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.
Venue says: “Seeing a show or want to make a night of it? We've got you covered! Enjoy two courses and a glass of prosecco for £17.95, Tue-Sat from 5pm.”
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.
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.
OXO Tower Bar
A bar and restaurant on the eighth floor of the iconic OXO Tower. Visitors can choose to sit inside or out on the terrace to marvel at the spectacular vistas across the Thames (to St Paul’s Cathedral and Somerset House), with a cutting edge cocktail in hand or a craft beer. There is also a food menu for the peckish, featuring a series of snacks and three mains: fish and chips, cheeseburger, and a pasta dish.
Venue says: “Summer is on its way, meaning our spritz menu is back! Relax above London on our bar terrace with one of our bubbly drinks in hand.”