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Secret bars and nights out in London

Find secret bars, hidden nightclubs and more of the capital's best underground nightlife in the Time Out guide to hidden bars and nights out

Britta Jaschinski / Time Out

Enjoy a night out somewhere different this weekend and discover the capital's best hidden bars and nightlife. Sink a drink in one of London's secret drinking dens or spend an evening at an underground event. Check out our guide to hidden bars and nights out in London.

Happiness Forgets

This cosy cocktail cavern, surreptitiously situated beneath a Thai restaurant on the west side of Hoxton Square, is small, subterranean and clearly slung together on a shoestring. But never mind all that, because it's really good. Unlike other drinking destinations, there's none of that secretive speakeasy nonsense, It's just a bar with down-to-earth decor, extremely well-crafted cocktails, switched-on staff and good music.

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Old Street

Experimental Cocktail Club

With speakeasies all the rage in London, the Experimental Cocktail Club is perhaps the closest we have to a genuine hidden drinking den. The bar's two floors are a tasteful blend of fin-de-siecle opulence and antique shop chic. And did we mention the sensational cocktails?

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Chinatown

Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

This dimly-lit, basement cocktail bar beneath the new Breakfast Club in Spitalfields is reminiscent of a Twin Peaks cabin with moose heads, mirror balls and retro wallpaper.The cocktails, consisting of classics and house specials, are well-crafted on the whole and the beer list is also better than some.

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Spitalfields

CellarDoor

As one would expect from a lavishly refitted public convenience, CellarDoor laces its glamour with a compelling seediness. Laying on the snuff and cabaret, this decadent hang-out hides underground at a suitably enigmatic address: 'Zero Aldwych'.

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Aldwych

Ye Olde Mitre Tavern

Critics' choice

Tiny, crooked and quaint, it was originally built to serve an area controlled by the Bishops of Ely, who had a nearby palace. Visitors are transported to a parallel pub universe where the clientele are disconcertingly friendly and the staff briskly efficient. A Monday-to-Friday joint, it opens for just one weekend a year to coincide with the British Beer Festival.

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Farringdon

Secret Cinema

Less joyless multiplex, more ‘experiences inspired by cinema’, when Secret Cinema says 'secret' it means secret. You don’t even know where you’re going until a few days beforehand. You don’t know what the film is till you turn up.

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London

Phoenix Artist Club

Kitsch, louche and very late-night, the Phoenix attracts a regular crowd of debauched luvvies and miscreants to its basement den. Decked out in framed handbills, publicity shots and gaudy art, this is a reliably upbeat and lively space.

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Covent Garden

Bourne & Hollingsworth

Dinky, chintzy and hidden down a flight of steps, this single-room bar is like going back in time. It has the delightful ambience of a 1920s tearoom, complete with tablecloths and flowery wallpaper. Not that this place is twee by any stretch – their cocktails menu sees that the tone stays the right (or should that be the wrong?) side of Prohibition-era chic.

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West End

Comments

2 comments
Pandora
Pandora

Wasn't impressed by Happiness Forgets - the bartender was rude to us, and the place looks just like every other bar in Shoreditch. Nightjar just up the road is a nicer bar if you like this sort of thing.

Alice
Alice

For accessing London's night life stress and hassle free I highly recommend checking out INSIDE LTL, a newly established company which provides inclusive chauffeur nightclub party packages to some of London's most prestigious venues. Check the out www.insideltl.com