Height of good taste: Galvin at Windows

With its views of London from the 28th floor of the London Hilton Park Lane hotel, the bar at Galvin at Windows has become a destination in its own right after being opened alongside the main restaurant five years ago. Its success has led Chris and Jeff Galvin to invest £500,000 in updating the look and layout of the bar to support an increased focus on cocktails and premium spirits.

The result is an elegant interior that recalls a hedonistic golden age of the 1930s, with classic design features that match the classic-style cocktails on the menu. It was revamped by Central Design Studio’s Ian Haigh who has worked on many hotels, bars and restaurants in his career, including the original Galvin at Windows while at United Designers. New features include bespoke Galvin Chairs which are loosely based on French Art Deco designs but with a twist. These are arranged alongside 1930s-style green leather chairs as well as grey velvet banquettes with low backs that ensure that people can see as much of the surrounding views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The luxurious classic look is enhanced by leather panels and 1930s-style black-and-white photographs on the walls.

A circular motif that ran through the original design has been retained, most notably in a giant round pendant light hanging above the centre of the room, although this has been changed from fluorescent to cold cathode and LED to produce a warmer glow. “With the lighting and finishes, we tried to move away from the look and feel of a typical hotel bar and tried to create something that looks much more residential,” Ian explains.

The old back bar was demolished and rebuilt, allowing them to create more room for storage and a more practical use of space. The new bar counter is made of black-and-white marble and mother of pearl, lined with Art Deco table lamps by early 20th-century Austrian designer Josef Hoffman. The bar counter is twice as big as the previous one, reflecting the greater choice of spirits and cocktails now available.

Bar manager Marco Ercolano has created a new cocktail list including a new section inspired by the new interior. “Our menu draws inspiration from the 1930s Art Deco style of the bar and, as such, we have a dedicated offering from the era where you will discover a selection of classic recipes, each of them a nod to a significant event that occurred between 1930 and 1932 – a time when distillation and sales of alcohol was forbidden in the US,” Marco explains. They include the Amy Johnson, made with cognac, maraschino liqueur, orange curaçao and pineapple juice, topped up with Henriot champagne and finished with a spoonful of homemade vanilla ice cream. More traditional is the Moonshiner – an aperitif made with Beefeater gin, maraschino liqueur, orange curaçao, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura Bitters and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth.

Gin has gained a bigger focus for the bar, and the new menu features a list of about 20 gins from well-known brands through to boutique products such as Jensen Old Tom, Portobello Road No 171, G’Vine Floraison, The Botanist, Citadelle Reserve Barrique, The London No 1 and Death’s Door as well as aged genever. The menu also encourages customers to try spicing up their gin and tonic with a selection of bitters from Fee Brothers and Bob’s Bitters.

Being next to the Galvins’ restaurant, the bar can boast 48 wines by the glass and a 550-bin list, including a good selection of English and natural wines and champagnes. It also means the bar food is of Michelin-star quality, created by head chef André Garrett, including Scotch eggs made with quails’ eggs, deep-fried artichokes with rapeseed oil mayonnaise, mackerel brandade with potted shrimp butter, and the signature Galvin’s burger with vanilla onions.

Under general manager Fred Sirieix, service and quality continue to be paramount – fitting for a venue that has been behind the respected Galvin Cup cocktail competition for the past five years. Open from 10am to 3am, the circular bar – with its views of Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace’s back garden – is literally the height of good taste.

Galvin at Windows, London Hilton on Park Lane, 22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE Tel: 020 7208 4021 www.galvinatwindows.com

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About barmagazine

Editor of Bar magazine
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