For an alternative night out, slip behind hidden doors and memorise secret passwords to gain access to the capital’s most hush-hush venues. Here we uncover the Narnia-esque watering holes you need to try
Words Hannah Hopkins
The Bloomsbury Club Bar
Set in the heart of literary Bloomsbury, the secretive Bloomsbury Club Bar takes inspiration from the lives of the famously hedonistic Bloomsbury Set. Split into two areas, the walls in the main bar area are adorned with artwork and books, with a subtly English colonial influence. The secluded, heated outside bar resembles a bohemian space with booths lining the exposed brickwork and a canvas of fairy lights covering the ceiling.
Blindspot, Covent Garden
Set behind the façade of a boutique tea counter and a secret golden hand-shaped handle is Blind Spot at St Martins Lane, a late-night speakeasy that offers bespoke and signature cocktails influenced by the British Empire and its ancient tea trade. Head there in the week for live music and moreish bar snacks.
Callooh Callay, Shoreditch
Located in the Shoreditch, Callooh Callay is made up of three rooms; the Front Bar, the Back Lounge and the Jubjub Bar, all with Lewis Carroll-themed interior. Walk through a Narnia-style wardrobe to gain access to the Back Lounge and if you’re really out to impress, schmooze the bar owners to get into the JubJub – an invite-only area after 10pm.
Danger Of Death, Shoreditch
With a facade like an antiques shop and an interior like a cafe, only those with their finger on the London pulse would know that down a secret staircase by the toilets, you’ll find a swanky micro-bar. Part of the Rushmore Group (Milk & Honey and Street Feast), the cocktail menu is organised by lethality – so choose wisely.
The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town, Spitalfields
One of many secret bars courtesy of The Breakfast Club, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is tucked behind the fridge (yes, really). Just ask to see ‘The Mayor’ after your delicious dinner, and you might just find what you’re looking for.
Walking past at street level, you might miss Purl, a subterranean speakeasy in Marylebone — but it’s worth a stop. If you do go, make sure you use the password “Hair of the dog” to gain access. Once inside, you’ll be treated to ‘drinks that satisfy on a multi-sensory level’, using aroma, fogs, airs, foams, food, bespoke serviceware and liquid nitrogen.
Chelsea Prayer Room, Chelsea
This member’s-only speakeasy boasts top-shelf cocktails served in total privacy and opulence. Mingle with friends over a glass of Dom Pérignon, or enjoy an intimate date in a separate booth. Non-members can even get in if they phone in advance.
The King Of Ladies Man, Battersea
Another Breakfast Club secret, this time in Battersea. Surreptitiously enter The King through a secret sliding wall in the restaurant’s ‘launderette’, and you’ll be met with kitsch 1970s decor and Hawaiian-shirted bartenders. Pina Coladas, Tequila Sunrises and Mezcal Sunsets are all on the drinks menu, while grilled cheese sandwiches, mac n’ cheese and deep fried haddock fritters cater for midnight munchies.
The Luggage Room, Mayfair
Those who normally eschew hotel bars should make an exception for The Luggage Room, located at London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square. Hidden away behind a tall navy door with a small window, this leather clad, drinking den transports you back to the roaring twenties. The cool, calm and collected atmosphere is ideal for sampling a plethora of classic cobblers, Martinis and punches, frequently served up in travel bags and trunks.