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London nightlife

In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea.
– John Osborne

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Photo courtesy of Zetter Townhouse

Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

  • Knightsbridge, Tea, $$$$ $$
  • Wilton Pl.
  • London, SW1X 7RL
  • +44-20-7235-6000
  • Website

London Fashion Week has fueled much of the dainty cookie consumption at this 100-year-old institution (sweets are made in the image of high-end accessories of the season). But you can take your tea in high style any day of the week. Enjoy Champagne, assam, scones, and Wedgwood china serving pieces in the well-appointed, newly renovated, and delightfully light-filled Collins Room.

Aqua Shard

  • Southwark, Bar, $$$$ $$$
  • 31 St. Thomas St.
  • London, SE1 9RY
  • +44-20-3011-1256
  • Website

Panoramic city views are hard to beat. The dining room at The Shard makes the most of its altitude (on floor 31) with a three-story atrium bar where guests gather to ooh and ahh the urban jungle while sipping sophisticated mixed drinks or taking afternoon tea. Note: A dress code is in place (no flip flops or shorts, please). 

Bar Italia

  • Soho, Bar, $$$$ $
  • 22 Frith St.
  • London, W1D 4RF
  • +44-20-7437-4520
  • Website | Email

The always packed, old-fashioned Italian caffe is one of the rare 24-hour spots in town. It's family-run and reliably attracts actual Italians and an anti-Starbucks crowd.

Bob Bob Ricard

Upstairs is an impossibly grand restaurant sumptuously decorated to evoke bygone train travel. The menu is classic Russian and English cuisine, and every booth has a Champagne call button. Downstairs, Bobby's Bar is a great evening hideaway. The big copper ship is a model of the one owner Bob once worked on.

Claridge's Bar

  • Mayfair, Bar, $$$$ $$$$
  • Brook St.
  • London, W1K 4HR
  • +44-020-7629-8860
  • Website | Email

The ultimate place to have a glass of Champagne, for the impossibly large selection of bottles and for the glamorous surroundings. Also lovely for afternoon tea.


  • South Bank, Bar, $$$$ $$$
  • 20 Upper Ground
  • London, SE1 9PD
  • +44-20-3747-1000
  • Website

Botany, alchemy, food science: It's all happening in one perfectly executed cocktail after another at Dandelyan, a sleek bar in the Mondrian London run by award-winning bartender Ryan Lyan.

Read more on Fathom: Flavors of Field and Forest: Drinking with the World’s Best Bartender

Fox & Anchor Pub

  • Clerkenwell, Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 115 Charterhouse St.
  • London, EC1M 6AA
  • +44-020-7250-1300
  • Website | Email

A classic English pub made modern, where speciality local ales accompany incredible food. For added privacy and charm, try to snag one of the cozy nooks known as "snugs."

The GIlbert Scott

  • Fitzrovia, Bar, $$$$ $$$
  • St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Rd.
  • London, NW1 2AR
  • +44-020-7841-2540
  • Website | Email

A grand and glorious spot for a drink, especially if you're hopping the Eurostar to the Continent. It feels like you've stepped back in time, from the ornate, Victorian-era ceilings designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, to the speciality cocktails and chef Marcus Wareing's refined bistro menu.

London Cocktail Club

A basement parlor in Soho evoking bygone speakeasies with red wallpaper and plush sofas. The cocktail menu has playful themes ("the guest that never leaves," "big boy drinks"). If you can't get a reservation, try the new outpost on Shaftesbury Avenue.

The London Gin Club

  • Soho, Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 22 Great Chapel St.
  • London, W1F 8FR
  • +44-20 7494-2488
  • Website

Located at The Star (one of the oldest family businesses in Soho), the bar serves more than 130 of the best gins in the world. Come thirsty: The gin cocktail menu is extensive and staff will answer your every question. Book a table before you go.

Read more on Fathom: Drinking and Learning on a Gin Tour of London

Mr Fogg's Residence

  • Mayfair, Pub, $$$$ $$
  • 15 Bruton Ln.
  • London, W1J 6JD
  • +44-20-7036-0608
  • Website

A fun bar celebrating a fictitious gentleman by the name of Fogg, an eccentric adventurer with the booty to prove it. The warmly lit drinking establishment is brimming with mementos, curious, and knick-knacks from his international travels. The place has a well-worn feel and libations that make the world (and your head) spin. If in the area, try the tavern in Convent Garden.

Raw Press

  • Mayfair, Juice Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 32 Dover St.
  • London, W1S 4NE
  • +44-20-3627-3190
  • Website

Start the day with a cold-pressed, organic, super green juice (coconut water, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, swiss chard and parsley). Refuel in the afternoon with an almond mylk (almonds, coconut water, dates, Himalayan salt and vanilla bean).

Read more on Fathom: Hemsley + Hemsley's Guide to Living Well in London

Ronnie Scott's

The legendary jazz club books artists from all over the world and has a great in-house band. The late sets ("second house") on Fridays and Saturdays go from 11 p.m.- 3 a.m. 

Taylor St. Baristas

  • South Quay, Cafe, $$$$ $
  • 1 Harbour Exchange Square
  • London, E14 9GE
  • Website | Email

There are multiple locations throughout London, but the coffee is unadulterated across the board. The mini chain has a big following for its finely crafted espresso beverages and filter brews, and quick and friendly service.


  • Covent Garden, Wine Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 5 William IV St.
  • London, WC2N 4DW
  • +44-20-7036-0660
  • Website | Email

A wine bar showing off the greats — French, Italian, Spanish — plus vibrant small plates to further whet the whistle. The place is robust and lively. Great for an indulgent get-together with old mates or yourself and a great book in the afternoon hours.

The Vault at Milroy's

  • Soho, Cocktail Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 3 Greek St.
  • London, W1D 4NX
  • +44-20-7734-2277
  • Website

The subterranean cocktail bar is the latest addition to the the oldest whiskey shop in London. Specially sourced ingredients (like Japanese matcha tea, Creole shrubb, and tomato water basil bitters) go into stand-out cocktails. Upstairs, one can drink by the glass or buy nearly every brown liquor under the sun.

The Walrus Room

  • Clapham, Bar, $$$$ $$
  • 40 Battersea Rise
  • London, SW11 1EE
  • +44-207-228-8677
  • Website

The decor is eclectic, as if plucked from antiques stores, and the menu includes great British produce, Scottish sheep cheese, lobster rolls, and truffle cocktails.

Zetter Townhouse

  • Clerkenwell, Lounge, $$$$ $$$
  • 49-50 St. John's Sq.
  • London, EC1V 4JJ
  • +44-0207324-4545
  • Website

The cocktail lounge is located in a standalone building behind the Zetter Hotel, a cozy parlor with leather armchairs, velvet sofas, tassled chandeliers, and clusters of paintings. Barman Tony Conigliaro, inspired by Clerkenwell's old distilleries, has recreated historic cocktail recipes to excellent effect.

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