Oscar Wilde Bar
Photo by Hotel Café Royal
Hotel Café Royal
Just off Piccadilly Circus and in the fabulous confluence of Soho, St. James's and Mayfair, the Hotel Café Royal has a history as regal as its Grade-II listed building. Opened as a grand restaurant in 1865 by a French refugee fleeing charges of bankruptcy, the Royal was once considered to have the world’s best wine list and has hosted Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali and Princess Diana. Becoming a hotel in 2012, it traded bonbons for all-Carrara bathrooms, scones for a spa (which includes a candlelit 60-foot lap pool), and its single restaurant for four. The jewel box interiors of the original restaurant have been restored to full opulence in the Oscar Wilde Bar. Outside, great, rusticated slabs of Portland stone (the only stone that looks good in London’s ever-present rain) remind you that you’re in the heart of the Victorian city: Piccadilly and Theatreland are right outside; Trafalgar Square and the Mall are only a short walk.
Who it’s best for: Anglophile history buffs and literati; theatre-goers who want a cozy crashpad.