Visiting the city centre of one of the worlds most popular cities, can be a horrible experience if you have no idea where to go. Especially London can be a tourist trap with mediocre food at outrageaous prices. Drinking a cocktail in a nice bar isn’t that difficult if you plan ahead.
But what if you decide last minute to have a nice cocktail before or after a show? And maybe even grab a bite? Nothing better than a local to point out one of London’s best cocktail bars downtown, with thousands of tourists walking by without even noticing it!
I’ve got to admit, I am often in London but hardly want to go downtown anymore. It is too crowded and the only reason to go there is to see a West End show or when I need to go to Uniqlo. Other than that I try to avoid London’s city centre.
Even gay bars in London SoHo do not attract me that much any more, whereas I used to love going there. The area is just one big DisneyLand with too many tourists and souvenir shops. And to be honest, the amount of women with Louis Vuitton bags and non-matching hijabs in the area is just unbearable.
West End and gay bars in SoHo
However, my boyfriend and I love to see West End shows, like The Elephant Man (with Bradley Cooper), A Winters Tale (with Dame Judi Dench) and Photograph 51 (with Nicole Kidman). We are already looking forward to Glenn Close’s return on West End with Sun Set Boulevard!
So yes, we frequent the heart of the city and we fancy a drink or two there. As a gay couple we could visit popular bars like G-A-Y-bar, Yard, Duke of Wellington, Rupert Street or Heaven. But sometimes we don’t just like the eye candy; proper food is welcome at those moments. Or a good cocktail if we’re in a hurry.
London’s best kept secret cocktail bar: Zédel
The other day my hubby suggested to go to an underground cocktail bar. Not the kind that is underground in the sense of eclectic ‘hipters’ and moisty walls with water dripping from the ceiling in a fashionable way.
No, it’s the kind of underground cocktail bar where you would have nice steps to go down from street level to a few meters down.
Brasserie Zédel (20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED) is that kind of place. It is well-known by locals, but hardly attracts tourists. On the outside it looks like a hotel or French bar where you could have a glass of wine and some cheese. In the left back corner there’s a passage that usually leads you just to the toilets. But at Zédel it brings you to a whole new world.
Go downstairs and be surprised
Posters from the art deco era in Paris (with even one from the now sadly famous Bataclan) lead the way to a pleasant surprise. Downstairs you will find a meters high restaurant, cocktail bar (Bar Américain) and the cabaret and performance bar Le Crazy Coqs. (Try to pronounce that on your first date!)
Anyway, Zédel is remarkably stylish, with friendly staff, great classy cocktails and food at moderate prices. After being inside for 30 minutes you will forget that you are meters underground as the ‘grandeur’ (and high ceilings) of the bar will make you believe you are in Paris. Without the arrogant Parisians and tourists that is!
Get a Josephine!
The cocktails at Bar Américain are outstanding: the Chrysler Cocktail, Josephine, Hotsy Totsy and Blind Tiger are worth a try! Though, they have enough cocktails to keep you busy all night.
I loved this place, because even though it is easy to find, there are almost no tourists that will go here. Except you now, after reading this. 😉
I would love to hear from you: what are your favorite cocktail bars in London?
Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below, and I am pretty sure I will check them out soon!