St James Bar at Balcon

last reviewed on 19-Oct-2011

Address: 6 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AN , United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7747 2200
Website: View bar's website
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Bar snacks
Owned by: Sofitel


The Sofitel St James hotel has had a major makeover and they've turned the bar into a sumptuous Coco Chanel-inspired boudoir, with rococo flourishes, rich fabrics and gold leather banquettes. The largely all-Franglais-speaking atmosphere make this feel like a little bit of the George V in Paris dropped into central London - cosseting, immersive and luxurious. An oil painting on the ceiling of a large rooster keeps it relatively real.

Sit at the beautiful amethyst-underlit bar and peruse the short list of brown-spirit heavy 'vintage cocktails' (our Vieux Carre was served on hand-cracked ice) ahead of some more modern mixes made using more white spirits and house infusions, though the Pepe Le moko skilfully mixed El Dorado 8-year-old rum with Ardbeg whisky and maple syrup. A Bloody Mary came with a delicious celery sorbet float that worked well though a smoked salmon cocktail (muddled fish with peach vodka and lemon juice) might have tasted authentic but was a step too far.

The bar snacks are good too - little salamis and hot edamame beans that don't stop coming. First rate, five-star service helps the drinks go down. Hotel bars of late have really upped their game and this doesn't disappoint. 4/5