A common misconception about hotel bars is that you have to be a guest at the hotel to use them, but they are fast becoming the new go-to venue for a spontaneous night out.
While international travel is still a no-go, hotels around the country are seeing an influx of people looking to get away somewhat over the summer holidays. However, if you can’t get away for a staycation, you can find some escapism by visiting a hotel purely for the bar – and no you don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy the luxuries of the venue!
Hotel bars are usually more formal, smarter and classier in design than your typical stand-alone bars, which makes them perfect for an event or even a date night. So it’s unsurprising that with a hotel’s impressive reputation and exterior, people often think it’s exclusive to overnight guests only.
Raffaele Di Monaco is the Bar Manager at The Berkeley, an award-winning hotel located between the fashionable Knightsbridge and prestigious Belgravia in London, proving that they are more than just a hotel; “We have a legacy of 20 years. The Blue Bar was a lead pioneer in the hotel bar drinking movement. As such, we work incredibly hard to maintain this two decades on.
“It goes without saying that whether you are a guest staying in the hotel, our Belgravia neighbours or otherwise, the same attention to detail, service and experience is given” commented Raffaele.
The hospitality industry was hit hard by the pandemic, encouraging those working in the industry to come up with new and innovative ways to stay afloat during a time of financial uncertainty. For The Berkeley, they began bottling their famous cocktails; “We took to our Berkeley bicycles and mixed drinks on doorsteps, this is when we moved the entire Blue Bar onto the front drive of The Berkeley – with a beach club twist when only outdoor hospitality was allowed”.
The Berkeley work hard to show that it’s not exclusive to overnight visitors, marketing their venue through their menu to attract guests from outside. Describing it as comfort food with “sprinklings of luxury” Raffaele explained that their brie, ham and truffle toasties are their most ordered item.
From this, and not to mention their Meta Menu that delivers 16 cocktails designed in house, it has generated a lot more revenue from customers visiting for simply their menus alone; “80% of our daily revenue at the Blue Bar is from outside guests. So, of course, this is an important group to focus on!
“Locals are as important as those who cross town for a night out. And again, the philosophy is that everyone experiences the same expertise, same charm, same service whether they are hotel guests or otherwise” he added.
The iconic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and The Botanist Gin have teamed up to launch a new gin terrace, encouraging people to try the gin as well as visit the hotel’s bar, where guests can relax with a drink and a bite to eat. The drinks menu consists of traditional takes on cocktails by The Botanist Gin – which can be enjoyed on The Botanist Gin swing.
The style of the garden is inspired by the natural flavourings of the gin and the stylish contemporary décor of the hotel where visitors are surrounded by beautiful greenery. Running all through the summer, the rooftop garden resembles the gin’s unique Scottish heritage, offering a botanical escape in the centre of busy Kings Cross. The terrace is open between Thursday and Saturday where they host live sports, music and entertainment in addition to incredible views of the city.
Events and collaborations like these can encourage people to visit the hotel bar and is a great way to market the venue and build reputation. Smaller local hotels also benefit from hosting events as Bar Manager for the Falstaff Hotel in Canterbury, John Jenkins, explains; “A proper hotel bar needs to do many different things for different people, but it needs to do them all very well.
“Our principal aim should always be to cater to our residents who may have vastly different expectations of what a bar is or should be to our local clientele. It also needs to fill a good gap in the local market to bring a constant stream of locals in”. In smaller towns, regulars help boost the revenue of the hotel bar, as John said that 80% of his trade comes from locals – like The Berkeley.
Again, social media is the tool that drives customers in on a consistent basis, where the Falstaff are able to showcase their venue, drinks and service. However, they have another trick up their sleeve; “We utilise a loyalty card program which gives guests 10% off food and drink and discounted tickets to our public events, tastings & cocktail master classes which is always a nice way to encourage repeat visits.
“The bar here has enjoyed year on year growth since it was conceived and built, so our marketing must be doing its job” explained John.
There is no doubt that hotel bars are rising in popularity among the public as they continue to show that they aren’t exclusive, proving they’re more than just a place to sleep – they are classy venues to drink and dine in, places to party and somewhere to drink. Whether it’s to treat yourself or just somewhere different for a spontaneous night out, hotels can benefit and accommodate for any type of venture for outside guests.