“I first went to Claridge’s Bar in London years ago, when I couldn’t afford to stay at the hotel. It’s a great thing, if you can’t stay at a grand hotel, to have a drink there. I’ve done that all over the world. Claridge’s made me feel good. I was afraid they’d kick me out on that first visit, but they didn’t look at me like I was an interloper.
Claridge’s Bar itself is a beautiful space with lots of light, and the walls are a soft golden color. It’s important to me for a bar to have an extensive list of champagnes by the glass, and this one offers 12 types, including Cristal. They make a great cocktail, too. Probably the only thing they don’t serve is warm beer, as so many pubs do.
Now, whenever I’m there I half expect to see people I know. I’ve run into many friends at the bar over the years; it’s the kind of place where people wash up. I’ve seen Natasha Richardson, Stephen Fry, and Prince Pierre d’Arenberg—a wonderful boulevardier. If he’s in the room, you know you’re at the right party. But I’m also happy to have a glass of champagne with my wife, Ann, or—if I’m alone—to imagine that Evelyn Waugh or Bertie Wooster is about to walk in. It really is the closest you can get to being in London in the 1920’s.”
Jay McInerney’s new book, How It Ended: New and Collected Stories (Knopf), is out this month.
Claridge’s Bar Brook St.; 44-20/7629-8860; cocktails for two $40.
“When I’m tired of tramping around town, I go to Hampstead Heath, one of London’s largest green spaces. I have friends who live on either side, and in the center there’s a stunning Georgian manor and museum called Kenwood House(Hampstead Lane; 44-20/8348-1286). It’s a place to go and refresh your senses.”
“Karl Marx, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, and Sir Ralph Richardson are buried at Highgate Cemetery (Swain’s Lane; highgate-cemetery.org). This historical spot is also filled with Gothic follies and tombs.”
“Scott’s (20 Mount St.; 44-20/7495-7309; dinner for two $125 )is a well-known seafood restaurant in Mayfair. It used to be old-fashioned and very traditional, but it recently got a face-lift. It’s lovely.”