Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Crystal Bar at the Wellesley, Belgravia
Once a Tube station (witness the original LU oxblood tiles outside), latterly this building housed Pizza on the Park. It's perhaps symbolic of London's position as the bluest of blue squares on the global edition Monopoly board that the Maserati masses who have recently colonised SW1 care not a jot for pizza and pichet of plonko di Puglia, demanding instead sevruga and the sort of smokes that Mayfair hedgies and showy Northern oiks with too much money to burn after landing the Euromillions jackpot might splash out on. '£3,000 for one ruddy cee-gar? I remember when we used to sneak Embassy Regals behind the borstal's bike sheds, oor Brian!' Captured in oils, Cuban aficionados JFK and Churchill survey a luxurious cigar lounge. It is serviced by a state-of-the-art walk-in humidor wherein reside anything from £12.50 panatelas to boxed sets whose £120,000 cost could buy the entire terrace of Sunderland 2 up 2 downs oor Brian wuz brought up in, had they not all been flattened to make way for his auld toon's new Lidl. At this opulent new boutique hotel, choose from one of two lavish indoor/outdoor terraces where lighting up is permitted - 'opulent' and 'lavish' used here as euphemisms for the sort of damped down bling oil-rich Russian oilgarchs and their desert rat pack equivalents are big on: let's just say, the Yemeni-owned Wellesley's look is not so much Shaker chic, more Sheik Yermoney at Harrods circa the Egyptian grocer. Fancy a scotch? Its selection of single malt whiskies, eaux de vie and cognacs gives Salvatore Calabrese's stellar collection across the road at The Playboy Club a run for its money, so prepare to cough up a harem scarem £5,000 for a double shot of rare Macallan single malt. Cocktails are more accessible at £15 for a range of classics and novelties such as 'Grass-tasty-hopper' or Italian Margarita (reposado tequila, lime/lemon sorbet, agave syrup and kirsch). As a nod to the building’s Pizza on the Park days, regular live music has been retained in the Jazz Room and there's a bijou jewel box of a restaurant. There's also a night bus stop outside; not that that this will register with Crystal's clientele: handy as hell for any Bulgarian bus boys employed within, tho'.
The Wellesley Hotel 11 Knightsbridge SW1 7235 3535 www.thewellesley.co.uk