Hidden London: The bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs you need to know about

London is swimming in secret bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs shrouded in darkness, behind hidden doors and with plenty of surprises in store. Here are some of the city’s best kept secrets that we can’t wait to share with you…


J+A Café

A very underrated little café serving wholesome Irish home cooking, hidden in plain sight in the middle of Clerkenwell. J+A Cafe is based on the ground floor of an old diamond-cutting factory and has a lovely courtyard where you can stoop down and enjoy some freshly baked soda bread and meticulously sourced local produce. Make sure to keep an eye out so you don’t miss this little gem!


Wood Street Coffee

To find this elusive address you need to keep an eye out for the Blackhorse Workshop of wood and metal work. Wood Street Coffee is inside and serves a terrific coffee including Dark Arts Coffee and various rotating guest roasters. Food is generously portioned and tastes delicious – best served outside in the yard!


The Observatory Dining Room at Powder Keg Diplomacy

An urban take on the Colonial and Victorian eras with potted plants and light fittings made out of old gramophones. The food is delicious but ever-changing – they regularly update the menu based on ingredients that are seasonal. Dishes may include pork chop with onion and apple purée, Yorkshire chicken with double cream and white chocolate sauce, and rib-eye steak with tarragon butter and veal jus. You don’t want to walk past this little secret…


Viet Hoa Mess

A secret underground restaurant beneath an over ground popular restaurant? Yes, it’s a bit strange but that’s what we like here at SACO. The quirkier the better and this is something of an architectural wonder. Strikingly Gothic, classic and minimalist featuring embedded dining tables with individual grill stations and lit by candlelight.


Call Me Mr Lucky

Pssst, over here! Hidden beneath the Breakfast Club in London Bridge, this gem of a cocktail bar is a tricky one to get into. You’re only allowed through the secret door if you tell a member of staff, “I’m here to get lucky.” You’ll be lead down through the kitchens and come across two plain white doors. Once revealed, you won’t regret your decision to come here with its colourful underground décor and incredible cocktail menu. We haven’t even told you the best bit yet – every half hour or so, the wheel of fortune next to the bar spins in hopes of winning the entire bar a free round of shots. Let’s hope it’s your lucky night!


The Vault of Soho

The Vault of Soho is a bar hidden behind an unsuspecting bookcase at the rear of Soho whisky specialist Milroy’s… yes that’s right, behind a bookcase! Make your way down the stairs to find a dark little basement where modest, unique and unforgettable cocktails are made.


Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

To gain exclusive entry, you need to embark on secret conversation with a chap called Henri who gives it the big hush-hush. If you’re lucky he’ll tap the side of his nose and reveal the concealed entrance to a cloak-and-dagger drinking den. Down the stairs, you’ll find yourself in a lively and candlelit basement. Cute, quirky cocktails surrounded by a mash-up of a decor from ornate picture frames, trinkets and vintage posters.



Getting into this members club is no smooth ride, and ordering a drink is even tougher! The cocktail list at this Soho ‘speakeasy’ is mysterious to say the least – it comes with a separate coded sheet in case you actually want to know what’s in your beverage. Otherwise, take a gamble and pick a tipple from the lyrical tales used to describe each drink.

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