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Concierges' Guide to London: Bars & Clubs

Compiled by Lisa Sweetingham, Jennifer Ryan, Bruce Wallin, and Amanda Millin

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THE A LOUNGE, AT THE ALBANNACH "True whisky connoisseurs" bypass the ground-floor Scottish restaurant at this Trafalgar Square establishment and head "doon stairs," as they say, to the trendy bar. "They have every Scotch you could want," as well as "signature whisky cocktails that pay homage to the Highlands." Thursday is live-music night, and Fridays and Saturdays bring DJs and dancing until 3 am. Now open on Wednesdays as well. (MB, GM, BM, MW) +44.20.7930.0066, www .albannach.co.uk

AMERICAN BAR, AT THE SAVOY Timeless elegance and a classic American Jazz pianist seven nights a week set the ambience at this Strand staple in the recently reopened Savoy hotel. "It’s just that iconic bar. I’ve been sending people here for all my career." (BM) +44.20.7836.4343, www.fairmont.com/savoy

THE AMERICAN BAR, AT THE STAFFORD "Good Scotch list" and an "interesting environment" in this warmly decorated "small" bar in the heart of St. James’s. Past guests of The Stafford hotel are memorialized by the odd bits of memorabilia they have bestowed upon the bar, including WWII artifacts, all of which line the walls "ceiling to floor." (CS) +44.20.7493.0111, www.kempinski.com/en/london

ANNABEL’S Founded in 1963, this "very sophisticated" private members’ club and restaurant on Berkeley Square includes a cocktail bar, a dance floor, and a private dining room (seats up to 22) with an open fire and butler service. Highly "exclusive," but for the right type of client, concierges "always have ways to get into these clubs." (MDC, AH, CS, ST) +44.20.7629.1096, www.annabels.co.uk

THE AUDLEY A "real old-fashioned London pub" on Mount Street in Mayfair that draws a consistent crowd of "well-heeled regulars and friendly drinkers." An "easy," casual place to "get your traditional roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and fish and chips, and have a pint," without needing to secure a reservation. (MB, GM) +44.20.7499.1843

THE BAR AT THE DORCHESTER A "knowledgeable and relaxed staff" and a fine selection of Champagnes and spirits make this elegant Mayfair establishment an easy choice for cocktail hour. (AD) +44.20.7629.8888, www.thedorchester.com

BEAUFORT BAR Art Deco decor adds to the theatrical vibe at this Champagne bar built on The Savoy hotel’s original cabaret stage. "I think it’s my personal favorite of the hotel’s public areas." Nightly live music makes those "specialty Champagne cocktails" taste all the sweeter. (BM) +44.20.7836.4343, www.fairmont.com/savoy

THE BLUE BAR "Good Scotch and cocktail list" and "marvelous martinis" at this "very hip and modern" hangout at The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge. Named after designer David Collins’ Lutyens Blue color scheme, the bar offers more than 50 types of whisky. (MB, MDC, CS) +44.20.7235.6000, www.the-berkeley.co.uk

BOISDALE This Scottish restaurant and bar has four British outposts, the best of which is in Belgravia, just south of Buckingham Palace. Grab a spot on one of the couches on the upstairs smoking terrace, "a cigar room that’s partially outdoors." Heat lamps and cashmere blankets help stave off the brisk London weather. (AD, ST) +44.20.7730.6922, www.boisdale.co.uk

BOUJIS This nearly 10-year-old private members’ club in Knightsbridge draws a "younger crowd" for its "dancing" and "small, intimate" feel. "We put people on the guest list if we book tables, but it still comes down to the discretion of the doormen as to who gets in." (AD, GM, CS) +44.20.7584.2000, www.boujis.com

THE CHAMPAGNE BAR One of "the only real Champagne bars" in London is located in St. Pancras International station. Features an "impressive" sparkling-wine list and a bar with plenty of elbow room: At 295 feet, it is the longest Champagne bar in Europe. (GM, MW) +44.20.7870.9900, www.stpancras.com/stpancras/champagnebar

CLARIDGE'S BAR "Large, comfortable" red leather banquettes, big tables, and a wide selection of cocktails and Champagne at this popular spot within Claridge’s hotel. The Snuggery room at the back of the bar can accommodate as many as 20 with a reservation. "A lot of people just take that over. It’s a great place to meet" friends and associates before dinner. (MB) +44.20.7629.8860, www.claridges.co.uk

THE CLUB AT THE IVY "A nice pianist," "good wines," "celebrity-spotting," and "good fun" at this West End private club spanning three floors of the building that also houses The Ivy restaurant. "It’s a cool spot. Not a lot of people can get access. But we can." (BM, MW) +44.20.7836.4751, www.the-ivy.co.uk

COBURG BAR Sink into one of the velvet wingback chairs by the fireplace, or sidle up to the bar and order from a drink menu of fine wines, Cognacs, Champagnes, and cocktails. The extensive Scotch selection—spanning some 150 varieties—is the bar’s "trademark, an absolutely amazing list." Located at the Connaught hotel. (AH) +44.20.7499.7070, www.the-connaught.co.uk

THE COCKTAIL BAR Mixologist Brian Silva (formerly of Scott’s and the Connaught) lords over a menu of only 10 cocktails at this "little secret bar" located upstairs at Rules restaurant. "No one knows it’s up there. You have to be told about it." Cocktails are served in "nice crystal glasses that have weight behind them." Ambience is "very English, Georgian inside. You feel like Lord Roths­child in there." (AH) +44.20.7836.5314, www.rules.co.uk

CONNAUGHT BAR This "upbeat" David Collins–designed glam spot is "the biggest hit in London," renowned for mixologist Erik Lorincz’s tableside martinis. "You’ll feel like James Bond when you’re drinking it." Sit back in a chocolate-leather banquette and take in the "happening" scene. "At 8 pm it’s like a catwalk show." (MB, AH) +44.20.7499.7070, www.the-connaught.co.uk

COQ D’ARGENT A classic French restaurant that has a "little-known" but expansive rooftop terrace—like "huge lawns on top of the building"—with panoramic views of London, including nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral. "You can bring your blanket and sit down and have a glass of Champagne." (ST) +44.20.7395.5000, www.coqdargent.co.uk

DUKES BAR "Some of the best martinis in London" are mixed tableside "the old-fashioned way" at the bar inside Dukes hotel in St. James’s. The bar’s Cognac and Cigar Garden is open every evening from 8 pm to 11:30 pm. (ST) +44.20.7491.4840, www.dukeshotel.com

FUNKY BUDDHA Trendy Mayfair members’ club that is popular with "the younger crowd that wants to go out on a Saturday night." Expect loud house, electro, and R&B music. (AH) +44.20.7495.2596, www.fbmayfair.co.uk

GARDEN ROOM Set in a lush smoker’s haven, this "fantastic" cigar bar at The Lanesborough offers a range of Cuban and pre-Castro cigars and rare Cognacs and whiskies. (CS, MDC) +44.20.7259.5599, www.lanesborough.com

GEORGE Mount Street members-only club with a large bar and brasserie decorated with David Hockney prints. Extremely exclusive, but "we can always put our clients on the guest list or get someone to escort them or get them a table." (MDC, ST) +44.20.7491.4433, www.georgeclub.com

THE GRENADIER "Your best bet for an authentic pub experience" is at this "lovely" and "very traditional" establishment, "one of the oldest in London." Duck in for sandwiches, kidney pie, homemade soup, fish, and steak. Or just go for "the best pints of Guinness and Bloody Marys in all of London"—if you can get there. "It’s hard to find, but go to the doorman at The Berkeley and tell him, ‘Andrew says you can show me the secret shortcut.’ You’ll cut the walk in half." (MDC, AH, CS, MW) +44.20.7235.3074

THE GUINEA "A nice little pub" in Mayfair that has remained unchanged for centuries. "Very traditional, where they do the serious drinking at the front with a very small restaurant at the back." (MDC, ST) +44.20.7409.1728, www.theguinea.co.uk

HARRY’S BAR A 30-year-old private members’ club in Mayfair specializing in Northern Italian cuisine. Very difficult to gain entry. "We can call and say, ‘So-and-so just arrived in his private jet, and he runs this bank,’ and they’ll say, ‘Yes.’ But if I call and it’s ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith are here, and they are staying at the Connaught,’ the answer would be ‘No.’ That’s just the way it works." (AH) +44.20.7408.0844, www.harrysbar.co.uk

JALOUSE A "large," chic, private club on Hanover Square that calls itself "London’s first art-interior club." Ideal for the "21-to-40" set who seek "good dancing and drinks." (AD) +44.20.7629.8871, www.jalouse.co.uk

THE KENSINGTON WINE ROOMS A "serious commitment" to wine at this "very relaxed" Church Street bar. Offers 40 wines by the glass. (GM) +44.20.7727.8142, www.greatwinesbytheglass.com

LAMB & FLAG "One of London’s most historic pubs" is located in Covent Garden and said to be a former hangout of Charles Dickens. "You go there to drink, not to eat." Of course, "the British ales could be a meal in themselves." (BM) +44.20.7497.9504

LIBRARY BAR "Sheer class" and "impeccable service" at this "cozy" bar at The Lanesborough. Decor is modeled after the Regency style, with leather wing chairs and built-in cases lined with leather-bound books. A "wonderful" pianist adds to the ambience. "He’s got character." (AH) +44.20.7259.5599, www.lanesborough.com

LONG BAR "Great, innovative martinis, beautiful people, and a fashionable crowd" at this 80-foot-long onyx bar at the Sanderson hotel in Westminster. Escape to the courtyard garden for a more "private" setting. (GM) +44.20.7300.5587, www.sandersonlondon.com

MADDOX CLUB "Very cosmopolitan" hangout with a "top-end" restaurant, bar, and trendy subterranean dance club featuring A-list DJs. "If you’re between 30 and 50, you’re comfortable" here. (CS) +44.20.7629.8877, www.maddoxclub.com

MAHIKI A two-story "Polynesian-themed" tiki bar and grill in Mayfair that attracts "a young" and "trendy" crowd for dancing and cocktails. But it may be "a bit more of a girls-on-the-town kind of thing." (MDC, GM, CS) +44.20.7493.9529, www.mahiki.com

MILK & HONEY This "hard to get into" Soho haunt has bars on three floors. "If you know people, you can wrangle a table." Members have access until 3 am, everyone else until 11 pm and only with a reservation. (ST) +44.20.7065.6840, www.mlkhny.com/london

MORTON’S CLUB A "dark" and "very discreet" private club and "restaurant-cum-bar" in a four-story Georgian townhouse overlooking Berkeley Square. (AD) +44.20.7499.0363, www.mortonsclub.com

PUNCH BOWL This Mayfair pub, owned by director Guy Ritchie, "has quite an eclectic mix of businessmen, rock stars, tourists," and "Ritchie’s acting pals," which "makes it a bit more cool, to be honest." (AD, ST, MW) +44.20.7493.6841, www.punchbowllondon.com

PURL Located in the basement of a Georgian-style home in Marylebone, this "very comfortable" year-old bar has quickly become an "insider’s" spot for people who are "serious about their cocktails." The "speakeasy"-style establishment is the kind of place "where bartenders go when they’re not working." (MW) +44.20.7935.0835, www.purl-london.com

REFORM CLUB An Italian palazzo–style "gentlemen’s club that has a history that goes back hundreds of years." Originally opened for politicians and other power brokers who supported the Great Reform Act of 1832, the Pall Mall establishment is now strictly a social club. Women were first admitted in 1981. (CS) +44.20.7930.9374, www.reformclub.com

SKETCH Food, art, music, and cocktails combine in amazing fashion at this amalgam of five distinctly different rooms. "Interesting people" in "a really interesting place," conceived by restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and French chef Pierre Gagnaire. (MW) +44.20.7659.4500, www.sketch.uk.com

TERROIRS French wine bar and restaurant near Trafalgar Square with "great" food—charcuterie, cheeses, bar snacks, small plates—and "lots of less-well-known wines." The reasonable prices and casual atmosphere can be deceiving. "Even if money is no object, it’s impressive." (BM) +44.20.7036.0660, www.terroirswinebar.com

VERTIGO 42 "Magnificent views" overlooking the city at this "very chic, sultry" Champagne lounge located on the 42nd floor of Tower 42, one of London’s tallest buildings. (MDC, ST) +44.20.7877.7842, www.vertigo42.co.uk

WHISKY MIST AT ZETA "Young money" types ("famous footballers, musicians, and actors") make a beeline for this boutique club located within the London Hilton on Park Lane. Private membership benefits include access to the members-only Luxe Room. (MDC, CS) +44.20.7208.4067, www.whiskymist.com

WINDSOR CASTLE "Go for their sausage and mash menu" and a pint or two in the "lovely" outdoor patio and garden. (ST) +44.20.7243.8797, www.thewindsorcastlekensington.co.uk

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