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Holiday Inspiration

Five of the Best Hotel Bars in London

By Susan Ward Davies

Dean Street Townhouse

First up in our pick of the hottest hotel bars in London is Dean Street Townhouse, slap-bang in the centre of Soho and one of London’s hottest hangouts. But, is it worth the hype, we hear you ask? For our money, it’s a definite yes. Visually it's gorgeous, with sultry interiors of stripped wood flooring, subtle matte olive tones at the walls and sink-into plush armchairs. If you’re dressed to the nines and don’t want to lounge about, you always can pull up a red leather stool at the bar and order up a storm - we’d vote for the Chicago Fizz (Appleton V/X, LBV Port, lemon and soda) any day. Plus, their guest list reads like a roll call of stylish ladies who like to lunch: Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel and Gwyneth Paltrow. They know they’re onto something good.

Read our full Dean Street Townhouse review

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

Anywhere that took 10 years to restore is likely to be pretty special - and that's certainly the case with the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Its exteriors look like they’re right out of a Harry Potter film and even just swishing through the doors makes you feel glamorous. Once you’re in you can choose between two hotel bars: the Gilbert Scott, with its ornately painted ceilings, giant bell chandeliers and red leather banquettes or the similarly grand Booking Office, with soaring ceilings and original brickwork and arched windows. We tend to plump for a cocktail that reflects the spectacular surroundings - perhaps the 1873 (Bombay Sapphire, apple, cranberry, rhubarb and charged with CO2) or The Last Word (Tanqueray, green Chartreuse, Maraschino and lime), or one of the punches that come in handmade copper mugs. Whichever you pick, though, if you’re after a truly indulgent cocktail in London, then this is most certainly it. Well, if it’s good enough for Emma Watson...

Read our full St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel review

Zetter Townhouse

The other newcomer on our list - and another of our favourite new London hotels in 2011. If you’re a big fan of cocktails but don’t feel relaxed in the uber-glamorous surroundings they’re often served in, then the Zetter Townhouse could just be the answer to all your watering hole woes. Here you can take a seat on one of the super-comfy sofas in a cocktail lounge full of all sorts of oddities (taxidermy and magnifying glasses included) and relax to the dulcet tones of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Quirky as the setting is, it certainly doesn’t detract from the menu, where you’ll find just 13 painstakingly perfect cocktails. Forget the classics (you're definitely not going to see Sex on the Beach appearing anywhere here...) old recipes and infusions are more the order of the day, with the likes of Le Fleurs Du Mal (Rose vodka, lemon juice with a hint of La Maison Fontaine Absinthe) shaken up behind the apothecary-style counter.

Read our full Zetter Townhouse review

Shoreditch House

Since it opened almost five years ago, Shoreditch House is still one of the hotel names on everyone’s lips and maintains a gravitas that pulls in the A-list night after night. In fact, anyone who’s anyone has been spotted here, from ELLEuk favourite Jennifer Aniston with Justin Theroux, Heidi Klum, Lana Del Rey, Lara Stone with David Walliams and, of course, Alexa Chung (and a fair amount more who've sneaked past the paparazzi). You might wonder what’s the draw? We’d put it down to the fact that Shoreditch House take their cocktails very seriously indeed. For first-timers we’d advise the Eastern Standard (Grey Goose, fresh lime, cucumber and mint); or if you’re celebrating, we love the Garden Party Fizz with Bombay Sapphire, St Germain, cucumber and soda. Whatever you choose, you can be sure they take a huge amount of pride in getting their cocktails just right.

Read our full Shoreditch House review

Sanderson

Tucked away off Oxford Street, the drab exterior of the Sanderson doesn't, it's fair to say, give much away of the edgy interiors that await inside. Or its penchant for a damn good cocktail. Said cocktails are served up at the Long Bar amidst 80 feet of gleaming onyx (lit from behind to dramatic effect) and are drawn from one of the lengthiest menus we’ve seen, from Long Bar Hi Balls, like the Nutcracker, through to classics and flutes, like the Midnight Whisper. In fact, we defy you to ask for any cocktail these mixologists can’t whip up. A hotel bar this cool certainly hasn’t escaped the watchful eye of the celebrities either, with Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Lindsay Lohan, Ben Affleck, Christina Aguilera, Elizabeth Taylor and Kate Beckinsale all having been spotted here at one time or another.

Read our full Sanderson review

Like our pick of the best hotel bars in London, but want a bit of extra insider info? Check out the best team ELLE hangouts in London. Or if you're looking for something a little more inconspicuous, see our pick of the best speakeasies in London.

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