“Let’s go on a massive tour of all those amazing bars in Victoria” is not, we’ll admit, something that’s said very often.
But sometimes needs must – and whether you work nearby, missed your train, or just need somewhere to go before seeing Hamilton, there’s no need to make do with a lacklustre pub when you could be sampling wine from a giant vending machine, sipping rosé in a cobbled courtyard, or popping a magnum of Champagne by the fireside. And to do that, you’ll first need to do this: have a read of our guide to the best bars in Victoria…
Eccleston Yards is a secluded, zhuzhed-up courtyard just behind Victoria Station, home to a collection of independent businesses, a thriving weekend market, annnd this part bar, part studio from Amie Wines. Their ‘wine studio’ is a gorgeously designed space showcasing work by up-and-coming artists – so be warned, after sampling a couple of the house wines you might just take a piece home with you.
Details: Open daily | Eccleston Yards, SW1W | ££
Pantechnicon’s about a ten minute walk from Victoria station, so it’s a little more out the way than the other bars on this list. It would, however, be remiss of us not to inform you of this five-storey temple to Nordic and Japanese food, design and culture, housed in an old storage warehouse. Up top is the heated and covered rooftop bar, where you can swing by for inventive cocktails making use of sake, aquavit and birch sap wine; on the ground floor just next to the main building is the pocket-sized sake and whisky bar, seating just four punters at a time and serving tasting flights of the good stuff. And down in the basement you’ll find the cocktail bar adjoining Japanese restaurant Sachi, which has incredible cocktails like the Wagyu Beef Fat-Washed Old Fashioned…
Details: Open Tues-Sun | 19 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8LB | £££
The Goring Hotel has been shaking cocktails since 1910, meaning you’re in exceptionally safe hands here. The bar is everything you could hope a 5* hotel opposite Buckingham Palace to be, boasting deep red damask wallpaper, a roaring fire, a terrace for the warmer months and a resident pianist tickling the ivories. Signature cocktails here are made with over 100 herbs grown in The Goring’s own garden (yes, apparently there are more than 100 types of herb) and spirits which, like the hotel, hold a Royal Warrant. As you’d expect, that means they’re pretty eye-watering – and that’s just when you’re looking at the menu.
Details: 15 Beeston Pl, London SW1W 0JW | Open nightly till 11pm | ££££
No 11 Pimlico Road is handy for two reasons: 1) you don’t need to look up the address, and 2) it’s an airy and spacious all-day restaurant and bar right by Victoria station. Being on the Pimlico side of things, it has a more laid-back, neighbourhood feel than some of the busier spots right next to the tube, and there’s a decent mix of seating to suit both couples and big groups. On the menu? A line-up of twists on classic cocktails like the Fig Old Fashioned, as well as bottled beers and a healthy-looking wine list.
Details: Open daily | 11 Pimlico Road, London, SW1W 8NA | ££
The Rail House Café (sibling to the Riding House Café in Fitzrovia) has somehow managed to take a cold, glassy corner of the Nova building and transform it into a rustically warm and inviting beach house. And like all good beach houses, it’s centred around a giant horseshoe bar where the team serve up draught & bottled beers; house cocktails like the Espresso Delivery (with coffee-infused rum, vermouth, Cherry Heering and cacao); and a decent selection of grape-hooch – which, like the wine equivalent of a swift half, you can order in nifty 75ml portions starting at £3.
Details: Open daily | 8 Sir Simon Milton Square, SW1E 5DJ | ££
Sporting 140 bottles hooked up to futuristic taps dotted around the room, the Vagabond drinkeries are some of the more inventive wine bars in London – and their bar in Victoria is the indecisive wine-drinker’s haven. On entry, you’ll be handed a card to top up with your tab, which you’ll then be able to swipe at any bottle to taste either a sample or a full glass. Essentially, it’s a giant vending machine of wine – only with cheese and charcuterie platters to boot.
Details: Open daily | Unit 17, Nova Building, 77 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0AJ | £+
Taking over an old Edwardian shopping arcade opposite Victoria station, Market Halls Victoria has not one but three bars, and a dinky rooftop terrace that shows off some of the grandiose architecture that’s usually blocked from view by the bus station. On top of that, there’s eight street food traders here slinging their wares, ranging from Malaysian at the legendary Gopal’s Corner to Hotbox BBQ and BaoziInn’s dim sum.
Details: Open daily | 191 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NE | ££
This Scottish eatery has gone way past the point of mere Highland fling, and is having a full Scottish love affair. Their Belgravia branch, just behind Victoria station, is a warren of drinking dens, dining rooms, a courtyard and cigar terrace; each liberally scattered with tartan and Scottish paraphernalia. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong whisky collection behind the bar, and there’s also live music every night, spanning jazz, soul and blues (no bagpipes involved).
Details: Open daily till 1am (4pm Sundays) | 15 Eccleston Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9LX | £££
If Flight Club had opened its Victoria bar 150 years earlier, maybe Queen Victoria would have been amused. It’s easily the liveliest place for a drink in Victoria, whether you’re booked in to play darts or not – the dazzling carousel-styled bar at its centre serves up a mind-blowing array of drinks, including cocktail slushies, house shots, and sharing cocktails served inside giant winners’ trophies. Considering it’s the best option in the area, it seems to be perpetually rammed (in a good way), but if you’re after a bit more space you can take a breather in the bar’s private terrace, strewn with eclectic decor including Ming vase stools and a red telephone box.
Details: Open daily (till 1am Wed-Sat) | NOVA Development, 6 Sir Simon Milton Square, SW1E 5DJ | £££
Partial to a tipple? Peruse our list of London’s best cocktail bars