Turn right at Charing Cross Station, walk to the bottom of Villiers Street and there, and the bottom of a flight of uneven stairs, is Gordon’s Wine Bar. Opened in 1890 by Angus Stafford Gordon, Gordon’s is London’s oldest wine bar. It was run by three generations of Angus Stafford Gordons, until being sold in 1973 to Luis Gordon (ironically not a relative to the original Gordons). Luis Gordon passed away in 2003 and the pub is now owned by the wife Wendy and run by his son Simon.
The family-owned bar, one of the few left in central London, has been maintained at its 1890 standard. The bar area is clad with wooden walls covered with faded memorabilia. When you enter the cellar area the world instantly darkens as you stoop down beneath the low cellar ceilings to sit at candlelit, rickety tables. In the days before the smoking ban the bar would have been a haze of low smoke and low lighting. This attracted celebrities drawn to the anonymity provided there - reputedly Lord Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh would frequent the bar for just that reason. The bar has also attracted literary figures such as Chesterton, Tennyson and Rudyard Kipling, who lived in Embankment Chambers above the bar, where he wrote “The Light that Failed.”
Today Gordon’s Wine Bar is the same. The motto of the family at the helm is “no change.” This means that they stick to having no music, maintaining the original decor, and offering traditional, well priced food. Most importantly, if you are looking for beer then Gordon’s is not the place for you – there is no beer on the menu. Gordon’s only serves a wide selection of wine and port.
Tel: 020 7930 1408
Address: 47 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NE
Tube: Charing Cross, Embankment