My Favourite 5* Hotel Bars for January – London
Rivoli Bar – The Ritz – Piccadilly
For a touch of elegance you can’t go past the Rivoli Bar at The Ritz. As the liveried doorman holds open the doors, you immediately feel like you are stepping into another world, unless you’re really loaded and can afford to go to these places all the time, in which case you can probably stop reading.
From the timeless and elegant furniture that looks like it might just hold the weight of a sparrow to the lashings of gold and many huge ornate mirrors, even the foyer is a sight to behold.
The bar itself is to the right and is just as glamorous. Decorated in Art Deco style it is what you would expect. Wood panelling, decorated mirrors, antique furniture and leather armchairs if you can get one. There is most definitely a dress code here so if you want to get in you’d better have your suit and tie on guys. Luckily for me I had just been to an event at Buckingham Palace hosted by The Queen (true story! ), enough said.
The drinks are not your average high street prices for sure! To give you an idea, the cheapest glass of wine is £14, cheapest champagne is a house variety at £19/glass and cocktails are from £19 too.
It is fair to say that we enjoyed our surroundings, the staff were pleasant but not obsequious and although we only could stay for one drink it is an experience that we recommend everyone should try, even if it IS just on a special occasion.
Mandarin Bar – Mandarin Oriental – Knightsbridge
If you’re looking for a near-on perfect venue for drinks then this must be one of your choices. Housed within the walls of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge this place oozes glamour. I’ve been coming here for several years and it never fails to take me to my happy place. From the horseshoe-shaped bar with stools to the comfortable sofas and chairs it’s a great place to catch up with friends.
The wine list provides a plentiful selection to suit all taste buds (and wallets) and the cocktails are as you would expect, delicious and beautifully presented. My only quibble was that there were no blue cheese stuffed olives for my dirty martini but I’m a big girl, the martini was good so I’ll let it pass. It’s always convenient to have on hand a few crisps and nuts to snack on (plus the salt makes you thirsty), these are provided gratis and refilled whenever they are getting low.
On my visit there was live jazz being played. Sometimes in a bar this can be obtrusive but here it wasn’t and it all added to the convivial atmosphere. I’m not a particularly big jazz fan but I enjoyed it. The service was attentive, friendly and slick. All in all I had a great night here again.
The Whiskey Bar – The Athenaeum – Mayfair
Many Londoners will know the Athenaeum Hotel for its amazing living wall. Located on Piccadilly opposite Green Park, it really is a feat in engineering. The hotel also boasts the world famous Whiskey Bar. The bar has over 300 types of whiskey and bourbon from around the globe with something to suit most pockets. With it’s sumptuous furnishings it has a cosy feel to it but has enough little pockets to hide yourself away for a bit of alone time if that’s what’s needed. Whilst it is not the largest of the bars in size it is big in character. If you are not so sure about whiskey but would like to learn more there is a fabulous whiskey sommelier to answer your questions and help you decide what works best for your taste buds. Of course there are wines, spirits and cocktails as well.
Equus Bar – Royal Horseguards Hotel – Whitehall
There can be no doubt that the Royal Horseguards Hotel is a stunning representation of Victorian architecture. Built in 1884 in the style of a French Chateau what is even more fascinating is the history that has taken place within it’s grand walls on the banks of the Thames. The Equus Bar is situated off the main lobby. Furnished with sumptuous red velvet curtains and chairs, accented with red and gold tapestry cushions and overlooked by period paintings, this is a real step back to a period when everything was glamorous and decadent. Here a variety of in-house cocktails are served up by the all-knowing mixologists with some named after it’s former historical patrons including George Bernard Shaw and Lord Kitchener. The wine list is extensive and features everything from well known wineries around the world to a few lesser known but nonetheless worthy contenders. I for one am glad to see some English sparkling wines representing which were very popular amongst my fellow Oenophiles