Victoria Purcell checks into the new NY-LON lounge bar at the O2 and gets a taste of the high life
‘I can definitely see Kanye in here with his entourage.’
I must’ve said this to at least three different people on my first visit to NY-LON, the latest entertainment venue to open at the O2. The cool, swanky new aviation-themed lounge bar is the first out-of-airport airport lounge to open in London.
It’s spacious and stylish. Airport-style departure boards greet you with information about the bar and upcoming events at the O2 (they’ll handily inform you of when your gig at the O2 Arena or IndigO2, if that’s why you’ve checked in here, is due to start). There are even big screens where you can catch a glimpse of the performers. Beaded curtains provide a little privacy for your table while maintaining the open-plan lounge feel, adding a little bling in the process.
There’s an area with four large tables for private hire straight ahead, catered for by its own little discreet cocktail bar, and even a secret meeting room, entered via a secret door, offering a quiet space for corporate guests or those wanting a private dining experience for up to 16 people. It’s very cool. Very Kanye-on-tour. Turn right on entering the venue and you head down an airport-style corridor – flanked by the names of the airports that the airlines fly to – to the main bar, where Virgin-red sofas runs around the perimeter and golden tub chairs populate the centre, surrounded by swirls of golden beaded curtains and soft cloud-like pendant lights. The walls, created with clever curves and mirrors, give the impression of an airline fuselage, and the bespoke bar replicates an aircraft engine. Oh and all the tables have a little call button on them, all the easier for placing orders.
But why would you want an out-of-airport airport lounge, I hear you cry? Because this is London, where there are cat cafes and cereal cafes and non-alcoholic bars. We love a theme, don’t we? But the real story behind this place is the partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines, who have collaborated on the creation of the bar in celebration of their joint venture partnership to offer an expanded trans-Atlantic route network between London and New York.
‘In New York, we have successfully brought Delta’s famous hospitality from the sky to the ground at the Delta Sky360 Club at Madison Square Garden. Now we’re bringing it across the Atlantic to London with our partner, Virgin Atlantic,’ said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes, Flying Club and SkyMiles, as well as probably feeling quite at home in a airport lounge, will benefit from a range of discounts and special offers without their feet having to leave terra firma.
The menu of light bites and drinks is inspired by these two glorious cities and the airlines’ heritage. The small plates are split into New York-style and London-style dishes. We were in an Empire State of Mind when we visited, so we picked out the rich, indulgent macaroni cheese (£5.50), sticky chicken wings with a luscious blue-cheese slaw (£6.50) and chorizo meatballs with coriander (£6.50) to satiate our post-work appetites. Bold rich, unapologetic flavours. Had we been feeling a little more loyal to London, we could have chosen from the likes of Billingsgate fish pie (£7) and pie, mash and liquor (£7).
Are you in an Empire State of Mind?
…or is London Calling?
We also grazed on a rather generous, meaty sharing board of salt beef, pastrami, wallies – a first for me, turns out it’s a kind of beetrooty mayonnaise – sauerkraut and crusty rye bread, from which I compiled myself a few New York deli pastrami-style ‘sandwiches’.
We accompanied this little lot with some very, very good cocktails – a Slipstream (£12.80) with Sipsmith vodka, pressed apple juice, lemon, agave nectar, egg white and Galliano liqueur. The menu claims it ‘tastes of the apple pie your mum used to make’, which is a fib, because it tastes a heck of a lot better than any apple pie my mum ever made (sorry, mum). It’s smooth with a hint of sweetness, but skilfully avoids any hint of sickliness and even comes with a little roundel of apple on a cocktail stick. I also tried a Revival (£10.80) – an espresso martini, surely the traveller’s drink of choice, with a hint of vanilla and maraschino cherry – and a Kennedy (£9.80) – a potent version of the daiquiri with pink grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur.
High fliers need apply. I’m sure Kanye will be dropping by on his next tour.
Open now, from midday to midnight daily, at The O2, Peninsula Square, North Greenwich SE10 0DX;