Good news everyone; Dry January officially ends today. While I haven’t been particularly strict in adhering to sobriety, the 1stof February will definitely herald the end of what may have been a very difficult month for some of you. If you live, or are visiting, London there is no better place to grab a drink than within a hotel bar. Below I have listed a few of my favourite haunts in the Capital; worthy of visiting due to their ambience, selection of cocktails, and location.
The Coral Room
Typically known for the beautiful Dalloway Terrace, last year the Bloomsbury Hotel unveiled The Coral Room, an all-day dining restaurant and bar occupying a mammoth 2,100 square-foot space at the front of the hotel. The vivid signature coral colour is certainly impressive, as is the central marble bar adorned in mirror and brass. It is art deco at it’s finest and you feel as if you have been teleported from the mean streets of nearby Tottenham Court Road to a Twenties Miami paradise.
For drinks, their selection of English sparkling wines are certainly a draw, as is the fairly extensive cocktail menu. The whiskey-based New Smoke should certainly hit the spot if you’re after a twist on the classic sour, and there are plenty of fruity options if you are looking for something sweeter (Apples & Pears and the Gin Lane being great cocktails).
Equally impressive is the food menu of small plates and light bites that make up a taps-style menu to enjoy while you sip on said cocktails. While there are full meal options available, dishes such as the Classic Cumberland Sausage Roll, Manchego Cheese & Truffle Honey and Smoke Salmon on Guinness Bread are all out of this world. What better way to build up those calories than with a selection of incredible small plates?
It’s quite a tough ask to choose between Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Shard. The former will always have a place in my heart and is arguably a better location if you’re looking for a drink in Central London, but it’s the dizzying heights and incredible views of Aqua Shard that means it gets the nod over its Japanese-Spanish sister restaurant/bar. Located on the 31stfloor of The Shard, Aqua occupies a huge atrium that faces out onto Tower Bridge and beyond. Get a seat round the corner and you can even see all the way out to Wembley in the distance.
Drinks are typically a twist on classics and the team at Aqua are well-known for their ability to throw a few unexpected ingredients into the mix. You can also find a few Aqua classics on the menu; the Passionfruit Martini and Espresso Martini arguably being the best in their class in the UK. In terms of food, there is a real emphasis here on British cuisine; very different to what you find at Aqua Kyoto in Oxford Circus. Dishes are both From The Sea and From The Land; the common theme being locally sourced ingredients that add real pedigree to the menu.
Smith & Whistle
Park Lane is a busy, busy place. With Green Park and Buckingham Palace both supplying a seemingly infinite flow of tourists, it pays to know where to grab a drink. There are no hallmarks of a cocktail bar at the Smith & Whistle in the Sheraton Grand Park Lane; the art deco interior is narrated by the fictional story of Detective Smith in pursuit of the career criminal Mr Whistle. It’s a cosy affair, with a real sense of snugness that makes this copper-lined venue the perfect winter retreat.
The cocktail list itself is fairly brief but this is certainly not a bad thing. Each drink alludes to some element of law and order, packing plenty of punch for the £11 price tag (generous 35ml pours are standard). The Catch Me If You Can is certainly worth a try, the gingerbread adding something new to a chocolate and rum cocktail, as is the signature martini in the form of The Investigation. There are even drink options for your four-legged friend on the menu (the bar is dog friendly) should you want to bring some non-human company. If you’re feeling peckish, try the Sea Salt Pork Scratchings or the Spiced Cauliflower Fritters which both have plenty of flavour.