Roughly only a year old, Red Room is The Connaught Hotel’s newest wine bar worth spending a late afternoon in, and well into the evening should you serendipitously find yourself in London. Tucked in the back of the hotel’s fabulous address in Mayfair, Red Room is a beholding sight once the curtains are drawn, revealing a breathtakingly beautiful, art-clad bar.
A little bit about The Connaught Hotel where The Red Room is housed
The Connaught is visibly a 5-star hotel, but it is not one that shouts. On the contrary, it whispers, like a velvety ASMR video. With London being such an unapologetically hedonistic city full of in-your-face and over-the-top experiences, this hotel is incredibly discreet given its long and illustrious history since it opened in 1815 – it almost feels gatekept by the rich and famous.
I first stumbled upon this hotel by accident, as a fresh transplant from Manila in 2014 – I was a fashion intern then hand delivering fashion show invites for foreign heiresses from across the pond who called The Connaught home whenever they travelled to the city for London Fashion Week.
Personally, financially and sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity of staying at the hotel, but if the public loo’s provided a snapshot of their service (cue: an attendant offering fresh hand towels, as well as serving as your own personal cloakroom), I can only imagine you’ll be treated like royalty when you’re a proper guest. Notable guests of the hotel include Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Princess Grace of Monaco, Cecil Beaton, Jack Nicholson, and Ralph Lauren.
Back to Red Room
Red Room is essentially a wine bar but calling it that alone seems like a disservice and an understatement. It feels more like a multi-sensory experience – its plush, curvy interiors are noteworthy in their own merit and the art pieces another. The space boasts of prominent artwork in varying shades of red from world-renowned female artists: Louise Bourgeois’ “I Am Rouge” and a small untitled hologram, Trina McKillen’s “Composition #8”, Tia-Thuy Nguyen’s “Scarlet Mist” and Jenny Holzer’s “Benghazi”.
The paintings set the tone for the room, according to The Red Room’s celebrated interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan of BOS Studio. His idea was to make the space feel like the living room of an avid art collector – cosy, creative and stimulating. The only way I can describe it, given I have a very limited vocabulary on interiors, is that it belongs in the book Accidentally Wes Anderson.
Not gonna lie, apart from Google images of the interiors, I came here specifically to see Louise Bourgeois’ “I am Rouge”. I’ve been a fan of hers since tracking down one of her giant, arresting spider sculptures “Crouching Spider” at the art gallery-cum-wine estate Chateau La Coste in Provence, France. FYI, their rosé is on the bar’s wine menu.
How self-indulgent it was, having a drink with a good friend in front of the artworks, pretending like I was in the sitting room of my own home as a make-believe HNWI (high-net-worth individual). You can say Bryan O’Sullivan and his team were successful in executing their brief.
On to the Drinks and Food
Known for their vast selection of wines and wine-inspired cocktails, The Red Room prides itself with over 3,000 different labels and over 30,000 bottles of wine. There are 8 unique cocktails on offer, inspired by and named after types of wines like Red, Rosé, Old World and New World for around 21gbp (1,250php) each. If wine is more your thing, on the accessible end of the spectrum is a bottle of Chateau La Coste’s 2020 Rosé at 95gbp (6,000php), escalating quickly to a rare bottle of Petrus 2004 for 4,100gbp (261,000php).
My friend and I were keen on the cocktails, so we tried the Perlage Rosé and Orange respectively. Funnily enough, my drink tasted peculiarly familiar – mango-based and akin to the flavor of my Chinese-Filipino mom’s preserved mangoes. I enjoyed it, savoured every last bit of it, but it wasn’t a cocktail I’d travel half the world for. Maybe I’m spoiled, because it hit too close to home, but drinking with a view of Louise Bourgeois’ “I Am Rouge” more than makes up for any perceived lack.
We also ordered a cheese plate, since it was merienda. I can’t comment well on this because I’m a fake foodie and also not a cheese connoisseur – it was good, however, the complimentary olives and almonds were superb. How can one rave about such petty bar food, you ask – well, I’m just as surprised as you are. The bar snacks were never meant to be the highlight though, so I would only recommend you order them to line the stomach.
Pause from your London sightseeing and come by for a drink, or however many you and your bank balance wish to indulge in. I wrote on my Instagram – I came here for the painting, and stayed for the drinking – I hope you experience the same, if not more – Cheers!
When to go
Reservations aren’t allowed I’m afraid, so try and visit as soon as they open at 4:00pm if your schedule permits it. As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. You’ll thank me for it, if not only for the chance to shoot peopleless photos of the bar a la Architectural Digest.
What to wear
London is easy and contemporary – you can probably get away with wearing board shorts if, God forbid, it was laundry day, but I suggest making a bit of an effort. The interiors and the artwork certainly deserve it.