There are plenty of bars in London hidden in places you wouldn’t think to look.
There was once a time that if you asked a member of staff to see the mayor at the Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane, you would become part of an exclusive group of privileged people. One that has stepped behind the establishment’s fridge and into the quirky Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town basement bar. These days the secret’s out, but there are a number of other bars hidden across the capital to explore.
Here are five to consider checking out during your London serviced apartment stay.
Evans and Peel Detective Agency
A certain amount of creativity is required to gain entrance into the Evans and Peel Detective Agency. After all, if you haven’t got a case, then you can’t get in. Having submitted your case in advance, you can expect the details to be scrutinised by the door staff when you arrive. If it seems legit, then entry will be granted through a secret bookcase. Once inside the 1920s style bar, try a Hemingway’s Breakfast, Cold Fashioned or Tipsy Florist.
Evans and Peel peddle their discreet detective skills from an office on Earls Court Road.
Jubjub Bar at Callooh Callay
Callooh Callay is the last thing you expect to find as you wander through Chinatown, which is why stepping through its unassuming door is quite a treat. While all of the bars – the Front Bar, the Back Lounge and the Jubjub Bar – are charming, it is the latter that is hardest to get into. It’s invite only and requires a four-digit door code, which changes every day. Fear not, stepping through the wardrobe a la Narnia means that the Back Lounge is an acceptable second choice. Then the decision is whether to order a Popeye and Olive Oil or a 57 Varieties to drink.
Head to Rivington Street for this voyage into the unknown.
Probably the most top secret of the bars on this list, Lounge Bohemia is notoriously difficult to get into. It’s by appointment only, there’s a chic but not overdone dress code and manners are prized above all else. The entrance is unassuming and found between a kebab shop and a shipping container that is Shoreditch’s answer to a pop-up shopping mall. Expect Soviet-style décor inside and Czech canapes. The cocktails are served up in vessels as diverse as toothpaste tubes and perfume bottles, with the likes of candy floss as garnishes. Order a Gypsy Pony for a vodka and rosemary hit.
Wander along Great Eastern Street until you find your way in.
The Basement at The Natural Philosopher
Hidden in the storeroom of the Macsmith Apple Repairs Shop, the whole of The Natural Philosopher is a quirky venue, but it’s The Basement that is the real secret bar. This area of the establishment is accessed through a small gap at the bottom of a tiny set of stairs, concealing a cosy space behind. Whether you sit here, in The Living Room or The Mac Museum, expect an eclectic array of items brought together for the décor and cocktails made from various natural ingredients. The Natural Philosopher’s signature cocktail is the Baltazar, which contains lemon-infused Moskovskaya vodka, lemongrass, raspberries and lychee juice.
The Natural Philosopher is on Hackney Road.
Sneaking through the poultry section of a market may not be the customary way to start a night out, but it’s the thing to do if Oriole is your venue of choice for the evening. Located beneath Smithfield Market, this hidden bar from the same people who brought you Nightjar on City Road is a voyage of discovery through both its décor and its cocktails. Decide between The Old World, The New World and The Orient and enjoy a Carpathian Swizzle, Ollantaytambo or Meihua Shan accordingly.
Find your way to East Poultry Avenue to gain entry to Oriole.