The Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, London, SW1X 7RL
A new conservatory has doubled the footprint at the luxuriously inviting Blue Bar, seamlessly marrying Richard Rogers’ glass pavilion (shades of a VIP airport lounge) to the David Collins-designed snug (a flatteringly lit, seductive salon complete with periwinkle-blue panels by Edwin Lutyens). Bar manager Rashid Ghuloom (ex-Berners Tavern) has produced a lavish drinks list that is colour-coded according to style and strength. Light, refreshing and low in alcohol, La Limonata adds sparkling lemongrass mineral water to kaffir lime, limoncello and blue agave nectar, while punchier hits include the deeply rewarding Smoke & Mirrors (a Manhattan involving Michter’s barrel-strength rye whiskey, Bénédictine, toasted cinnamon, rosehip, sherry and Madeira, produced in a puff of smoke from a crystal decanter). With its bold new space, tastefully tweaked design, five-star service, classy snacks, vintage Champagnes and top-notch whiskies, The Blue Bar is back with a bang.
More detail about The Blue Bar at The Berkeley Hotel
111-113 Walton Street, London, SW3 2HP
Over the course of its 15-year existence, Eclipse has represented Peak Sloane – a swish, swinging Chelsea playground for the area’s well-heeled party crowd. Inside, it tries to create a sense of inoffensive lavishness (a marble bar, white leather, oriental partitions), while the mixologists work hard to turn the merriment up to 11. Drinks such as Gold Digger (Johnny Walker Black Label, Grand Marnier, fruit juices and ginger beer) embody the sort of playful concoctions presented in a handy map of sweet, sour, rich and light tastes. The signature Eclipse (fresh watermelon, Kettle One vodka and kaffir lime) flies off the bar, Krug and Moët can be ordered by the magnum and those giant bowls of sharing cocktails are a route-one approach to hitting the dance floor. Pizzas (courtesy of neighbouring Obicà) and a line-up of sushi are there to service the hungry.
More detail about Eclipse - Walton Street
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
With no outside lighting and the backlit jewel colours of the mixologist’s toolkit giving a seductive hint of fun, time just slips away in this bar at the heart of the Mandarin Oriental, where the well-heeled drop by for a glass of something classy before heading to Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner.
If bubbles are your preference, Moët is the starting point, but if cocktails are up your street then there’s more than enough to float your boat. Many sips have a South American/Asian slant, as in Veiled Quebranta, which delivers plum- and apple-infused pisco with umeshu, matcha tea, nori, plum and yuzu. There’s not much demand for food from the darlings who hang out here, which is a shame, because both the sea bass ceviche, tomato tartare with caperberries, and beef tataki with roasted garlic make very good snacks.
More detail about Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
3 Yeoman's Row, London, SW3 2AL
Shorn of ghastly glitter balls and celebrity-owner hubris, the art-deco basement that formerly stabled Marco Pierre White and jockey Frankie Dettori’s Bar & Grill is now a much better bet for sharp shakes and juicy steaks. Prop up the zinc bar or bag a banquette for a taste of Hawksmoor’s consistently competent cocktails: on hot days, Grapefruit Picador is a tangy Tequila cooler, while equally refreshing Sinking Spritz marries Aperol, vermouth, Picon orange liqueur, elderflower and Sauvignon Blanc; on less balmy evenings seek out the creamy, clarified butter-infused bourbon Old Fashioned (‘not for the faint-hearted’, says the blurb). Otherwise, get the party started with disco drinks, Champagne or London craft beers. Cool, casual staff are not the clenched Knightsbridge norm, while solid fuel comes from oysters, steak tartare and some of London’s best burgers.
More detail about Hawksmoor Knightsbridge Bar
5 Raphael Street, London, SW7 1DL
Zuma’s frenetic open kitchen might deliver the theatre at this Knightsbridge hotspot, but it’s the bar that provides the intoxicating energy levels. An effervescent, pulsating mix of high rollers, the cast of drinkers radiates from a stunning, square counter where the bar staff work their magic. Nothing is too much trouble when it comes to creating the perfect cocktail: a bespoke barrel-aging system infuses Zacapa rum with its own subtle rhubarb flavour, while the mixologists scour the globe in search of the perfect brews for Zuma’s Chanoyu range of tea-inspired cocktails (our Beri No Hana mixed Luksusowa vodka with garden-berry tea syrup and passion fruit). Staff can also help you navigate the roster of around 40 different brands of saké, or help pick a bottle from a stellar wine list that soars into some all-time-great vintages. Sushi, sashimi and the robata grill provide exemplary sustenance.
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The Capital Hotel, 22-24 Basil Street, London, SW3 1AT
A ‘boutique hotel’ long before the term was widely understood, The Capital has been refreshing Knightsbridge’s beau monde since 1971 in its timeless, snug bar. It’s the ideal spot for a post-Harrods flop; settle in for a gossip over oysters and Laurent-Perrier Champagne, or anything from Coravin-kept house Loire wines to haute Burgundy (a 2008 Bâtard-Montrachet, at around £100 for two glasses). A noon-until-late menu offers classic Belgravia feel-good food: smoked salmon with horseradish yoghurt and shaved fennel; sirloin steak with béarnaise butter, watercress and chips; chicken Caesar salad; and lemon pavlova or chocolate fondant tart to finish. Service can be ditzy, but The Capital’s English afternoon tea is something of a Knightsbridge bargain, as are well-known cocktails such as Rob Roy, Jack Rose, Between The Sheets, and Bay Breeze. House ideas, for instance a Vodka Martini made with pineapple juice, banana and banana liqueur, are similarly capital.
More detail about The Capital Bar