There are few places to find a good cocktail around London’s Inns of Court. Traditional pubs are the norm in the historic Temple area off Fleet Street where barristers have their chambers. That has changed with the arrival of the luxurious Apex Temple Court Hotel next to the Inner Temple, one of the Inns of Court dating back to the 14th century. An existing 1950s office building has been converted into a 184-bedroom four-star hotel – the latest development by the Edinburgh-based Apex Hotels.
On the ground floor of the hotel, next to the reception, is the Chambers Lounge and Bar, a stylish cosy space for daytime meetings or evening cocktails. Along with the rest of the hotel including the adjoining Chambers Restaurant, the bar was designed by Ian Springford Architects which has worked on other Apex hotels in London, Edinburgh and Dundee. The lounge area is filled with natural light during the day thanks to high oak-framed windows, with a light colour palette that gives it a Scandinavian feel. This is enhanced by contemporary oak chevron flooring and classic sofas and 1950s-style Chevy Chairs, plus artwork leaning against the walls.
This leads through to the darker area of the main bar which has a cosier library-like feel, with a fireplace flickering away on the far wall. Slatted timber walls, dark metallic wall coverings, dark blue carpeting and the slate brick chimneypiece add to the intimate atmosphere, with contemporary wingback chairs and floor lamps. The bar counter is separated from the seating area by a low wall and bookcase, accessible by a ramp or a small flight of steps – but it was designed to be table service throughout the bar and lounge. The counter is sculpted out of heavily grained black and gold marble, with bottles on the back bar lit by a warm glow. The design of the bar area connects with the reception and the facing restaurant through a bold polished red wall with vertical oak timber slats that runs the full length of the three spaces.
A broad, uncomplicated drinks menu has been put together by the hotel’s general manager Karl Mitchell, with a good selection of wines, spirits and beers. “Barristers like a good wine list and champagne and they like their beer,” he explains. The cocktail list is made up of well-known classics, mostly priced at £8.50, although Karl says the bartenders can make other cocktails to order. He has a strong background in the bar trade having been food and beverage manager at other London hotels, including other Apex sites and the Crowne Plaza in Blackfriars, home to Bar 606. The Chambers bar food menu ranges from deep-fried squid and mini chorizo sausages up to a burger and a Scottish rib-eye steak.
The hotel and bar are accessible both from Fleet Street – where a 19th-century fascia survived the
Blitz – and from the Inner Temple, making it popular with lawyers. The bar, with a capacity of about 120, is also proving attractive for private hire and corporate events, including wedding parties. On the Inner Temple side, the hotel surrounds a courtyard that is being turned into a seating area with an outside bar and barbecue.
Karl admits the Chambers bar is “a bit off the beaten track” but, as the only cocktail bar in the area, it is building business as a destination, especially after work on Wednesdays to Fridays. “It’s a homely space,” he says. “The bar and lounge have a relaxing atmosphere where the hotel’s corporate guests can chill out and leisure guests can also feel welcome.”
Chambers Bar, Apex Temple Court Hotel, 50 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1LL
Tel: 020 3004 4141 www.apexhotels.co.uk
Who did it
Interior design: Ian Springford Architects
Mosaic tiles, bar floor: Domus
Oak flooring: Havwoods Flooring
Carpets: Ege Carpets
Fireplace: Real Flame
Fire surround: Ibstock Bricks
Wallcoverings: Tektura, Dixon Turner, Elitis
Fabrics: Crest JMT Leather, Harlequin
Wingback chairs: Naughtone
Furniture: Morgan Furniture
Lighting: Axo Light, Bover
Graphics: Atom Design