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Forget ducking into the kitchen for top-ups during a party. With a drinks trolley, you can bring the bottles, glasses and accessories to your guests, so everyone can help themselves.
The best trolleys have features such as brakes, and can double up as plant stands or hall tables so they can be left out year-round. Prices vary hugely – simple models start at around £50, while luxe versions can cost up to £500 or more – but we found that a high price tag doesn’t always mean you’ll get the best value for money.
We reviewed a range of models, from the glamorous to the functional, and put them through their paces, considering sturdiness, ease of motion and attractiveness during our tests. Some trolleys came fully assembled, while others required a bit of light elbow grease to put together, so this was considered as well.
Read on for our pick of the very best drinks trolleys and bar carts. For more gift inspiration and foodie buys, visit our review section. You’ll find gift guides, spirit reviews and over 200 buyer’s guides offering unbiased, expert advice on which products are worth investing in.
Normann Copenhagen block table
Most versatile drinks trolley
Pros: Scandinavian looks, multi-functional, very compact
Cons: expensive, no brakes, quite low
This simple, curvy trolley was created by Danish designer Simon Legald, and was inspired by a classic tray table. It arrived flat-packed so it was compact and a doddle to assemble. We reviewed the dark grey model, but it’s also available in light grey, white and black.
Although the ash and steel design is very pared back, this is a sturdy trolley that can be employed in a variety of ways. When you’re not making merry, it makes an excellent side table or shelf space for a hallway, kitchen or bedroom.
There’s plenty of room on both top and bottom for storing tall bottles and glasses, enough space for serving drinks and a generous lip on the shelves to prevent anything falling off. Brakes on the smooth-running wheels would be handy, and its low height can make it a bit tricky to push, but if you’re into minimalist style, this is a good choice.
Atkin and Thyme Stirling drinks trolley
Best all-round drinks trolley
Pros: great-looking, includes a bottle holder, sturdy
Cons: heavy, stiff to push
This vintage-style trolley comes fully assembled apart from the glass shelves, and slotting these into the frame is simple to do. The three tiers of shelves, each a different size, makes this model stand out from the rest, and its brass-finished iron frame is stunning.
The top shelves include bottle holders, and there’s plenty of room for drinks, glasses and preparation, making it an excellent choice if you’d like to use it as a stationary cocktail bar.
A rail prevents anything slipping off, but as the trolley is so sturdy, this isn’t a worry when it’s being pushed around anyway. Although it’s quite heavy and unwieldy, a handle across the top means you don’t have to bend down to push it. Being on the heavy side is a small price to pay for such a stately looking trolley.
Barker and Stonehouse Kensington two-tier trolley
Best classic drinks trolley
Pros: showstopping looks, high quality
Cons: heavy, expensive
At almost £450, this trolley is certainly not a budget option, but it really looks the part. Arriving fully assembled, the mirrored top shelf and marble base look stunning, but do make it heavy. You can’t pack it away after use, but this trolley would look fantastic as a permanent side table or mini bar.
Its weight makes it more difficult to push, but three castors mean it can be manoeuvred in any direction. It’s also fairly low, so it’s better for leisurely serving drinks from the sofa rather than nipping around the dining room.
The bottom shelf is roomy enough to hold a bottle of champagne, and there’s plenty of room on top for pouring, plus a rail to stop drinks sliding.
Although it’s described as having a ‘shiny’ brass finish, it’s closer to matte, and we feel it’s all the better for it. This is more an investment piece than a practical Christmas purchase, but it’s a sturdy, high-quality showstopper that’s worth the price tag.
Neptune drinks trolley
Sleekest drinks trolley
Pros: easy to assemble, sturdy, sleek design
Cons: excessive packaging, cumbersome
This metal-and-glass model is sturdy and stately, with the base boasting an attractive double-hoop design. It’s recommended that two people build the trolley, but as it’s already mostly assembled, one careful person can add the tempered glass shelves to the base on their own.
Plated in chrome, it’s a heavy beast, and is therefore a little cumbersome to wheel around. However, it’s solidly built, a good height for wheeling and holds plenty of bottles and glasses, including taller bottles on the lower shelf.
Two of the four castors have brakes, so you can park it without any worries. Despite there being no rail to stop bottles sliding off the shelves, the weight of the trolley means you’re unlikely to be able to push it fast enough for this to happen anyway.
Argos three-tier chrome and glass drinks trolley
Best value drinks trolley
Pros: compact, attractive
Cons: excessive packaging, not roomy, marks wood floors
After assembling all the pieces of this flat-packed model (a process that is a lot easier than it looks), it’s surprisingly attractive, despite being one of the cheapest trolleys we tested. Hollow aluminium rods slot together to form the base, and tempered glass shelves complete the simple, sleek look.
Although this trolley has three tiers, the bottom two shelves are too shallow to hold bottles of wine or soda, which is a shame. Sudden stops could cause a little bit of sliding, and as there’s no rail, this could cause items to slip off. But, it’s otherwise solid, and two brakes on the wheels help keep things sturdy.
During testing, we found that a seam on the wheels left marks on a softwood floor, so it is unsuitable for use on floorboards. However, its movement is smooth and there’s plenty of room to pour and serve drinks on the generous top shelf. Overall, at just £65, we were impressed by the value for money this trolley offers, as long as your floors can handle it.
Kaymet modern tea trolley
Best drinks trolley for a smooth, quiet ride
Pros: light, smooth-moving, classy
Cons: pricey, tricky to assemble
With a Royal Warrant of Appointment for its aluminium trays, trolleys and hot plates, Kaymet’s 70 years of experience show in this simple trolley. Two trays – which can also be used independently of the trolley – slide into a slim frame to form the shelves that sit on top of large, smooth-running castors. A three-tier model is also available.
Assembly involves screwing the frames to the handles and wheels, which is a bit fiddly. You’ll need a wide-headed screwdriver, and to make sure the frames are assembled the right way up, with the rubber pads facing skywards – something not mentioned in the instructions leaflet.
Although this is the lightest trolley we tested, it feels robust, and bottles don’t clatter when it’s being wheeled around. Quiet and super-easy to manoeuvre, it also has plenty of room for storage and pouring.
There are several different versions of the Kaymet trolley available, from all-white models to a functional folding trolley, but we think this gold version has the edge when it comes to looks and festive charm. Although, at almost £400, you do pay for the quality.
Maisons du Monde Hippolyte serving trolley
Best drinks trolley for budget elegance
Pros: good-looking, great value
Cons: stiff brakes, quite heavy
At under £150, this classic brass trolley is fantastic value, and its elegant curves make it look a lot more expensive than it is. There’s little to criticise here: it’s a good height for pushing, the bottom shelf is able to hold tall bottles and there’s ample room for drink preparation.
It’s easy to assemble – simply insert the tempered glass shelves into the frame – and it’s robust and smooth-moving, without any rattling as you push it along. The aged-effect brass looks good, and the castors are covered so they blend in, adding to the vintage feel. It’s also attractive enough to keep in your front room as a plant holder or drinks cabinet after Christmas.
Our only niggle is the brakes, which look good, but are stiff and a bit fiddly. We struggled to engage them with our foot and had to push them in place by hand. But, as this trolley is so sturdy, you won’t need to use them often. Overall, it offers good looks and value, making it a great all-rounder.
Perch & Parrow mimosa drinks trolley
Best drinks trolley for capacity
Pros: generously sized, 1920s styling
Cons: wheels may mark, heavy
If you’re planning to throw a party this Christmas or want to offer your guests a variety of drinks, this generously sized model is ideal. Two large, mirrored shelves are enclosed in an Art Deco-inspired metal frame finished in dark bronze, giving off a distinct 1920s vibe.
Arriving fully assembled in a very large box, it’s worth measuring up before bringing this trolley into your home. It’s the largest of the models we tested, and would make an attractive permanent feature in the living room, but can’t be packed away.
The wheels are hidden by the frame, which is a nice touch, but thin seams left light marks on a softwood floor, so it’s better suited for hardwood or carpets.
Thanks to its size and solid construction, it’s a bit of a slow mover, but it’s also high enough to push without effort. There’s ample room for all the drinks you could need over Christmas, with space for pouring, and for such a solid option, it’s reasonably priced.
Sue Ryder Retro Drinks Trolley in Gold
Best budget drinks trolley
Pros: good-looking, great value, easy to assemble
Cons: flimsy, tricky to push, small shelves
All profits from the sales of this trolley go to charity, which is especially nice around Christmas. Arriving flat-packed, the shelves, wheels and struts can be easily assembled by one person in around 10 minutes.
Although the trolley looks nice, the shelves are flimsy and could dent fairly easily. The legs are hollow, so it’s best handled gently and shouldn’t be overloaded. It’s also quite low so it can be tricky to push, and you’d need to keep the top clear to comfortably serve drinks.
Despite these issues, the bottom shelf is tall enough to store bottles of wine as well as spirits. The trolley also moves smoothly, and a brake on one wheel helps keep it sturdy when serving. Rails around the shelves ensure bottles won’t slide off, and it’s attractive enough to use as a plant stand as well. There’s also a rose gold model.
Overall, this is a good budget option with a feel-good glow thrown in for free.
How we tested drinks trolleys
We looked at the amount of packaging, how easily the trolleys could be assembled, and how quickly they could be ready to use.
We tested sturdiness and the quality and weight of the materials used.
Ease of motion
We judged how easily the trolleys could be manoeuvred after being filled with bottles and glasses of various heights, and whether anything was likely to slide off.
Can you fit larger bottles on all shelves? Does it hold a good amount of weight? Are the shelves likely to dent or break? Is there room for both storage and serving? Are there any extra features, such as brakes or bottle holders?
We judged a range of styles, and considered their attractiveness and versatility – would we be happy to use them as a permanent piece of furniture after Christmas?
This review was last updated in November 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.