Elegant yet edgy, and something of a subterranean hideaway; for those in the know, the bar at the Flemings Hotel Mayfair makes an ideal escape from the hustling, bustling chaos outside.
Every inch the hidden gem, the Flemings Cocktail and Tea Rooms are a little like the inside of a diamond; shiny, opulent, with cosseted little corners, and pockets of vibrant colour amidst the glass and mirrors. Details are eclectic, with artfully mismatched textiles and prints adding a touch of bourgeois bohemianism to the mix.
Exterior of Flemings Hotel in Mayfair, London
Bustling and vibrant, however, this London hotel bar is not. It rarely seems to be particularly busy, nor does it appear to fill up at peak times. If you are looking for a wild night out in London, or a place to become intimately acquainted with the personal aromas of several strangers, Flemings will not appeal. Although the space is not particularly big, the layout can give the impression of being in an isolated little nook. As such, time spent here feels intimate, peaceful and private, and so it is little surprise to see several couples here on dates.
As this is essentially a hotel bar, the clientele can be extremely varied. At one stage, the table opposite was occupied by what appeared to be grandparents and a thirteen year old girl reading a book about ponies. Despite this, the majority of Flemings guests are well-dressed professionals in their thirties, kicking back with cocktails after work. Notably, the bar seems to appeal more to women, perhaps in part due to the décor, and perhaps because Flemings also serve pretty good afternoon teas in this space.
Flemings Cocktail & Tea Rooms' Beautiful Decor
There is table service, which tends to be polite and attentive yet unobtrusive. However, whilst waiters are watchful of empty glasses, and ready and waiting to take orders, they tend to be fairly slow in preparing cocktails and bringing them over.
There is a comprehensive selection of spirits, offering several premium and more unusual options, alongside all the popular brands. The choice of beers and ciders, is however, fairly limited. Prices are also not for the faint hearted: a measure of Barcardi or Beefeater will set you back £8, and beers start at £5.
Flemings Cocktail & Tea Rooms are, more than anything though, a place for cocktails. The menu is just right, neither overwhelmingly long, nor limited. The choice is good, ranging from famous classics to Flemings own more experimental concoctions, and they pull off traditional and modern with equal skill. There is no sex on the beach here. Instead, cocktails are brilliantly balanced, elegant and aromatic. Granted, some cocktails can be a touch too perfumed, such as the Signature Martini, which is a little heavy on the orange oils. Despite this, the classic martini (listed as the Mayfair Martini) is excellently mixed and easy to drink. The Exotica is a particular highlight, which shows off the full scope of Flemings creative mixing by combining elegant and exotic flavours, with varying smooth and silken textures, to a delicious effect. The cocktails are not cheap (they range from £8-£14), but in terms of the experience, they are certainly the best value for money on the menu.
Sip fine cocktails at Flemings Cocktail & Tea Rooms
Light bar snacks and canapés are also available. The high-end edge continues with paprika popcorn instead of crisps, and the nuts are necessarily gourmet. With the exception of the (slightly too sweet) mini hamburgers, the canapés are largely Mediterranean inspired, with offerings such as wild mushroom arancini, bresaola and salt cod fritter tending to be elegantly presented and delicious.
The Flemings Cocktail and Tea Rooms is a place to while away hours in lazy luxury. Once I sank into that huge, soft armchair, there just wasnt a reason to get up again. Whilst it isnt much of a quick or cheap pit stop, if you like the sound of an expertly mixed martini in a soothing little cocoon, you are in luck.