Longitude 08 boasts the kind of location Londoners dream of, with an unmistakably central postcode but a position just far enough away to diminish the usual crowds. Unfortunately, the prices aren’t quite so accessible at this hotel bar.
Tucked just behind the bustling Piccadilly Circus and hidden on the lower ground of the prestigious Le Méridien Hotel, stepping into Longitude 08 is stepping into a world of understated elegance and class. The lounge bar is decorated in muted tones and luxe fabrics leaving the well stocked bar centre stage. Sofas and armchairs arranged around glass tables make up the majority of the seating space, which certainly looks stylish but may prove problematic should you decide to order food. Not only because you are worried to drop even a morsel on the expensive-looking upholstery, but because the low tables make eating rather uncomfortable.
On weekday evenings there is a rather formal atmosphere, with business meetings winding down and turning into slightly more sociable drinks. Social groups do appear, but the dress code is still very much suited and booted - you might feel out of place should you decide to pop along in your jeans and trainers. As the evening goes on, you may be treated to a band playing a bit of live music. Unfortunately, this can be a touch louder than is comfortable and rather than encouraging a more relaxed atmosphere, it leads to raised voices competing with the volume followed by hasty and uncomfortable silences during song breaks. Service can also feel a little stiff, although this may be explained by the business-minded crowd bar staff are used to accommodating. Whilst they are far from unhelpful, a certain warmness does feel lacking.
Complimentary bar snacks of nuts, pretzels and wasabi peas are provided to nibble on once you have made a drinks order, but should you be after something a little more substantial - and happy to take on the low tables - there is a modest offering of bar snacks. The Caesar salad, which comes with anchovies and a generous serving of warm chicken, tastes very fresh. That said, it’s difficult to find anything particularly superior to justify its hefty price tag and it’s fair to say you wouldn’t have to go too far to find one better at half the price. A much better choice is one of the delicious grown-up paninis. The cheese and ham option is served on slate and comes with a generous portion of delicately flavoured brie and homemade vegetable crisps.
You’ll see a few businessmen loosening their ties with a cold beer in hand, but most who come to Longitude 08 know it’s home to some seriously good cocktails. The menu is well considered with some exciting flavour combinations using lesser known ingredients, and all cocktails are presented beautifully in an impressive selection of glassware. Embrace the sophistication with a Classic Champagne Cocktail (£14.50), which blends brandy and homemade grapefruit bitters for a take on a classic. For something a little more refreshing, Indian Flower (£14) has the same decadent feel but mixes sparkling wine with elderflower and cucumber for a lighter outcome. Palm Tree (£12.50) follows in the same vein with sweet pineapple-infused rum and creamy Koko Kanu liqueur balanced with lemon, cranberry juice and fresh passion fruit.
The Last Word
Longitude 08 caters for its well-heeled patrons well with quality cocktails and formal service in beautiful surroundings, but if you’re looking for a more relaxed drinking experience, head into Piccadilly Circus where you’ll easily find fun at half the price.