The Best Hotel Bars in London

The hotel bar has long been a bastion for London’s discerning drinkers. As trends come and go, hotels—with all of their rich history—remain stalwarts of classic drinking. Many have not only harbored excellent bars since the 19th century, but are largely responsible for introducing American-style drinks (those that we now call “cocktails”) to the British; when Prohibition hit the U.S. in the 1920s, the nation’s best bartenders fled for the comfort of the British hotel bar, bringing with them their new-fangled drinking habits.

As the years wore on, hotel bars became more associated with traditional, stiff (and overpriced) service, but in recent years, that’s been reversed. Today, London’s hotel bars have come to host some of the city’s most imaginative bartenders. —Tyler Wetherall

  • 1

    Artesian at Langham Hotel

    It’s topped the World’s Best Bars list three years running, and remains a reference point for cocktail culture throughout the world. At the hands of Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale, the 19th-century Langham Hotel’s bar has been transformed into the perfect marriage of flawless service and game-changing cocktails. The menu is redesigned annually with a different theme. Currently, the 18-strong "Unfolding and Exploring" menu—printed on textured Japanese paper—focuses on unusual ingredients and new experiences, with plenty of jaw-dropping presentations that can include balloons, open flames and micro-flower garnishes.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • bar food
    • lots of rum
  • 2

    Bassoon at the Corinthia

    After a major refurbishment to this Victorian building, with a bar that cost £4 million alone, the Bassoon is a study in luxurious detail. The wallpaper is made from stretched stingray skin, the undersides of the tables are lined with velvet and the ebony bar has a built-in piano. A musical theme runs throughout; look for the piano key carvings on the ceiling and the bassoon shaped door handles with artwork from South Carolina-born artist William Johnson adorning the walls. Bar service is thoughtful, decked out with Japanese tools and bespoke glassware. Come winter, a seat by the marble fireplace is a coveted spot.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bottle service
    • hotel bar
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • live music
  • 3

    Berners Tavern at The London Edition

    Gilding, stucco, marble and wood conspire to make Berners Tavern one of the glitziest spots in town. Since its revamp by the Marriott group and Ian Schrager, the hotel has attracted a posh clientele to its restaurant banquettes. But mere mortals can also grab a seat at the bar and marvel at the amber-illuminated shelves of booze while sipping a cocktail. Helmed by Michelin starred chef, Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social, Berners' restaurant and bar are open all day.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • hotel bar
  • 4

    Claridges Bar

    With its gleaming ivory pillars, red leather bar stools and artwork by celebrity photographer Richard Young, Claridges is a rarefied space in which to drink, thanks to designer David Collins (who also designed Corinthia’s Bassoon Bar). In the heart of Mayfair, you’ll find famous faces of every ilk, the fashion mafia, wannabes, hasbeens, bankers and well-heeled travelers in the mad medley of London. The champagne list testifies to the drink of choice here. For bar snacks, think oysters, sushi and Caspian caviar with Beluga at a tidy £336 per 30 grams.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • historic
    • bar food
  • 5

    Dandelyan at the Mondrian

    The latest project from Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan, Dandelyan occupies the ground floor of this stunning hotel. The Tom Dixon-designed space is housed in the landmark Sea Containers House along the River Thames on the South Bank. Grab a seat along the wall of windows overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral and browse the beautifully illustrated menu, inspired by botanists of old. The flavor map at the back indicates what time of day each cocktail is ideally imbibed. Divided into Vegetal, Mineral, Cereal and Floral, the menu of the experimental concoctions may sound simple, but the ingredient preparation is on the same ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • day drinking
  • 6

    Duke's Bar at Duke's Hotel

    Tucked down a side street in Mayfair, Duke’s is almost completely hidden from the chaos of London. Service is impeccable if serious, but well suited to the surroundings: oil paintings of dukes preside, the marble fireplace flickers come winter and, with only a handful of tables, conversations remain hushed. Famously frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming, Duke's list details each drink's backstory, most of which were inspired by Fleming’s books. The Fleming 89 is based on the ingredients in Bond’s No. 89 eau de toilette from London perfumery Floris, while the Oracabessa draws its heritage from the Jamaican island ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • historic
    • hotel bar
  • 7

    Gilbert Scott Bar at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

    One of the the most glorious buildings in London—and beyond, frankly—with triple height ceilings and all manner of golden gilding. The cocktail list is brief but thoughtfully edited, with the bar's dedication to fresh ingredients yielding drink good enough to make you want to stay and daydream awhile.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 8

    Hoi Polloi at the Ace Hotel

    This all day brasserie in the Ace Hotel (the British sister venue of the U.S. group) can satisfy every human hunger, from banana soy shakes at breakfast to afternoon cocktails—so as long as you can tolerate the atmosphere of a very hip college campus canteen (Apple computers, denim, beanies) with expensive Scandinavian wooden paneling, cream booths and retro tunes. But the cocktails are accomplished, and it serves food late, in case your tech startup meeting runs into the wee hours. A smaller bar with a limited selection in the lobby hosts DJs on the weekend.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar snacks
    • full menu
    • craft beer
  • 9

    Scarfe's Bar at the Rosewood Hotel

    With its towering marble pillars and enormous chandeliers, Scarfes is like a library from another century. Antique books sourced from Portobello Market line the shelves alongside butterflies displayed in bell jars. A grand piano, roaring fire and art from namesake political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe complete the scene. By day, it's a venue for business lunches, while after work crowds show up to knock back house cocktails and craft beer.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • hotel bar
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of gin
    • live music
    • day drinking
  • 10

    The American Bar at the Savoy

    In the 19th century, American bars opened throughout Europe to serve American style drinks (those things we now know as "cocktails"). This iconic institution, dating back to 1889, is the oldest surviving in London, once tended by the legendary Ada "Coley" Coleman, whose signature Hanky Panky is still available today. After Coley came Harry Craddock, who went on to compile the bar’s recipes into the quintessential Savoy Cocktail Book in the 1930s. At the helm these days is the award-winning Erik Lorincz, who hasn’t let standards slip. Despite a £220 million refurbishment to the hotel, the American Bar has maintained ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • historic
  • 11

    The Connaught Bar

    It’s easy to get waylaid at the lively Coburg Bar (named after the original Coburg Hotel, which opened here in 1815), but persevere onwards to the tiny Connaught Bar in the back instead. With grand mirrors, a polished marble floor, dusty pink walls and crocodile skin booths, it’s so reminiscent of a 1920s gentlemen's salon one would half expect to see women in flapper dresses smoking cigarettes and lounging on the bar. The Martini service, which arrives on a gilded trolley, is famous, as are the whisky tastings paired with bespoke chocolates.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • bar food
    • historic
  • 12

    The Zetter Townhouse

    Tony Conigliaro, of 69 Colebrooke Row, created the cocktails at this boutique hotel's lounge. The parlor-style room is designed to look like the abode of a fictional 19th-century eccentric spinster called Aunt Wilhelmina. Beyond the made-up character's portrait are intricate, silly details including ornate wallpaper, velveteen chairs and a taxidermied kangaroo wearing boxing gloves. Paying homage to Clerkenwell’s distilling heritage, Conigliaro sourced old recipes for tinctures, bitters and herbal remedies that line the apothecary-style bar. And though the tinctures are complex, the drinks are simple with three to ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
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