We all know that UK is renowned for its pubs and London certainly offers up a good selection. You have the traditional English pub where the landlord is on hand serving real ales or food focused gastro pubs with artisan brewed beer and a food menu to rival Gordon Ramsay.
When it comes to London bars there are so many to choose from like speakeasies, cocktail bars, basement bars, rooftop bars, hotel bars, the list really is endless. To make the Top 10 a bar would need something special, unique even, that makes them the real deal.
Decor&Sytle with the help of our friends from the London Design Agenda have come up with our recommended list for the Top 10 Bars in London, these places will charm you and keep you coming back for more, which is exactly why they’ve made our prestigious list.
Because sometimes the top Ten isn’t enough we added some more! Grab your friend and let’s have some fun!
Enjoy London, Responsibly.
3-4 Archer Street, Soho, London, W1D 7AP – Though there’s something of the private members’ club, to this chic new bar on Soho’s Archer Street, the doors are open to everyone. Tucked into a less than salubrious part of Soho, the room is surprisingly airy and elegant, something of an oasis, with its panelled walls and abundance of inviting sofas. The cocktail list is full of tantalising concoctions like the Dawa, a mix of vodka, lime, honey and brown sugar, and they offer complimentary nibbles much like the Italians do
76 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 7XB – Ruby’s is everything you’d expect from a hidden basement bar in Dalston. It’s a retro, clandestine space, rough around the edges in a stylised way. There’s an agreeable flea market aesthetic; the place abounds with vintage beer mats, antique milk bottles, rickety tables and the kind of lamps your granny might once have owned. The drinks list is compact but well thought out; there are just five cocktails but they’re made with care and served in a variety of unexpected vessels.
61 Goodge Street, London, W1T 1TL – Working in tandem with debonair chef Raymond Blanc, the new venture combines cocktail bar with open kitchen and sees them serving their proven array of classic and contemporary drinks along with a range of quirky canapés including potted shrimp and mini Mr Whippies. The new premises are quite different in style from the original, eschewing the former’s clubby, elegant vibe for something hipper and altogether more modern.
39 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2SF – The venue is split into two spaces, the faintly industrial upstairs dining room and the downstairs cocktail bar. Equally stripped back and raw-walled it’s a hip, urban space in which to drink exquisite creations like the One Day in a June, a zingy mix of gin, creme de peche, elderflower cordial, ginger, cucumber, lemon and pineapple juice. Beer drinkers should opt for the Oskar’s Mumma, a potent combination of gin, cardamom, ginger beer, Nils Oscar God Lager and Anchor Porter, which comes served in pewter tankards.
10c Hanover Square, London, W1S 1JH – Dirty Martini is part of this new wave. It might not be quite as hip as the London Cocktail Club’s various incarnations, but it’s a great place for an after-work drink. Somewhat tucked away, just off the main piazza, the stylish basement space is compact but well laid-out. Drinks are of a very good standard: the Mango and Chilli Martini has a pleasing kick to it, their Tokyo Mule contains a splash of sake and their Hibiscus Fizz is the definition of refreshing.
63 Worship Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 2DU – This venture from the team behind Purl has been inspired by the grand Victorian gin palaces. Located in a Shoreditch basement, it’s an elegant, evocative venue, full of atmosphere, and the perfect setting to sample their inventive and theatrical cocktails. The drinks list will get most cocktail aficionados excited; any cocktail menu that feels obliged to provide a glossary is a good thing in our eyes.
48 Lonsdale Road, London, W11 2DE – Designed by leading bar architects Fusion, it’s a three-floor restaurant-bar with a high-concept private bar on the ground floor known as Genevieve. Check out her futuristic jet age seating and design touches that include some weird, spacey chrome bubbles – and demand they let you in. Although not a member’s bar per se, we suspect you have to be celeb or a Notting Hill “name” if you want access. Food is “global tapas” – tasty small dishes from around the world – and drinks have the distinct mark of Bradsell and fellow cocktail guru Henry Besant.
103 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1DD – It’s one of London’s most divisive buildings. Many see Centre Point as the apex of urban ugliness, but there’s no denying its iconic status and now the top three floors have been transformed into Paramount, a club with an unparalleled view. Designed by Tom Dixon, the interior features a wrap around champagne bar as well as various other dining, bar and lounge spaces on the lower levels. The décor is masculine and ever so slightly Star Trek.
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road Southank, London, SE1 8XX – Taking its name from the iconic Festival of Britain structure, Skylon has an appropriately retro feel inside, enlivened by fresh contemporary design touches (the chandeliers are particularly funky) and an incomparable view of the Thames, the true highlight of the room. In the centre of the space sits a raised bronze-clad cocktail bar, serving an array of drinks, both classic and contemporary.
Morrell House 98 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3AF – Based on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road, in a part of town not exactly starved for hip bars, Ninety Eight still stands out. This basement bar, located beneath the historic Morrell House, has the feeling of someone’s very elegant living room. There’s a baby grand in one corner, an array of faded chaise-lounges, vintage lamps and a striking, if no longer functioning, water feature. The whole place has a time-warp, country house feel, theatrical and bohemian in atmosphere. The drinks are creative and occasionally obscure; the coffee-infused Strawberry Bean is complex concoction while the Lavender and Blueberry Mojito is deliciously refreshing. There are very often music and poetry readings in the candle-lit salon, the staff are friendly and clearly enjoy what they do and the crowd are, not to put too fine a point on it, very Shoreditch.
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One Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ – The glamorous One Aldwych hotel, located on the cusp of Covent Garden, not only houses two stylish restaurants but also an attractive and airy Lobby Bar which is worth a visit in its own right. The double-height space boasts large arched windows, dramatic floral displays and some striking sculptures, the most distinctive of which is a large figure perched in a small boat, oars askew. The extensive drinks list features a long list of premium spirits, wines and champagnes alongside a wide array of cocktails.
50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG – Cunningly disguised by its 60s style office front, the Philippe Starck-designed Sanderson Hotel set the standard by which all other contemporary city hotels are judged. The atmosphere, aimed for and achieved, is that of ‘urban spa’ – chic, sleek, tranquil, modern and totally to die for. At the heart of all this is the legendary Long Bar: 80-feet of dramatic, glowing onyx and the focal point of the Sanderson’s social scene. Attracts a mix of A-list party types, lucky hotel residents, and hip young Londoners loooking to drink a well-made cocktail in some of the most striking surroundings the capital has to offer. The adjoining courtyard area is one of London’s true hidden treasures.
1 Snowden Street, Broadgate West, London, EC2A 2DQ – Chrysan is a stylish operation. It was bound to be, coming from the people behind the acclaimed Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan. The sleek interior is temple-like with a contemporary twist and, as with Hakkasan, there’s a beautiful bar area for pre-dinner drinks, an elegantly minimalist space called the NeNe bar, scattered with neat little stools on which one can perch with a cocktail. Asian flavours permeate the drinks list: ingredients include plum wine, sake and smoked tea liqueur.
25 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BH – Momo is famed for bringing North Africa’s Couscous and Tagines to the West End. Sumptuous Ottoman-style low-slung couches and cushions make for sumptuous comfort – if difficult to get up from! What has for many years been the privilege of the few is the Kemia bar downstairs. It used to be second home to every serious ‘A’ lister including Madonna, Kevin Spacey, Liv Tyler, Cameron Diaz and Sacha Baron Cohen. Nowadays it’s the better behaved media types and bankers pouring through its doors but it’s still such a crush, so try to get there when you can enjoy the fabulous cocktails without being bent double.