Gordon's Wine Bar

Historic Bar / Restaurant / Wine Bar
Gordon's Wine Bar London's Gordon's Wine Bar in Covent Garden is one of the oldest wine bars in the world. Check out this awesome wine-only London joint at Party Earth. London England 51.507939 -0.123513
3.6 12
Gordon's Wine Bar - Historic Bar | Restaurant | Wine Bar in London.
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Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Situated on a busy street just minutes from Trafalgar Square, Gordon’s Wine Bar is said to be one of the oldest wine bars in the world and a former haunt of luminaries like Rudyard Kipling and Sir Laurence Olivier. Despite... ... read full review

  • Tube:

    Bakerloo, Circle, District, Northern Lines: Embankment

  • Phone:

    020 7930 1408

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–Sa 11am–11pm, Su noon–10pm

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Gordon's Wine Bar Review

The Scene

London's Gordon's Wine Bar in Covent Garden is one of the oldest wine bars in the world. Check out this awesome wine-only London joint at Party Earth.

Situated on a busy street just minutes from Trafalgar Square, Gordon’s Wine Bar is said to be one of the oldest wine bars in the world and a former haunt of luminaries like Rudyard Kipling and Sir Laurence Olivier.

Despite its historic prestige and old-timey feel, the wine-only bar remains popular among young vino connoisseurs, local business people, and tourists who pop in for Spanish reds, Argentinean whites, and a selection of sherries poured straight from the barrel.

As oenophiles enter the bar, they’re met by a food counter that includes a selection of cold meats, scotch eggs, and aged cheeses, as well as a small wood-paneled bar peppered with vintage advertisements and crowded with throngs of theatergoers and businessmen jostling for a seat.

While those in search of a smoke or a little fresh air head out to the patio, drinkers who prefer romantic warmth to London’s nighttime chill lead their dates through a tiny curved doorway into a dimly lit cellar, certainly the bar’s most remarkable space.

Full of flickering candles, rickety tables, and calcified stone walls carved into a half-barrel arch, the low-ceilinged cavern is said to be where Kipling penned his novel The Light that Failed – a title perhaps inspired by the dim but delightful cellar itself.

A family-owned venue that refuses to change with the times, Gordon’s Wine Bar has maintained its traditional décor and centuries-old cellar, offering a dusty testament to the idea that old-world charm, fine wine, and good company are infinitely more important than modern accoutrements.

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Tip from Emma:

You may be disappointed if you duck into Gordon’s in search of a respite from the London rain. But the water dripping from the cellar’s ceiling is simply part of the bar’s charm.

  • Crowd

    Tourists, theatergoers, commuters, business people, and couples, 20s to 40s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    No televisions.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Cheeses, breads, cold meats, and patés. Hot food served in the bar noon–3pm. Barbecue served everyday on the terrace starting when it warms up in the spring until the first chill in the fall. Heated terrace in the winter.

  • Prices

    Bar snacks £2–£8, entrées £9–£12, cheese sharing plates £8–£12, sandwiches £3.50–£5. Wine £4–£6/glass or £15–£40+/bottle, sparkling wine £6–£12/glass or £21–£54/bottle, sherry and port £4–£14/glass or £22–£80/bottle.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Upscale casual: jeans, button-downs, sneakers, blazers, chic blouses, office attire.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Weeknights for a buzzing post-office scene, or weekend afternoons to settle in on the terrace and enjoy the barbecue.

  • Close By

    Albannach (66 Trafalgar Square) is a lively Scottish bar serving a substantial whiskey list.

Gordon's Wine Bar User Reviews

Average rating:
Gordon's: A Glass of History
Lia-Michelle K. Oct 29, 2013
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge wine drinker. Whew, that feels good to get off my chest. Still, since arriving in London, Gordon's Wine Bar remains one of my favorite local venues and even if a glass of Merlot isn't your preferred beverage, you can't miss checking this place out while in the city. I came on a Thursday evening to attend a friend's happy hour and was stunned by how packed the outside patio was. Even though it was misting, every table from the front to back wall of the compound was filled with delighted patrons, laughing and having a great time. The atmosphere was laid back (I felt comfortable showing up in jeans and a rain jacket) and attracted people from their early-20s to later years. I joined my group inside the bar, which is really where the charm of the place hits you. After descending a few stairs, you'll find yourself in a place that clearly hasn't been renovated since it was built. The walls are mostly stone and brick and the lighting is primarily limited to a few table candles and the occasional hanging bulb. The bar is rustic, historical, and unlike anything that I've ever seen in other cities. Perhaps the only downside is that the venue is pretty small and much like the seating situation outside, finding a table to sit down at can be difficult. My group had been fortunate enough to reserve a table in "The Cage" and we had a great time chatting while tucked away from the rest of the hustle and bustle. The place can get a bit noisy due to the size of the bar and the number of patrons inside but I think that just adds to the ambience of the cozy venue. As I mentioned, I'm far from being a wine connoisseur but my friends who've ordered for me are always impressed by the selection and the range in prices offered. While I haven't had the chance to try the food during my visits to Gordon's, I think the next time that I'm at the bar I'll pair my glass with an aged cheese spread or one of the bar's traditional English hot plates. If you have the opportunity to check out Gordon's Wine Bar, take it. It's a place that you're sure to enjoy and if you're anything like me, you'll regret not visiting sooner.
London's Best Kept Secret
Antonia H. Apr 6, 2013
Despite its large front display and boldly written title, it’s possible that you’ve walked past the entrance to Gordon’s Wine Bar and not noticed it’s there. Aptly situated just a cork’s throw away from Charing Cross Station and Embankment it’s easy to see how this bar has become somewhat of a hot-spot for London’s suited and booted, as well as for its tourists. As you descend its narrow staircase try not to bump your head against the ceiling. As the name suggests, this is a wine bar. If you’re planning on romancing a lager lover, I suggest opting for a nearby pub for a pint. We arrived after 8pm on a Friday night. To describe the underground venue as busy would be an understatement. If you’re after a table in the old wine-cellar visitors are advised to arrive before 4.30pm and not to move. That said, as connoisseurs depart into the city it’s possible to grab a seat or two, but you have to remain vigilant. In the end we settled for a seat at one of Gordon’s large outside tables under a heated lamp which offers wonderful views of the park. Part of the bar’s charm is its small size. At times it may be crowded and noisy, but who really wants to enjoy a bottle of French Merlot in silence? The wine list itself is extensive. Grapes range from Italy, Spain, Chile, France and Argentina, with bottles categorised as either light, medium or full. Even the most particular of palettes will find something to enjoy. Fortified wines are also available. If you feel peckish it’s difficult to refuse the offer of any two cheeses served with French bread, butter and pickles £8.80. Those after a more substantial meal can opt for either a cold or hot plate, and those visiting on a Sunday can enjoy a classic roast for £10.95. Those longing for the long, warm days of summer can relive memories by the outside grill, open from 12pm and closing at 9pm. It’s worth noting that during the winter months, which appear to be continuous at present, the grill is closed on Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Sunday’s. Gordon’s is the ideal location for a first date, to unwind with colleagues, or gossip the night away with girlfriends. If you think you’ll be enjoying more than a glass I’d recommend sharing a bottle. Reasonably priced, atmospheric and ideally situated, Gordon’s Wine Bar is London’s best kept secret. I’ll certainly be returning.
You Stay Classy, Gordon's Wine Bar
Katka L. Mar 29, 2013
I will forever love Gordon's Wine Bar, a slice of chic within London's more touristy district near Embankment. It's literally an underground bar (you'd pass by it on the street if you didn't know where to look) and set in sort of a cave-like setting, so there is definitely atmosphere. Sit on an old wine barrel and sample some of the establishments many tasty wines. Pair it with some cheese and discuss the different ways food enhances a fine wine, or let the romantic ambiance do the talking. Either way, if you're a dude, you're sure to get laid for bringing your lady friend here, and ladies? You'll be impressed in your date's choice, believe me. If not you can come back with your friends and raise a glass (or five) to lost loves!
The Oldest Wine Bar in London
Telina M. Mar 4, 2013
Established in 1890, Gordon’s Wine Bar is a fantastic hot spot to visit especially if you are tired of pubs and pints. As the sign says behind the bar, “We don’t serve beer or spirits. We are a wine bar.” This is true. It is probably one of the few establishments in London that does not serve any beer. Don’t even ask because you will just annoy the staff. You descend down a narrow set of steps right off Villiers Street into a cramped grotto like basement with ceilings so low, depending on your height, that you may have to duck your head. Gordon’s is known for its rickety candlelit tables and its enchanting ambiance. This wine bar gets extremely busy so if you are lucky to snag a table, do hold on to it for the evening because tables here go like hot cakes! There is also outside seating on the terrace overlooking the park. If you are a wine connoisseur their list is impressive. There are also fortified wines drawn directly from the casks behind the bar. Gordon’s is a perfect place for an intimate date or meeting with a small group of friends. Because of space and crowds you will only want to go with a few people. There is food in decent portions ranging from homemade pies, salads, tapas, and a variety of cheese boards. As one of the oldest wine bars in London, Gordon’s is just up from Embankment Tube Station and next door to Charing Cross. It is open every day from 11am to 11pm and Sundays from 12pm to 10pm. Gordon’s is open on Bank Holidays (a public holiday in the UK), but closed on Christmas. The clientele is an assorted mix of office workers, tourists in the know, students, artists, and upcoming thespians. It’s a fantastic place to people watch and meet locals, if the British take your fancy. If you do plan on drinking more than one glass of wine I would suggest splitting a bottle. Glasses can get pricey, and the pound is still much stronger than the dollar.
not for those above six feet
Sam R. Dec 10, 2012
The premise of this pub sounds cool, but I’m quite tall and so I don’t recommend it if height is an issue (like having problems finding jeans that fit). It is in a cave, very much so, and with the amount of ducking I had to do, it made for an unpleasant time. The outside area is great but it closed early.
Ditto the coolest wine bar in London
Tara R. Dec 6, 2012
A former bomb shelter? What? It may be located in the no man’s land beside Embankment, but Gordon’s is every man’s land. I came here for a birthday bottle of Cava and was not disappointed. The prices are reasonable, and the surroundings are epic. After two glasses I was having flashbacks to my fantasy life of living in 1940s London as one of Mrs. Henderson’s girls. Gordon’s is gritty and ancient and the wallpaper—literally, paper from newspapers that has been pasted on—is coming off the walls, but that’s just part of the charm. The only problem with this place is that it closes too early!
Favorite bar in London
Paul F. Sep 12, 2012
Not only is it the coolest wine bar in London, it's also the oldest, and one of the oldest wine bars in the world! There are old pics all over the walls that add to the ancient experience, but none more so than the fact that you're drinking inside of a cave. Yes, a literal cave. The lighting is incredibly dim, mostly candlelit in the cave portions of the bar, and it makes for an intimate date spot or a nostalgic bit of literary history. The crowd is definitely a mixed bag of tourists looking for history to young professionals on dates to old timers who look like they've been there as long as the cave itself. Great place, must go anytime you're there.
Unforgettable experience
Rachel B. Aug 9, 2012
A friend dragged me here before a play one night in 2010 and I have made absolutely sure to check back in every time I'm in London. The ambiance is a mix between sexy club scene and Medieval monastery. The crowd alone is worth a visit-- but the excellent experience of drinking wine in an underground cave is what keeps me coming back.
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