61 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 7NU
This Soho speakeasy always tops our favourite bar polls for its quality cocktails and discreet location. Although it’s a member’s club, non-members can hire its basement exclusively until 3am. Don’t expect any tinsel and mistletoe here, however: the low lighting and leather boots don't exactly scream festive soul, though they do still serve the odd mince pie.
12 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD
One of London’s best-kept secrets, most will have heard of the mystical Magical Circle, though few will have been inside and up its floating, gilded spiral staircase. Home to the society for magicians, which dates back to 1905, it boasts a small museum – a veritable treasure trove of magical memorabilia – two conference style events rooms and, the piéce de resistance, a Magic Circle Theatre room with tiered seating and cosy stage.
103 New Oxford St, WC1A 1DD
A favourite of classy London clubbers for its bang-on-central location and 24-hour licence, Paramount was made for sophisticated Christmas dos. Level 32 of the club is a restaurant, with its own private dining room to sit 30, while Level 31 is the main bar. Its USP, however, is the 360° viewing gallery above the restaurant, where there's another tiny bar and several window seats, and the views across the capital are simply stunning.
9 Adam St, Covent Garden, WC2N 6AA
Another member’s club, but with plenty of opportunities for private hire, this opulent den on is hidden within some atmospheric, eighteenth-century vaults on The Strand. There are three spaces available for hire, as well as the whole venue (at the discretion of the club owners, that is). The Gallery can be used as a dining space and The Rehearsal Room is a mini-club with intimate booths, a soundsystem and plasma screens (at an extra cost). Its restaurant can be hired for lunches or dinners for up to 80 people or for drinks for up to 120.
Zero Aldwych, London, WC2E 7DN
One of the longest-running venues on the cabaret circuit, in a converted Victorian public toilet, Cellar Door is intimate yet sleek, cosy without feeling claustrophobic. There’s a canapé menu and one of their house acts included in your Christmas booking; additional performers cost extra, but if you book one of their ‘Christmas stocking parties’, which are every Thursday in December from 5-9pm (£35pp) and you can stay on for free to their weekly cabaret party, Monster Mash with Nick & Kitty, which opens at 9pm.
44 Theobald's Rd, WC1X 8NW
Thanks to guerrilla bakers like Lily Vanilli and her 180 pop-up club, cake parties – with teacups not beer mugs, thank you – are back in style. And there are few more stylish places to smother your guests in multi-coloured sugary delights than this fabulous boutique cake shop chain, which has four branches across Chelsea, Bermondsey, Bloomsbury and St Paul’s. The latter two are best for adult soirées: Christmas afternoon tea parties can be booked from 2pm on December 19 at their St Paul’s location, and they’re even putting on a Christmas dinner spread on December 15 and December 22. Private hire also available for up to 30 people.
27-29 Endell Street, London, WC2H 9BA
Despite the name, the entertainment here comes not from clowns in collapsible cars or daring young men on the flying trapeze but from a new breed of cabaret acts: the long banquet table doubles as a catwalk-cum-stage for fire-eaters, burlesque acts and dancers.
Basement, Tavistock Hotel, Bedford Way, London, WC1H 9EU
This place isn't all about the bowling, though obviously it's an option (as is karaoke in a private booth). Make a group reservation for a retro, casual party that's guaranteed to encourage silliness, or choose one of the Christmas packages available in their King Pin Suite.
3-4 Coventry St, London, W1D 6BL
Crushed velvet, theatrical ruched drapes, chichi chandeliers: Café de Paris is knowingly louche with an unpretentious heart. Predominantly a weekend club - though the Moulin Rouge-style ballroom becomes a restaurant on Saturday nights - this iconic Piccadilly haunt hosts risqué entertainers, cabaret and live music as well as the crème of the annual London Burlesque Festival.