Best bars in London

With so many fantastic bars in London to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, which is where this helpful list comes in. We’re always being asked for our recommendations when it comes to scouting out the best bars in London, so we’ve combined years of drinking experience to come up with a list of what we consider to be, simply, the best bars in London. Naturally the list is subjective and ever-changing as bars open and close, but if you’re looking for a guide to London’s best bars, it’s a great place to start.

Updated on 27 January 2020

The word ‘best’ can be such a minefield since everyone’s interpretation is, understandably, slightly different. Are we talking the best for a cosy catch-up with an old friend, the best for Instagrammable cocktails or the best speakeasy bar in London? So let’s be clear from the start: unlike our list of the best hotel bars, or our round-up of the best rooftop bars, this selection has no set criteria other than we think each bar deserves to be recognised as one of the best in London.  

We know that SquareMeal readers are a discerning lot, so if you have a specific location or occasion in mind, it’s best to check out our best pubs and bars in London hub page where you’ll find area guides and lists of specific types of bars. But if you’re interested in finding out our top picks across the whole of London, including bars in hotels, bars with great views and bars with outstanding cocktails, you’re in the right place.

Perhaps you’re looking for somewhere extra special for an occasion, or maybe you’re just interested to see if our idea of the best bars in London matches yours. Whatever your motive, check out our round-up below and see if we can surprise and inspire you.

Swift

Swift

12 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TQ

Book a spot in the seductive lounge bar downstairs at Swift and settle in for some seriously sophisticated sips. A 250-strong whisky list, signature cocktails and live music at weekends draw the crowds.
Bars
Duck & Waffle (bar)

Duck & Waffle (bar)

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

Obscure ingredients boldly go where no mixologist has gone before at this lofty City bar. Prices are almost as vertiginous as this hotspot’s perch atop Heron Tower, but it’s worth indulging on special occasions.
Bars
The Connaught Bar at the Connaught

The Connaught Bar at the Connaught

The Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL

The David Collins-designed Connaught Bar creates a classy setting few can rival, and drinks are equally eye-catching. Superb selections of whisky and Champagne, polished service and decadent canapés are further reasons to visit.
Bars
Happiness Forgets

Happiness Forgets

8-9 Hoxton Square, London, London, N1 6NU

Once you’ve visited this tiny basement bar in Hoxton, it will be happiness remembered – trust us. The staff’s genuine passion for superb service and divine drinks promise to make you feel like an old friend here.
Bars
Black Rock

Black Rock

9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

This award-winning whisky bar is a must-visit for dram fans who will be spoiled for choice with a range of over 250 single malts and blends from distilleries around the globe. Booking is recommended.
Bars
Claridge

Claridge's Bar

Claridge's, Brook Street, London, W1K 4HR

Home to one of the finest selections of Champagne in the capital, Claridge’s Bar is a place for celebrating. Nibble on fancy snacks such as oysters and caviar as you toast with a glass of bubbly.
Bars
Hotel Bars
£30 - £49
Tayer + Elementary

Tayer + Elementary

152 Old Street, London, London, EC1V 9BW

This drinking destination is the brainchild of Alex Kratena and Monica Berg who are nothing short of drinks royalty. As such, guests can expect top-notch cocktails blended with custom-made spirits and mixers served by attentive staff.
£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
Coupette

Coupette

423 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AN

Low-lit, with exposed bricks and a hip-hop soundtrack, the vibe at this east London bar is urban-cool but with a Francophile drinks list that’s big on Calvados, Normandy-style cidres and innovative cocktails.
Bars
The American Bar at The Savoy

The American Bar at The Savoy

The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R 0ET

A popular spot since 1893, when fancy ‘American-style’ drinks were all the rage, the bar at The Savoy now evokes a golden era of cocktails, with its understated elegance and flawless service. It’s pure class.
Bars
Ruby

Ruby's Bar & Lounge

76 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, London, N16 7XB

Comprising conjoined late-night dive bars – one a sweet snug, the other a party pit – Ruby’s Bar & Lounge is bang on the Dalston dollar. Cocktails, craft beer and European wine are all possibilities here.
Bars
Waeska at The Mandrake

Waeska at The Mandrake

The Mandrake Hotel, 20-21 Newman Street, London, W1T 1PG

Set within the boho-deluxe Mandrake hotel in Fitzrovia, this clubby cocktail lounge serves up restorative plant-based sips and interesting snacks. Glamorous interiors set the scene nicely for a decadent evening of drinking and dining.
Bars
Coq d

Coq d'Argent (bar)

1 Poultry, City of London, London, EC2R 8EJ

Covered and heated, the well-kept rooftop garden at D&D’s Coq d'Argent is a plum spot for alfresco drinking all year round. The bar inside is smart too and you’ll find all sorts of sips on the menu.
Bars
Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel

Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel

Dukes Hotel, St James's Place, London, SW1A 1NY

If you like your drinks mixed to order by bartenders in smart white jackets, then this is the bar for you. As the birthplace of the Vesper Martini, Dukes Bar is popular among Bond fans.
Bars
Aqua Shard (bar)

Aqua Shard (bar)

Level 31, The Shard, St. Thomas Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9RY

For panoramic views, this high-level atrium lounge is the place to go. The bar is open throughout the day, so you can choose how to take your vista: with bright sunshine or with myriad twinkling night-time lights.
Bars
Heads + tails

Heads + tails

175 West End Lane, London, NW6 2LH

Sleek interiors and smart cocktails are a winning combo at this two-room bar in West Hampstead. Whether you’re in the mood for something light and fresh or dark and rich, the mixologists here will provide.
Bars
The American Bar at The Stafford

The American Bar at The Stafford

The Stafford Hotel, St. James's Place, London, SW1A 1NJ

Located within one of London’s most luxe hotels, this 1930s bar combines an eccentric original lounge with a modern refurb to great effect. The St James’s-themed drinks list keeps guests refreshed throughout the evening.
Bars
Over £80
The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz London

The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz London

The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR

Bathed in a golden sheen with gilded ceiling domes and lavish décor, The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz embodies decadent luxury. As you’d expect, patriotic signature cocktails and fine wines come with handsome price tags.
Bars
Nightjar

Nightjar

129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB

Accessed through an unmarked wooden door just off the Old Street roundabout, this highly-rated speakeasy bar is known and loved for its seductive surrounds, cutting-edge (and Instagram-friendly) drinks and live music.
Bars
Genuine Liquorette

Genuine Liquorette

6 Rathbone Place , London, W1T 1HL

DIY drinks to go are this Fitzrovia bar’s USP, but if you’d rather drink-in, there’s a choice of vibes: a 1950s ground floor lounge or a cosy upstairs lounge plastered in tacky 1970s nostalgia.
Bars
Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London

Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London

252 High Holborn, Bloomsbury, London, WC1V 7EN

Brimming with character, the handsome interior of Scarfes Bar is reminiscent of a Victorian Parlour. The whisky selection is a notable highlight, but guests can also look forward to properly-mixed cocktails and impeccable wines.
Bars
Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

The Savoy, Strand, London, London, WC2R 0ET

With its dramatic interiors and colourful history, the Beaufort Bar is one of the most glamorous in London. It’s a great choice for celebrating with a glass of Champagne from the lengthy list or an elegantly-styled cocktail.
£30 - £49
Bars
Berners Tavern at The London Edition

Berners Tavern at The London Edition

10 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3NP

Drinks and cocktails are inspired by the artworks hanging on the walls in the spectacular dining room of Berners Tavern, so you can expect sips such as ‘The Venetian Merchant’ and ‘Wild Fields’.
£50 - £79
British
Afternoon tea
OXO Tower Bar

OXO Tower Bar

Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9PH

A perennial favourite, the bar at OXO Tower has everything you could want in a bar: great cocktails, moreish snacks and the postcard-perfect panorama of London seen across the water from the eighth-floor vantage point.
Bars

If only the best will do, check out our list of London’s Top 100 Restaurants.