London Bar

Malt Whiskey Bar, Athenaeum Hotel

Tucked away in the Athenaeum Hotel, at the more appealing end of Piccadilly, the diminutive Malt Whiskey Bar may seem little more than another clubby leather-and-mahogany English sanctuary offering canapés and freshly roasted nuts to accompany its selection of over 70 single malts. The real draw, however, is one Sally Bulloch, a self-created impresario of hospitality whose upbeat personality exudes a sense of fun and flair that permeates the entire hotel, of which she also happens to be the executive manager. (Each guest room has a booklet with her tips on selecting the most exclusive restaurants or shopping for the naughtiest lingerie.) Her past as a radio-show host in Malta and a child actress, and family ties to Hollywood, theater, and even Teddy Roosevelt meld into her present role as super-connected, ever-so-appealingly flip hostess with an endless enthusiasm for genuinely knowing her guests. On most weekday nights, come six o'clock when Sally arrives, the Malt Whiskey Bar is instantly super-charged. It becomes her bar and her house party. Buzzing around the room, champagne flute in hand, it's kiss-kiss as she greets her precious guests, and she's sure to chat up anyone she doesn't know, especially travelers on their own. She delights in introducing unlikely guests to one another; she'll also quickly rescue you from a bore. Sitting at the three-stool bar surveying the scene, you might spot a debonair gentleman, Omar Sharif, gallantly kissing Sally's hand. Paparazzi usually hound him, but Sally will have none of that here. 116 Picadilly, London, England W1J 7BJ; 44-20-7499-3464.