I don't know if there were exclusive gentlemen's clubs in 1920s Paris, but if there were I'm sure they would have looked exactly like the Fumoir bar on Claridge's ground floor. A darker, more sensuous sister of the gold and velvety rose red Claridge's bar, the Fumoir is tucked away behind a secret door which always makes a bar so much more appealing.
Claridge's is a mere stumble from Bond Street, which means that the good, the bad and the dangerously glamorous of London choose it as a bolt-hole, post-shopping or business. While ladies who lunch chatter away over afternoon tea in the lobby and a smarter set of Europrincesses head to the main bar for champagne and bellinis, those with a yearning for solitude and hard liquor will seek out the Fumoir.
The walls are clad in rich aubergine colours and dark leather. The lighting is low. The silver-haired handsome bastard drinking cognac in the corner looks as though he came here on the advice of the Rough Guide to Gin Joints for Russian Mafiosi. But you don't like to ask.
Between now and 6 January, Claridge's is serving a Couture Martini in association with the V&A Museum, but its "hint of raspberry" makes it a bit too light-hearted and pink for the darkness of the Fumoir. Unless Mr Mafioso were to send one over, of course. And something about this secretive bar makes anything seem possible. Claridge's, Brook Street, London W1 (020-7629 8860)Reuse content