101 Star Bars: 24, London W1

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Here's the dilemma: it's Friday evening in a grey English winter, and with all your heart you wish you were gazing over the Grand Canyon as the warm Arizona sun creeps up over the rim like the smile of a benevolent god lighting up earth. But in fact you are in dismal central London, trundling down Oxford Street as 10,000 American tourists hit the tide of sales shoppers like a herd of frightened wildebeest plunging into a flooded river. It takes a great deal of imagination to rise above it.

Fortunately, someone at this hi-tech bar has anticipated this, and invented a space that can turn into anywhere in the world that the jaded drinker would rather be. Behind the trendy white furniture (1970s-meets-futurama; you half expect to meet Austin Powers shagging Barbarella on a white leather banquette, baby), the walls act as a Hollywood-style blue screen on which inspiring backdrops are projected. "Projection 1" is the Grand Canyon. Number two is a giant ripcurl, crested by sunlight. Three, mysteriously, looks like DNA. Cocktails, that well-known aid to imagination, are amply provided for here. Put down a glass on the bar top and lights will shoot out towards you – really – alerting the barman that you need a drink. The only downside? Far from representing 24-hour London, it only opens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, so check before arriving or you might find yourself stuck in January London, after all.

24 Kingly Street, London W1 (020-7494 9835)

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