There’s something special about a secret bar or speakeasy in London.
Maybe it’s the feeling of knowing something others don’t, maybe it’s the bizarre concoctions to choose from. Either way, we think they’re neat. We were surprised to find that there are lots of them in London, with more and more popping up every year. Some offer live music as part of the experience, while others are more like escape rooms. Some are glamorous, others are more down to Earth. There’s such a huge range that we’re sure you’ll find one you like.
Secret bars are a great way to impress your friends, so once you’ve read this guide it’s time to show off your insider knowledge. Alternatively, the bars on this list would make romantic spots for a date. Some even have passwords which you’ll need to find out beforehand. Others, you’ll have to solve a riddle to earn your entry.
When it comes to drinks, these bars really push the boat out. From giant blocks of ice being carved into your drink to goats cheese whisky (yes, really), there are some seriously unusual mixes to be sipped. There is even a bar where you supply the booze, and they craft the cocktail for you.
Lots of these bars are themed, with styles including 1920’s Shanghai and prohibition-era dives. The settings are whacky, from tube carriages to repurposed luggage rooms. Regardless of which one you choose to visit, we’re sure you’ll have an unforgettable experience. We’ve included the addresses so you’ll know exactly where to go (but remember some will be hard to find).
Most secret bars and speakeasies can be booked in their entirety, which makes them perfect for parties. Whether it’s a work do or birthday bash, hosting an event at a secret bar is a surefire way to impress your guests.
Nightjar, Old Street
Relive the glamour of the 1920s at this speakeasy in Shoreditch. With live jazz music as the soundtrack to your evening, a revival of lots of old-school cocktails and great lighting that makes everyone look good, it is the ideal spot to relax with a drink after a busy day in the office. We recommend you book your place at Nightjar in advance because there is a no standing rule in this speakeasy, so everyone must have a table.
Where: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB
Book now: Nightjar
The Candlelight Club, various locations
While many of the bars on this list are prohibition-themed, The Candlelight Club goes a step further, as its true location is a secret, only available to those who book a ticket. The pop-up, which moves around, is always fully decked out in Gatsby-era decor, as are the staff and guests (so be sure to dress up for this one). The club, as the name suggests, is entirely lit by candlelight, providing a seriously cool ambience. House cocktails include the Candlelight Club Manhattan and a salted caramel old fashioned.
Where: It's a secret (shh!)
Book now: The Candlelight Club
Opium is a 1920’s Shanghai-themed restaurant and bar (actually it’s three bars). The Academy Bar on the top floor has low coffee tables, sofas and quirky booths. One floor down is the Apothecary Bar, which is decorated with medicine bottles. On the same floor is the tiny Peony Bar, hidden behind a red curtain. Expect blends like ‘chasing the dragon’ made with brandy, kumquat, chilli and cardamom, or the 'shiro miso martini', which features cognac, bourbon and sweet vermouth.
Where: The Jade Door, 15-16 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 6JE
Book now: Opium
Evans & Peel Detective Agency, Earl's Court
Before entering this speakeasy, staff at Evans & Peel Detective Agency are on hand to give you a probing interview on your ‘case’ for the night, it is a top-secret detective agency after all. If they are happy with your answers the secret bookcase will be opened and you’ll be let into the dimly lit bar to enjoy a cocktail and a few bar snacks.
Where: 310c Earls Court Road, London, SW5 9BA
Book now: Evans & Peel Detective Agency
Jack Solomons, Soho
Named after one of the most notorious boxing promoters in UK history, Jack Solomons is located on the site of his old boxing gym. Featuring the likes of darkly coloured crushed velvet and leopard print seating, cosy curtain covered booths and art deco lighting fixtures, this 1950’s themed speakeasy is the place to go if you don’t want to be seen. The drinks menu specialises in whisky and gin cocktails and the food menu features just one main item, a classic hamburger.
Where: 41 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7NB
Book now: Jack Solomons
The Chelsea Prayer Room, Chelsea
Hidden within the trendy Fulham road restaurant GOAT, get your hands on the four-digit code and you can enter the dimly-lit Chelsea Prayer Room bar. Sit back on its chesterfield sofas while listening to a soundtrack of classic jazz music and sip on some Absinthe cocktails, or if you want something a little less intense rhubarb bellini’s and Manhattans are on hand too.
Where: 333 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9QL
Book now: The Chelsea Prayer Room
Named after an old English drink of warm ale, gin and wormwood, Purl prides itself on its exciting and innovative cocktail creations. Using smoke, foams, fogs and food to create unique drink recipes that are sure to wow, you can sip on the likes of a Latino spritz and blue bayou with blue foam to top it off. These multi-sensory cocktails are a welcome change from the classics we all know and will be the perfect addition to your Instagram grid.
Where: 50-54 Blandford Street, London, W1U 7HX
Book now: Purl
69 Colebrooke Row, Angel
Referred to as ‘the bar with no name’ the only way you’ll be able to know for sure where this bar is located is by searching for an outdoor lantern on Colebrooke Row. Once you’ve managed to hunt it down, you’ll feel like you’ve entered the set of a Hollywood crime movie with its Film Noir décor and themed menu. To drink, you can opt for the likes of death in Venice with Campari, grapefruit bitters and prosecco, or try the barbershop fizz with gin, lime, vanilla and mint.
Where: 69 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AA
Book now: 69 Colebrooke Row
CellarDoor, Covent Garden
Previously an old underground toilet, this space has now been converted into a burlesque bar complete with cabaret and drag queen shows. If you happen to stumble upon CellarDoor during a night on the town, you’ll be happy to know that walk-ins are welcome. Although, we recommend you book so you can get the best seats in the house for whatever weird and wonderful show you’ll be treated to each night. Cocktails range from classic martinis to slightly more out there cocktails like the 'Starbucks must die' drink with cognac, Kahlua and a shot of espresso.
Where: Zero Aldwych, London, WC2E 7DN
Book now: CellarDoor
Unlike all the other speakeasies on this list, BYOC asks that you supply the booze and it will supply its cocktail making expertise. All you have to do is bring in an un-opened spirit of your choice and watch as its mixologists add homemade juices, syrups and bitters to create something new and exciting especially for you.
Where: 11-13 Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JE
Callooh Callay, Shoreditch and Chelsea
Inspired by the Victorian poems of Lewis Carroll and the fantasy novels of C.S. Lewis, Callooh Callay features whacky coloured furniture and an actual wardrobe straight out of Narnia. The front bar is ideal for walk-ins but if you want to head to the more secretive back lounge you’ll have to plan in advance. The last of the three bars, the Jujub bar is perhaps the most exclusive with membership and a secret four-digit code needed to enter. Some of its whacky cocktail creations include the officer’s mess with sherry and neroli oil and the Belladonna with gin, citrus and champagne.
Where: 65 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3AY; 318 King’s Road, London SW3 5UH
Book now: Callooh Callay
Big sister to the Nightjar bar, although a little more out in the open and perhaps a little less exclusive, Oriole is for the days when you want to grab a few drinks with a bigger group of people. With cocktails themed by old world countries, expect to receive your refreshment of choice in an envelope-shaped glass (yes really), a glass with a thermometer running all the way through it or a cup with a dragonfly encased in the thick glass.
Where: Smithfield Market, London, EC1A 9LH
Book now: Oriole
The Luggage Room, Mayfair
Inspired by the roaring 20s, The Luggage Room is the perfect destination for a late-night drink in Mayfair. Sip on carefully crafted cocktails while listening to smooth jazz at this relaxed speakeasy in the London Mariott Hotel Grovesnor Square. Don’t miss the giant block of ice that is carved behind the bar for each drink.
Where: Grosvenor Square, London, W1K 6JP
Book now: The Luggage Room
Ruby’s Bar and Lounge, Dalston
Located under the iconic cinema sign, Ruby’s is often labelled as one of the top jazz venues in London. Expect live music through the week and late-night DJs on the weekend, as well as a host of top tier cocktails. You can even change the message on the sign for £50, perfect for adding that special touch to an evening of fun.
Where: 76 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 7XB
Book now: Ruby's Bar and Lounge
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Spitalfields
Hidden behind a Smeg fridge in the super trendy Breakfast Club, you’d be forgiven for not realising The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town exists. For those in the know, however, after entering the fridge you are greeted by exposed brick, industrial piping and vintage 1950s posters. On the menu, you can enjoy a tipple of the mayorjito, wet whiskers and copper sting which is made with a wild nettle tincture. Be sure to check out Call Me Mr Lucky, which is hidden at the London Bridge branch.
Where: 12-16 Artillery Lane, London, E1 7LS
Book now: The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
Once you’ve found the bar, it’s time to enjoy an evening of killer cocktails. Expect mixes like the frothy lady, a gin, peach and elderflower concoction with egg white or enjoy a twist on the classic margarita with ‘Tommy goes to Thailand’, featuring reposado tequila, ginger and jalapeno agave syrup.
Where: Downstairs, 5 Ravey Steet, London, EC2A 4QW
Book now: Found
Moonshine Minnie’s, Old Street
Push through the crowds at The Blues Kitchen and head to the basement to discover Moonshine Minnie’s. Sip on unusual mixes like banana daiquiris, lychee martinis and burnt pear old fashioneds. If you need something to soak up the booze, the wings will hit the spot. Juicy and tangy, they come with a chunky blue cheese dip that will have you ordering seconds.
Where: 134-146 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR
Book now: Moonshine Minnie's
The Natural Philosopher, Cambridge Heath
The Natural Philosopher prides itself on outside the box cocktails. Housed in the same space as a mac computer repair shop, this tucked-away bar encourages exploration when it comes to drinking. Look out for rare ingredients like avocado leaf, black garlic, white miso, tonka bean and dragon fruit.
Where: 489 Hackney Road, London, E2 9ED
Book now: The Natural Philosopher
The Blind Pig, Soho
Hidden above The Social Eating House by Jason Atherton, The Blind Pig is an award-winning speakeasy offering creative cocktails, wines and beers. Concoctions include a pine martini; chestnut and chocolate Manhattan; and even a goats cheese and caramel old fashioned. There’s a proper food menu too, offering dirty burgers, fried chicken, chorizo with saffron mayo and steak.
Where: 58 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NR
Book now: The Blind Pig
Cahoots is one of London’s worst kept secrets. Located in the buzzy Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, this bar is really three mini bars. Each is themed around the tube, aptly named The Underground, Ticket Hall and Control Room. There is a huge menu of cocktails to choose from, including enemy of the state, an aged tequila, wasabi and watermelon potion, or the house “cahooch” made with rum, whisky, cointreau and martini. For those who aren’t as into cocktails, there are plenty of beers and wines too.
Where: 13 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW
Book now: Cahoots
Discount Suit Company, Whitechapel
This speakeasy masquerades as - you guessed it - a discount suit shop. If this quirky bar happens to be your local, you’ll be used to the slightly strange and ambiguous exterior. If however, you stumble upon this place while trying to buy a suit, you’re in for a great surprise. On the drinks menu, you’ll be able to order the likes of the aptly named woolly back, bananarama and the sharing cocktail harri-booya which serves four.
Where: 29A Wentworth Street, London, E1 7TB
Book now: Discount Suit Company
This prohibition-themed speakeasy was apparently London’s first. The gangster-centric cocktail menu is packed with sleazy sips like jumpin’ Jack flash, a whisky, sherry and cardamom mix, or the marksman, made with coconut oil-washed Smirnoff. For snacking, there are chips with chimichurri, padron peppers with crispy garlic, jackfruit empanadas and steak sandwiches.
Where: Chelsea Cloisters, Sloane Avenue, London, SW3 3DW
Book now: Bart's
Happiness Forgets, Shoreditch
Happiness Forgets has a simple pitch: “great cocktails, no wallies”. Expect classic drinks like negronis, old fashioneds and espresso martinis, as well as house creations like the east 8 fizz, made with vodka, passion fruit, bitters and lime. You can even buy the cocktails take away style to enjoy at home. The team behind Happiness Forgets have also opened a sister bar above, called Ever After.
Where: 8-9 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU
Book now: Happiness Forgets
If wine is more your thing and you aren't as fussed about secrecy, peruse our list of the best wine bars in London.