One of the questions people often ask me is why I insist on focussing on City bars. After all, as these folks are quick to remind me, there are many great bars all over London which clearly I either haven’t been too, or simply haven’t heard of.
Well, New Year and new start then. And given I spend just as much of my social life in Soho and Shoreditch (not to mention those great suburbs south of the river), I thought I’d start in with the West End institution that is Two Floors.
Located just off the recently and quite wonderfully revamped Carnaby Street, Two Floors does what it says on the box by being set over two floors – ground and basement level. The ground level bar is all Soho cool. Dark green walls are offset by the darker brown lounge-style furniture and tactfully placed mirrors. The bar staff have stepped straight out of Wallpaper Magazine, or graphic design school anyway. They are matched in styling by the equally hip clientele, which serves as a reminder to those who care to forget that Soho, rather then Shoreditch, was the original home of London chic.
The basement bar has been branded as Handy Joe’s Tiki Bar. But don’t expect any jangling ukuleles or Mahiki Bar ‘irony’. This is a bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and besides a smattering of bamboo and palm trees - and one of the smallest actual serving bar spaces in London - the basement is all urban intimacy. Which is a euphemism for saying it is crowded, a testimony to both the layout of the place and its popularity amongst Soho’s hipsters.
However, Two Floors' saving grace is the shared courtyard area on the Kingly Court side, which gives it that year-round extra space that punters need, so long as you don’t mind occasionally having to step around confused tourists looking for M&S. it also helps that the staff complement their good looks with good service, meaning that punters don’t have to wait long at all to get their rounds in.
The drinks themselves are all reasonably priced and are your fairly standard Soho fare, with a range of New World and lower priced European wines, and beers that include Red Stripe and Camden Hells on tap with Kirin, Estrella Dam, Samuel Adams and Negra Modelo by the bottle. If you’re after an alcohol-infused injection of energy, the Dark and Stormy (rum and lime) cocktails are particularly good.
If you’re looking for a good start, or even end to a night out in Soho, Two Floors is as good a place to go as any.
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