Whether you’re happily committed (or happily single), looking for love or ready to sweep someone off their feet, there’s something universally magic about sidling up in a cosy, candlelit alcove for a drink with someone you fancy. Add stunning interiors, roaring fires, jaw-dropping views, seductive music and aphrodisiacs on the menu and you'll have them eating from the palm of your hand. Maybe. If you're lucky. Here are eight stunningly designed bars to help set the mood. The rest is up to you...
Designed by none other than uber-designerTom Dixon (opens in new tab), Mondrian Hotel's Dandelyan bar serves up more than just good cocktails; expect killer views of the River Thames and lush, Art Deco-inspired interiors. The decor is reminiscent of theluxurious cruise liners of generations past, a knowing nudge to the hotel's Sea Containers name and history. Thelavender-hued leather banquettes, velour lounge chairs, mirrored tables, green walls, generous gold and brass accents throughout anddecadent, dark green marble bar that runs the length of the space are a clear reminder of Tom'spenchant for warm metallics and unexpected colour combinations.
And the American vibe was no accident, either. Tom recognised atransatlantic connection as a shared common thread between the original architect of the building, Warren Platner, who was an American working in London, the owner who was a Londoner educated in the U.S, and the New York based-Mondrian hotel group landing in London. That Anglo-American relationship and the glamour of transatlantic travel is a clear running theme in Dandelyan's decor. As for the drinks, the cocktail bar is run by Ryan Chetiyawardana (known as Mr. Lyan), one of London’s most prolific bartenders and bar owners, who has earned this bar the reputation of World's Best Cocktail Bar.
Even if you’re a stone-cold unromantic type, The Fumoir (opens in new tab) at Claridges can and will win you over.For one, it’s in one of the most beautiful buildings in London, an opulent structure rammed with classic features and wall-to-wall grown-up sophisticated interiors whichever direction you look. Hidden behind a discreet glass door in the hotel's famous entrance hall is the famed Fumoir bar. Slip into a dark and cosy corner wherethe seats are plush, the lighting is low and the cocktails are decadent.The Thirties-inspired interior is divine, all dark, aubergine walls flecked with mirror and gilt, soft leather seating, and stylish crystal lighting, with a horseshoe bar, vintage black-and-white photographs on the walls and original Lalique panels.
One of London's most secretive nightspots, itsexclusivity is enhanced by the fact it's incredibly dinky, with room for just 35 people tops. It's no wonder it'sDita Von Teese's favourite London bar; it'stransportative, elegant, and luxurious: like a portal to a more refined age.
Another brainchild of Tom Dixon, Bronte's Bar (opens in new tab) on London's Strandboasts striking architectural features such as an arched glazed facade leading from the traditional colonnade terrace into a double heighted space with a mezzanine level, plus floor to ceiling windows bathing the pantry area in natural light, and with a subtle and stylish palette travelling through to the main restaurant.
In a nutshell? Gorgeous. There's an Instagram-worthy pink concrete bar, a green granite kitchen and a pewter cocktail bar, interspersed with cosy booths and custom design furniture. It strikes that hard-to-find balance between fun, flirty and super sophisticated.
Chances are, you'll have already seen Martin Brudnizki (opens in new tab)'s striking interiors grace your Instagram feed. A vision ofshiny marble, polished wood and soft leather, one of his latest design projects Aquavit in St James's Market, London, radiates Mad Men style glamour.Martin kept the original bricks and mortar of the Grade II-listed building, but added a tallglass façade that floods the dining space with natural light, and infused the space with warmth throughlayersof blues and greens, and brushed and polished brass trimmed chairs and lamps.
The secret ingredient here though, is theexquisite wall-mounted textile, The Green Glass Carpet by Olafur Eliasson, which takes centre stage and sits alongside Georg Jensen silverware, Andrea Hamilton artwork and Svenskt Tenn furnishings, all coming together as one big Nordic happy family. Oh, and with a Michelin star less than a year after opening, you can rest assured that the tempting Nordic menu won't disappoint either.Although technically a restaurant, it has a stunning brass and marble curved bar that's perfect for a pre or post dinner drink.
If its glitz and glamour you’re after, head straight to The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar (opens in new tab).Nothing about it says understated or discreet – this is the spot for those seeking pure glamour and dazzling interiors.Darkly lit, opulent, glamorous and sophisticated, it’s impossible not to be seduced. And seduce you it will.
Known for its theatrical drinks and dramatic décor, The Savoy's Beaufort Bar with its jet-black and burnished gold décor exudes the glamour of the roaring Twenties –when such luminaries as Carol Gibbons, The Savoy Orpheans and George Gershwin graced the cabaret stage at The Savoy. Today, cabaret acts are still a regular occurrence (the bar itself stands on the hotel’s former cabaret stage), and there’s plenty of champagne to go around. Cocktails don’t come cheap though – this is definitely a place for spoiling.
THE DOME IN EDINBURGH
If you love architectural grandeur, and are not averse to a weekend trip, then The Dome (opens in new tab) in Edinburgh will not leave you disappointed – because grand doesn't even begin to cover it. The Dome takesits name from the large cupola, found in many Edinburgh New Town houses, which engulfs the main bar and restaurant area.A former bank building, it has retained all it's lovelyneo-classical architectural features including impressive facade of Corinithian columns and sculptured pediment, resembling something like a classical temple.
It's been an Edinburgh institution since opening its doors in 1996, and sits resplendent with its Graeco-Roman façade and Corinthian Portico in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. Great for a romantic pre-dinner drink – although leaving before dinner would seem somewhat anticlimatic.
BOURNE & HOLLINGSWORTH
There’s a comfortably familiar charm about Borne & Hollingsworth, like the living room of an eccentric aunt. Inspired by famous parties and their hosts throughout history, The Fitzrovia-based basement bar (opens in new tab) was created in a spirit of excess, withwhimsical and luxurious furnishings, married with a laid-back feel.Sexy? No. But the playful and cheerful decor will at least help nervous dates relax. Together, the eccentric interiors and extensive cocktail menu create an escape from everyday life.It's no wonder it's become a bit of an institution, with a legion of devoted admirers.
The banquettes that line the walls have been upholstered in delicate coral silk and finely woven cream wool, buttoned in bright florals. The marbled bar is expertly echoed on a smattering of table tops, interspersed amongst live edged oak, black glass and piano finish gloss. The chairs are all individually sourced antiques, brought up to date with bold primary colours and exotic prints from as far afield as Asia and South America. Uniting the elaborate aesthetic is the rich pink and warm white, hand painted fabric wallpaper, and the original parquet flooring, restored to its former simple beauty. The bathrooms have not been left out, with the pink trend continuing with pale pink walls complemented by rich copper fittings and deep green Moroccan tiles.
THE CORAL ROOM
Designed by Martin Brudnizki (opens in new tab)(designer behind Soho House Miami and The Ivy Chelsea Garden), The Coral Room at The Bloomsbury Hotel is avibrant grand salon bar (opens in new tab)which feels more like a colonial style island bar, with a secluded cigar terrace, tall palms and occasional live music sets in the evenings.
As for the decor? The clue is in the name. It's painted in top-to-toe coral, with matching coral bar stools surrounding the curved marble bar.
Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.