SuperBreak Recommends: Top 10 West End Bars

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In an era of chain pubs and restaurants, finding an authentic West End watering hole is becoming harder, if no less necessary. It’s all a part of the experience; taking a trip to London’s glittering West End on one of our famous theatre breaks just isn’t complete without a drink or two over which to discuss the merits of this or that performance, the lead’s singing voice or the impressive stage effects.

Plus, when you’re all dressed up for a night out, it pays to be within stumbling distance of the theatre – but whether it’s Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue or Soho, we know just the bar for you!

With the help of our resident Theatre Guru David Thomas, we’ve compiled our list of the top bars in the West End for a pre-theatre drink or a post-show cocktail…

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The American Bar

Where: The Savoy Hotel, The Strand

Great for: The Aldwych Theatre (Beautiful), The Lyceum (The Lion King) and Adelphi Theatre

A 5* Bar for a 5* Hotel, The American Bar is an excellent choice for pre-show cocktails. Classically cool, the bar has been long-renowned as a meeting place for friends, and since the turn of the 20th century has been helmed by some of the world’s most famous bartenders, including Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman and Harry Craddock. Coleman’s signature cocktail – the Hanky Panky – is still on the menu today, and a firm favourite with patrons who want a taste of the bar’s history. Incidentally, we’re also big fans of the hotel itself, and of Gordon Ramsay’s superb Savoy Grill.

The Nell of Old Drury

Where: 29 Catherine Street, Covent Garden

Great for: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and the Royal Opera House

Very much an old English pub, The Nell of Old Drury has a long association with London Theatre. Situated right opposite The Theatre Royal, the two buildings are also connected via an underground tunnel reputedly used by Charles II to visit his lover, actress Nell Gwyn. A friendly bar, it naturally gets very busy immediately before and after a show (and during the interval for that matter), but it’s all just part of the charm!

The Nell of Old Drury - Photo Credit to Ewn Munro

The Nell of Old Drury – Photo Credit to Ewan Munro

Aqua Spirit

Where: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street

Great for: The London Palladium

Trendy doesn’t cover it. The effortlessly cool Aqua Spirit serve up a host of classic cocktails with their own twist. If the weather’s nice you really must head out to the terrace and take in the views of Regent Street and the bustling city below, and if you can catch a sunset out here it’ll be every bit as breath-taking as the show you’re off to see! Home to Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Nueva as well – serving Japanese cuisine and Spanish tapas respectively – everything about this place oozes London highlife.

Brumus Bar

Where: The Haymarket Hotel, Suffolk Place, Piccadilly

Great for: The Haymarket Theatre and Her Majesty’s Theatre (Phantom of the Opera)

Whimsically furnished, with little dogs on the backs of each chair and large Indian wall-hangings adorning the walls, the Brumus Bar & Restaurant is easily one of the best in an area crowded with fine dining options. Known for their scrummy Afternoon Tea, you’ll be no less impressed by the extensive wine list or the choice of cocktails. Impeccably friendly and welcoming for such an upscale establishment, the Brumus is a treat.

Brumus Bar, London

Brumus Bar, taken by Edward Terry

Café Koha

Where: 11 St. Martins Ct, Leicester Square

Great for: Wyndham’s Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre and Garrick Theatre

Plum in the middle of the theatre district, Café Koha is without doubt one of the West End’s most popular bars. The downstairs bar is an intimate space, bustling with the city’s bright young things, whilst upstairs is a renowned Mediterranean restaurant that’s also pretty good for a pre-theatre bite. The bar plays host to Show Off! fortnightly, an open-mic piano bar event that invites a mix of musical theatre enthusiasts and professionals to perform songs from the shows, old and new.

Lowlander Bar

Where: 36 Drury Lane

Great for: New London Theatre (War Horse)

A ‘Grand Café’ in the style popular on the continent, the Lowlander Bar serve a gob-smacking range of beers from Belgium and The Netherlands; the sort of place that really takes its ale seriously, they even offer Beer tasting classes with their in-house sommeliers. That said, Lowlander is unpretentious – the warm and welcoming atmosphere here is perfect for pre-theatre drinks in the West End.

The Covent Garden Cocktail Club

Where: 6-7 Great Newport Street

Great for: Wyndham’s Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre and Garrick Theatre

A members-only club (don’t worry, it currently doesn’t cost anything to join! Sign up at their website), there’s an uncommon air of exclusivity at The Covent Garden Cocktail Club. The plush leather sofas and quirky furnishings give this underground bar a classical feel, far removed from the hustle and bustle of theatreland above, and the extravagantly-made cocktails are lovingly put together by a team of skilled bar staff. If you’re hungry, don’t leave without trying to conquer their infamous metre-long pizza!

Le Beaujolais

Where: 25 Litchfield Street, off Charing Cross Road

Great for: The Ambassadors Theatre (Stomp) and St Martin’s Theatre (The Mousetrap)

A good old-fashioned wine bar, Le Beaujolais offers a slice of rustic France in the heart of London. Impressing a regular crowd of patrons since it opened in the early seventies, Le Beaujolais has survived where others haven’t simply for its authentic food and atmosphere – and for its reasonable prices. The basement dining room is members-only, but the food served in the bar – from light bites to main meals – offers an excellent accompaniment to the wine. It’s very, very good and very extensive wine list makes it one of the best bars in the West End.

Waxy O’Connor’s

Where: 14 Rupert Street, off Leicester Square

Great for: Shaftesbury Avenue – The Gielgud Theatre, The Apollo Theatre and The Lyric Theatre (Thriller)

Claiming to be the West End’s biggest Irish bar, you can expect a warm and raucous welcome at this fun-loving bar where there’s something for everyone. With live music acts on throughout the week, sport on the big screens, and four bars set over six levels, Waxy O’Connor’s is like nothing else on our list – an experience in and of itself, it’s a great venue for a post-show party.

The Port House

Where: 417 The Strand

Great for: The Aldwych Theatre (Beautiful), The Lyceum (The Lion King) and Adelphi Theatre

A firm favourite of SuperBreak’s Theatre Guru David Thomas, The Port House is his top recommendation for bars in the West End. Understated, intimate, a terrific ambience – nothing tops it. The stripped wooden floorboards, bare brick walls and candlelight lend the bar a cosy feel, and patrons rave about the Tapas, Port and wide variety of Gins on offer. A short walk from The Aldwych, The Lyceum and Covent Garden just beyond, you can eat, drink and be very merry here!

Have your own top tips for bars in the West End? Let us know in the comments section below!