The Luggage Room, Mayfair

4 years ago

“ He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The Luggage Room Stairs view

The Vibe

Oh Fitzgerald. With all this noise about the new film, I forgot what a Panty-Dropper your prose could be. If we can leave Baz Luhrmann’s world of high-octane action, big name stars and hip hop tracks for a moment, let’s reconsider the 1920s as a place where the rich, when not flapping around on Egg Island, were hanging around in polished hotels and cutting loose. Theses joints were as wet as the speakeasies, but a little more exclusive.*

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The Luggage Room is not the place to visit in costume after having watched the movie. It is a place to go if you are unaffected by the proliferating prohibition bars in East London and would rather play house in an Art Deco hotel bar in Mayfair, making an elegant nod to the era. Leather banquettes, stiff drinks, polished mahogany, marble floors, luggage studded trimmings, lots of champagne, cobblers and punches. So goddamn classy – with the concurrent price tag of course. And for a date? It offers intimacy, perfect acoustics for whispers and giggles, and a healthy dose of fancy escapism.

The Order

It’s only the best for the lady. Whether supping on the rich hug-in-an-expensive-glass Malbec, going for an ‘heritage’ cocktail or just taking a double shot of Mezcal straight up, you’ll adore the drinks. The Penicillin is fantastic for whiskey lovers – Johnnie Walker, lemon juice, honey, ginger and talisker. The Pisco Sour should be sampled as it’s so en vogue right now (been to Ceviche or Coya?) and an Old Fashioned ordered for style points. The best thing about these sorts of bars- and by ‘sorts’ I mean pricey, old school and residing in hotels- is that the cocktails are punchy, no scrimping on booze. Unless, like my companion, you want to lose all feeling in your legs and trip straight out of there, give up on spirits after two rounds and move on to wine. This is also a kind consideration to your bank balance (only marginally though). Miss out on the bar snacks – the refillable nuts and vegetable crisps are good enough, but the pork pie or anchovies are one to avoid on a date night.

The Game

The game is very much focused around said order. If you get that right, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be pinning them down on the leather couches by the end of the evening. There are darkish corners and the place does not heave with crowds, all the more reason to be inappropriate. One thing I will say is dress the hell up. What’s the point of living the high life if you look like a tramp. Guys, this calls for the slickest of your shirts, a new suit perhaps and some strong cologne. If you want to mack on all night, you had better make sure your face is smooth and your mouth tastes of butterscotch (How? I don’t know). Ladies, resist the call to flapper dress this up, themes spell death to a first date. But do embrace the desire to wear your heels high and your dresses short, with racy lipstick, lots of Coco Mademoiselle and a slinky little shirt draped over your shoulders to feign modesty. Chat, drink, touch, laugh, really stretch this out. And split the bill please, it’s a bitter burden for one person to shoulder. Very hard to leave but it’ll spit you out at 1am, so have that cab ordered.

The Faults

It ain’t cheap and you may be the coolest/youngest cat in there.

Sex Factor

5. You came, you stayed, you drank and spent way to much. I think the effort’s been put in darlin.

*Sooo Interesting: During prohibition, wild columnist Elsa Maxwell held a barn dance party in the Waldorf-Astoria featuring real livestock, fake trees and liquor from a life-size papier mâché cow, “which squirted champagne from one teet and Scotch from another”. Heaven.

Cellar Door, Aldwych

6 years ago

The Vibe

This cellar bar in an old public toilet is intimate to say the least. Like a New York speakeasy, Cellar Door is dark and close, serving flamboyant cocktails and introducing live acts each night. The stand up comics are practically on your lap so expect some interaction. There’s a strange sense of being able to get away with anything and drink until you’re legless, as long as you are willing to interact with other couples there and not cut yourself off into a little world of two. This should be the second stage of the date, after an initial more peaceful bar or restaurant. The cabaret, dark setting and snuff boxes all build on an atmosphere of eroticism and Wildean debauchery- the perfect preamble to the bedroom.

The Order

Absinthe Martini, Gin Collins, Moscow Mule. Salty bar snacks if needed.

The Game

Drink, drink, drink my friend. If the conversation is drying up, loosen things up by striking up a conversation with the crowd around you (easy to do). Once you’re more comfortable, share a joke at the bar about ‘losing the hangers on’, have another drink and leave blind drunk, straight to yours.

The Faults

If you cringe at cabaret or camp shows, avoid it.

Sex Factor

4- providing you don’t get so drunk that you have to excuse yourself, this is a sure fire ticket to the bedroom.

 

Got a London date suggestion to share? Leave your comments below.

The Charles Lamb, Islington

6 years ago

The Vibe

This is the place for lunch after you’ve spent the night together (providing you already hopped out of bed to meet a friend for brunch/see your mother/sort out your life). Hidden behind City Road, it is one of many village-like London pubs that rest on the corner of a small and empty street and are so small that every person who enters is briefly given the once over. This may explain why everyone who decides to stay looks at ease there, to the point of being territorial. The gastro pub food is scrawled on blackboards, there are unusual beers on tap, the majority of punters are in their twenties/early thirties and, at least when we went, they didn’t even take cards, how quaint…. Positives are: the food is locally sourced and tasty, the staff welcome you to their home and serve you quickly, and it’s cosy and so full that people happily spill onto the pavements, sitting out on the curbs and imitating a scene of pastoral content .

The Order

The seasonal menu is constantly changing. We had a great goats cheese, pear and walnut salad and a warming and rich seafood chowder. Certainly don’t expect the normal pub fare. If it’s a straight up hangover cheeseburger and chips you want, head elsewhere, Angel is full of those places. The house rose was dry and crisp, a change from the usual sickly sweet house offerings in other pubs.

The Game

You may have triumphed last night but at The Charles Lamb you will be spending a lengthy lunch that seamlessly leads into the afternoon/evening. That’s a lot of talking. Drink slowly and carefully manage the hangover. Order the same drinks, to tide you through the day in unison and provide a sense of comradery. It is important that you do not break the bubble that formed last night so be tactile from the moment you sit down, enjoy silences if they happen, relax. Part in the evening

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but suggest something next weekend. You both go back looking forward to sleeping alone, but content that you’ll see each other again.

The Faults

Expensive wine (£17 for a bottle), may have to share a table if only two of you, card machine sometimes doesn’t work.

Sex Factor

1- this place is for seeing if you can happily chill out together and moving things from nighttime frolics to daytime realities. There’s no pressure really, it either works or it doesn’t.

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