★★ | W Hotel Bar Leicester Square Review
Waspish Welcome, What’s Wong With W?
Before jumping Prada antiqued-calf-leather laced-derby shoes first into your eatery of choice on a Saturday night, it’s best to lift spirits with a couple of pre-supper sharpeners. Central London is chokka with slinky cocktail bars, trendy boozers and popular pop-ups. THEGAYUK’s finely-tuned ear caught wind of the W Hotel Lounge Leicester Square donkey’s ago. It was time to see what all the flap was about.
We arrived at the entrance 8.25pm Saturday 16th May and were acknowledged by two towering, dapper burly bouncers. One-half of the brothers-grim asked if we were staying at the hotel, or there for drinks, without so much as a glimpse at his gnashers. We informed moody-chops we were planning to have a drink. We were then ordered to stand behind a roped-off area and queue. We were the only people there.
Eventually, a guy that had to be RuPaul’s not-so-friendly brother minced towards us. His foul mood could only be explained by the fact that his dry cleaner must have shrunk the jacket he was squeezed into.
The hotel’s door staff have mastered the art of not revealing their ivories. They’re wasted working in a hotel – they should step in where Keith Harris left off, god rest his soul.
He scanned us with his mince-pies as if we were tinned pilchards at a Waitrose checkout, then directed us to the lifts. Entering the W hotel was about as pleasurable as spending an afternoon in Clacton.
The lounge’s décor looks like it’s been pulled from the 70s but with a modern edge. A porn-star, low-black-leather-style sofa in a horseshoe shape swamps the main section of the room. Two large glass pillars with dancing flames, and a Tron-style, yellow-lit sunken ceiling gives the feel you’re in a Bond villain’s den.
Hurrah, not all the employees were fit for stuffing their hand up a puppet’s arse. Our waiter beamed at us from ear to ear before taking our order.
W’s cocktail menu has its own take on some classics, and a few signatures.
We started with a Secret Garden and a Godfather / W Twist.
The Secret Garden: Tanqueray, Crème de Fraise & honey syrup, fresh strawberries, lemon juice and cucumber topped with champagne. Reminiscent of a not so heavy, more sophisticated strawberry daiquiri. Pleasant.
The Godfather / W Twist: Johnnie Walker Black Label stirred with Amaretto and Creme de Cerise, finished with fresh cherry, sprayed with Laphroaig. Over complicated. It was as though the bartender had exhaled his cigar into the glass while enthusiastically pouring in the Creme de Cerise.
W’s website is welcoming, unlike the door staff, and encourages you to join their glamorous crowd for divine -people-watching in their lounge.
The other punters clearly flew in from Marbella that morning or had travelled on a South West train. Manmade fibres and Burton whistle-and-flutes were much in evidence.
Ru and another member of staff, sporting a cowboy hat and denim jacket, paraded around the lounge looking as busy as Matt Lucas’s hairdresser.
Our second round: a Cool Britannia and W’s take on an Old Fashioned: W Fashioned.
The Britannia: Tanqueray, cucumber, lemongrass and grapes, Pomme Vert apple liqueur, topped up with Viognier. Packing an intense apple punch to the nose and tastebuds with a cheeky zesty tickle from the lemongrass, with lush aromatic notes produced from the Viognier. Winner.
W Fashioned: Zacapa 23yr Antica Formula infused with pomegranate, cherry sugar and a slash of chocolate bitters. This is a prime example of: if it’s not broken… It was like sucking on a boiled-cherry sweet soaked in whisky.
The bill came to £57.60 including service charge.
Our visit was much like Taylor Swift’s performance at this year Brits. But at least we’ve found a new home for Orville.
REVIEWED BY: Thabian Sutherland
ADDRESS: W London Leicester Square, 10 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QF
Phone: 020 7758 1000
STAR RATING: ★★ (explained)
PRICE: ££££ (explained)
TIPPING POLICY: Service charge