A new cocktail lounge has opened at Sopwell House, just outside St Albans.

The Octagon Bar opened following a refurbishment of the hotel and spa's old lounge, and sits in the most historic part of the house.

The bar has been praised by the site's general manager, Angelina Chua, who described the lounge as having "its own identity and branding" rather than "a ubiquitous hotel bar that is often soulless".

The Herts Advertiser visited the bar to experience all that is has to offer.


Firstly, the bar's setting must surely be mentioned - the house that dates back to 1603 sits in the quiet Hertfordshire countryside, bringing a relaxed and serene feel to every occasion.

Visitors are immediately greeted with an atmosphere that is both calm and uplifting, entering through an historic arch that once saw horse and carriage pass underneath.

The Octagon Bar itself sits in the Sopwell House's former entrance, and is named after an octagonal room at its centre.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The Octagon bar sits in the most historic part of Sopwell House.The Octagon bar sits in the most historic part of Sopwell House. (Image: Pearce Bates)

Throughout, nods to the building's history can be seen interwoven between modern and art-deco details.

Friendly faces greet guests upon their entry to the bar, and the service - as in much of Sopwell House - is impeccable.

Complimentary crisps or olives are offered, whilst guests peruse an extensive cocktail menu.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Complimentary crisps or olives are provided.Complimentary crisps or olives are provided. (Image: Pearce Bates)

Each cocktail is inspired by moments of history, and the bar's menu provides descriptions of each moment underneath the cocktails.

We began by sampling the lounge's Battenberg Wine and non-alcoholic Temple Mead.

The Battenberg Wine - featuring vodka fortified white wine, infused apricot and almond - came elegantly presented with a thin slice decorating the rim of the glass.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The Battenberg Wine cocktail.The Battenberg Wine cocktail. (Image: Pearce Bates)

The cocktail itself tasted fruity and tangy, with a strong after-taste. 

The Temple Mead meanwhile had a powerful ginger taste, with a similarly tangy feel to the Battenberg Wine.

A sweetness and subtle hint of lime could also be detected.

We finished the night with a Cottonmill Green, which came decorated with a sprig of rosemary.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The Cottonmill Green cocktail.The Cottonmill Green cocktail. (Image: Pearce Bates)

This cocktail was extremely refreshing and moreish, the best of the night in our humble opinion.

Despite a largely positive experience, some may find the cocktails' fruit and ginger tastes a little strong and the price point slightly high.

However, the chance to experience the house's calming setting and exquisite cocktail bar more than make up for these negatives.