Between Covent Garden and the Thames, down Villiers St off the historic Strand awaits Gordon’s Wine Bar. This is London’s oldest wine bar and must be one of the world’s best. Visiting Gordon’s is a unique experience of London’s history. Before becoming a wine bar in 1890, the building was home to Samuel Pepys, and also an illustrious brothel or two. Outside, in Villiers St, the building now has the appearance of a deserted and condemned old building from Dickensian London and is often unrecognised by the most dedicated visitors. The only clue is the dusty original gas-lit lamp above the door, labelled “Gordon’s Wine Bar”. Take the narrow steps down into the unlikely darkness.
The bar has the appearance and feel of a dark basement untouched since Pepys left. Nicotine stained walls of tongue-n-groove boards, history-stained stone floors, and rickety tables and chairs under the low, brick-domed ceiling of the original wine cellars are not retro but original features. Candles light the reticent faces of illicit encounters. The staff are efficient and friendly and pull schooners and beakers of sherry, Madeiras, or port from the barrels stacked behind the bar. Excellent wines are also available by bottle or glass. Recently homemade food has been introduced, and the tables spill out into Watergate Walk to the side. But stay indoors to enjoy the uniqueness and excellence of Gordon’s Wine Bar, and drink deep the history of London.
Packed from basement to ceiling with artifacts collected over a lifetime, you could spend hours, even days discovering all its treasures. Be sure to search out William Hogarth's An Election and A Rake's Progress.
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