London’s bar scene is hot right now. From exciting new openings to trendy pop-ups, hidden speakeasies to hip hotel bars, Londoners are spoiled for choice when it comes to cocktails. Given my love of travel, I’ve recently scoured the city for travel themed bars in London, uncovering a number of great watering holes that transport guests to other worlds and underworlds from the convenience of our own metropolis. Here’s what I found…
Cahoots has rocketed to popularity since opening earlier this month, making getting a booking harder than finding an affordable flat in central London.
A speakeasy in a narrow alley leading to Soho’s Kingly Court, the underground bar is also an Underground bar. Designed to look like a tube station turned World War II air raid shelter, Cahoots has every detail—from ticket offices to train carriages—covered.
Not only does the bar transport me to 1946, it also takes me on a nostalgic ride on the London Underground. If only red-lipstick wearing waitresses serving vintage cocktails from a newspaper menu were a thing on the actual tube.
Hidden away in a nook off Mayfair’s Berkely Square, the exterior of Mr Fogg’s is so subtle you’d never realize it was there. But if you make a booking and ring the bell, the door opens onto the world of Phileas Fogg, 19th century traveler extraordinaire.
A giant vintage hot air balloon hovers in one corner while penny-farthings and wicker birdcages hang suspended from the ceiling.
Shelves are lined with old books and antique globes, and the bar has enough nostalgia to transport guests to the world of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days without making them leave the comfort of their green leather chairs.
Mr Fogg’s is one of my favorite bars in London, not just for its travel theme, but also for its cocktails. With names like The Cape of Good Hope, even the drinks inspire me to see more of the world.
The Luggage Room
Not far from Mr Fogg’s, the Luggage Room bar in the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square makes me equally nostalgic for a bygone era of travel. An unmarked entrance on the side of the hotel where guests can knock for secret admission adds a certain clandestine feel, too.
Inside, brown leather chairs and walls studded with rivets are reminiscent of classic trunks that once transported their owners’ belongings on long seafaring voyages. Cocktails like the Army & Navy go down a treat when I visit the Luggage Room, and that’s to say nothing of the nuts, which they mix themselves with moreish results.
Way down in Tooting, the Imperial Durbar makes guests travel just to be inspired to do so again. But it’s worth the journey to south London to have a tipple in this great colonial themed bar. Vintage furniture, printed wallpaper, and old maps of India combine to offer the Imperial Durbar a great ambiance in which to drink “restoratives and sharpeners for the seasoned traveler”.
Booking Office Bar
St Pancras International is one of London’s most beloved rail stations, not least because the trains from London to Paris, Brussels, and beyond leave from there. But the station isn’t just a departure point; it’s also a destination in itself.
This is not least because of the Booking Office Bar in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Set in the original station’s ticket hall, the bar not only has an amazing interior with cathedral-like Gothic architecture, but also great Victorian cocktails and punches. The bar inspires me to travel every time I set foot inside, which may be why I’m on the road so often.