If there’s one thing that London does well, it’s hotel bars. And the award-winning Artesian bar at the Langham Hotel is no exception.
The Langham Hotel is a stunning example of what the capital’s 5 star hotels are all about. Quintessentially British in design, paying homage to our heritage, it also has a modern flair that keeps it looking fresh.
The bar itself isn’t particularly large but it’s beautifully presented. Big period windows line the wall and they're decorated with luxurious white curtains that match the intricate white panelled surfaces and ceilings. Leather fills the space from the leather foot stools to the high backed dark purple leather sofas, and some have the effect of snakeskin, which heightens the feeling of luxury. They nestle around simple round wooden tables, glossed to a high sheen, and the overall effect is very much gentleman’s club in style. However, it’s given a feminine edge courtesy of huge bunches of fresh flowers, white lamps and a glistening mirrored bar filled with a pretty array of coloured spirit bottles.
The Artesian is as expensive as it is decadent, and so it attracts a certain type of customer: rich hotel guests, business people, attractive socialites and people treating themselves to a ‘posh’ night on the town. There’s a refined air to the place, although it doesn’t verge into pretentiousness. And that’s because this is a 5 star hotel where the staff make every customer feel like they are important. Incredibly efficient, the service is flawless from the complimentary bowls of nuts and olives on your table to the way you never have to wait to order your next drink.
The bar food at the Artesian is more expensive than the dishes at many restaurants, with a choice of small plates priced at £8 including things like chicken wings with caramel and ginger or lobster bisque with crab. What really stands out, however, is their caviar menu, starting at £32 for just 10g of the mature Spanish cold river caviar to £495 for 125g of the Royal Belgian caviar. Ouch.
First thing’s first. The price. Drinks at Artesian do not come cheap, costing in the region of £13-£25 when ordering from the menu, and more if you have a martini with premium spirits. Still, they are good. Very, very good. Even the ice is specially designed, super-cold ice that doesn’t melt quickly so as not to dilute the cocktails too much. And they are old school in their building of the cocktails around the flavour of the alcohol, rather than hiding it with sweet purees.
A good example of this is the Strawberry Hill Daiquiri (£14.50), which comprises of Wray and Nephew rum, fresh strawberries, pink grapefruit and agave nectar served with orange bitters and lime. It’s a potent mix that packs a big kick, but is softened by the sweetness of the strawberries. The grapefruit and bitters add a pleasant tang to the drink, which so easily could be overly bitter and unpleasant if not perfectly mixed. Of course, if you want to really test any cocktail barman then the way to do it is to order a martini. And yes, their martinis are perfect.
If you really want to go for it then their most expensive drink is the Zombie, made from four Caribbean rums, marschino liqueur, velvet falumum, pernod, grenadine, grapefruit and a float of Bacardi 151. No wonder it’s £25 (and don’t forget the 12.5% service charge on top of that!).
The Last Word
The Artesian Bar is a fine example of a hotel bar getting it oh so right – and that’s no mean feat when the competition in this sector is so fierce.