I’ve always loved the idea of a hotel bar in London. A piano in the corner plays hummable hits while you sit watching the ladies and gents arrive with their Louis Vuitton steamer trunks with reception greets them like long lost friends.
Things have moved on from that, and though piano bars are aplenty, London hotel bars are not just for people watching anymore. Some of the best cocktail bars in London are in hotels. Many have to made it to the top of Drinks International Magazine’s list of the 50 World’s Best Bars. It would be remiss not to visit these hotel bars while in the London.
(NB: listed in alphabetical order)
The Best Hotel Bars in London
American Bar at the Stafford
You could say I am biased; my second home is the American Bar at the Stafford. What makes the American Bar so special is its old-world charm and its tongue in cheek decor: the whole bar is decorated from floor to ceiling with model airplanes, photographs, university baseball caps, football helmets and all sorts of US memorabilia. Right in the middle of everything. Don’t be fooled though – Benoit Provost and his team take their craft very seriously and there is nothing casual about his attention to detail – every cocktail is a masterpiece.
- Top tip(ple) – The Americans have come marching in – the Stafford’s new menu just launched (April 2019) and all the drinks have an American history theme! Still, the White Mouse is their iconic cocktail named for their resident spy, Nancy Wake, and is a sexy blend of Saffron Gin, Star Anise, Champagne and more. Their glassware is to die for.
The Stafford, 16-18 St James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ
While this is one of the most ornate bars in town, Artesian’s new cocktail menu to be anything but. Maybe they’ve been inspired by the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus this year, as it’s all about minimalism. Two ingredients make up each of the 22 cocktails on the list. Though, with Anna Sebastian in charge of the floor, the service is anything minimalist.
- Top tip(ple) – It’s really hard to choose as everything on their new menu sounds great. Keep playing with their physical menu fashioned as a twirlable double helix inspired by John Edmark’s Helicone.
Artesian at The Langham Hotel, 1C Portland Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA
What can I say about Alessandro Palazzi that hasn’t been said already? For those who don’t know, Dukes Bar is the haven for all things martini, thanks to Ian Fleming making it his watering hole. Don’t think the bar is a one-trick pony! Every cocktail is made with the attention and respect it deserves. Still, if you order a martini, their super glam trolley arrives before you to conjure up the celebrated combination of gin (or vodka) and vermouth!
- Top tip(ple) – Dukes Martini, but remember you are only allowed to have two, so sip them slowly.
Dukes Hotel 16-18 St James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ
It’s hard not to love a place where Simone de Luca is behind the bar. I’ve known him for three years and he never ceases to surprise me with his creativity. The London Edition Hotel, with its larger than life entrance area, can feel daunting to the unaccustomed. So it’s great to tiptoe in the back to the cosy Punch Room far from the madding crowd to be taken care of by the super welcoming staff.
- Top tip(ple) – Anything on their seasonal menu!
Punch Room, The London Edition 10 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3NP