniuses behind Amaro bar on Kensington High Street (and the first on my list above) , have opened Twice Shy, their second venue! On a tiny street almost opposite from Earl’s Court station, the bar which opened last last year (2023) is already a neigborhood staple! From the large window right on the street, the long bar invites you in! It’s a small bar with only seats for 30 – so it feels super intimate. There is also a small room downstairs for private events.

The cocktail menu are simple, but experimental. Drawing on season flavor, the cocktails revolve around one or two main ingredients, like Lemongrass & Amalfi Lemon or Vanilla & Sakura. With Victor Maggiolo and Elon Soddu at the helm, you know they are going to be fantastic! For us West Londoners, it is amazing to add one more bar to what used to be a desert for serious drinkers.

  • Top Tip(ple)🍸: The Lemongrass & Amalfi was refreshing and luscious – a great combination of grassy and citrus with a touch of bitterness!
Hereford Arms


There are too many South Kensington pubs to call them all out. All have a great selection of craft beers, cask ales,wine and nibbles. On Old Brompton are The Drayton Arms and The Duke of Clarence. The Builder’s Arms right off Kensington Square is gorgeous. The Hereford Arms is the closest to Gloucester Road. The Anglesea Arms found on Selwood Terrace in South Kensington is where Charles Dickens once lived and its terrace is packed in summer. Although not technically in South Kensington, I will give a shout out to the Churchill Arms as one of the best pubs in the West London!

Food for when you leave the bar

Bute Street is a short walk from the K Bar and has a selection of great restaurants. If you are in the mood for chicken wings, there is Wingstop and Dirty Bones. Also some of the best Spanish Tapas can be found on Fulham Road.

In Memorium

Janet’s Bar

I have to admit that Janet’s Bar holds a special place in my heart. It’s a classic and been around forever. I was so sad to discover that it is closed for now. Will keep you posted if that changes.

Check out my other Lush Guides:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.