The Stafford Hotel , St James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NJ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 4493 0111
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-10:30pm (later for residents)
Style: Hotel bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Plates & dishes
Images By: diffordsguide.com
Blue Bell Yard is a quiet cobbled mews off busy St James's Street. At the end of this, past a line of 18th century stables, lies the back of The Stafford Hotel and the entrance to its American Bar. Once inside, the bustle of St James's is quickly forgotten.
This real old-school hotel bar has been here since 1930, gradually building up its collection of Americana and quirky bric-a-brac, from the colourful display of baseball caps, club ties and model aeroplanes that hang from the ceilings, to pictures of famous hotel guests - everyone from Dolly Parton to Margaret Thatcher and decorated war veterans.
The bartenders in their green jackets look rather like Wimbledon umpires but competently deal with requests for any classic cocktail. There's a serious wine cellar below and a superb selection of whiskies and other spirits stashed around the tiny corner bar. An old hand pump dispenses Thwaites Bitter, an ale made by the Lancashire, family-controlled brewery that owns the Stafford. Bar snacks are served on trays with beanbag undersides to enable customers to eat off their knees.