West London: A guide to the best bars and pubs

Artesian, Langham Hotel

  • Hotel bars can be a bit of a hit and miss affair — some are dire, some are outstanding. Generally they’re not the obvious choice, so some local knowledge of a good hotel bar can be useful to have up your sleeve when you’re looking to suggest something that demonstrates your inside knowledge.
  • Artesian is a beautiful space — they’ve got the lighting just right, the furniture is comfortable but stylish, and there’s a general “oriental” ambience but all done with a lot of style.
  • The cocktail menu is quite spectacular and you should really take your time to absorb and appreciate the options available to you.
  • On my most recent visit I eventually settled on “The Landau Martini” — to quote the cocktail menu:
This is perfect light aperitif, ideal before heading for meal. Grey Goose La Poire with fresh citrus, hints of nuttiness, orchard fruit and fresh mint, perfumed at the table with XO cognac.
  • I’m not joking, the waiter used a delicate atomiser to spray a wafting mist of cognac over the drink after it was presented to the table. I was skeptical, but it did seem to give it a bit of extra zing.
  • Obviously, prices here aren’t cheap – but what you’re getting is particularly good.
  • The crowd at Artesian is generally an interesting mix — mostly hotel guests, a number of bored-looking couples, some businessmen in suits, and some ladies who lunch, but there’s always a nice burble of friendly conversation helped along by some quality background music that gives the room a warm buzz and a general glow.
  • Artesian could possibly somewhere to take a date (you’d have to judge that carefully), but it’s definitely a great option if you’re wanting to impress someone from out of town. It’s always a good option for your back pocket when you’re looking to prove your “Londoner” status.

The Antelope — Belgravia

  • Traditional English pubs don’t get much better than The Antelope.
  • Belgravia is a stylish neighbourhood but this is an authentic old pub with a relaxed atmosphere, friendly and professional service, and a great location on Eaton Terrace.
  • I generally end up here if either before or after (or both) when I’m going to a concert at nearby Cadogan Hall.
  • This part of London can sometimes feel a bit pretentious, but The Antelope is a welcome oasis — a decent pub where you can get a drink and have a chat with your friends.

The Waterway, Maida Vale

  • The best time to enjoy The Waterway is on a sunny day — predictably, at the first glimpse of sun this place is rammed.
  • The Waterway has a great, canal-side location, and it’s ideal as a relaxed meeting point if you want to catch up with some friends over food and a few drinks
  • To be honest, the food is okay, the service is rubbish, and avoid their jugs of Pimms – so lacking in alcohol that it might as well be a jug of soda with a few mint leaves bunged in.

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