The best thing about working in The City is that there are some great places to go for a drink after work. The worst thing is that everyone knows it. The pubs in Leadenhall Market spill over with a rancour that fills the Victorian arcade. The last time we were there, we could hardly see the cobbled ground through the forest of silk trousers and handmade shoes. When we asked why so many men, and they were all men, were drinking at 15.00 on a Thursday they replied: ‘we’re bankers.’ Enough said.
It can be hard to find a nice place to go to in The City, but we found a small gem 12 floors above the cobbled road. Skylounge is a bar atop the Doubletree Hilton, Tower Bridge. Accessed through the hotel on Pepys Street, it’s outside the fast-paced hustle and bustle of The City, and there is an air of refined decadence on the rooftop terrace.
We followed the candles, which reflected softly in the polished mahogany floor, until we reached the main bar. The walls were floor to ceiling non-reflective windows, which gave a fantastic view of Tower Bridge and the Thames. The décor was “modern minimal,” which we think feels a bit soulless in London where a lot of places try to be chic by putting a lot of effort into trying to look like you haven’t tried very hard. But we weren’t really looking at the bare walls or the sprigs of bamboo in crystal vases, the panoramic view sucked us in and created a backdrop that few bars can match.
Scotland feels underrepresented on their shelves with just Talisker, Auchentoshan, Oban, and Lagavulin. It wouldn’t seem so odd, those are some nice bottles for a non-specialist, if Skylounge wasn’t so strong with their bourbon selection; going from the basic Wild Turkey Rye, staples Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve, and going all the way up to the more niche Tin Cup and Blanton’s. Japan is also well represented by Nikka From The Barrel, Hibiki and Yamazaki.
The Atmosphere and Clientèle
Skylounge’s USP is being a nice place to go, in a great location, that doesn’t very jam-packed. There is a constant flow of people, but we had an easy conversation and didn’t have to wait at the bar. It is a Doubletree, though, so there was something synthetic about the atmosphere, full of well-heeled travellers. It isn’t a place you’d expect to see the same people coming back to, the people seemed transient. But that’s what makes it a welcome relief for those of us who work in The City; it is hard to find places with a tranquil ambience where you can actually hear the music.
The outdoor terrace is the best bit. With heat lamps, we enjoyed our drinks while the sun went down and The City lights came up. Whereas down the road we’d have needed to fight the bankers with sharp elbows, Skylounge presented itself as a civilised alternative.
Visit the Sky Lounge next time you're in London.