Regular readers may have noticed that the sheer number of trips taken in recent months has slowed the pace of publication of new content – but fear not, for today it’s time to launch a new feature series on Grown-up Travel Guide!
I assume by the godawful pun in the title that we’re talking bars with a view now?
Ah, you saw what I did there. Sorry, couldn’t resist it.
Can you ever? Okay, what do you have for us then?
Most cities have their landmark towers with amazing views – the skyscrapers of Chicago, the television masts of Berlin or Eiffel’s spectacular creation in Paris. Nothing beats contemplating a major conurbation from on high – nothing, that is, except contemplating one with a drink in your hand. While many destinations have yet to make the connection there are plenty which have – and we’re going to point you towards the best of them. Not all are as vertigo-inducing as the Skybar at Lebua State Tower in Bangkok (of which more soon) but each offers the rather magical combination of a bar/restaurant and a spectacular city view.
The OXO Tower Bar, London, England
So, to work – and first up we have the bar and multiple eateries found at the top of OXO Tower Wharf in London. The iconic building dates back to the 1930s and as you may have guessed from its name and appearance used to be owned by the makers of, er, OXO.
For those unfamiliar with the classic British brand the company earned its fortune producing beef (stock) cubes and took over the property in the late 1920s. In order to get around a ban on skyline advertising at the time the company’s architect sneakily incorporated the three letters as windows on the tower. Apparently nobody complained and the logo has been part of the cityscape ever since – and is even more obvious at night…
After falling into disrepair in the 1970s (in common with much of the area) it took a multi-million pound refurbishment before it could reopen to the public in 1996 and take pride of place on the banks of the Thames once more. Now the building is home to a bunch of retail units, offices, galleries and residential homes as well as several restaurants, cafes and bars.
Upmarket London store Harvey Nichols runs things on the top floor of the OXO Tower and this is reflected in the prices but also in the quality of cocktails, wines and food. It’s always busy here (especially in the evening) so you need to make a reservation to avoid disappointment – even if you only want to have drink. If you really want to push the boat out (hah!) then eat at the brasserie or restaurant – the latter being the most exclusive and expensive – after sunset while savouring the illuminations of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral.
I visited at lunchtime and was able to reserve a spot in the bar area of the restaurant via a last minute email – try to plan better than I did in order to secure a table outside on the huge terrace. There is standing room outside too but you may have to wait in line or you can just take in the view from your table.
In a place like this it just seems rude not to have a glass of bubbly – and I do try not to be rude.
If you get hungry you can order from the bar menu; try the burger with a craft beer (which was on its way when I took the photo below) – I can vouch for it.
While it may not have the atmosphere of a classic London pub and the prices are higher than they could be, neither issue should stop you from visiting the OXO Tower when you are in London. Check out the website for all the information you need: