Sign up here for our daily London email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.
The Most Beautiful Bars in London
Fresh from a refurb, the Bombay Brasserie has definitely benefited from a lick of paint -- it now boasts a gorgeous minimalist colonial look with a backlit bar designed to subtly replicate the look of an open drinks cabinet.
Housed in the Sky Garden on the upper floors of a gigantic mobile phone-looking building in Bank (famed for its ability to melt cars with the sun's rays), Pod has a view over virtually the entire city from its vast three-story-high curved window, the likes of which you've probably never seen before. The bar itself isn't too shabby either, with a palatial, open feel to the space and sleek modern fittings.
Sure, when you're in The Savoy, you kind of expect elegance. But you don't expect this. The opulent black-and-gold surroundings are the result of a £220 million refurb across the entire hotel, which saw the Beaufort built from scratch on the hotel's old cabaret stage.
Yes, that's a life-sized sculpture of a tree they're serving drinks from. And that tree is located on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower, placing it on the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe, so the view outside isn't exactly terrible either.
If you've ever been to sketch, then you already know that it's a pretty beautiful place (in its own weird, arty, slightly surreal way). The Gallery Bar, however, is the peach. It's got a dusty pastel-pink vibe throughout, from chairs, to walls, to the bar itself, all of which is offset by a collection of classic, crudely drawn David Shrigley artwork at the back.
Set below the steakhouse's original outpost, this subterranean addition might just be the pinnacle of the Hawksmoor's famed (and oft-mimicked) Art Deco style. The gorgeous copper bar, parquet floors, vintage lighting, and leather-clad seats all create such an impression, you would swear the drinks actually taste better because of it.
Freshly opened in Dalston, Rudie's not only has a pretty spectacular lighting installation and all-bespoke furniture, but it also has the country's largest rum selection to boot. Also, if you're in the mood for jerk chicken, you could certainly stand to do worse.
Graphic Bar makes the list because it's one of the few places in the city that's managed to successfully bring street art indoors without it seeming forced or incongruous. The recessed walls all sport huge, stunning letters by the now-iconic Ben Eine, while the bar itself houses the UK's largest selection of gin, too.
Something of a newcomer to the scene, the ELLC has taken its huge distillery space where it produces both gin & vodka, and started serving the stuff in it as well. The bar has a fittingly industrial look, while also somehow managing to remain inviting and comfortable.
Gordon's is striking for its cave-like appearance, so its true beauty really comes out in the candlelight used to illuminate the place. Though just a few yards away from Charing Cross and the Thames, when you're here, underground, and insulated from the noise, bustle, and daylight, it truly seems as though you're in another world.
Named for a certain explorer and hot-air balloon enthusiast, Fogg's is peppered with Victorian-era knick-knacks, relics, antiques, and curiosities. The thing that really sells it however, is that these garnishes are also accompanied by a true sense of luxury, with leather seats, fine carpets, and plush fittings.
Set in Dishoom's KGX branch, The Permit Room is not only a good place to showcase the resto's pretty impressive cocktail lineup, but also the thoughtful design that goes into each of its venues. It's huge, moodily lit, and designed to replicate the feel of an old Indian train cafe. The drinks themselves are also pretty inventive, with cocktails all aged in bottles before being served over hand-chipped ice.
You don't become the "world's best bar" (at least, according to the folks at The World's 50 Best Bars, and the Tales of the Cocktail awards) by looking like just any old drinking hole. Artesian has a carefully curated look that evokes both the modern and old fashioned at the same time, sporting sofas that look like they're waiting to kiss you and a mirrored pagoda bar that lets you see the most beautiful thing in the room: you.
From revered drink-smith Tony Conigliaro, ZTH is a drink den that feels like an old gentlemen's club. Cluttered with old carpets, paintings, statues, and chairs, it both looks and feels lived in. And trust us, we mean that as a compliment.
Jason Allen is a senior editor at Thrillist, and thinks the first sip is with the eye.
1. Sky Garden20 Fenchurch St, London
2. The Beaufort BarThe Savoy, London
3. SUSHISAMBA110 Bishopsgate, London
4. Sketch9 Conduit St, London
5. Hawksmoor Bar157B Commercial Street, London
6. Rudies's50 Stoke Newington Road, London
7. Graphic Bar4 Golden Square, London
8. East London Liquor Company221 Grove Rd, London
9. Gordon's Wine Bar47 Villiers Street, London
10. Mr Fogg's15 Bruton Ln, Mayfair, London
11. Bombay BrasserieCourtfield Road, London
12. The Permit Room7 Boundary Street, London
13. The Cocktail Bar At ZTH49-50 St John, , London
Sky Garden is London's highest public garden, offering outstanding views of the city and three unique restaurants -- Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill, Darwin Brasserie, and Sky Pod Bar.
Winner of the Best International Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail (2015), this is the place to go when you want to impress someone -- it’s truly a jaw-dropping affair, decked in sultry black and gold. The drinks are the stuff of legends, and pay homage to some of the greats, like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe -- who once propped up the bar. You can also choose from an impressive selection of vintage and non-vintage champagnes by the glass or the bottle. You can enjoy evenings of cabaret and burlesque here, too.
Life is pretty good on the 39th floor of the Heron Tower. Beverage genius Rich Woods has done a serious number on the drinks, so grab a Kobe Cocktail (like a maple and salted caramel Old Fashioned but fat washed with real Kobe beef, obviously) and some Samba rolls and look down on the world busily turning beneath you.
'sketch' is the brain-child of Mourad Mazouz and Pierre Gagnaire, who together have brought years of experience and acclaim to make sketch a popular Mayfair stop for culture and food. It is a collision of food and entertainment, and they serve multiple menus of food, plus baked goods and snacks consistenty.
Enjoy delicious cocktails while feeling trendy in thsi art deco style bar.
Here you'll enjoy the country's largest rum collection.
Enjoy the UK's largest selection of gins while enjoying some pretty epic street art.
This distillery produces and imports a wide variety of gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey, and then serves 'em up in their bar, which features a comprehensive list of 'tails made with the finest ingredients.
Nothing like drinking in a cave to make you feel like a pirate.
This Mayfair drinkery is one of London's best-kept secrets, with terrific cocktails made by experienced mixologists, an extensive liquor collection, and a wonderfully kitschy interior, Mr Fogg's is a solid choice for after-work drinks or a whole night out.
You'll love their new refurb almost as much as their cocktail selection. Almost.
This venues unique cocktail list should be at the top of your must drink list.
Enjoying a cocktail at the posh cocktail bar/lounge lounge situated inside the Zetter Townhouse, even your conversation takes a weightier significance by proxy, between pauses of gleefully asking the bartender for another.