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Even in straitened economic times, every budget needs room for the occasional indulgence. If you’re looking to celebrate or treat yourself with a glass of bubbly, Square Meal has compiled a list of the best Champagne bars in London, where the fun of the fizz makes up for the strain on your wallet.
The Queen might not make this bar a priority the next time she’s at Fortnum & Mason (she prefers the Jubilee Tea Room), but for most of her subjects, a trip to the lower-ground floor at the esteemed emporium is a real treat. Try nearly any of the bottles in the adjacent wine department for a £10 corkage fee, or fork out a few more pounds and sample wine flights of three with osyters, or a cheese platter from the Food Hall.
With its light-coloured walls, large windows, wood floors and sleek black furniture, this Fulham bar exudes more warmth and welcome (at far more reasonable prices) than many of its peers. A glass of bubbles starts at £6.50 (prices peak at £175 for a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé), while cocktails go for around £8.50. The mouthwatering canapé menu will help soak up all that fizz.
Rich purples, pagoda-style cabinets, and generous applications of a butterfly motif make for an uber-chic interior at this swanky hotel bar (pictured, left). The sheer length of the drinks menu – particularly lip-smacking if you’re a fan of rum, and bank-breaking if the £1,200 magnum of 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal catches your fancy – is equally stunning.
Whether it’s a toast to kick off a new voyage or a glass to conclude the long trip home, Searcy's at St Pancras offers an extensive selection that will satisfy world-travellers of all tastes and budgets. Use the bar’s handy glossary to navigate the expansive menu (Champagne prices start at £8.95 a glass and reach the staggering heights of £1,500 a bottle). With the station’s stunning arched ceiling directly overhead, this is an adventure all of its own.
Tucked away in Mayfair’s swanky Claridge’s hotel, both the ultra-sophisticated namesake bar and posh 1920s-style speakeasy attract London's in-the-know crowd for a glass of fizz (Le Fumoir reaches capacity at 12, so ‘exclusive’ is le mot juste). Put your glad rags on and sip on themed Champagne cocktails, such as the appropriately christened The Flapper, noshing on popular bento boxes with the cream of London's drinkers.
You might not get away with ordering only Champagne here – try a side of fines de claire oysters or Sheekey’s fish pie – but this Covent Garden eatery, with its dark-wood panelling and celebrity portraits paying homage to the theatres across the way, is one of the most glamorous hotspots in the neighbourhood. Stop by for a pre-show set menu, using the money saved to splash out on an accompanying £42 bottle of bubbly.
Since opening in 1867 under the eponymous Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III), Kettner’s (pictured, right) has gone on to host names from Edward VII to Bing Crosby and is now a Grade II-listed building. But despite its far-from-humble roots, the historic bar invites customers of all budgets and backgrounds to find tables and drinks that suit their needs (a glass of Baron de Marck Brut NV goes for £9.50) among intimate plush nooks and a 20-page drinks menu.
Weather permitting, pop over to the One New Change shopping centre in Cheapside, zip up in the glass lift to one of the largest public open-air roof terraces in Europe, and treat yourself to a glass of fizz as you watch the sun set over St Paul’s. Whether you dine in or opt for just the bubbly to complement the panoramic view, this is one alfresco spot you do not want to miss.
Acclaimed sommelier Xavier Rousset presents a 100-strong Champagne menu and an even more exhaustive wine list at this sleek counterpart to Rousset and chef Agnar Sverrisson’s Texture restaurant. For classic glamour with a splash of quirk (snacks to complement your £10 glass of Jacque Picard Brut NV include pickled artichokes and choice charcuterie), look no further than this corniced ceilinged, Nordic-influenced Marylebone fixture.
If you have the foresight to book in advance (Vertigo 42 is reservations-only), the views atop Tower 42 are worth the prior planning. Advance notice will also give the members of your party a chance to brace themselves for the dizzying menu, where the impressive varieties of Champagne boast equally impressive prices (£59.50 for a bottle of the house Champagne, Gallimard Brut NV, just to kick things off). No matter: it's all in the name of a million-dollar view.