Finding a Christmas party venue in London is no mean feat, so we've taken the pain out of it by compiling this handy list of the best and quirkiest venues in London. Whether you're looking for a low-budget boozy bash or a classier affair to impress your colleagues, we've picked a selection of London’s most memorable, unknown and unusual venues to book your gang into. We've even divided the list into north, east, south, west and central London for ease – just flick through the tabs below. Merry Christmas!
RECOMMENDED: London’s best party venues.
Venue says: Every Friday and Saturday, a vibrant mix of music from our resident DJ until late! Cocktails £6 'til 8pm, free entry. Email to book a table.
This slick little bar at the unfashionable end of Brick Lane hosts club nights, live acoustic music, comedy, film screenings and variety events.
Four spaces are available to hire: the whole venue (capacity 160), the lounge bar (90-100), the basement (80) and the beer garden (40). Contact email@example.com or 0207 247 7717.Read more
A popular laidback, lived-in basement bar that originally helped Hoxton earn its hip title. In intervening years little has changed down in the basement, which remains plain and comfortable. It's kitted out with low-level furniture and a small bar stocks bottled beers, classic cocktails and champagne, while upstairs is a modern Brit menu for the hungry. Disco-ing down is common on the weekends, TBC really specialise in unique and unusual nights out.
For hire details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 3056 1313.
Split over two floors, Life is a bit of an 'all-under-one-roof' kind of place, with a restaurant on the ground floor and a bar in the basement. You can have a Japanese dinner here, grab a drink (plenty of Japanese liquers – sake, sochu, plum wine) or bust a move. The motto of Life, is 'enjoy life'.
For hire details contact email@example.com or 0207 250 3737.
A new nightspot in Hackney from the team who run the Shacklewell Arms and Lock Tavern, Moth Club is a former trade hall that houses a military veterans’ club alongside its hipper clientele. It's a quirky, kooky and thoroughly glittery little space, hosting suitably leftfield events and music, such as oddball karaoke and bingo nights, plus plenty of live bands.
For hire details contact studio@lanzaroteworks or phone 020 8985 7963.
In an old council college and office block on the corner of Mare Street and Westgate Street, Netil House combines 90 studios with public spaces in which it holds film screenings, live performances, exhibitions, talks, shoots and promotions. The Platform Cafe and Bar gives access to a sun terrace, and the Netil360 roof terrace provides amazing panoramic views across the surrounding area.
For hire details phone 020 3095 9718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's a real buzz along the west bank of the Lea, with Hackney Wick's Yard theatre and numerous galleries supported by a growing number of café-restaurants. On a hot day, the spaces outside Crate Brewery and, south of the Hertford Union canal, the Counter Café are rarely underused. But we're taken with the 2014 newcomer Number 90, which is a higgledy-piggledy mix of gig space, bar and restaurant – with a cracking Lea-side terrace, where you can even lounge in a moored narrowboat, at least until that afternoon's alt-folk combo appears to perform from it.
For hire details phone 020 8986 0090.
It’s fitting that such an impressive venue should sit beside a giant landmark that marks it out dramatically in the skyline. Located at the base of a disused gasworks off Hackney Road, this enormous hangar-style space is 6,000 square feet of fun and was one of the most impressive and exciting additions to London nightlife when it opened. A mix of ace one-off parties and regular events quickly marked OS as one of the most innovative venues around. It also boasts one of the finest terrace spaces in London, fully utilsed for parties during summer months.
For hire details contact email@example.com.
This industrial-ish space in Tower Hamlets is owned by the same team that run Oval Space. Sitting directly opposite that venue, TPF did indeed used to operate as a working pickle factory, but recently launched as fully operational music and nightlife venue, but also available for one-off parties and private events. It's a big space with plenty of room to create and decorate, allowing those with a vision for a party a blank canvas.
For hire details phone 020 7183 4422.
This winding gallery space in the heart of Shoreditch hosts everything from pop-ups to live bands to club nights to exhibitions to private parties, and the outside courtyard space often hosts some of London's foremost pop-up parties, including Summer Tales and Street Feast.
For hire details phone 020 7613 3620.
This duck-egg blue, nineteenth-century former Welsh Presbyterian chapel may look odd next to a west London housing estate, but once inside it’s delightful, with a wood-panelled gallery, complete with its own pipe organ. It’s a dramatic setting that can be dressed up and themed – Caribbean, gothic and sci-fi have all been done here. You can also hire the Lower Hall – the former church crypt has a low ceiling and solid soundproofing, so live bands sound amazing here.
The Upper Hall has a capacity of 250 standing or 180 seated, while the Lower Hall holds 100 or 60-80. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 286 1686.Read more
MODE offers an experiential and relaxed restaurant, inspired by eclectic culture and music, nestled in the vibrant hub of Notting Hill. Split across a variety of spaces, the Cocktail Lounge, main restaurant, mezzanine and private dining room, diners can choose from MODE’s contemporary Britsh a la carte menu. Completing MODE’s experience is the bar, offering an innovative selection of classic and contemporary cocktails, alongside a sophisticated wine list and house beers.Read more
Dedicated to polymorphic pleasures of very much an arts-based kind, this scruffily chic basement centre is home to regular live gigs, DJ nights and one-off parties, and is available for private hire.
Email email@example.com or phone 020 7460 4459 for more details.
Venue says: Head chef Cat Ashton's menu (formerly Petersham Nurseries) is inspired from quality, seasonal ingredients and an array of global flavours.
Paradise makes decorative use of its name, taken from GK Chesterton’s poem ‘The Rolling English Road’, by filling its high-ceilinged interior with religious icons, angels, cherubs and flowery chandeliers, even extending the effect to two huge stone vases of flowers on the bar counter. With its banquet-sized dining hall, courtyard garden and roof terrace, Paradise does a roaring trade in private dining. The rest of the time the Paradise, whilst frequented by more DJs than you can throw a bootleg at, is more friendly boozer and restaurant than DJ bar.
Paradise is available to hire, with a capacity of 150 standing or 50 seating. Contact 0208 969 0098.Read more
The 1950s Americana-themed Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes come complete with reclaimed furniture, a sleek retro bar and a shabby-chic diner that all stand up gallantly to the far more sterile chain, All Star Lanes. East End kids can be found hanging out in this central venue, but don’t let that put you off. Pop in to practice your swing in one of their eight bowling lanes, nibble on some tasty ‘Lane Snacks’ (burgers, fries, grilled chicken), sip a speciality beer, have a boogie or play a little pool.
For hire details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0207 183 1979.
Allegedly located on the very spot that the game was invented, Bounce is a ping-pong bar that serves up a night of competitive fun in an edgy industrial-chic space. The restaurant, safely out of reach of wayward ping-pong balls, is raised on a platform overlooking the drama unfolding on the 16 tables below. A selection of antipasti and pizzas (straight from the wood-burning oven) provides players with ample sustenance.
For hire details phone 020 3657 6521.
This is probably the closest you’ll get to a proper speakeasy in London. You have to book in advance (by email) for a two-hour slot at this tiny candlelit space beneath a juice bar in Covent Garden (there's also a second branch opening in Camden in late Septemner). The concept is ‘Bring Your Own Cocktail’ – or rather, bring your own bottle of spirits, and the bartender will create bespoke cocktails for you from his old-fashioned drinks trolley. It costs £20 per person.
For hire details email email@example.com or phone 020 3441 2424.
As bar after bar opens using the rather tired ‘Brooklyn Prohibition’ template, Experimental Cocktail Club seems ever more original – it’s hard to find, sure, perhaps more so than any other ‘speakeasy’ in London, but inside remains opulent and elegantly aloof to trends. It’s arranged over three floors of an old Chinatown townhouse, flatteringly lit and expensively decorated.
For hire details email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, England’s first hospital for abandoned children, founded by Thomas Coram in 1739. It houses a fine collection of paintings by artists including Gainsborough, Reynolds, Hogarth and Hudson. Also on display are eighteenth-century interiors preserved from the original hospital, a copy of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and a collection of Handel memorabilia collected by Gerald Coke. The composer was involved in fundraising for the hospital during his lifetime – in 1750 he donated the chapel organ and from that year onwards the ‘Messiah’ was performed under his direction on an annual basis for the Hospital’s benefit. Foundling Museum family trails and children's activity backpacks are available at the reception desk.Read more
This not-for profit members' club is a grand old Grade 1 listed house slap bang in the middle of Soho. It nails a nice line between distinguished and arty, and the beautiful interior never feels formal or stuffy. Music and arts figures like Andrew Weatherall, Jarvis Cocker and Gilles Peterson have strong ties with the club, so you might well catch one of them performing there if you're lucky, but if not, just enjoy the upmarket food and drink, or simply lounge around and soak up the atmosphere.
For hire details contact: email@example.com.
The Hunterian Museum houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK, making it a thoroughly quirky venue for a Christmas party. A number of different rooms, as well as areas of the museum itself, are available for private hire.
For hire details conta 0207 869 6702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also known at Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors, your friendly neighbourhood emporium stocking hipster apartment essentials (googly dolls' eyes and animal trophies, bugs and butterflies, stuffed owls, skulls and pickled animal foetuses) is also available for private hire.
For hire details, contact 0207 998 3617.
Lucky indeed are those who manage to find this underground drinking den. It’s hidden away in the basement of an unassuming Fitzrovia backstreet, and the only apparent indicator is a set of fairy lights. Strung around the building’s bannister, they lead drinkers down into the underbelly of a speakeasy-themed cocktail bar. Drinkers can hide away in intimate arched alcoves, and veil their secret consumption behind red velvet curtains.
For hire details contact email@example.com.
Looking for somewhere a bit unusual to hold your Christmas party? Try Britain's oldest surviving purpose-built operating theatre the Old Operating Theatre Museum, situated in a herb garret in the roof of St Thomas's Church. Built in 1821 for poor women, the theatre has been restored with original furniture and equipment, including a 19th-century operating table, surgical instruments and pathological specimens. There are four areas for private hire, with a mximum capacity of 60 people.
For hire details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0207 188 2679.
Tucked away at the wrong end of Chelsea, this intimate jazz club is a badly kept secret. Catering to a diverse crowd of serious jazz types and partygoers in search of late-night nibbles and sounds, the 606 Club has been part of London's musical landscape since 1976. One of the busiest jazz clubs in Europe it has live music seven nights a week. The 606 Club's stage is almost exclusively limited to British jazz musicians, which might sound like a recipe for commercial suicide, but the longevity of this 150-capacity club speaks volumes.Read more
This friendly boozer is a great place to check out comedy (particularly at the regular Banana Cabaret Comedy Club) and music (folk, blues and rock, from both new acts and rising talents) or just kick back and enjoy a few pints.
Hire fees from £50 for a room for a day to £100 minimum spend for a ballroom holding 200 people. A range of rooms are available, including three function rooms holding 80 people, two rooms holding 25 people, one room holding 175 people and one room holding 250 people. Extended late licensing hours are available. Contact Scott Illman for more details: email@example.comRead more
The artistically inclined may take a liking to this Battersea bar overlooking Ransome's Dock, where visitors are invited to scribble and doodle to their heart's content all over the place. Beers and wines are reasonably priced at £2.50 and £10 respectively. The people behind it all hope to run the bar at least throughout the summer; though, landlord permitting, they may be able continue to operate indefinitely.Read more
Located roughly around half way between The O2 and the Thames Barrier, Greenwich Yacht Club stands above the river on stilts. The largely glass building is large enough to cater for all kinds of meetings and dinners and even has its own moorings, what with it being a yacht club and all.
Four spaces are available to hire: The River Rooms (capacity 250), The Clubhouse (150), The Committee Room (30) and the Boat Yard with a marquee provided (500). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7952 2410.Read more
Tucked away down a residential street, Simon Drake's House of Magic lies in wait. It looks like a disused pub, and it is in a sense, but inside, it's a veritable lair of magic. Simon Drake – star of Channel 4's 'The Secret Cabaret' – has decked the place out in red velvet curtains, mismatched wallpaper and mood lighting. Creepy props sit among decadent furnishings, where you can sit and get your fortune told, try out the 'whispering chair' and tour the Haunted Cellar, as well as, of course, witnessing Drake's 45-minute 'Magical Extravaganza'.
The House of Magic has a capacity of 150. Contact email@example.com or 0207 735 4777.Read more
A beautiful 1930s green and yellow Dutch barge moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridge. It's a modest space – only room for 150 max – and most of the time their events are free, so entrance is on a first-come-first-served basis. Visitors here can enjoy a social drink, a gig or hire it out for a personal party.
With a capacity of 150 (including 80 on deck), the Tamesis costs between free and £100 Mon-Thu, with a minimum spend applicable, or £195 Fri and Sat (minimum 80 people). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 582 1066.Read more
A new bar-restaurant offering all-day dining, a lengthy cocktail list and decor inspired by an old-fashioned gymnasium. Food is described as 'a contemporary take on comfort food', with typical dishes including crispy spam fritter and piccalilli, and liver, bubble and squeak croquettes and onion gravy. Breakfast and brunch menus are promised too. The restaurant's name and the leather aprons worn by staff are a nod to the area's past as the location of many of London's tanneries.Read more
Hard to spot but impressive once you find it, this converted tram shed incorporates a cavernous, chandelier-lit main bar and a smaller mezzanine, filled with decorative quirks and televisions for football viewing. Don’t expect a too laddish crowd, though: the offbeat tone is set by a pair of winkle-pickers displayed under glass as you walk in, while Lionel Ritchie beams a Lionel Ritchie smile from an album cover mounted on the back bar.
Tooting Tram & Social can cater for parties of 140 to 440 people. Contact email@example.com or 0208 767 0278.Read more
The name sounds pretty creepy, right? But while there is a certain subtle Addams Family-do-Hoxton air to The Dead Dolls Club, the vibe of this classy restaurant and bar is definitely more cool than creepy. The aesthetic comes from the artfully created marker pen drawings that cover most of the walls of the former textile factory, giving a kooky-yet-upmarket DIY feel, which is balanced by the ornate, vintage-style furniture inside.Read more
The people, vessels, trade and wildlife of the capital’s canals are explored in the London Canal Museum. The museum is housed in a former nineteenth-century ice warehouse, used by Carlo Gatti for his ice cream, and includes an exhibit on the little-known trade in ice imported from Norway and once stored in two huge wells beneath the museum.
The museum's event space has a capacity of 200 and is available for hire until 11pm, or until 1am on Fri, Sat, or bank holiday Sun. A smaller space with a capacity of 20 is also available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more
The 50 best Christmas songs
As Noddy Holder once screeched dementedly: it’s Christmas! You might have heard some Christmas songs enough times to make you want to perforate your eardrums with a candy cane, but many festive pop songs are great works of art. Here’s our countdown of the Top 50 Christmas songs, from ancient carols to the best Christmas Number Ones. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your Christmas party – and since New Year’s Eve isn’t far behind, don’t forget to check out our list of the best party songs too.Read more