It hasn’t been officially launched, but it’s no secret that the place to be for a truly unique pub experience is the new Lagos Irish Pub at Eko Gardens, one of the units that make up the hospitality and entertainment behemoth known as the Eko Hotels and Suites.
The recent upgrade at Eko Hotel is unmistakably visible. The lobby and walkways at the main building and other parts of the hotel are beautifully lit, giving it a glitzier look than before, while the decor has been upgraded.
There is also an increase in the dining options with the recent introduction of the My Thai restaurant and of course, the Lagos Irish Pub.
The Irish Pub is a rotunda set within the calm environs of Eko Gardens. There is ample space, including an outside section separate from the cosy inner confines. You can smell luxury in the air; the pub is tastefully furnished with premium leather and well-crafted, finely-finished wood.
The plush leather seats are in earthy tones, brown bar stools complemented by burgundy lounges and dark green sofas.
Luxury is what sets LIP apart and it would be difficult to find a pub anywhere that measures up in this regard.
Irish pubs have existed for roughly a millennium. Traditionally, they are chosen for their proximity to home or work, the availability of a particular beer or ale or a good selection of drinks, good food, a social atmosphere and the presence of friends and acquaintances.
There is generally a very close and mutual understanding and informality between the customer and the staff and, in many cases, virtually all of the regular customers will know each other very well.
That warm and friendly atmosphere extends to outsiders as well and it is not uncommon for strangers or tourists to be drawn into conversations with locals.
The Lagos Irish Pub ticks the boxes when it comes to the convivial atmosphere and the sense of community. It is commonplace, rather than rare, to see guests mixing and dancing to the tunes of the live band, a three-man South American ensemble with a female lead singer.
Her sonorous voice is adept at switching from Latin pop to contemporary blues. Sometimes guests are serenaded with jazz versions of the most popular hip-hop tunes.
The clientele is as eclectic as the music served, as diverse as the options on the food menu.
On one of the occasions this writer was there, young upwardly-mobile Lagosians coming in after work to relax, rubbed shoulders and chatted with a popular Nigerian senator enjoying a night out with his family, while a large group from the Dominican Republic joined the band in the singing and dancing.
A couple of Italian men and a Chinese joined in reciting lyrics from popular Nigerian songs playing from the speakers during an interlude.
LIP is the favourite haunt for many other nationalities either passing through Lagos or who have temporarily settled, including the many Brits who can’t believe their luck. All revelling in the authentic pub atmosphere.
Large lamps and colourful glazed glass are just as prominent as the multiple TV screens which make sports viewing a pleasure.
Lofted above the oval bar and accessible via a spiral staircase is a DJ booth, warming up for the lucky jockey that will be commissioned to thrill the classy clientele.
The food and wide variety of drinks are – in keeping with the pub theme and culture – affordable and in many cases, served at a lower price than other outlets within the hotel, a pleasant surprise when you consider the pub’s luxurious feel.
The addition of the Irish Pub is in line with what sets Eko Hotel apart from the competition, not just in Lagos but further afield: the number of country-themed restaurants and bars the hotel boasts of.
The menus at these outlets transport customers to different countries through culinary experiences unique to them.
My Thai restaurant serves the best of authentic Thai cuisine, the Sky Restaurant remains Asian fusion with a French twist, the Red Restaurant is Chinese, Crossroads is Mexican, 1415 at Eko Signature serves seafood and steakhouse, and the Lagoon Breeze offers continental dishes.
Also, the restaurant formerly known as the Grill Steakhouse at Eko Suites is now an Afrocentric restaurant. Now known as 88 Restaurant, it offers tasty African dishes in a posh setting.