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When you’re sipping a meticulously crafted drink, you want the setting to offer just as much artistry as the drink in hand. The design of a bar really does enhance the drinking experience. Whether the aesthetics are pared down to exalt the libations or over-the-top to transport you back to the ‘60s with art deco furnishings, the bar interiors we love most are the ones that feel deliberately like works of art. While we’ve rarely met a five-star hotel bar we didn’t love, these 10 cocktail bars around the world standout for their luxurious and impeccably designed interiors.
The Fumoir, Claridge’s, London
The Fumoir’s 1920s and ‘30s style, post-belle epoque but pre-midcentury modern, has a deliberate art deco feel and rare luxury accents (see: the Lalique glass paneling, Jaffa lights, and chandelier, all of which match the Lalique glasses used to serve Fumoir’s 1930s-inspired cocktails). The crystal goes perfectly with the jewel-toned beaux-arts detailing by Thierry Despont (like the deep red and purple furnishings that create a sultry atmosphere). You’ll find all this ‘30s charm nestled within Claridge’s, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property from Maybourne Hotel Group, which is also the group behind The Connaught and The Berkeley, two equally enticing five-star bars in London.
Bar Journe, Kimpton EPIC29, Miami
Few cities specialize in designing art-forward (and, for that matter, alcohol-forward) spaces like Miami. From the Design District to the waterfront, the high-class drinking culture of Miami is as alluring as it is Instagrammable. We love the design of Bar Journe, within Kimpton EPIC29 Miami, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, because of the wearable art adorning the lounge. Rather than paintings, sculptures, and midcentury furnishings decking out this cocktail lounge, at Bar Journe, you are surrounded by luxury timepieces. This is Maison FP Journe’s first bar-within-a-watch-shop concept, and the rare spirits bar serves innovative, highly potent cocktails and Petrossian caviar surrounded by coveted FP Journe watches and clocks.
Connie Cocktail Lounge, TWA Hotel, New York City
TWA Hotel, the only hotel within New York’s JFK Airport, brings big ‘60s energy, and nowhere is that more true than at their Connie Cocktail Lounge. Connie was once a 1958 Lockheed Constellation plane—one of only four left in the world. Connie L-1649A was restored in 2018 and reopened as a ‘60s cocktail bar—so Manhattan’s finest could sip cocktails within a vintage plane at JFK. The vintage drinks and midcentury modern interiors will transport you back to the aviation days of the ‘60s (albeit with far more advanced technology).
Manhattan Bar, Regent Singapore
Manhattan Bar, within the Regent Singapore, was named to this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars (and Asia’s 50 Best Bars) and brings refined old-world New York City design to one of Singapore’s finest cocktail establishments. Beyond the midcentury leather sofas, soft lighting, and purple velour curtains, our favorite design feature is the exquisite ceiling mirror that reflects the contents of the gorgeously stacked liquor collection.
Art of Duplicity, Cape Town, South Africa
Tucked away in a warehouse that’s been standing since the late 1800s, Art of Duplicity is the hottest luxury bar ticket in the Mother City. A jazz bar that requires a secret password from guests looking to gain entry, the interiors are classic ‘20s speakeasy, in a way that lets the rare spirits shine as libations and décor. From Chesterfield sofas to the gleaming mahogany bar, the redesigned space (as of 2018) and distinctive period-appropriate ‘20s glassware all add to the ambiance, creating an exclusive (reservation-only) cocktail haunt.
Tokyo Whisky Library, Japan
For aficionados of design and Japanese whisky, there is no cocktail bar more essential than Tokyo Whisky Library. To be clear, Tokyo is brimming with rare spirits bars boasting innovative design, from the tiny house bars in Golden Gai to the famous New York Bar within Park Hyatt Tokyo. But Tokyo Whisky Library is both luxurious and hip, tucked into high-fashion shopping district Omotesando. The design is all in the name: it really is a high-brow whisky library, with exposed brick walls lined with whisky bottles, illuminated by the dim light coming off the unique glass chandeliers.
Icebar, Icehotel, Sweden
A bar built entirely from the Torne River’s water, Icebar—within Swedish Lapland’s Icehotel—sits in a building carved out of ice, with décor pieces, art, glassware, and furniture also carved from Torne River ice. One of the Icebar’s most impressive design feats is, of course, that it reinvents itself each year, melting back into the river when the weather gets warm. And each iteration of Icebar features design work from a new Swedish architect. In addition to the original Icebar at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, you can now find an Icebar in Stockholm as well.
Champagne Room, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Sydney
Overlooking Sydney’s Darling Harbour, the exceptional design here is really in the Champagne Room’s ability to bring the outside in. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the bar overlooks the water and Sydney’s downtown, while building on the Sofitel’s French art de vivre style. The Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is particularly eye-catching because of the iron-and-glass facade, which you’ll get to admire from the inside while looking out at the water sampling their très cher Champagne and caviar selection.
Paradiso, Barcelona, Spain
Paradiso, recently named to the World’s 50 Best Bars, draws design inspiration from Dalí and is known for the rich wood paneling and slightly tropical-feeling accents. The sensory design experience starts before you even set foot in Paradiso, because you enter through the freezer door of a pastrami shop—how’s that for a high-concept speakeasy tailor made for foodies? While the spirit bottles lining the carved wooden bar do contribute to the design, it’s really more the cocktails that double as works of art, because there’s an emphasis on vibrantly colored (and color-changing) cocktails. The interiors of Paradiso offer a small sampling of everything that makes Spanish design great, from the Dalí-inspired carved detailing to the more coastal-leaning artistry.
The Back Room, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, Philippines
The Back Room, which Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, unveiled in early 2019, was recently named to Asia’s 50 Best Bars. They specialize in Prohibition-era speakeasy style with a luxury hotel twist. Hidden within the hotel (and not easily found, either), you’ll stumble into The Back Room and find a stunningly designed, lit-up bar, whose dark mahogany and brass accents are offset by the dark green wallpaper and Chesterfield sofas. From the intermittent leather-lined walls, to the tucked away lab where Shangri-La makes their own house gin, this bar has layers.