I hurry from heaving Holborn tube station, or from my latest meeting in a windowless room in a charmless office block, with the cold wind attempting to turn my umbrella inside out. I dart past the hopeful face of a nameless charity worker and the aimless tourists, pulling my coat tighter, my hands white and painful.
The wind continues to gust down High Holborn as I continue quickly in the direction of Chancery Lane, but my destination soon looms up on my right. The Rosewood Hotel, its stunning Edwardian stone, with warm, glowing, wrought iron lamps appearing through the rain to welcome me in.
I turn into the archway, the former entrance to Pearl Assurance, the original tenants, I make a quick right towards the one of the former banking halls. I push gently against the dark, wooden framed, glass revolving door and step into the haven that is Scarfe’s bar.
I gather myself, pack away my umbrella and the sounds of traffic die away as I straighten my coat and make my way to a table. The lighting is warm and low, the highly polished dark wood of the bar, fronted by dark green studded leather barstools, is topped with simple Art Deco lamps. The furniture is wonderfully eclectic; inviting soft chairs and sofas of velvet and cotton, scattered in with leather armchairs.
The decor is dark wood, framing warmly lit antique books and Gerald Scarfe illustrations, with candles on the wooden tables and more low light coming from verdigris chandeliers. There’s a gentle buzz from the few people scattered about, it’s only 4pm after all, some bent over glowing screens, some with a frothy cappuccino and others with something a little stronger.
I make my way to my companion, a quick hello and then a waiter appears, placing stylish silver goblets of water on cushiony Scarfe napkins. Our table is small, the cushioned chairs inviting you to sink in deeply, and the crackling fire just behind us providing a welcome respite.
I select a Margarita, one of my favourites, from the extensive cocktail menu. A glance across to the many bottles behind the bar hints at a whiskey specialism, as do the tartan trousers of the staff uniform. I settle into my chair, enjoying the gentle Jazz music playing in the background.
There’s a piano and a microphone off to one side and the waiter mentions there will be a performance at 9pm, I’ll have to come back another time to enjoy that.
My Margarita arrives, placed gently on a napkin by the unobtrusive waiter, as I take a sip I feel the stress of the day melt away, replaced by a warm calmness, and I smile gently.
It’s a perfect antidote to a day spent in London, rushing from meeting to meeting, taking copious notes and negotiating challenging customers. To the rain, the crowds, the pace and the pressure.
After the Margarita, my companion and I select a 2016 Chardonnay from Tuscany to share, and its flavours do not disappoint. A while later, pleasantly relaxed, we reluctantly heave ourselves out of the chairs, pulling our coats around us, preparing for re-entry into the real world.
The waiter bids us farewell, and we turn up our collars, extract our umbrellas and gently push the revolving door. We leave the warmth and calm behind, and a whip of wind catches our hair as we join the maelstrom of people on High Holborn. We will be back.
All ratings are out of 5 stars:
Decor: ***** | Service: ***** | Drinks: *****