West London has the highest concentration of bars in the whole of London so you if you are looking for things to do you really are spoilt for choice! The West End is the throbbing heart of the capital and the destination of choice for tourists.
Soho and Covent Garden are also rammed full of bars to suit all tastes, just get off at Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road tube and head in random directions, you cannot fail to find yourself the perfect venue -alternatively read our top 10 list!
1) Trailer Happiness
At the bottom of Portobello Road, once the bohemian hub of London, and only 10 minutes walk from Notting Hill Gate, youll find a little bit of Polynesia – in the form of kitsch tiki bar, Trailer Happiness. Styled like a scummy cluttered 60s bachelor pad slash trailer interior, its kitsch charm is irresistible; Tretchikoff and J.H.Lynch prints and pop art Polynesians smile from the walls and, I mustnt forget, the retro-tastic flying ducks, yes, fantastic! Drinks are equally retro and tiki flavoured, mostly rum based and extremely potent for example, cocktails such as the lethal Zombie (5 rums, absinthe and bitters) all expertly served by skilled mixologists. Lager is available for those less adventurous campers. The music in this Notting Hill rarity is cool, matching the trendy clientele. True toTrailer Happiness wacky, tongue in cheek form, the toilets are unisex. Yes, you find yourself cheesiliy grinning, thinking, this is a great place!
Location: 177 Portobello Rd, London, W11 2DY
For more details visit: Trailer Happiness
On Heddon Street, Mayfair, youll find two bars for the price of one; Alsolut Ice Bar and belowzero, located in the former Royal wine vaults. Situated in between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus tube stations, Absolute Ice Bar offers unique experience being the only permanent bar in the UK to be made out of ice – the walls, the bar and even your glass is made of the purest Swedish ice plucked from the Torne River. After being handed a designer thermal cape, gloves and hood, youre given a 40 minute time slot to explore the cavernous interior, the theme of which is redesigned every 6 months. Indeed, Absolute Ice Bar it is more like a tourist attraction than a bar per se but it is certainly unique. Im sure theres no need to mention what is on the drinks menu, vodka! In fact vodka at its best in all its wonderful versatile variety.
If you are in need of warming afterwards, you can find a normal temperature bar – in belowzero on the ground floor (in the same building) complete with outside terrace. If youd like to visit at peak times, booking is advised.
Location: 31-33 Heddon Street Mayfair, London, W1B 4BN
For more details visit: belowzero
3) Gordons Wine Bar
Do not, in this case, allow your imagination to conjure visions of what youd usually consider when reading the term, wine bar – this is a unique, up-market, and slightly dingy, old school drinking den. Step down the narrow stairs into a cramped cavernous brick exposed cellar into a piece of genuine Victoriana. Essentially, as you step down the stairs, you are stepping back in time to 1890s bohemian Paris or Victorian London – you decide.
Londons oldest wine bar, Gordons, established 1890, is located in Kipling House after the famous writer, Rudyard Kipling, who lived in the parlour above the bar in the 1890s. It is worth noting that London chronicler Samuel Pepys also called the building home in the 1680s. The family run wine bar is located on Villiers St, just next toEmbankment tube stations and five minutes from Charing Cross and Waterloo. In the terms of drinks, as the name dictates, expect some of the finest wine the world has to offer served with the expertise and warmth of the staff. Gordons Wine Bar is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the West End, a fantastic alternative to the more cheesy commercial offerings in the area. And the intimacy also makes Gordons Wine Bar the perfect venue for a date.
Location: 47 Villiers St, London, WC2N 6NE
For more details visit: Gordons Wine Bar
4) The Crescent
In West Kensington, in an intimate basement, lies The Crescent. Yeah, West Kensington is basically South Kensingtons slightly less classy neighbour however, Im sure youll agree The Crescent lends a champagne cork popping air of sophistication to a less desirable location. Five minutes from West Kensington tube station, The Crescent offers an extensive range of Champagne including some rare offerings and skilfully created cocktails. Decor is extremely stylish and comfortable, blue and rose velvet sofas offset by relaxing modern lighting fixtures, slate gray walls and a host of pictures portraying the Hollywood stars from the 40s -80s. Music is represented by soul, funk and house, with the obligatory DJs playing on weekends.
Location: 3a North End Crescent, London, W14 8TG
For more details visit: The Crescent
5) Aint Nothing But The Blues
If you are looking for somewhere with a great, welcoming atmosphere, Sohos Aint Nothing But The Blues, is the perfect destination. Due to the intimate placing of tables youll find yourself happily chatting to the occupants of the adjacent tables, the clientele consists mainly of overseas students and young professionals looking to make the acquaintance of similar others. Three minutes walk from Oxford Street, Aint Nothing But The Blues is probably the closest answer to a genuine Memphis blues bar this side of the Atlantic. Youve guessed it; music is represented solely by the blues. Bands perform regularly and there are blues jam sessions where anyone may participate. In between sets crackly vinyl recordings of almost 100 year old music punctuate the intermission between sets. As youd expect, drinks wise, all the usual suspects are there – along with an exceptional selection of wines and an unspeakably extensive range of whiskeys.
Location: 20 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PZ
For more details visit: Aint nothing but the Blues
6) 22 Below
Blink and youd miss it. Or, as is more appropriate, walk past and ignore it. Thats what would happen with this intimate Great Marlborough Street venue. Camouflaged in between cafes, just off trendy Carnaby Street, is a small staircase leading to 22 Below, a basement bar (theres a slight clue in the name). Once inside, youll be glad you found it, as you are greeted by a welcoming warm red interior. This is one for the cocktail buffs, 22 Belowsrange is mind blowing and original. Another great thing is the entertainment, on Wednesdays, 22 Below plays host to the Electric Mouse brotherhood, bringing some of the greatest upcoming names on the comedy circuit, much cheaper than the nearby West End alternatives. Fridays and Saturdays are dedicated to vinyl, belting out the sounds of house and hip hop.
Location: 22 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU
For more details visit: 22 Below
7) Buddha Bar
This exclusive West Central London celebrity hangout is the place to be seen, Buddha Bar is a melting pot of the rich and famous also available to the less privileged; entry is guest list only after 10pm. Once you get over that and gain entry to the Victoria Embankment bar, you are greeted by opulent oriental interiors and yes of course, the obligatory statue of Buddha, which commands pride of place above the dining room. The bar, situated on the mezzanine, offers a selection of excellent cocktails including unique signatures such as the Millionaires Mojito. Musically, one can expect a chilled out selection of electronic infused with eastern spice. Although, after ten the dynamic changes and vinyl recordings starts churning out the usual bar fodder to appease the exclusive guests. So check your watch; if its before 10 and youre with a group of fun-hungry friends, get off the tube at Temple Tube Station, Buddha Bar is just around the corner.
Location: 8 Victoria Embankment, London, WC2R 2AB
For more details visit: Buddha Bar
8) The Lonsdale
If you find yourself in the Notting Hill area The Lonsdale is calling, offering some of the best cocktails this side of London and indeed the world. The Lonsdale celebrates the origins of delicious intoxicating drinks and their arrival in Britain. Sat in The Lonsdales cool, art deco styled bar, you can travel back in time to discover original cocktail recipes such as Drakes Mojito (1600s). With a selection of over 200 of the worlds best sprits, some brands and concoctions youd never heard of let alone tasted. The West London den is situated over 3 rooms: the restaurant, the bar and Genevieve – the private members bar, situated upstairs. Get off at Notting Hill tube station and head north.
Location: 48 Lonsdale Road, London, W11 2DE
For more details visit: The Lonsdale
9) The Players
Located on the Embankment, just a short walk from Charing Cross, Embankment and Leicester Square tube stations, The Players is not your average bar – being the destination for West End Theatre staff – mainly the chorus and dancers. At this point it is worthwhile mentioning, linked to The Players is the New Players Theatre. This is great venue to view the melodramatic mincing of the theatrical darlings and the blue blooded buffoonery of the public schooled social elite. The best thing about The Players is the music; none of the loud house or chart offal served up other West End establishments, just a white baby grand piano – which tends to get commandeered by the songsters and thespians, once the curtains have been pulled. If you can play piano and sing, due to the open-mic policy – the floor is yours, so to speak. Drinks, the usual suspects, are served from a long gleaming bar, the chairs are leather, the hours are late and if youre lucky, you can catch a slightly inebriated rendition of a current West End number by the cast.
Location: The Arches Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NG
For more details visit: The Players
10) All Star Lanes Bayswater
And finally, something a little different; All Star Lanes, Bayswater. Ok, so not a bar as such, more accurately, its a bowling lane, but a little treasure it is. Its inclusion is due to the venues homage to American drinking and the fact its certainly not your typical bowling alley, you know the ones – chavs, Tennents Super cans and marauding children. No, this one is a bar first, novelty 50s leisure complex second. Yeah, its part of a small, London-wide chain however; the Bayswater branch has a unique claim – the largest variety of bourbons in London, hell yeah! Otherwise, expect a mighty drinking experience with a large selection of premium American sprits and cocktails on offer. Decor is, hmm lets see, 50s American. Music is not off trend either and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the sounds come courtesy of DJs. All in all this is the perfect spot for a laugh filled, and boozy, West London evening.
Location: 6 Porchester Gardens, Bayswater, London, W2 4DB
For more details visit: All Star Lanes