Apres Ski in London
World Best Bar
Mar 29, 2018
10 January 2019
Amidst the fervour of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the blizzard of nationalism and the incredible feats of athleticism, one thought more than any other has pervaded my consciousness, ‘Schnapps, I really miss schnapps’. If, like me, you’ve been left with a chalet-sized hole in your heart this winter look no further than Kensington’s Bodo’s Schloss and Soho’s Piste Bar at the Archer Street Cocktail Bar for a taste of the après-ski experience in London. Not satisfied with the annual week of sun-soaked, snow-filled and most importantly schnapps-fuelled trip to the mountains I decided to head into London in search of an authentic apres-ski experience.
For sheer fun it would be hard to beat Bodo’s Schloss. Formerly a casino, this hang out for London’s young, affluent set was renovated in 2012 following a change in ownership. What emerged from the wreckage can only be described as a glorious subterranean homage to everything enticing about the après night out. Piste Bar adopts a more subtle yet no less inviting approach, oozing sophisticated alpine chic from the 1960s photography on display to the authentic fur rugs that brings a luxury matched by their inventive array of cocktails.
Having arrived at what my friends assured me was in fact one of London’s most exciting hang outs, I was perturbed to find what looked like a tiny alpine shed tucked beside and dwarfed by the hotel next to it. However my fears were allayed when I ventured into the depths of Bodo’s Schloss, the doors swinging wide to reveal an après playground.
Aesthetically Bodo’s Schloss captures the the rustic appeal of an alpine log-cabin, with the majority of the materials having been sourced from the Austrian Alps and the surrounding area. Small touches such as the gondola dj booth, ‘ski boot’ and ‘bobsleigh’ drinks packages (yes you literally drink cocktails out of a ski boot, I only hope its not too authentic) help you forget that you are partying beneath the busy streets of West London.
The atmosphere can be a little ‘upmarket’ at times given the location, however once the night gets going you can expect après levels of crowd involvement and uninhibited shape-throwing.The music varies depending on the night you go, however most nights the dj offers a mix of cheese which is great as it a) keeps the hipster set well away and b) means you can cut loose without a care in the world. The staff commit wholeheartedly to the experience with the traditional attire of their continental counterparts, wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl whilst serving a range of cocktails designed by the mixologists behind another London favourite Mahiki. To my pleasant surprise Bodo’s Schloss has a dedicated schnapps menu for those seeking the real deal, something which I made a bee-line for. I can recommend the ‘Harakiri’ which mixes Pampero Blanco rum with apricot schnapps. Another favourite of mine is the ‘Lauberhorn’ which combines the warmth of a cognac with the instant kick of pear schnapps (if you close your eyes you can practically hear the cow bells).
Whilst Bodo’s Schloss is definitely the place to end the night, with the revelry lasting well into the small hours, Piste Bar is the place to start. Tucked away in the winding alleys of Soho, the sadistic alter ego of Kensington, lies the beguiling Piste Bar, the basement hang out of Archer Street. Don’t be fooled by the restrained decor of black and white photography and leather sofas, this place gets particularly rowdy on weekends in true après style. To avoid lengthy queues make sure you don’t leave it to the last lift down before heading over, as capacity in this winter wonderland is relatively small. As for the cocktails I can recommend the ‘Off Piste’ as it is served with a spiced winter port syrup to warm the very cockles of your soul. Having found a comfortable corner table beneath the authentic mounted reindeer head I found the atmosphere to be bubbly and full of that reassuring white noise of chatter. I would say this is definitely the place to down skis after a busy day on piste and get that first drink of the night. With the music building steadily throughout the evening with the addition of a live dj from around 9 o’ clock, Piste Bar will help lift you in preparation for the night ahead.
For those looking to make the season last a little longer, Piste Bar and Bodo’s Schloss are certainly the places to capture some of that après magic deep in the heart of London’s glamorous West end.
Written by Alex Jordan