London Hotels Insight provides up-to-date, independent advice for your perfect stay in London. We research guest feedback, meet management and identify hotels at the top of their game.
Great service and retro drinks at the Booking Office.
I recently dropped by the wonderfully atmospheric building of the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel to try out its Booking Office bar with a friend, after one of my fellow bloggers had already raved about its unique selection of period punch and Victorian cocktails.
Regular readers will know we love to discover London’s best hotel bars and keep them on their toes with our anonymous visits and on this occasion we tested the smiling hostess who greeted us at the Booking Office by not having a reservation (it was totally packed on a Monday night!).
She accommodated us smoothly despite having no idea we were bloggers on a secret mission and later gazed at us benevolently, rather like an indulgent mother overseeing her out-of-control kids, as we started taking pictures of drinks and quizzing the busy barmen.
Indeed, we found Will at the bar particularly accommodating and happy to answer our many questions about the Booking Office’s passion for unique Victorian drinks, even letting us leaf through the inspiring “Punch” manual which he and the rest of the team were trained from.
The fantastic service continued when I inadvertently ordered one of the strongest items on the menu (East India cocktail) and was discreetly warned of its likely effects, at which point I chickened out – it was Monday night after all! I instead went for the Morning Call (sugar, curacao, angostura, rum and cider brandy, horse’s neck) which actually didn’t seem much weaker – it seems as though the Victorians had hardy constitutions!
The same hostess with the mostest then discreetly placed a cork under our ever-so-slightly shaky table (which I hadn’t even noticed!) and brought us a free sample of their most popular punch (Billy Dawson) just because we had been nosey enough to quiz the barman on how it was made!
What I enjoyed about this bar is that you never felt like a walking wallet as you do in some hotel bars where they’re on a mission to extract as much revenue as possible from each table. We sipped a couple of drinks in a leisurely way for an hour or two and were never pressured to order more.
The drinks list and bar snacks at the Booking Office are highly original as it sticks to its Victorian theme with admirable rigour – that part we’d expected. But the great service was what blew me away and which is why I’ve since become a repeat customer. Highly recommended!
If you want an equally customer-oriented cocktail bar south of the River then we recommend the Quarter Bar at London Bridge Hotel which was also victim to an earlier mystery shopping visit.
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel Facebook.