New York does piano bars.
Greenwich Village has several, all filled with friends squeezed around a grand piano, cocktail in hand, filling the room with renditions of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, various classics from the Ratpack and more showtunes than you’d ever normally want to hear.
An evening at a piano bar in London was, until Bazz Norton launched Piano Bar Kensington in 2003, impossible to come by.
It’s now become a London institution – so much so, that when it was threatened with closing down (thanks, developers) at the end of 2019, the nearby Royal Garden Hotel recognised its importance as a neighbourhood gem, and leapt to its rescue. Still run by the original team, you’ll now find it inside the hotel, where – despite now having a lot more room, and a fancy light-up bar – you’ll still find the friends crowded around cocktail-laden tables, the 160 year old Collard & Collard Grand Piano, and the legendary atmosphere and buzz of the crowd gathered around it.
Your evening will start sedately but, as the drinks flow, the room fills and the atmosphere builds, you’ll soon find yourself drunk at the piano, swaying in the arms of strangers and singing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” with more gusto than you might have ever imagined.
Possibly with someone else’s tie wrapped around your head.
NOTE: Piano Bar is open Monday-Saturday, 5pm-midnight – it works best to eat elsewhere and then arrive for 9.30ish. Booking a table is strongly advised: it’s always busy. You can do so HERE.
Piano Bar | 2-24 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 4PT
Want to discover more? Check out the Nudge’s guide to the best London bars with live music.