London's famous Trader Vic's

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Trader Vic's, London Hilton

The Lure of Trader Vic's

Mention the word 'Tiki' to the average Englishman, and he'll look fairly baffled, but mention 'Trader Vic's to anyone over the age of 40 and they'll start beaming, and say, "I remember that place, is it still going?"

The London branch of Trader Vic's occupies a place in many British hearts, at least those hepcats that knew the score back in the early 60's. Back then, the opening of Trader Vic's at the Hilton on Park Lane was a big event to which celebrities flocked. It held a similar type of mystique and sophistication as the Playboy Club, like a little bit of the American high-life transported to a plot in central London. These were weird times in the capital: On one hand, Britain as a whole was grey, stuffy, and led by tedious establishment figures. Colour televisions were yet to arrive, but images of Americans enjoying their increased leisure time by taking Hawaiian vacations and drinking exotic rum-based concoctions had begun to filter through. On the other hand, London was becoming a groovy place in it's own right, with the colourful fashions, the birth of pop and satire, and the rise of the teenager all making a huge cultural impact. Thus, people wanted places to party, and Trader Vic's fit the bill perfectly.

Somehow managing to weather major cultural upheavals, as well as flash in the pan fashions & fads, the Trader Vic's of today remains a unique temple to the pleasures of booze. You first enter Trader Vic's through it's own ground level entrance directly to the left of the Hilton's main doors (though there is also another entrance for guests). It's easy to spot because of the huge Tiki statue by the door. You then descend the steps into the windowless, womb-like atmosphere to be welcomed by a greeter, who then shows you to a table in the restaurant or to one in the smaller, but more atmospheric bar. As the prices reflect the location within one of London's top hotels, I suggest you skip the meal unless it's a business trip, and the bill goes on the company's tab!

The real fun begins with the arrival of the menu, which is little changed from Trader Vic's first restaurants. (Apart from the prices, though....ouch!) . Rum & citrus flavours dominate the drinks menu, and those in search of a well-presented martini should really look elsewhere. At Vic's the wise inbiber chooses their drink according to the glass or bowl that it'll be served in. Personally, I'd steer towards the Tiki Bowl or the Samoan Fog Cutter, which are served in the least subtle of receptacles!

So, once you've got your drink, sit back, relax, and enjoy. Just make sure you take a tour around Vic's before you leave to make sure you get the full experience!

Trader Vic's is situated at the bottom of the London Hilton, Park Lane. The nearest tube is Hyde Park Corner, which lets you out just across the road. Green Park tube isn't too far away either! ;-)