There are bars – and then there are hotel bars. Whether you settle into a deep armchair or perch yourself at an elegant counter, these are drinks that come with a side order of decadence. Often a hideaway, they’re somewhere to escape, somewhere that – in contrast to Boston’s most famous fictional bar – nobody knows your name. You can count on understated luxury, impeccable service and beautifully crafted drinks at these five spots that always have the mix just right.
Artesian, The Langham, London
When you take home the top prize at the World’s 50 Best Bars four years running, you’re clearly doing something right. Artesian at The Langham on London’s Regent Street features elegant high ceilings and chandeliers reflecting the hotel’s Victorian heritage, but it’s the drinks that continue to steal the show. Equal parts creative, humorous and delicious, they could be inspired by futurism or realism. If that sounds pretentious, one sip proves the doubters wrong. A case in point: the current minimalist menu where all cocktails have a maximum of two ingredients. St Germain elderflower liqueur and red carrots, anyone?
Long Bar, Raffles, Singapore
One of the world’s most famous bars, the Long Bar has been fully restored along with the Raffles Singapore hotel that houses it. Tropical greenery, fans and rattan furniture abound in the colonial-era atmosphere, while its famed signature drink, The Singapore Sling, has also undergone something of a makeover. The 1915 original by Ngiam Tong Boon has been updated with specially created Widges Gin from London, Curaçao, Bénédictine, Italian cherry liqueur, lime and pineapple juice and a bespoke grenadine. The final flourishes are bitters crafted in Seattle from nutmeg, mace and cloves – and a maraschino cherry. Thankfully guests are still encouraged to throw their peanut shells on the floor.
Bemelmans Bar, The Carlyle, New York
One of the late Anthony Bourdain’s favourite watering holes, Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle in New York’s swish Upper East Side is the definition of an urban hideaway. It’s named and famed for the whimsical murals by 1940s children’s author Ludwig Bemelmans, which depict Central Park across the four seasons. Live music is provided by some of the city’s finest jazz players, while kicking back with a perfect dirty martini at the black granite bar is an iconic drinking experience as you rub shoulders with politicians, socialites and more from the Big Apple’s high society.
Le Bar, La Réserve Hotel & Spa, Paris
It may be simply named, but Le Bar at Paris’ exclusive and sumptuous La Réserve hotel is a true insider’s tip for the City of Light. Just seconds from the Champs-Elysées, but a world away from its crowded streets, Le Bar is a sanctuary with effortlessly elegant décor. Deep red armchairs, marble and lacquer set the scene, while quirky touches like gilded elephants catch the eye. No prizes for guessing that the wine and champagne list is stellar, but don’t miss the faultless take on classic cocktails or original creations such as the Femme Fatale, a fruity and floral mix of cucumber, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, red berries and champagne.
The Bar, The Peninsula, Hong Kong
The Bar at The Peninsula is rightly one of the city’s most celebrated. How can it not be when one member of staff has worked there for more than 60 years, but isn’t even the longest-serving? The man in question, Johnny Chung Kam-hung, has mixed drinks for everyone from real royalty to Hollywood royalty: most famously Clark Gable, who asked for a Screwdriver – and then taught him how to make it. The atmosphere is defiantly old-school and understated with wood panelling, a grand piano and leather sofas, while the menu does an especially stellar line in martinis, single malts and vintage armagnacs, perfect sippers to accompany live jazz. Some are paired with house-made chocolates for a sweet finish.