No great hotel is complete without a first-class bar – one of those special places that changes its character as the day progresses, but always has a relaxed and friendly environment that makes you feel right at home. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection’s 6 unique cocktail bars offer exceptional decor, wines, liquors, cuisine and service, which makes them among the best places to stop for drinks in London.

The talented teams at each of these cocktail bars are passionate about creating memorable experiences through impeccable service, expert knowledge and generous hospitality. During your next visit to London, make time to check out a few of these cocktail bars around the city – or perhaps all six! Cheers…

1. The Leopard Bar at the Rubens at the Palace

This spectacular bar, located directly opposite Buckingham Palace Royal Mews, serves over 200 whiskies and 30 Champagnes against a backdrop of live jazz and swing music. Red Carnation’s iconic Leopard Bars can be found in selected hotels around the world – each individually designed and unique. However, each of these shares the ultimate statement piece – the Bronze Leopard Structure by Donald Greig. Here, antique pinewood paneled walls by English craftsmen, adorned with glass whisky display cabinets, complement sumptuous brown leather deep-buttoned sofas. In addition to the impressive collection of whiskies and Champagnes, the bar offers a choice of enticing cocktails, from the classic Champagne Bellini to the more adventurous Buddha Punch. For those looking for an accompanying bite to eat, look no further than their famous Steak Sandwich, or enjoy an impressive selection of sushi and sashimi at the new sushi bar, freshly made to order.

2. Stables Bar at The Milestone Hotel

This Kensington hotel bar is an intimate and unique hideaway. Set in a Grade II listed building, the beautiful 17th century architecture and extensive drinks menu belies such a modest name. The bar’s signature cocktail, the Smoking Old Fashioned, follows the traditional New Orleans recipe, but rather than whisky straight from the bottle, it has been barrel-aged for 60 days in Canadian maple syrup and vodka. It is then presented in a glass dome filled with shisha smoke that releasing hints of apple and orange when you lift the lid. The hotel’s commitment to exceeding expectations is the secret to having a truly great bar. Their signature drink is undoubtedly at the heart of everything. Yet the extra touches are really what set it apart – from the enticing surroundings to world-class service.

3. bbar at Hotel 41

Facing the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace, this bar is a wonderful South African themed venue right next to Hotel 41. Sporting vintage photographs of big game, ethnic carvings, leopard spotted lampshades and polished zebrano wood tabletops, this is an elegant mix of safari chic and colonial cool. The menu is international, but with a strong South African accent lent by dishes like Springbok fillet, Grilled Boerewors Sausages and Bobotie Spring Rolls straight from Founder & President Bea Tollman’s cookbook “A Life in Food”. The two bars serve an impressive 110 wines (over 50 by the glass) from an eclectic list of old and new world producers including Bouchard Finlayson, a vineyard in South Africa, also belonging to The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Passionate mixologists prepare over 60 cocktails, from the classics to the more exotic, while the warm and relaxed service creates an invitingly intimate atmosphere. A truly unique experience in London.

4. The Bar at Egerton House

Enjoy what is clearly one of the finest martinis in London at the Egerton House Hotel bar. Just a short stroll from the V&A, this is the ideal destination during a day of culture. The bar’s signature cocktail is the martini – and bartenders can make a great martini any way you want – from straight, dirty, apple sour or even chocolate. For a truly unforgettable drink, we strongly recommend the hotel’s take on the classic. The bartender starts with a frozen glass, chilled to 22 degrees below. A dash of vermouth first, then gin as cold as the glass. It is then poured all the way to the rim and finished off with a single squeeze of lemon rind. Times have changed since the first martinis 130 years ago, so if you prefer vodka to gin, they promise not to frown at this request…

5. The Terrace Bar at The Chesterfield Mayfair

Tucked away on a quiet street in Mayfair, The Terrace Bar at The Chesterfield Mayfair is a hidden London gem. A classic piano bar complete with live jazz every Wednesday, The Terrace Bar blends traditional hospitality with innovative cocktails and tasting experiences including whiskey nosing and tasting, molecular cocktails and Jazz. Their resident mixologists will guide you through an innovative and exciting gin and tonic tour.  The hotel has four sensational menu tastings where you will have the opportunity to sample selected gins ranging from citrus to floral accompanied by your choice of tonic water pairings and garnishes. The bar also showcases a range of whiskies where you will have the opportunity to sample selected whiskies from around the world, including a Highland Chocolatier pairing with chocolate exclusively selected for the hotel. Don’t miss a visit to this one!

6. The Leopard Bar at The Montague on the Gardens

The Leopard Bar at The Montague on the Gardens Hotel is an absolute oasis, tucked snugly away from the busy city streets. The Leopard Bar offers a perfect blend of chic traditional British elegance and colonial South African inspired furnishings, alongside comfortable, quiet and cozy corners. Enjoy a variety of bar snacks and meals, and an excellent selection of drinks and expertly mixed cocktails whilst listening to the relaxing live entertainment that is provided in the bar every Monday to Saturday evening. Be sure to inquire about thier unforgettable Whisky experience with a member of the bar team. Whiskies available include Macallan, Lagavulin, Nikka, Blantons and Balvenie Doublewood. Taste three award winning South African wines from the Bouchard Finlayson wine estate. The Montague presents a unique opportunity to sample wines such as the acclaimed Hannibal blend, rated 99/100 by the South African wines index.