There’s just something about a hidden or secret bar, isn’t there? The idea of something so exclusive – sometimes totally out of the blue and stumbled on – that makes you feel very VIP for being there and totally in the know.
Telling your friends about your experience (and how you got there) is often half the fun and is in fact almost
as fun as being in the bar in the first place.
Luckily, London is filled with secret bars. From hidden passageways to passworded (is that even a word?!) entries, the vibrant city has it all.
And luckily I’ve put together a little list of some of the best ones that are worth putting in the extra effort to visit…
La Bodega Negra, Soho, is a bar and Mexican grill, boasting dark lighting, great music and a relaxed and exciting atmosphere. It’s a great place to hole up and spend your evening. Start with food (tacos are great when socialising) followed by drinks and then finally, plenty of dancing when it acquires more of a night club feel towards the end of the night.
Typical for Soho, entry is through a sex shop – but that’s half the fun…
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Spitalfields, is becoming less and less secret and is still one of London’s most original and best known hidden bars (to me, anyway). But just because the name is familiar, doesn’t quite mean everyone knows how to get there. This includes entry through an entirely different cafe altogether, a secret password/saying and finally, entry through a fridge too, making it super hard to get in but super worth it.
The Jam Tree, Clapham isn’t a secret bar as such, but inside it does boast a hidden passageway. Hidden beneath a subtle bookshelf, the door opens to reveal a secret bookcase bar. It’s great for parties and private functions, and somehow reminds me of the old butler from Tombraider and Tombraider’s badass house.
The secret venue of The Candlelit Club is rumoured to be a cushty, hidden away venue and party goers only really know where they’re heading via text the day of the event. It’s exclusive, but this pop up bar offers a vintage theme too.
The Looking Glass Cocktail Club offers secrets within. A slightly bonkers Alice-in-Wonderland themed kind of place, this bar – hidden behind Shoreditch high street – offers adventurous (and strong) cocktails galore. Inside, if you spot it, you’ll find the bars Saturday night entertainment behind a giant mirror.
Evans and Peel Detective Agency, in Earls Court, really go for it in this 1920s themed bar and pull out all the stops for their detective agency front. Even making a reservation is fun, where you submit a ‘case’ online which the doorman (aka the detective) will question you about upon arrival. If successful, you’ll be led through a secret bookcase into this candlelit dive that has a real old fashioned feel to it.
30s Berlin meets New York basement dive (as described on their website), Cellar Door, Aldwych, may have once been a public toilet but now oozes glamour and sophistication. It’s not necessarily secret, but more that type of bar you’ve walked past a thousand times without actually realizing it. To gain entry, head to Aldwych and slap bang in the middle of town you’ll find purple-lit stairs leading down to this vintage bar. It’s free entry and with live entertainment often, it’s the perfect bar to duck into on a cold night.
Finally, we have Bunga Bunga – a bar, pizzeria and karaoke joint all in one. It’s not dark and exclusive – more like bright and lots of fun, but with it’s unique bar-come-pizzas-come-karaoke twist, it’s definitely pretty out there. The bar does offer two exclusive karaoke rooms upstairs, and entry is though an Italian phone box in Battersea. So at least entry is fun too.
So if you’re looking to impress a date or simply wow your friends with your in-the-know knowledge, then a trip to these places is the way to do it..
And please don’t kill me (at least not until after I’ve managed to check out these bars personally!). I already feel quite bad for clearly doing the complete opposite of keeping these bars secret..
Will you be visiting any of these bars – or do you know any super secret hidden gems in London? Let me know!
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