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Above the convivial hubbub and activity of the Royal Festival Hall perches Skylon. With views over the Thames, it makes a pretty ideal spot to begin or conclude an evening, or just to sip a few sundowners and watch the lights of the city illuminate the river. The bar definitely feels more than a little sophisticated, but given its location it attracts a mixed crowd of couples out on dates, small groups of girls sipping from martini glasses and the odd tourists who found their way from the chaos of the South Bank below.
The bar’s strengths - the lovely view notwithstanding – are definitely the drinks and service. Service is utterly professional and polite, and bartenders know their curacaos from their cachacas. We’ve always felt relaxed and unhurried on our trips here. Furthermore, unlike many high-end bars, management resist the temptation to slap on an extra cover charge or service charge to the final bill, sweetening what outwardly could easily have been a frosty and pretentious affair.
The cocktails here are very good – gin martinis come with just a lick of vermouth, and the obligatory orange peel in an Old-Fashioned comes studded with fragrant cloves. Drinks are around £11 a pop – not unheard of for the quality and calibre of bar – so a tab can rack up quickly if you’re thirsty. But, as far as relaxed evenings in the capital go, this hits all the prerequisites for a great night out with few of the dud notes.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday: 11:00 - 01:00, Sunday: 12:00 - 22:30