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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
The Royal Oak
This Marylebone boozer, just around the corner from Regent's Park and Baker Street, boasts burgers from Burgershack, which means food from burger expert, Burgerac. His patties and buns are served alongside a drinks list of real ales, recognisable lagers and a concise wine list kicking off with seasonal house white and red (supplied by Borough Wines) at £16.60. Some might remember this York Street location as home to The Temperance, but Golden Age Public Houses (also behind The Prince in Stoke Newington) have brought it back to its original moniker, giving it a new lick of paint in the process. Expect a slick traditional pub look and some cool tunes from a vintage sound system - using vinyl, of course. Burgershack's burgers use meat from Nathan Mill's south-east London chop shop, The Butchery. The cheeseburger ('the dirty one') comprises a 6oz beef patty, American cheese, onion, pickles, ketchup and mustard, while 'the posh one' adds Keen's cheddar, crispy pancetta, chipotle burger sauce and iceberg lettuce. Big Apple hot dogs feature, too.
Venue says: “Burgershack in full effect seven days a week (20% off mains on Sundays). Check www.burgershack.co or @Burgershack_ for more information.”