The capital is bursting with culture at every turn, but it’s not just the galleries and museums that deliver on the goods. The city is home to a number of imaginative bars and restaurants, all with an artistic twist or theme.
Whether they boast pieces from leading artists or are inspired by award-winning creatives, these seven bars are bound to satisfy those with an artistic eye.
Brasserie of Light
If you prefer to eat your dinner with a show-stopping piece of art delicately balancing above your head – Brasserie of Light should be on your radar. The piece in question is a 24ft long by 30ft wide crystal-encrusted statue of Pegasus, created by British artist Damien Hirst. The breathtaking artwork forms the centrepiece for this brasserie, which is located on the first floor of Selfridges (adjacent to the menswear department). The glistening installation, which sees the horse galloping mid-air, is Hirst’s largest scale artwork in London to date. Elsewhere, Art-Deco flourishes add to the restaurant’s lavish feel, with mirror-topped tables and brassy finishes.
400 Oxford St, Marylebone, W1A 1AB
The Gallery at Sketch
Prepare to be tickled pink at this Mayfair haunt. The Gallery at Sketch boasts around 200 original prints and drawings by Turner Prize-winning David Shrigley. The quirky, cartoon-like artworks make the dining room all the more playful and provide plenty of talking points. They also frame the cotton candy space beautifully. The Gallery is most famous for its afternoon tea, but is also open for dinner. Restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and celebrated chef Pierre Gagnaire are the masterminds behind the sensationally Instagrammable venue.
9 Conduit St, Mayfair, W1S 2XG
Rex Whistler Restaurant at Tate Britain
The Rex Whistler Restaurant at Tate Britain gets its name from the specially commissioned mural that hangs in the dining area. The 1927 piece titled The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats, in many ways, brings the gallery itself into the restaurant, making the areas flow in continuity. But the art is not the only masterpiece at this Westminster restaurant, the spot also boasts a 40-page wine list. Fine wine and fine art – a match made in heaven.
Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 4RG
The Connaught Bar
Designed by the late David Collins, The Connaught Bar oozes sophistication and glamour with its Art Deco decor. Set inside the five-star Mayfair hotel, this romantic bar makes for a perfect date night pit spot. The interior, which is said to be inspired by Cubist and Irish art from the 1920s, includes vintage mirrors, low lighting, period plasterwork and textured silver-leaf walls – all of which give this spot a gloriously lavish feel to it.
Connaught, Carlos Pl, W1K 2AL
Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood
London-born artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe is the inspiration behind this drinking spot, located in the Rosewood Hotel. Not only do Scarfe’s creative character prints adorn the walls (look out Mary Poppins and Theresa May) but the cocktails on the menu are also inspired by some of his most iconic caricatures. Live music, which plays seven nights a week, is the cherry on top of this imaginative bar.
Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
Cambridge Street Kitchen at the Artists Residence
The clue is in the name. This Pimlico bar, located at the 10-bedroom boutique hotel The Artists Residence, has plenty for art lovers to get stuck into. On the walls of this former Victorian boozer, visitors come face to face with a selection of vibrant prints, antique mirrors and a neon light installation. The quirky, instagram-friendly interior has made it a bloggers’ stomping ground.
52 Cambridge St, Pimlico, SW1V 4QQ
Damien Hirst is perhaps best-known for his formaldehyde-preserved animals. Hackney’s Tramshed features a specially-commissioned artwork by the artist – a piece which takes centre stage in the middle of the dining area. With chicken and beef being the focus of the menu, it makes sense that the formaldehyde work in question contains both meats. The piece titled Cock ‘n’ Bull displays a Hereford cow and a cockerel preserved in a steel and glass tank. If that wasn’t enough Hirst for one venue, a cartoon painting of a chicken and a cow by the artist can also be found at the back of the restaurant.
32 Rivington St, Hackney, EC2A 3LX