Staunton's is not so much a bar as a way of life. Nightlife, principally, although it's open pretty much all day.
Perched in the middle of the SoHo entertainment district of Hong Kong, right next to the Central Mid-Levels Escalator that carries thousands of weary commuters homeward each weekday evening, it's the ultimate metropolitan oasis.
Frequently hailed as the best people-watching spot in the city, the bar's iconic venue on the corner of Staunton Street is a cool place to settle down to a healthy lunch and to relax and enjoy bar snacks and drinks come evening after a hectic day in the office – or an equally hectic day of sightseeing.
Staunton's is Hong Kong's see-and-be-seen scene — Photo courtesy of Staunton's Wine Bar + Cafe
Inside, Staunton's holds an oval centerpiece bar decorated with large pendant lamps, which are set against a backdrop of glowing back-lit wine shelves. The high-rise plush lounge seating is tailor-made for small group gatherings, casual drinking and cocktail sipping.
Staunton’s has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Soho area, with a long history of 18 years in the same corner spot; in fact, some of the same staff have been working there since the spot's opening.
Popular for its extensive wine list, Staunton’s also has a great menu, offering salads and wraps, burgers and pizzas. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, there's also a bar snacks menu, featuring classics such as nachos, calamari or spicy buffalo chicken wings.
Staunton’s stocks a wide range of beverages, including both Old and New World, wines as well as many different spirits and original cocktails to suit any taste.
The really impressive thing about Staunton’s, though, is its longevity. Opened in 1997 – the year Hong Kong was handed back to China, and when business forecasts were often jittery – it has blossomed and flourished in the intervening two decades. SoHo is notorious for rapid openings and closures, but Staunton’s has stood the test of time.
Part of the appeal is being able to stand outside, knock back a drink or two, chat to passing friends and weigh up options of where to move on to next; the whole area is practically wall-to-wall restaurants, bars and clubs.
All too often, the prospect of moving on proves too much of a hurdle. It's far simpler to order another round from the bar staff who, past masters at guessing their regular customers’ intentions, were probably already standing by with corkscrew or bottle opener.
After all, this is the bar for people-watching.