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London: Where to be seen

  • Story Highlights
  • If you're thirsting for an expertly mixed cocktail, head to Soho's LAB bar
  • For a touch of class, sip a cognac in the elegant surroundings of the Library Bar
  • Follow in the footsteps of London literary legends at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
  • If you're in the mood for dancing, Fabric is a truly world-class superclub
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(CNN) -- Pubs and bars are the social glue that keep the city's population from fragmenting into anonymity. Recent years have seen the traditional London pubs joined by fancy Euro bars and New-York style cocktail lounges.

Ronnie Scott's

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club is a London institution.

Green and Red (51 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch) is a lively Mexican-style cantina bar with staff who know their tequila and mix fiendishly good Margaritas.

The scruffily retro LAB (12 Old Compton Street, Soho) may not be the flashiest bar in Soho but its cocktails are still among the very best in the city. It will be busy.

Village East (171-173 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey) brings a little bit of Manhattan to London. Its stylish, minimal interior is all smooth wood and exposed pipes and a good selection of cocktails is complemented by an extensive wine list. The restaurant is pricey.

For a touch of class try the Library Bar in the Lanesborough Hotel (1 Lanesborough Place, Belgravia). Sink into a leather chair and sip a vintage cognac, surrounded by leather-bound books and beautiful dark wood fittings.

Despite the proliferation of anonymous chain pubs, the classic London boozer is alive and well. For somewhere seeped in history head to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street. Though the name may suggest an American mock-British theme pub, the Cheshire Cheese has been around since the Great Fire and former patrons include James Boswell, Voltaire, Thackeray and Dickens. Make your way through the warren of corridors to the Chop Room, where you can sit by a fireplace, watched over by a portrait of Samuel Johnson, trying not to be put off by the rather bland beer.

Continuing the olde English theme is Ye Olde Mitre (1 Ely Court, Ely Place, Holborn), another historic pub with excellent British real ales, while Jerusalem Tavern (Britton Street, Clerkenwell) is a cosy, ramshackle pub in an 18th century building that offers an interesting range of beers, including a honey porter and grapefruit beer.

Less traditional, but still a London institution, is Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club (47 Frith Street, Soho). Some would argue the club lost some of its charm during its recent makeover but it's still the best place in the city to hear live jazz.

If you fancy something more lively, AKA (18 West Central Street, Holborn) was one of London's first DJ bars and it still knows how to party. After a couple of drinks head next door to The End nightclub, for an eclectic range of electronic music, including the funky drum n' bass of Swerve on Wednesday nights.

If you only have the time-- and stamina-- for one big night out, make sure it's at Fabric (77a Charterhouse Street, Farringdon). With a reputation as Britain's finest superclub, Fabric boasts three rooms of dance music, with top resident DJs and unrivalled, bass-heavy sound systems.


London city guide:

Where to stay | What to see | Where to be seen | Where to eat | Where to shop



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