Here at Smith HQ we all have strong opinions on the best bars in London, so when one of our New York Travel Team consultants had a GoldSmith client heading our way and seeking tucked-away drinking dens, she sent up the Bat-Signal (Smith-Signal?). Five minutes later, she had ‘crowdsauced’ a list of recommendations sure to satisfy even the most dedicated drinker. Here’s what we came up with…
Bourne & Hollingsworth –’a chintzy single room bar hidden down a flight of steps on Rathbone Place’ – topped the list from editorial assistant Madévi Dailly; it’s also a mere seven-minute stroll from Hazlitt’s. Madévi also recommended Callooh Callay (above), where you leave the first bar via a wardrobe to find the secret second bar, and the Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop, which is ‘not quite a cocktail bar but a pop-up teepee on the that does brilliant hot, boozy drinks’.
The Whistling Shop on Worship Street, less than 10 minutes by taxi from Town Hall Hotel: it’s a Victorian-gin-palace-inspired hideaway where convoluted but delicious drinks are served by bartenders who all seem to be handsome and moustachioed, and it’s one of senior travel consultant Baiba Grase’s favourites. Baiba also rates the Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown, Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Opium (go for the dim sum, stay for the cocktails: if you’re with a crowd, the Hailand Island Monster can be sipped by up to 20) and the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town (right), home to the world’s second-smallest disco.
For the view, Paramount at the top of Centre Point – six minutes on foot from the Dean Street Townhouse – is the choice of Laetitia Berthoux, senior Travel Team consultant. Nightjar is where you’ll find global Travel Team manager Jonny Tindal, and Stevie Gulliford, head of sales, votes for The King of Ladies Man in Battersea.
As for me, I’m quite partial to Reverend J W Simpson, near The Soho Hotel (although its creaky stairs and peeling wallpaper unnerve PR manager Elizabeth Rhodes). My favourite from the menu is the Port Berry Stinger which is sweet, velvety and decadently delicious (but admittedly does look slightly like fizzy blood). My absolute best London bar, though – the one where I always take visiting out-of-towners I want to delight – is the Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell (above), which has all the top-notch cocktails and bizarre taxidermy you need for a successful night out. Plus, it’s a hotel, too, so technically you don’t ever need to go home.
Check back soon for our next installment of top local tips, crowdsourced at Smith, or explore our carefully curated collection of London boutique hotels.