We asked you discerning hotel-bar hoppers to vote for the best spots to toast and tipple in; suggestions for the Hottest Hotel Bar at the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 poured in and we distilled them into a top 10 shortlist of the world’s best hotel bars. While the Smith Awards judging panel drink in the results, before the winner is announced on 7 November, here are the mixologists that wowed you with their sleight of hand, the bar crowds that turned your heads and the far-flung, home-from-home hotspots you’d love to make your local – read on to find your next best night out…
Bar highlights Winner of Hottest Hotel Bar at the Smith Hotel Awards 2013 • Lauded Milk & Honey mixologist Sasha Petraske • Old-school decor, A-list crowd
Ace Hotel New York was a worthy Smith Awards winner last year – can the Breslin take the top spot this year? This cool and confident hangout has established itself as a must-visit urban classic, with its vibrant DJ-spun soundtrack and shabby-chic take on a classic New York look. Cocktail wizard Sasha Petraske’s chic libations are as oh-so-stylish as the setting, and equally moreish; however, if mixed drinks aren’t your scene, choose grain over grape – craft beers, culled from local breweries, are de rigeur here.
Bar highlights The world’s first underwater bar and music club • Sits 20 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean • Impressively eco-friendly
Arriving by boat – from Niyama resort – to Subsix bar, bestows an added air of exclusivity on this submerged saloon (even if that’s the only way to reach it). Clown fish and manta rays drift past the aquarium-style windows, as you sip coral-hued cocktails in a space outfitted like a luxe submarine. This jaw-dropping eco-conscious music club keeps guests dancing till the wee hours too, with big-name DJs and musicians – Tinie Tempah performed its inaugural show. It’s heaven, but just sitting a few leagues lower.
Bar highlights Parisian designer India Mahdavi’s Edwardian-era-homage interiors • Brit artist Julian Opie’s coolly cheeky cameos • A formidable champagne and cocktail menu
The Connaught Bar may be the Connaught Hotel’s art deco darling, but we like the discreet clubby feel of the lesser-visited Coburg Bar. Here, India Mahdavi – colour-championing designer of Café Français’ decor – opts for a darker palette, to create a roguishly Dickensian space; a nod to the hotel’s Edwardian past, with art deco chandeliers, and black and purple-velvet wing chairs. Artist Julian Opie’s cameos add Brit wit, and bartenders who are remarkably au fait with the menu’s cognacs and champagnes, are happy to ferry balloon snifters and flutes to your seat.
Bar highlights Access to a rare London rooftop pool • Exclusive members’ club crowd • Covetable Shoreditch-chic interiors
Admittedly we’re in love with each of Shoreditch House hotel and members’ club’s I-wish-this-was-my-house drinking dens, but the Square Bar ticks all the boxes and then some: mid-century Modern ephemera, check. Pseudo-Eames seating, uh-huh. Rag-tag artwork, it’s everywhere you turn – this bar perfectly encapsulates the shabby-chic ethos that makes east London so trendsetting. Slowly work your way through the creative cocktail menu, while propping up the copper-topped bar, then mingle with creative types by the rooftop pool.
Bar highlights Jaw-dropping 52nd-floor views of Tokyo • It’s the iconic Lost in Translation setting • A wine list long enough to overwhelm an oenophile
Director Sofia Coppolla has an eye for a scene-stealing setting; the sleek contemporary interiors of the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo – with a suave black baby grand – offered the perfect backdrop for her star-crossed lovers’ first meeting. However, the real head turner is the neon-flecked views of Tokyo from the floor-to-ceiling windows, as is the War and Peace-length wine list, with vintages cherry-picked from the 1,800-strong cellar – including the largest selection of American wines in Japan. A 2013 Hottest Hotel Bar nominee, the New York Bar is a serious contender for 2014’s crown.
Bar highlights A drinks menu devised by award-winning mixologist Giuseppe Santamaria • The chill-out roof terrace overlooking Via Laietana • Stylishly quirky decor
Close to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, Ohla Boutique Bar delivers in style and substance: mixologist Giuseppe Santamaria (former shaker and stirrer at the Connaught) holds court behind the back-lit bar, deftly muddling slug-worthy cocktails for a groomed Barcelonian crowd. Deviating from the ubiquitous art deco architecture on Via Laietana, interiors err towards Dalí-esque surrealism, with modishly mad red tulip chairs, wine-crate-studded walls and chess-piece-shaped stools. Be sure to order Santamaria’s signature drink, the Bloomsbury Fizz, with gin, lemon and lime juice and a dash of ruby port.
Bar highlights Quintessentially eccentric interiors • Drinks designed by mad-scientist mixologist Tony Conigliaro • Cosy living-room-style setting
You’ll undoubtably feel at home in the Zetter Townhouse’s cocktail lounge; it’s styled as part of the grand abode of fabulously fun, yet fictional, doyenne Great Aunt Wilhelmina. Mixologist Tony Conigliaro’s fin de siècle tinctures, infusions and fixings, and designer Russell Sage’s decor – hand-painted wallpaper and tea-crate tables – make this a very fine drinking den indeed. The bar’s the heart of the Townhouse, and it’s the place to go for a little evening theatre: drinks served in all manner of dishware, exploding cocktails and quirky taxidermy keep luring punters to this curious Clerkenwell den.
Bar highlights Brilliant, obscure-spirit-championing mixologist Leo Robitschek • Decadent turn-of-the-century decor • A lengthy microbrew menu
Now that the Elephant Bar has a little more breathing space, thanks to the new NoMad Bar, this dramatic drinking den is belle and laid-back. The looming mahogany pachyderms guarding the bar make getting a round in an experience in itself; and the cocktail menu is a fascinating read, thanks to mixologist Leo Robitschek’s passion for under-the-radar spirits, sought-after wines and craft-beer collaborations, which spotlight local breweries. We were rather taken with the Satan’s Circus cocktail – a sly wink at the nickname of the bar’s formerly brothel-riddled Broadway locale.
Bar highlights A balcony that overlooks Berlin Zoo • Bang-on-trend live music and DJ nights • Twenties-inspired cocktail menu
Whether you’re seeking an aperitif after dining at Das Stue hotel’s highly renowned eatery Cinco, or you’re looking for somewhere cool to spend the night, the Stue Bar is just the ticket. Set in the 1930s-built Danish embassy, the hip mid-century modern-style bar puts a new spin on a ‘wild’ night out. Music from Berlin-native performers and DJs reflects the city’s ingrained hipness, and we were taken with quirky touches, such as little leather hippopotami. There’s also a terrace overlooking Berlin Zoo’s bird enclosure – so, if you see ostriches, you haven’t hit the Weimar-esque cocktail menu too hard.
Bar highlights On-high views • A spacious and sociable roof terrace • Considered cocktail menu
One might question the logic of naming a bar after J Parker – Abraham Lincoln’s disloyal bodyguard, who was drunk in a nearby tavern as the president was being assassinated – but what’s in a name, when you can enjoy lofty views of Lake Michigan and the Gold Coast from a dapperly dressed roof terrace. Perched on the 13th floor of Hotel Lincoln, elegant urbanites flock to the open-air sofas to sample beverage director Erin Hayes’ destination cocktail menu, which pulls inspiration from Mexico, Russia, Cuba and Spain. There’s an indoor bar too, but here it’s all about sightseeing from above.
The world’s most desirable hotel drinking-den will be announced at the Smith Hotel Awards on 7 November, so stay tuned. In the meantime, why not search the hotels with hip bars at Mr & Mrs Smith…