Feast your eyes
London is one of the world's most wonderfully artistic cities, full of cultural hubs, museums and art galleries – including the Royal Portrait Gallery, which is preparing to close its doors in June for a three-year renovation project. But if you prefer a cocktail while you take in some culture, Tempus has found the bars and restaurants come gallery spaces perfect for you. Read on to discover the best art bars in the capital...
45 Park Lane
45 Park Lane's luxurious Art Deco Bar 45 features regular exhibitions from some of the best emerging artists. Until 27 April, the bar's walls are adorned with the works of Kirk Mechar and Rakerman – two very different but complimentary contemporary artists whom together present 'Surface'. Enjoy the pair's powerful, textural canvases while enjoying a cocktail or two from the bar's tempting menu. A Dorchester Collection hotel is the birthplace of the Negroni and is also celebrating the centenary of the drink with a full cocktail list. Bliss.
With a dining room dominated by Damian Hirst's 'Cock 'n' Bull' – a full sized cow and chicken preserved in formaldehyde and suspended above diners in its steel and glass tank – Tramshed is Mark Hix's most daring restaurant to date. More modern artworks by the likes of Fiona Raw and Angus Fairhurst are also dotted about the restaurant, meaning you can enjoy modern British art and modern British cooking together at last.
The Rosewood's famed Scarfes Bar is a collaboration between the five-star Holborn hotel and celebrity caricaturist Gerald Scarfe. The bar – like the art – is packed with personality and fun, while guests enjoy delicious cocktails beneath images of the great and the good adorning the marble walls – from Simon Cowell, Boris Johnson and the Royal family.
Rex Whistler Restaurant
The Tate Britain gallery is home to some of the most important British artworks from throughout the ages, and its permanent collection houses greats from Hogarth to Turner to Bacon. But to see one of its greatest pieces, Rex Whistler's mural 'The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats' one must book a table at the gallery's restaurant. Painted directly onto the walls, there is something more to discover every time you dine at this excellent restaurant – and if you can take your eyes from Whistler's mural you'll discover that the wine list is a work of art all of its own.
Restaurant at Tate Modern
The Tate Britain's younger sister, the Tate Modern, has taken the novel approach of creating art all of its own from the menu of its Level 9 Restaurant. To celebrate the gallery's Andy Warhol exhibition in March, head chef Jon Atashroo has created a snacking menu of dishes inspired by the father of Pop Art – from Tuna Fish Disaster and Paté for the Cat, to Coca Cola jelly in honour of Warhol's famed sweet tooth. It's almost too beautiful to eat!
With three London galleries offering the very best of contemporary art for sale, the Maddox Gallery is a staple among the UK's art collectors. Although these prestigious galleries aren't strictly home to a bar or restaurant, those in the know can benefit from a range of private events, expert tours and champagne-greeted talks from some of the biggest names in the industry.