10 of the Best Cocktail Bars in Kensington & Chelsea

Find the super-glamorous speakeasies, sophisticated restaurants and pub gardens serving up the best cocktails in Kensington and Chelsea…

Lead image: Nocturne, South Kensington

1 Nocturne, South Kensington
Newly opened and a dark little den of a bar with interconnected rooms, Nocturne is a prohibition-era inspired venue with a cocktail list that is neat and with no gimmicks, as a nod to drinks of that time. Concoctions includes bourbon infused with mint and cucumber, lemon and lime infused tequila with rose and hibiscus syrups as well as a Japanese dry gin mixed with Early Grey liqueur, which all sounds pretty appealing. With an extensive liquor list boasting an array of everything including whiskies, bourbons, cognacs chances you’re going to find a tipple you like even if you don’t go for a cocktail.
Wednesday 4pm-1am, Thursday 4pm-2am, Friday and Saturday 4pm-2.30am; 158 Old Brompton Road SW5 0BA; nocturnebar.co.uk

2 Kahani, Chelsea
Opposite the iconic Cadogan Hall is this slick Indian restaurant with a below-street-level bar. Cocktails are made with a sublime, sub-continental take – there’s the gulab martini (vodka, lychee liquor, lychee juice, lemon juice and rose syrup) or the SW1 which has saffron and cardamom infused Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, fresh mint and apple wood smoke.There’s also a list of equally decadent sounding mocktails too if you feel like a treat without the booze.
Tuesday to Friday 5pm-10.30pm; Saturday 12pm-2.30pm and 5pm-10.30pm; Sunday 12.30-8pm; 1 Wilbraham Place, Chelsea, SWX 9AE; kahanilondon.com

3 The Lost Hours, Chelsea
A relaxed neighbourhood pub and kitchen on the same spot as the old Jam Tree, with a comfy beer garden and homely dining room and lounge – you can see how you would loose hours here with a handful of pals. With a pizza menu in addition to the regular menu that serves up pub grub with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options too, there’s plenty to eat and the cocktail list is a decent size. It offers various martinis, as well as a couple of spritzs, an amaretto sour (always a winner), Pimm’s for if this summer ever kicks off, and bloody Mary’s for the next day.
Wednesday to Thursday 4pm-11pm, Friday 4pm-12pm, Saturday 11am-12am, Sunday 1pm-8pm; 541 King’s Road SW6 2EB; thelosthourssw6.com

The K Bar at The Kensington Hotel, South Kensington. Photo: The Kensington Hotel

4 The K Bar, The Kensington Hotel, South Kensington
Great for a date night or a as a treat with a couple of the girls, The K Bar in The Kensington Hotel is one of those bars you want to settle into for the evening. With leather wingback chairs, lush deep blue velvet upholstery, lighting that dims as the night goes on and a few impressive chandeliers hanging above, it’s also the kind of bar that invites you to settle into it for the evening. In addition to a weighty wine list, The K Bar mixes up a neat selection of classic and champagne cocktails – try a Kir Royal, negroni, or a pisco sour here or relive Sex and the City with a cosmopolitan or two.
Monday-Saturday 3pm-11pm, Sunday 3pm-10.30pm; 109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, SW7 5LP; doylecollection.com

5 Balans Soho Society, Kensington
Balans Soho Society started life as a sandwich bar on Old Compton Street and quickly made a name for itself thanks to its late night opening hours. And then it found its way to Kensington High Street, where you can still find that Soho/boho vibe from breakfast till midnight. The design – which incorporates a tree into the middle of the restaurant – stems from the vision of Simon Costin, who made his name creating outlandish fashion shows for Alexander McQueen. And the cocktails? Try the needy sounding Do Ya Love Me?, or the sassy Just Call Me, Sunshine or the skittles-infused Taste the Rainbow, which is probably not for the faint-hearted.
Monday to Thursday 8am-10pm; Friday and Saturday 8am to 11pm; Sunday 8am-7pm; 187 Kensington High Street W8 6SH; 020 7376 0115; balans.co.uk

Balan's Soho Society

Balan’s Soho Society, Chelsea. Photo: Balan’s Soho Society

6 Barts London, Chelsea
Many come to this secret Chelsea drinking den for the 1920s-themed experience. Step through a clandestine entrance to find an intimate, plush-red speakeasy adorned with old paintings and antique lights, bar stools and stuffed animal heads. However, great character aside, the real reason to come is for the killer cocktails. The excellent bartenders can hustle you up a fresh concoction using herbs from the bar’s own garden, or try absinthe poured over sugar cubes for a instant fix. The bar’s many cocktails are organised by taste, and all come with witty names – To The Laddies, Lead on, Mcduff!, and Luck Be a Lady. There’s also a long champagne list too.
Wednesday 5pm-1am; Thursday to Saturday 5pm-2am; Sunday 5pm-12am; Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue SW3 3DW; barts-london.com

7 Zuaya, Kensington
Zuaya on Kensington High Street is a Latin American restaurant and bar with a real wow factor. Its stunning interiors have earned praise by the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, and it is hard not to be seduced by Zuaya’s elegant marble-topped bar (and signature cocktails too). One of the most popular cocktails is the London To Lima, Zuaya’s interpretation of the classic Pisco Sour. There’s also a restaurant downstairs with beautiful design features including moss walls. Zuaya’s Head Chef, Francisco Lafee, who has previously worked in Michelin-starred restaurants has crafted an inventive Latin American and Spanish tapas.
Monday to Saturday 12pm-12.30am; Sunday 12pm-11.30pm; 35B Kensington High Street, Kensington W8 5EB; zuaya.co.uk

8 Sloane Place, Chelsea
Chelsea hotel and restaurant Sloane Place also comes with a lower ground-floor cocktail bar. Open for daytime drinks (cheeky!) and late night cocktails every day of the week, the bar serves signature cocktails – modern twists on much loved classics – such as the mint-infused Early Grey tea based Sloan Iced Tea and the Smoked Almond Sour with smoky truffle. All cocktails come with a dish pairing suggestions, and there are also house infused spirits too – fancy a smoked rosemary negroni made with rosemary-infused Campari or a fennel-infused gin with rhubarb-cardamom soda? There’s also a private roof terrace on the first floor offering a full all-day dining menu and cocktails, alongside beautiful views of Chelsea.
Monday-Friday 7.30am-11pm; Saturday 8am-11pm; Sunday 8am-10pm; 62 Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea SW1W 8BP; sloaneplace.com

9 Beaufort House Chelsea
Indulge yourself with a trip to this stunning venue spread over four floors. Sprawling over the top three floors is Albert’s, a private members club, which provides the lucky few with an all-day restaurant and bar, private dining room and the Penthouse Champagne Bar, for late night drinking (yes they are welcoming new members). The ground-floor cocktail bar, however, is open to all and has enormous windows filling the room with light make it an inviting space. The cocktail list is fairly generous, encompassing champagne and martini numbers, shots, muddles and swizzles, plus a selection of short punchy drinks, suitably named ‘Short and to the Point’. Try the Ice Cool Martini, Mint Daiquiri or the G’Dawg for something new and fruity.
Open Monday to Wednesday 9am-12.30am, Thursday to Saturday 9am-1.30am, Sunday 9am-12.30am; Albert’s is open Thursday from 10pm-2.30am, Friday and Saturday 10pm-3.30am; 354 Kings Road, Chelsea SW3 5UZ; beauforthousechelsea.co.uk

10 The Botanist
Seasonal cocktails are a speciality at the Botanist, a modern European restaurant in Sloane Square. It’s a good spot to start your night and to people watch too. The list is split into two – contemporary and classic cocktails. The classics are tried and tested faves – Aperol spritz, Martinis and a Tanqueray negroni. However, opt for a contemporary cocktail and you will be rewarded by an inspired list of choices. The whimsical, avian-named drink list hits the sweet, sharp, delicate and punchy notes with the likes of the Tonka Macaw made with tonka bean syrup, the Flamingo Riff with hibiscus infused rum, and the Dark Turpial made with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva infused with coffee beans.
Sunday to Wednesday 11am-11.30pm; Thursday 11am-12.30am; Friday and Saturday 11am-1am; 7 Sloane Square SW1W 8EE; thebotanistonsloanesquare.com