Unless your resolution is to stop drinking, there is no better place to take a hangover on New Year's Day than to one of London's hotel bars, such as: The Goring 15 Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens W1 (071-396 9000) (right) is one of London's best-kept secrets. Opened in 1910, more or less in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, it is still run by the Goring family. Staff have a natural, jaunty charm that beguiles in a way the corporate-issue sort could never do, which may explain why an unusually high proportion of the guests tend to be British. The decorations are perfectly pleasant in a salmon-pink sort of way, but it is the lay of the place that is so soothing. Drinks are served in a large public room with roaring fire, or a conservatory to the rear overlooking lyrically-beautiful gardens. Bar lunches, say a roast beef and horseradish sandwich, or Caesar Salad, cost from pounds 5.50 to pounds 6.50. A Martini cocktail made with Tanqueray is pounds 5. Bar open 11am-11pm Mon- Sat; Sun pub hours. Major credit cards.
Having praised the Britishness of the Goring, now warm words follow for a vanishing American-style sanctuary: the American Bar at the Savoy The Strand WC2 (071-836 4343) (top). Opened in 1920, this place still attracts the sort of leathery rich one readsabout in Patricia Highsmith novels - Johnson-era Americans who could run the country just fine after three large bourbons and a cigar. These jowly old giants know their cocktails, and so do the staff. Peter Dorelli, the head barman, has been m i xing perfect dry Martinis (pounds 7.50) for 29 years. Habitues prefer to perch at the art deco bar, the best vantage point to admire his technique with the shaker. The tulip-shaped glasses are unorthodox but charming. Excellent crisps are kitchen-made; olives
are the stuffed type that taste best soaked in gin. Smart dress, ties. Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, 5.30-11pm; Sun pub hours. Major credit cards.
The Connaught Carlos Place W1 (071-499 7070), was originally called the Coburg when it was built in 1896, but by the outbreak of the First World War, the name was deemed too German for the preferred pitstop of the landed gentry. …