20 Great Windmill Street, Soho, London, W1D 7LQ. View on map.
With fifteen establishments in London, they hardly difficult joints to track down. Be At One Soho is no exception; perched proudly on the junction of Great Windmill Street and Archer Street, it straddles the two without shame - its apex seemingly reaching out to you as you approach it.
This venue is not affected by airs and pretensions – it is very comfortable in its own skin. The floor and ceilings are dark with windows on two sides, and the remaining stretch of wall is divided into three, with a different wallpaper pattern on each section. The bar is divided into halves, seated and standing, reconciled by the bar in the middle from which you can order drinks on all four sides.
Tables surrounded by stools and a long leather bench that runs the length of the wall are readily available, but don’t expect to separate yourself from the other punters. With a shortage of seats, strangers cosy up and even share tables.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
Strangers interact and mingle, which can make a nice change from the sorts of places where people studiously avoid eye contact with anyone whose name they don’t know. The music is mainstream, 90s, cheesy and instantly recognisable - and it works very well. A Friday night here acts as a good segue into louder and drunker things, or can simply be all of that in one go. Even at 8pm, spontaneous dancing displays erupt every now and then when the right song comes on. If you are looking for an in-depth catch up with a long-lost friend, you might struggle to make the finer points of your conversation heard over the music, which really is very loud.
As you might expect from a bar that provides bookable cocktail classes, the selection of drinks on offer is extensive. Luckily, the drinks lists are divided into sections determined by the alcohol base, though personally, I never find that this really helps with indecision.
Glasses of prosecco are £4.50 and the majority of cocktails hover around the £7-£8 mark. The Wild Tea and Elderberry Martini was delicious, though it seemed that everyone else in the bar prefered to tuck into the alcoholic ice cream concoctions – most notably, an Oreo-based invention. It is hard not to swerve at the last minute when ordering your tipple, after seeing what the man next to you has just been handed by the barman. If you are still stymied by the choice, then friendly staff are bound to swoop down and offer some advice.
Overall, Be At One Soho is a good-time kind of joint – it is not a place for the City suits and you shouldn’t be surprised if you run into a group of Essex girls on a hen night. But this shouldn’t deter you either. In a city increasingly overrun by establishments that take themselves too seriously, this chain is a refreshing counterbalance and is marked out by its ever-friendly, happy and helpful staff.