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Janets Bar, South Kensington

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user reviews of Janets Bar, South Kensington

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

I have just signed up to this website to write my first online review of anything ever. Such is the potency of my consternation that I am typing this on an iPad Mini.

Our visit to Janet's bar this evening was nothing short of horrendous. We (four native west Londoners) walked in at around 11.15 to a pretty miserable welcome: a sub-EasyJet air hostess type immediately shouted "We're not partying all night - that means one drink." Quite why this woman (who having read various other reviews I presume must be the now a infamous Janet) decided to treat us as though we were asking her for some enormous favour was not immediately clear. We were then chased round the small and empty bar by a harassed looking waitress who demanded our drinks order (though to be fair to her she was a lot less abrasive than her employer gargoyle). We asked for a drinks list and she pointed to various bits of tatty laminated paper behind the bar that were entirely illegible. So we guessed at what they might have and luckily we were largely successful. We made our order and the waitress immediately looked worried: "That's only three drinks but there are four of you." I explained that my girlfriend wasn't drinking. Her response was "That could be a problem - there's a £3 minimum per person." The bar was empty and the fact that the three ludicrously priced cocktails we ordered amounted to far more than £3 per person for the four of us was flatly ignored. Had we been tourists we might have put up with this greedy and miserly behaviour and sat in a corner of this naff joint blubbimg into badly made and vastly overpriced cocktails. Luckily for us we were immediately aware that we had walked into the most repellent bar in London run by a woman who should seriously reconsider whether the service/hospitality industry ( as opposed to, say, traffic wardenry) is really for her. So we walked straight out.

This review is not therefore written with revenge in mind - Janet did not get her greedy claws into us. Rather it is written to warn others who may be visitors to London not to go to this horrible bar. The few positive reviews you will find are suspiciously similar to each other and appear to come form the ether - they are woefully inaccurate.

The danger with relying on online reviews is that you will always ask yourself: "Is this reviewer simply a lunatic with an unfortunate agenda based upon the fact that 'there are too many steps' or 'there were no bees in the garden' "? I promise that I am not such a lunatic and that I have no such agenda. Do not go to this bar because it is an ABSURDLY expensive and ghastly place.
HarrySM1983 - 10 Jun 2014 01:00
A truly terrible bar. I've been here a few times and can only describe the regulars as hangers on, or tourists just wanting somewhere nearby to grab a quick drink. The only times I came here were with friends who on wanting an extra drink or two noticed this bar and wanted to go in. They soon learned.

Asking for cash up front before they serve you a drink is most probably a policy due to the watered down alcohol they serve. I know its a bar and you have to expect to pay more, but this bar takes that rule to the limit. Charging nearly five pounds for a small bottle of beer left me speechless. I have been to expensive bars in the west end, and don't mind paying as long as its a nice mix. I just don't like being ripped off.

What is with all the photo's spread all over the wall making the place look very tacky and cheap. Its like something you expect inside a typical club twenty dive bar in Tenerife or Malia. I don't wanna see a bunch of nerds clowning around thinking they are part of Janet's entourage.

They even once did a raffle here in which I was pressured into buying a ticket. I bought one and won a prize of a free consultation to a Hairdresser's. The staff didn't seem happy that I won, LOL. I sold the prize to someone and quickly left........and I have never been back.
perfect_spy - 17 Sep 2013 12:53
Absolutely horrendous. I have never been lead to writing a bad review for a bar, but I must make this exception. The drinks were watered down, ridiculously expensive. Who pays 10.50 for two small beers? Even in South Ken... The glasses were plastic and dirty, the musician was a pitchy, untalented 40 year old who had the audacity to ask for tips. The worst was Janet herself... Completely up herself, rude, trashy blonde botoxed mess of a woman. Avoid, unless you are in the mood for a hilarious confrontation with the boss from hell.
cos301 - 11 Jun 2013 14:03
Roaming the streets of South Kensington last night in search of a screen to watch what was left of the open ceremony, a woman on the pavement was looking for preys: it was Janet!

She quickly sized the opportunity and shouted "y'all looking for a screen? there's one right here but you gotta buy drinks!"

We all looked at each other and thought: we are in! So we went in. Big mistake.

We could not even finish the first round of drinks that Janet sent the young girl to our table to push for more orders, then Janet herself came to tell us we had to move our chairs closer to the table as "the bar was about to get packed and she needed space" then the boy came to give us an ultimatum: order more drinks or leave.....then the final blow: Janet raided our table saying she needed it for some customers that had just come in with a reservation.

How rude, pushy and agressive!!!!!

The bar was empty(ish) there was no sign of a crowd mobbing the place....what was she on?!!!

We stood up and left pretty angry....what an undignified way of running a tatty bar!! The older the bar, the greater the need for management to compensate the physical inadequacies.... normally!! But in this case: the tattier the business, the cockier the Janet... more like it!!!

She literally shouted: "GET OUT"....yep, that's because some of us did not order more drinks and others were still drinking theirs. Unreal.

As we stood outside on Janet's familiar pavement gathering our thoughts on the unfortunate encounter, a group of girls came out of the bar and having heard it all just said: "expensive plastic surgery clearly requires more maintenance!" We couldn't agree more.

Cheerio Janet, and indeed.....let the Games begin!
Zalabia - 28 Jul 2012 14:55
Really good fun any night of the week. This bar attracts people of all ages and backgrounds. What I particularly like about this bar is that everyone is treated the same whether they are a professional, student, celebrity or royalty. Everyone is made to feel welcome by employees and other customers alike and I never go home without making a couple of new friends! I'm a big fan of the martinis, particularly the espresso martini. They also have a new selection of red wines which I highly recommend. My male friends are fans of the vast collection of gins and whiskeys! The live music is also a lot of fun, as is the owner (Janet, of course!) who is an ex-lawyer from New York with a hilarious sense of humour and takes no nonsense! Would definitely recommend this place to anyone.
chelseagirl123 - 21 Jan 2012 23:14
If you're looking for a bar to recommend to someone you don't like - where the staff are rude, the cocktails really don't get much worse and prices are extortionate, this is your place.

I've travelled a decent amount, done my fair share of drinking and eating out in a fair few countries and I've never written a review online, but this place resulted in enough firsts that I figured it was time to pop that cherry too and share them.

* Before this, never had I been to a bar where the staff take payment before they've even checked if they have what you want, let alone making it.

* Before this, never had I been to a dive bar where the drink prices were so disproportionately high when compared to the surroundings, quality of service and quality of beverages - 4.75 for a 275ml bottle of kronenbourg (yes 275ml) and 10 for a mojito in a small tumbler which tasted like sweetened carbonated water and the lime wasn't fresh to put it politely.

* Before this, never had I been approached by member of bar staff to ask if I knew there was a 3 minimum charge because I didn't have a drink.

I had been there not 10 minutes and was stood chatting amongst 4 other friends who all had drinks and had another friend at the bar buying me a drink. When I told the bar maid the latter she replied "oh really, who?!" Left speechless I went to find my friend queueing at the bar to say "forget the drinks we're leaving". At that point I worked out why they take your money first.

When I first walked in to this place I was perplexed by the hundreds of photos plastered all over the walls of people having fun. It felt like a poor mans facebook photo collection, all too personal for a public space filled with strangers but "hey ho", I thought "each to their own". Now I see that like a person with a complex about the quality of their social life, this place has to prove people have a good time there. If they do it's certainly not because of the service, prices, decor or quality of cocktails.

I can only assume the reason people come here is the same reason we did - it's the only bar, within walking distance, open at that time. It's full of tourists who are staying in a hotel nearby (of which there are many) and haven't yet been in the wonderful city of London long enough to know better.
leenamurgai - 13 Dec 2011 13:54
I really don't know why people are being so critical of Janets Bar. Ive had countless amazing nights there with having drinks with mates, getting to meet new people, enjoying the live music and chatting to Janet herself, who has only ever been welcoming, and absolutely nothing like the people below have portrayed her. In London, especially in this area, it's once in a blue moon you find an unaffected bar. It's got a cool American vibe and easy-going atmosphere, great drinks (with a huge selection of them) and free snacks!! Janet's is always busy, particularly on weekends when I tend to go, and we leave in the early hours of the morning in a very good mood. The service is the best of anywhere Ive been before. You don't have to wait around. So many pretentious bars in London just ignore their customers and leave you standing at the bar waiting to be served. As for prices, if you think about the fact it's Chelsea not Camden where you've chosen to go have a drink, the prices are to be expected! There's obviously tonnes of regulars and that's a giveaway- people like going back because it's just FUN. There are cocktails, beers, wine, spirits; it's laid-back and you can sit outside on the terrace, listen to a good music, get offered free snacks and genuinely have a fantastic night. Disregard the naysayers please if you want to go somewhere authentic and unique. Janet's is ace.
johorn - 7 Oct 2011 10:33
I've been to this bar a couple of times and in the past have had pretty mediocre evenings there - its always been okay but nothing special. It's always a last resort kind of bar. However I went last night and can quite categorically say I have never received such poor customer service before in my life.

Myself and four friends were quite happily chatting on the tiny terrace, one of the lads had been out all day and decided he'd had enough, one of the girls helped him into a cab (to be fair he was drunk but was not causing any trouble - you know the kind of drunk where you can't really be bothered to talk anymore!) Meanwhile an American woman came over to the rest of us and rudely said our girlfriend could not come back in because she's had too much to drink. At this juncture I should point out she wasn't drunk and had been drinking water for over an hour! The aforementioned American then came back over and shoved a tray of stale jam sandwiches under our noses and proceeded to insist we eat them because "we needed them".

Now, I don't know about you, but I personally I don't go to a bar to have my friends wrongly accused of something, patronised and force fed bad food and all courtesy of a bar that is vastly overpriced and nothing to shout about.

I completely understand they have to retain some level of decorum and obviously have to protect their license but I have never experienced such poor judgment from a licensee. She actually seemed nervous of people having a good time just in case it got out of hand and this really sapped the whole bar of any atmosphere.

There are bars and pub in the area that are trendy and can afford the surly bar staff because they are places 'to be seen' Unfortunately, Janet's Bar, is not one of them.
Bradbus - 1 Oct 2011 14:54
now down to 4.1
atthebar - 1 Aug 2011 01:47
wondered what was going on..then scrolled down to lustish review..why didnt she just take an advert in the paper..ho hum
atthebar - 1 Aug 2011 01:47
you two are quackers....
guv2 - 1 Aug 2011 01:05
Quack Quack Quack (Great Ducks Think Alike)
anonymous - 31 Jul 2011 23:50
wow that has just got it down to 4.6.
laughingduck - 27 Jul 2011 11:27
agree with guv and kev,obvious false posts by managment/staff,a very big fat 0 from me as well.
laughingduck - 27 Jul 2011 11:26
and that just put you down to 4.8
guv2 - 27 Jul 2011 09:01
well lustish trade must be bad, but you wont drum up any extra trade by false postings....zero out of ten for trying to con people...
guv2 - 27 Jul 2011 09:00
Very interesting post lustish, you have never posted before but give this gushing report on what seems to be the best bar in the wrold.

Not the owner by any chance are you????
kevmac - 27 Jul 2011 08:16
I defy you to go to Janet's Bar and not have the night of your life. It's as though Janet herself and all the bar staff are dedicated to showing you a great time. My friends and I have been going back to the bar since we first came across it and, without fail, we have insane amounts of fun. Firstly, the atmosphere is really cool, relaxed and welcoming. The bar staff are friendly, not to mention efficient, always taking your order promptly and bringing it right away so you aren't waiting around. The vibe is unique and authentically all-American, as the owner is a New Yorker. When she comes into the bar occasionally, she'll waste no time in making your acquaintance, offering to take your order, chatting to you and making you feel like an old friend. She's got an incredibly infectious laugh and buckets of charisma, so it's not hard to see why she has so many regulars and a staff of loyal bartenders. There's live music, which is a treat, as most venues in the area won't provide such entertainment. The drinks menu is extensive, from delicious cocktails to a wine list, whiskey to beer, soft drinks to champagne. You will be offered complementary snacks towards the end of your night too. That's another thing- your night doesn't have to end early. All the other pubs and bars in the area close before midnight but Janet's stays open and buzzing long after them. You can sit at the bar, at a table, or out on the terrace, which is the perfect place to relax. The prices are great, considering that the bar is right in the centre of London's most upmarket area. It's an experience that's worth every penny. Janet's is the ideal venue for a party or just for catching up with friends over drinks. I highly recommend paying it a visit. You won't be disappointed.
lustish - 26 Jul 2011 23:52
Awful bar- we too were almost kicked out within seconds of entering for not ordering a drink yet... and when i did order a drink I was charged 10 for my vodka and coke, which was flat and weak. Rude staff, overpriced and an insane owner.

still, it's one of the few places in the area open late, so I guess it's always busy...
sw6girl - 12 Dec 2010 16:24
I totally agree with Skunkatlarge - the other reviews on this site must be posted by the owner (note that, for example, MrSocial and Londerlover97 have only ever posted one ridiculously ott review of this very bar...)

The place is at best average, let down by rubbish, overpriced drinks. I live, and therefore drink, in South Ken a fair amount and this place is comparatively expensive and cr*p next to the other available options.

Needless to say I will not be going back
mooseyuk - 17 Nov 2010 18:47
Seriously overpriced - I wouldn't mind if the drinks were worth it but they're disgusting (think warm beer, weak flat cocktails etc etc). Rubbish musicians who beg for tips and unfriendly barstaff. AVOID AT ALL COSTS
skunkatlarge - 17 Nov 2010 18:34
Come here regularly with friends after work and on weekends as we really like the vibe and live music. We usually have whiskey as there is a good selection, and if we are in the mood we have cocktails- I usually go for a Black Russian or caipirinha. Last week were feeling daring so we tried their new chocolate flavoured shots which were incredible!

There is always a great crowd and we always end up talking to the other customers. We have met some really cool people over the years.
mrsocial - 10 Aug 2010 16:19
If you go to Janet's Bar you're guaranteed to have an incredible night. The interior is personal, unpretentious and pleasantly cluttered with souvenirs of parties gone by- party hats, streamers, banners, ornaments and photographs papering the walls. The vibe is distinctly welcoming and all-American, just like the owner herself. Janet is a vivacious blonde New Yorker who knows all her regulars by name and is always ready to get to know new faces! Whether you choose to sit on the favoured terrace outside or stay in the bar, you never have to wait for your order to be taken or drinks to be served.

There's a wide variety of drinks available. The cocktail list is extensive (Janet's Love Lotion comes highly recommended), and there's a selection of high-quality wines and champagne to choose from. All the drinks are well worth the South Ken standard price tag- really good value considering the location of the bar, right at the hub of what is arguably London's smartest area. You are also served food there, most of which is complementary- free hot dogs, PB and J sandwiches, popcorn and nuts.

Every night of the week there is live music. Three talented singers play to a vibrant, well-dressed but laid-back crowd. The bar has become the preferred haunt of stylish young professionals who want a few drinks before heading out to Boujis (the nightclub just across the road). On selected weeknights you can get a yummy 3 vodka and fruit liquor shot.

In the daytime the bar is relaxed and low-key. Janet offers a muffin and coffee combo for 2.50. It fills up during the evening and stays open until 2.30am, long after all the other bars in the area have shut.

My friends and I absolutely loooove it there. If the sheer number of loyal customers who keep returning is anything to go by, Janet's Bar is a hugely popular venue. The drinks are great, the clientele chic, and the service impeccable. You'll always feel welcome whenever you go, and you'll definitely want to go back!
londonlover97 - 9 Aug 2010 21:13
Ridiculously expensive bar. Its a rather crummy place that has a certain charm but charging double London pub prices is ridiculous - its not a busy or happening place being almost empty every time I've been there.

What really overstepped the mark, for me, was when we were kicked out becuase our three girlfriends met us and we were told to leave immediately because they didn't want a drink or pay the 3 cover charge. This was a minute after the three guys had just bought three very expensive drinks.

Drink up and get out.

Nice.

Oh, and the music is dire - unless you like amateur musicians. Certainly not work paying a cover charge for.
dawes01 - 2 Aug 2009 01:17
I took my girlfriend here for the first time last Saturday night. As soon as we walked in we were welcomed by the bar staff and the live musician (called Pete) who was singing a song by the 'The Killers' at the time, which was really good! We had a few cocktails which were delicious and were pleasantly surprised when we were offered a complimentary hot dog with our drinks!
We had a really good night and will definitely be going back.
maxloveslondon - 19 Jul 2009 20:19
just to get the rating up
justjosie1990 - 13 May 2009 13:15
Janet's Bar is the best BAR in London-it is unique and that is why we love it- If you are looking for a PUB-or judge it as a Pub-you are in the wrong place. My friends and I just discovered this little gem of a bar-and it is like a private club without being a club and soooo friendly-we feel special here and have just booked a party for my boyfriend's birthday-cocktails, hotdogs and live music.
If you don't get the uniqueness of Janet's Bar, you are missing out on a great venue.
justjosie1990 - 13 May 2009 13:11
Just to get the rating down.
rod7713 - 3 Jan 2009 19:53
RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. We went to Janet's Bar this evening with a group of friends and a 275ml! bottle of standard lager was 4.50! Service or decor did justify prices. The place was very very quite. We had one drink and left for a crowded pub down the road. Be warned.
rod7713 - 3 Jan 2009 19:50
A unique night out with beautiful bar maids, an eccentric owner and a blindingly talented musician
Iceman1 - 30 Nov 2008 18:29
Went with two mates, 40 per round for three drinks, extraordinary. Stayed for three rounds though, wasn't going to let them get away with it. Pleasent bar but ridiculously expensive.
gchadwick - 31 Jul 2008 13:22
1 x single G & T, 2 x single rum & cokes, 1 x daiquiri = 29. When asked why the drinks were so expensive, we were told - there's free music. Well then, it's clearly not free. We were also told it was a singles bar and later saw a fifty something hitting on two twenty somethings. Urghh... Plastic glasses - tacky. A bar festooned with cartoon images of the owner made the whole thing seemed like one massive vanity project that punters were paying for. It is intimate, and the music was fine, but the extortionate bar prices mean I won't be going back again.
SallyC - 29 Jun 2008 22:54
Janet's Bar is much more than a pub! Good selection of bottled beers, whiskeys,spirits, wines and terrific cocktails. Great staff, live music and enthusiastic clientele. Very friendly, everyone talks to each other. And Janet is a riot!My new local.
suzisw7 - 27 May 2008 18:45
Wonderful late night option. Excusing the pricey drinks the service is always good. Live music on most nights
crimsonpirate - 4 Nov 2006 15:53
Absolutely fabulous. I have been coming here for a good 5 years and I love it. It's open late which is always a plus as some of us work until stupid o'clock and Janet is the hostess fantastique. The beer is rrrrrrrrreally pricey but by the time I usually go there I'm over that and often you get some munchables and a little bit of live music in the end corner thown in aswell. It is small but very friendly. Unfortunately, as in many watering holes the urge for some punters to turn into pricks after a few drinks is all too tempting - but pray you're in there when they do and watch Janet in action - it's like watching Steve Irwin wrestle a rhino. Brilliant.
I am one of the endangered species you call Londoner and I too feel at home in this trendy but laid back haunt.

Seb - 22 Jul 2005 19:48
This bar was an unexpected surprise in South Kensington--as an American ex-pat, I found it to be a familiar reminder of the bars in the U.S. It is small, but I found it cozy rather than restrictive, especially since the staff was quite friendly with the customers. While I was there they had a classic rock band playing (apparently they feature live music regularly) and there was a large variety of unusual drinks to choose from (as well as a beer and liquor selection). It was fun! Their menu is essentially a selection of food from some of South Kensington's more well-known restaurants--the choices were very eclectic and featured pasta, sushi, chips, and other types of international cuisine.

Another thing I enjoyed about the bar was its later closing hours--it's open every night until one am, which is also something that's difficult to find in England!

Overall I recommend it as a fun place to hang out--even if you're not American. It has a great New York kind of vibe with the friendliness of an English pub. Excellent!
gabriella - 8 Jul 2005 15:04
also good for other nationalaties, not just americans. i am south african and funny enough i also fit in there. i do agree on the point about the ladies though.
tim - [email protected] - 28 Jun 2004 03:55
A true American bar in London.

First of all this place is small so for the claustrophobic crowd this is one you may want to avoid on a weekend. And for the 6ish 220 lb and up crowd (like me) you may feel like a bull in a china shop. It was attached at the hip to my hotel and I am an American so I had to give it a try. THIS IS NOT A PUB. The beer selection seemed to be mostly from across the channel. Mostly Lagers and very few Ales but when it comes to spirits this is the place for Kentucky whiskey and Scotch. They know most of the tricks to making the fruity American candy drinks which by no surprise attracts the fairer sex to this joint. It has a small seated balcony usually occupied by some lovely women from the neighborhood. The staff seems to pick the music so its pretty eclectic and the decour is fairly modern. I found the cleanest bathrooms in any boozer in London right here. There is some food served (I believe its because they have to) and they seemed to be open later than the local pubs. So if you are an American and just desire a quick shot of whiskey or a long chat with gorgeous woman, this is the place. There are a lot of both to choose from.

Avoid the food!

Brian - 23 Oct 2003 13:04

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