Food & Drink

The Best Hotel Bars in London

Published On 03/21/2016 Published On 03/21/2016
interior of scarfes bar in london
Courtesy of Scarfes Bar

Once upon a time, hotel bars were relegated to traveling businessmen (and the escorts who kept them company). Thankfully, we’ve entered a new era, one in which hotel bars are some of the best watering holes around, complete with artful menus, gorgeous spaces -- and almost always enough room for your whole crew. Go and feel like you’re at the top of the world in these expert bars, secure in the knowledge that if your night goes really well, a bed is not that far away.

Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood

Holborn

Scarfes is perfect if you’re in the mood to be pampered like royalty, or you just want to camp out by the fireplace with a book. With high ceilings, crazy artwork, massive chandeliers, an insane back bar, Sunday burlesque shows, and even a resident pup, there’s nothing subtle here -- yet somehow it manages to be ridiculously cozy. Prop up the bar for hours or curl up on an overstuffed sofa: you’re sorted.

Courtesy of The Artesian

The Artesian at The Langham

Oxford Circus

This bar has won almost every award possible in the last few years, including such heavy-hitting accolades as Drinks International’s World’s Best Bar (for three years running), Best International Hotel Bar, Best International Bar Team, Best International Cocktail Bar, and Best International Bartender from Tales of the Cocktail (which is basically the Oscars of the booze world). Although much of the staff has changed in the last few months, the drinks are still outstanding -- and we're all looking forward to seeing what's next for this London hotspot.  

Punch Room

The Punch Room at The Edition

Fitzrovia

Hidden in the back of the stunning Ian Schrager-designed Edition Hotel, this micro bar is truly sexy as hell. Specializing in punches (they’re in the name, after all), bring some friends, and be ready to share concoctions in every size, shape, and style. Snag a couple seats by the fireplace, then let bar manager Davide Segat blow your minds.

Courtesy of The American Bar

The American Bar at the Savoy

The Strand

Back when the US did that silly Prohibition thing, most of the top bartenders at the time ditched speakeasies and police raids for the fairer (and, you know, legal) shores of Europe. In London, Harry Craddock -- author of cocktail bible The Savoy Cocktail Book -- took over The American Bar, where he invented now-classic cocktails like the White Lady and the Corpse Reviver #2. These days, the bartenders are just as talented, the decor just as monochrome swank, and the time still seems to fly by.

Courtesy of The American Bar

The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

The Strand

While the American Bar is pristine and classic, the Beaufort Bar is sultry and grand. 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 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.

Courtesy of the Connaught Bar

The Connaught Bar at The Connaught

Mayfair

Take a spin on their martini trolly -- the bitters and vermouths are made in house, and their twice-frozen ice has some kind of magic properties, so you can customize that baby just how you like it. It’s really all about the details in this elegant space, so sit back, eye up the marble bar, and let the bartenders do their thing.

Courtesy of Dandelyan

Dandelyan at The Mondrian

Southbank

This hotel bar breaks the mould a bit: it feels like a 1970s cruise ship lounge, there are always great tunes (anything from dirty hip-hop to ’80s dance hits), it’s manned by a heavily tattooed, quirky staff, and the drinks will have you guessing as you bottoms-up round after round with glee. The man with a plan here is Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, who is basically a booze wizard making drinks out of anything and everything. There’s a big focus on botany here -- expect plants to show up in everything.

Courtesy of Zetter Town House

Zetter Townhouse

Clerkenwell

It might look like your eccentric aunt’s living room, but this overly decorated den pumps out some of the best drinks in town. With a menu designed by Tony C (of 69 Colebrooke Row), the cocktails here are as ridiculously easy to drink as they are boundary-pushing: think a whisky sour that’s been infused with beurre noisette, and a collins concocted with bee pollen.

Courtesy of The Blue Bar

Blue Bar at The Berkeley

Knightsbridge

Luxe and classic, there’s always quite a scene here with an interesting mix of famous faces, hotel guests, serious cocktail drinkers, and a few ladies of the night. Grab a martini and settle in for some mega people watching.

Courtesy of Dean Street Towhouse

Dean Street Townhouse

Soho

The Soho House Group can basically do no wrong in this town. The long bar is where it’s at, so be ready to start stuffing your face with their excellent eats and drinks. Start at breakfast and stay late into the night: if you’re still there past 11pm and the hotel has rooms available, it’s all yours for 50 quid.

Courtesy of GONG at Shangri-La

GŎNG at Shangri-La

Borough

If you’re a sucker for a view, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Sitting atop the 52nd level of The Shard, you can almost watch the world spin from here. Knock back some of their flawless cocktails and put the phone down for a minute -- no picture is going to capture this vista. They’re a bit tough on the dress code, so leave your flip-flops at home and be ready to throw down some serious cash (it’s worth it, promise).

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Haley Forest is a writer who grew up going to the Lobby Lounge bar at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco with her mother, and thought she was very sophisticated asking for a “Water on the Rocks.” She also dreamt of being a hotel bartender at age 8. Things didn’t exactly go that way, so follow the real story at @HCForest.

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1. Scarfes Bar 252 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EN (Holborn)

With high ceilings, modern chandeliers, crazy artwork, overstuffed furniture and a drink list that would intimidate a lesser person, Scarfes Bar is the place to be. Get pulled into this massive, yet cozy room, claim a spot by the huge fireplace and feel like the royalty you obviously are. Insider’s tip: check out the insane back bar, a Sunday burlesque show, and the resident pup.

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2. Artesian Bar 1C Portland, London, W1B 1JA (Marylebone)

This bar has won almost every award possible in the last few years, including such heavy-hitting accolades as Drinks International’s World’s Best Bar (for three years running), Best International Hotel Bar, Best International Bar Team, Best International Cocktail Bar, and Best International Bartender from Tales of the Cocktail (which is basically the Oscars of the booze world).

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3. Punch Room 10 Berners St, London, W1T

Hidden in the back of the stunning Edition Hotel, this micro bar is truly sexy as hell. Specializing in punches (they’re in the name, after all), bring some friends, and be ready to share concoctions in every size, shape, and style. Snag a couple seats by the fireplace. With wood panels and huge armchairs, this West End hotel bar is a perfect place to hit when you’re rolling with a small crew and feel like splashing some serious cash.

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4. American Bar The Savoy, London, WC2R 0EU (Covent Garden)

Back when the US did that silly Prohibition thing, most of the top bartenders at the time ditched speakeasies and police raids for the fairer (and, you know, legal) shores of Europe. In London, Harry Craddock -- author of cocktail bible The Savoy Cocktail Book -- took over The American Bar, where he invented now-classic cocktails like the White Lady and the Corpse Reviver #2. These days, the bartenders are just as talented, the decor just as monochrome swank, and the time still seems to fly by. Here, “The American” way means an American style of drinks, or mixed drinks, or cocktails, or ya know, drinks-that-are-not-straight-alcohol.

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5. The Beaufort Bar The Savoy, London, WC2R 0EU

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.

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6. The Connaught Bar Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL (Mayfair)

Drinking at this elegant hotel bar is a ritzy experience, and though the menu features a unique spin on every classic cocktail, you're here for the martini trolley. All of the bitters and vermouths are made in-house, and once you order your martini, the bartender will wheel the cart over to you and mix it table-side. It's all about details at The Connaught, so take in the mirrors, plush banquettes, and silver accents, and try not to let your tab bring you down.

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7. Dandelyan 20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD (Southwark)

With stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, leather and velvet decor, and deliciously refreshing cocktails, Dandelyan offers you a refined experience. Winner of Tales of a Cocktail's Spirited Awards for Best New International Cocktail Bar, Dandelyan boasts an iconic green marble bar and a dramatic view of the Thames River. Its menu is nature-inspired, featuring local botanicals as the ingredients and in the display.

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8. The Zetter Hotel & Townhouse 86 Clerkenwell Rd, London, EC1M 5RJ (Clerkenwell)

The Zetter is actually two distinct hotels, each with individually curated rooms that have unique decor and a dynamite cocktail bar and restaurant. The townhouse might look like your eccentric aunt’s living room, but this overly decorated den pumps out some of the best drinks in town. The cocktails here are as ridiculously easy to drink as they are boundary-pushing: think a whisky sour that’s been infused with beurre noisette, and a collins concocted with bee pollen.

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9. The Blue Bar 32B Wilton Pl, London, SW1X 8SH

Luxe and classic, there’s always quite a scene here with an interesting mix of famous faces, hotel guests, serious cocktail drinkers, and a few ladies of the night. You've got the makings of a damn good murder mystery, all under one roof. Grab a martini and settle in for some mega people watching.

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10. Dean Street Townhouse 69-71 Dean St, Soho, W1D 3SG

The Soho House Group can basically do no wrong in this town. The long bar is where it’s at, so be ready to start stuffing your face with their excellent eats and drinks. Start at breakfast and stay late into the night: if you’re still there past 11pm and the hotel has rooms available, it’s all yours for 50 quid.

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11. GŎNG Bar The Shangri-La Hotel, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London, SE1 9QU (Southwark)

Swanky and stylish, the Gong cocktail bar in the Shangri-La Hotel is a nightlife lover's dream come true. This lively spot serves trendy drinks that are perfect for sipping by the rooftop pool (!) while rubbing shoulders with the rich and fabulous. If you’re a sucker for a view, it really doesn’t get much better than this—sitting atop the 52nd level of The Shard, you can almost watch the world spin from here. They’re a bit tough on the dress code, so leave your flip-flops at home and be ready to throw down some serious cash (it’s worth it, promise).

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