Summer looms on the horizon – which means every right thinking person is searching for the nearest rooftop bar to soak up the rays. Few venues in London offer a more spectacular view than the aptly named The Rooftop at the Trafalgar St James Hotel. Eyeball Lord Nelson himself while sipping on a cocktail or three.
Yet you needn’t wait for summer to pay a visit to The Rooftop – the bar is currently running its Northern Lights experience, a selection of bespoke cocktails and suitably hearty dishes designed to warm body and soul in frosty climes. There’s a selection of small plates, the highlights being duck rillettes served with brioche and pickles, and sliders with melted raclette, beef patty, cheese and truffle sauce. Food to put hair on your chest and a smile on your face.
For the big boy courses, opt for the beef brisket served with wild mushroom sauce or the Alpine beef burger – basically a bigger version of the sliders. A case of more most definitely being more. If you insist on a more healthier option (boo), the grilled salmon with sorrel cream on the neighbouring table looked pretty damn delectable as well.
(It's worth noting the winter menu will soon be changed for a summer offering – watch this space.)
The food more than lives up to the view but the real attraction is the drinks. Spiced Twilight (Orange Zest-infused Bulleit Bourbon, Winter Spice Liqueur, Aromatic Bitters, Lemon Juice, Aquafaba, French Merlot) tastes like goddamn Christmas – the good bits of Christmas rather than family arguments over Monopoly. Think mistletoe and a sense of general goodwill.
The Nightingale (Johnnie Walker Black, Mancino Ambrato, Genepi Liqueur, Fresh Ginger Syrup) will have you singing its praises, and quite possibly singing to your companion if you have a couple. And the Northern Trees (Vodka, Apple Brandy, Aperol, Sassy Cidre Poiré) was actually summarised by my friend as “class in a glass”. The best part? Your commute home only needs to involve an elevator.
Believe it or not, The Trafalgar St. James is the sole hotel on the famous square. This is prime real estate and a natural choice for Hilton Hotels’ Curio Collection – historic hotels of great character and style, buildings that embody the soul of their city. The building housed the Cunard Steamship Company in the 18th century and its boardroom was the venue for M’s office in Dr. No – you don’t get more quintessentially British than that.
Since opening in 2000, the hotel has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Beckhams. The foyer is decorated with monochrome photographs of the icons such as David Bowie and Madonna. Each of the 131 rooms and suites boast modern artworks, luxury furnishings and beds that could sleep an entire family. Slip off, safe in the knowledge that Nelson himself is watching over you with his one good eye.
For breakfast, pop downstairs to Rockwell on the ground floor – the hotel’s other cocktail bar, one that mightn’t have the views of the Rooftop but doesn’t lack for ambience. (You can read our review here.) Linger over the continental buffet, luxuriating in the sense of being the centre of the universe.
Then? Whatever takes the fancy, my friend: London is on your doorstep. Enjoy.
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Trafalgar Square, 2 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2TS; The Rooftop