Jason Allen 19/04/24

Secret Bars in London

Secret Bars | The Ultimate London Speakeasy Guide

What follows is a list of the finest tucked-away, secret, hidden, or otherwise nearly-impossible-to-find bars.

Or, if you’re reading this for a second time, what follows is a list of bars that were tucked away, secret, hidden, or otherwise nearly-impossible-to-find… but are now as familiar to you as the back of your own hand.

And you should visit them all.

NOTE: It’s important to clarify at this point that while most of these bars are hidden behind bookshelves, mirrors, and fridges, some of them are simply very difficult to find. Such is the way of the speakeasy.



SOMA | Soho

Soma hidden bar

SOMA comes to you from the same duo behind London’s family of brilliant Anglo-Indian restaurants, Kricket. And a good deal of their passion for Indian ingredients makes its way into the cocktails, with blisteringly good concoctions like a Curry Leaf Gimlet and Jaggery Old Fashioned on the menu.

How to get in: Make for the buzzy, packed-out restaurant that is Kricket Soho on Denman Street. But instead of joining the merriment in there, go through the extremely boring, office-like doors to the left, and trust that you will be justly rewarded…

Details: 12-14 Denman Street, Soho, W1D 7HL Book here

Nightjar Carnaby | Soho

nightjar carnaby speakeasy bar

The younger sibling to possibly the best speakeasy in London (more on which later), Nightjar Carnaby is a louche underground lair hidden below Kingly Court, serving up theatrical, inventive cocktails with a garnish of nightly live music…

How to get in: If you’re in the courtyard of Kingly Court, you’ve already gone too far. Go back and look for the plain doorway in the entranceway, with a considerably smarter doorman stood beside it.

Details: Kingly Court, Soho, W1F 9PY Book here

Bar Lina | Soho

bar lina

You know Lina Stores? Sorry, we’ll rephrase that. You know Lina Stores. It’s the iconic mint-green Italian deli sitting on a corner of Brewer Street in Soho, whose shelves are packed with hand-made pasta, colourful panettone, biscuits, coffee and other continental delicacies… and whose basement is secretly home to an after-hours speakeasy with sumptuous burgundy walls & seating, mouthwatering bar snacks, and an all-Italian cocktail list.

How to get in: Go shopping after hours – and make a reservation. Furtively.

Details: Underneath Lina Stores, 18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SG Book here

42 | Mayfair

42 hidden bar

A secret bar in the heart of Mayfair, guarded fiercely by a pair of cheetahs (of the porcelain variety). As the first standalone cocktail bar from the team behind Gymkhana, 42 is every inch the decadent, sultry spot you’d hope it to be. Come here for curious concoctions featuring ingredients like coriander seed tequila and ant acid – essential after any Michelin Star tasting menu.

How to get in: Look for a polished plaque to the right of Gymkhana reading ’42’, and head up…

Details: 42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH Book here

Lost Property Office | Waterloo

lost property office secret bars london

Not all those who wander are lost… but many of those who wander round Brewdog Waterloo are looking for Lost Property Office, an intimate cocktail oasis hidden – miraculously – within what has to be one of the loudest pubs of all time. Come here for off-the-charts cocktails by mixology pioneer Rich Woods and his crack team of bartenders.

How to get in: Scour Brewdog for a vintage black telephone, and pick it up. There are no bookings here, so cross your fingers and wait for someone to let you in…

Details: Inside Brewdog Waterloo, The Sidings, Waterloo Station, London SE1 7BH | No bookings

Below Stone Nest | Leicester Square

below stone nest secret bars london

Lit only by candlelight and sporting a slim, but expertly-concocted menu of cocktails, beers and natural wines, Below Stone Nest is everything a good speakeasy should be. Including being hidden beneath a deconsecrated 19th century church on one of the busiest streets in the city.

How to get in: You’re looking for a place called Stone Nest, which is the boarded up old church on Cambridge Circus. When you get there, head below…

Details: 136 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 5EZ | No bookings

The Blind Pig | Soho

the blind pig - london secret bars

This smart, NYC-styled speakeasy sits proudly above Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House in Soho. It boasts both classic and signature cocktails (like the Mi Casa Es Tu Casa with tequila, rhubarb, kumquat and caramelised white chocolate), and they’ll bring you food up from the restaurant below. If you’ve ordered it.

How to get inLook for the “Opticians” sign on Poland Street, then push the door beneath it with the pig-shaped knocker. Head on up…

Details: 58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR | Book here

Experimental Cocktail Club | Chinatown

experimental cocktail club hidden bar

Hidden behind a scruffy-looking, easily-missable door in the bustling heart of Chinatown is this: a moody, legendary, Parisian speakeasy lit almost entirely by candlelight, serving updated takes on prohibition-era cocktails like the Dirty Watermelon Gibson with tequila, sesame oil-washed mezcal, watermelon pickling liquor, and Cocchi Americano.

How to get in: A booking helps. Otherwise, find a door on Gerrard Street that doesn’t lead to a Chinese restaurant, and smile politely through the peephole.

Details: 13a Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS | Book here

Scales | Mayfair

scales hidden bar

Scales is secreted inside a bottle shop in Mayfair, and it’s an absolute gem. A gorgeously low-lit space with fluted ebony walls and a polished black bar. Heavy curtains line the space, but they’re not just a design feature – one draws back to reveal an extra bar area that can accommodate yet more guests as the place gets busier. It’s basically hidden bar Inception…

How to get in: Head to a small bottle shop called “Drink With Sasha”, then ask the staff to lead you to the bar.

Details: 25 Duke St, London W1U 1DJ | Book here (groups of 5+)

Cahoots | Soho

Cahoots kingly court bar

A discreetly hidden, underground, Underground-themed bar serving Blitz-era cocktails alongside wartime singalongs, swing dancing and boozy afternoon tea. Or at least, as discreetly hidden as something like that can be.

How to get in: Look out for a retro Underground sign saying ‘To The Trains’, and sweet-talk the lookout on the door. For more dancing space, try their other hidden bar, Ticket Hall & Signal Station across the street…

Details: 13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW | Book here

Murder Inc. | Fitzrovia

murder inc hidden bar

The folks behind Cocktail Trading Company are at it again. Their secret bar in central London swaps out the extravagant presentation for inexpensive but excellent drinks like the Silk Punch (Chivas 12, walnut, Vermouth, coffee, and salted Horlicks cream). And you’d never know it was there… until now.

How to get in: An inconspicuous brown door on Hanway Street will reveal a staircase, which you should descend.

Details: 36 Hanway Street, Soho, W1T 1UP | Book here

The Vault at Milroy’s | Soho

Milroys Vault Soho date ideas

Milroy’s was London’s first ever specialist whisky store. And now, it’s London’s first ever brooding, underground, candlelit cocktail bar with bare brick walls, chesterfield couches, and live music on Mondays. That’s called The Vault.

How to get in: Peruse the whisky shop, and find the bookshelf at the back. Open it, and head on down. 

Details: 3 Greek Street, W1D 4BD | Currently closed for maintenance

Basement Sate | Soho

basement sate - london speakeasies

You know how the best bit of dinner is always cocktails and dessert? Well, Basement Sate have finally capitalised on this truism by serving only cocktails and dessert. The first of its kind in London, this secretive bar is exactly the place to go the next time you feel that all-too-familiar desire to lounge in a dimly-lit, dark wood-panelled subterranean hideout in Soho listening to music by cutting edge DJs, drinking salted caramel cocktails and eating desserts perfectly designed to complement them.

How to get in: Get yourself onto Broadwick Street, and find the place that has the number 8 above it. No, not the sandwich shop. The one next to it. That’s Basement Sate.

Details: 8 Broadwick Street, W1F 8HN | Book here

Reverend JW Simpson | Fitzrovia

rev jw simpson secret bars

A vicar lived at this site 30 years ago, hence the name. And this is what he preached: “If you want inventive drinks from a former Bourne and Hollingsworth cocktail inventor, you’ve come to the right place. There’s even one called the Babka, Baby!” Amen.

How to get inYet another nondescript black door – but this one you can just pull open. And it does have its name above (albeit in small letters).

Details: 32 Goodge St, London W1T 2QJBook here

Blind Spot | Covent Garden

blind spot hidden bar

Housed within the St Martin’s Lane Hotel, this secretive, swank-laden late-night lounge invites you to spin the globe and pick a cocktail at random. Do it, and you could end up sipping a Santorini-inspired concoction of gin, orange, honey and greek yoghurt. Do it three times, and you’ll be up with the Friday night DJs till 2.30am.

How to get inHead into the hotel, and go to the boutique tea counter (hint: it’s where most hotels keep their boutique tea counters). Behind it, you’ll see a golden hand jutting out of the wall, inviting you to shake it. Do that. And it will reveal a hidden door. 

Details: St. Martin’s Lane Hotel, 45 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4HX | Book Blind Spot

The Lucky Pig | Fitzrovia

the lucky pig - london speakeasies

An artfully ramshackle secret drinking den filled with odds and ends, sumptuous Chesterfields and an array of concoctions harking back to the Prohibition era.

How to get in: Look for the unmarked staircase with a gas lantern by the door.

Details: 5 Clipstone Street, W1W 6BB | Book here

Jack Solomons Club | Soho

jack solomons club hidden bar

A surprisingly vast subterranean bolthole filled with velvet booths, whisky-leaning cocktails, raucous live music and DJs in the heart of Soho.

How to get in: Look for the after-hours deli, and ring the buzzer. If you’re going past a lot of meat, you’re in the right place.

Details: 41 Windmill Street, W1D 7NB | Book here

Cellar Door | Aldwych

This tiny, low-lit lounge below the Strand has mirrored walls, purple seating, nightly live music, and even the occasional cinema night.

How to get in: Just look out for the weird-looking unmarked staircase that descends literally into the pavement on the Strand.

Details: Zero Aldwych, WC2R 0HS | Book here

The Piano Bar | Soho

Technically a secret bar, though you might be able to track it down simply from the noise, the Piano Bar is named for the permanent ivory-tinkler they have installed. There are regular live bands besides, classic cocktails, and even a screening room.

How to get inIf you’re not a member, you’ll need to make a reservation, after which you simply need to find the door at 16 Carlisle Street that looks a lot like someone’s house.

Details: 16 Carlisle Street, W1D 3BT | Book here



Lounge Bohemia | Shoreditch

lounge bohemia hidden bar

This Soviet-styled, 50s era, underground Czech drinking den has some of the most interesting cocktails in the city; expect them to come in perfume bottles, toothpaste tubes, and more unexpected vessels. And expect them to be delicious, too.

How to get inFirst, book ahead (0772 070 7000). Second, don’t wear a suit and tie (they WILL kick you out). Third, find the unmarked door next to the kebab shop, and head down the stairs.  

Details: 1e Great Eastern St, EC2A 3EJ | Open ‘by appointment’

Nightjar | Shoreditch

nightjar bar

Nightjar is an actual, bona fide speakeasy. It’s the type of place that all of the other speakeasies want to be when they grow up. It’s got rose-tinted mirrors, leather chairs, and illicit, darkened corners. You’ll hear the hum of live jazz emanating from the flat-capped band on stage, and winding its way through the shadows to the bar where Nightjar’s award-winning cocktails are created.

How to get in: The address should lead you to an innocuous-looking wooden door parked between two fast food joints. Head inside, and down the staircase… and book if you can.

Details: 129-131 City Road, EC1V 1JB | Book here

Happiness Forgets | Hoxton

happiness forgets secret bar

The staff at this candlelit, subterranean den of iniquity know their stuff, and are capable of magic. The cocktail list changes frequently too, so break with the tradition of the place and remember what you have each time so you can demand it again.

How to get in: Look for the chalkboard next to an unmarked stairwell, and step into the candlelit boozehouse.

Details: 8-9 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU | Book here

Found | Shoreditch

found secret bar

Even if Found had a big neon sign pointing to the entrance, it would still be tricky to stumble across. It’s buried in the muddle of alleys south of the Old Street tube, but it’s worth seeking out for the simple, delicious cocktails alone. The space itself is a dark, moody den with secluded nooks to sit in on either side of the bar that almost feel illicit. Also, before you go home, pop to Home bar right above it, and get a tequila shot followed by their house concoction of pineapple, coriander, and chilli.

How to get in: Head down to Ravey Street, and you’ll see a lantern with the letter ‘F’ on it. Head into the doorway, down the narrow steps, through the velvet curtain, and you’ll have found Found.

Details: 5 Ravey St, EC2A 4QW | Book here

Black Rock | Shoreditch

Black Rock Shoreditch bars

Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees… and sometimes you can’t see the tree either, because it’s been lopped in two, filled with whisky, and stowed in a secret basement bar in Shoreditch.

How to get in: Keep an eye out for a barrel standing on a corner of Christopher Street, and follow the staircase next to it below the pavement…

Details: 9 Christopher St, London EC2A 2BS Book here

Discount Suit Company | Spitalfields

discount suit company - london speakeasies

Enter a dimly-lit neighbourhood cocktail bar entirely composed of exposed brickwork, scaffolding planks, Victorian floorboards and Motown records. There you’ll find head bartender Dorian – a man who returned from travelling the world completely fluent in the language of mixing killer drinks – serving up their signature cocktails.

How to get in: Head for the black door next to an 1970s tailoring shop with a ramshackle wall sign.

Details: 29A Wentworth Street, E1 7TB | Book here

Lowcountry | Shoreditch


Beneath a tasting menu-only restaurant that serves almost as many courses as people each night, is Lowcountry: a seductive, subterranean bar named after a coastal stretch of South Carolina. That’s where head mixologist Ryan Sheehan grew up, and here he’s mingling American whiskeys with ingredients from the kitchen upstairs – with results like the bacon-washed Fat Fashion.

How to get in: Make yourself a booking at the bar, then slip downstairs at Counter 71.

Details: 71 Nile Street, N1 7RD | Book here

BYOC City | St. Paul’s

byoc city

BYOC may stand for ‘bring your own cocktail’… but thankfully, all that’s really required of you here is to bring along a bottle of your favourite hooch. Then the crack team of bartenders will take care of the other bits, including your standard herb blowtorching.

How to get in: Getting in isn’t too difficult… navigating the City’s medieval maze of streets after a couple of cocktails is considerably harder.

Details: 59a Carter Lane, EC4V 5DY Book here

Looking Glass Cocktail Club | Hackney

looking glass cocktail club - london speakeasies

The reason this Hackney cocktail bar is called the Looking Glass Cocktail Club is because of all the looking glasses (that is, mirrors) strewn around the place. And behind one of them is a second, secret, drinking joint filled with Victorian furnishings, bare brick walls, and a vintage piano.

How to get in: To the right of the bar, you’ll see someone who looks exactly like you. Don’t panic, this is a mirror. Pull…

Details: 49 Hackney Road, E2 7NX | Book here

The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town | Shoreditch

mayor of scaredy cat town

The Breakfast Club Shoreditch houses somewhere within it a moodily-lit cocktail dungeon that has exposed brickwork, great music and a wide selection of cocktails, from the Peachy Keen to The Basic Kitsch.

How to get in: Through a fridge door. Yep, really. Just ask a member of staff to see the Mayor.

Details: 12-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS | Book here

The Natural Philosopher | Hackney

the natural philosopher - london speakeasies

The Natural Philosopher is spread over three separate rooms, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. There’s The Mac Museum, which as its name suggests, it’s a museum of everything Apple Mac. With cocktails. Then there’s the The Living Room, a cozy, rug-strewn, welcoming snug also containing cocktails. And finally, there’s The Basement, a Hobbit-sized room which – at just 5 feet tall, and located at the base of a tiny set of side stairs – is the perfect little date spot.

How to get in: Find the Macsmiths computer repair shop around the corner from Cambridge Heath station. It’s housed within.

Details: 489 Hackney Road, E2 9ED | Book here



Evans & Peel Detective Agency | Earl’s Court

evans & peel hidden bar

One of the most genuinely undercover-feeling speakeasies in London. A bar filled with exposed brickwork, beaten white tiles, dickie-bow-clad bar staff and soft lighting, where you’ll be served bottles of booze in brown paper bags, and illegally good cocktails.

How to get in: Buzz the door, head down to the detective’s office and state your case…

Details: Earls Court Road, SW5 9BA | Book here

Barts | Chelsea

barts bar chelsea

Proudly declaring itself “London’s worst kept secret”, Barts is made up of one modestly-proportioned room tucked inside an apartment block, which is filled with peculiar pictures, alternative ornaments and a dressing up box – plus DJs every Friday & Saturday night.

How to get inWander through the Chelsea Cloisters until you find the door marked with a small plaque. Then ring the bell, and say the password (you’ll get it in your booking confirmation) to that the person on the other end of the peephole. 

Details: Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, SW3 3DW | Book here

Viajante87 | Notting Hill

viajante87 hidden bar

You don’t have to look hard for a good time in Notting Hill. But you do have to look hard if you want those good times to take place in a subterranean, lunar-styled bar serving up inventive cocktails featuring South American ingredients like purple potato and elote corn…

How to get in: Look for the modest doorway next to the Gate Picturehouse, and head on down…

Details: 87 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3JZ | Book here



The Green Room | London Bridge

green room secret bar

A moody, low-lit cocktail den with eclectic furnishings, scattered rugs and a cosy vaulted ceiling, all hidden within a restaurant dedicated to peri peri chicken. Cheeky.

How to get inHead to the first floor of Casa do Frango in London Bridge, and search for the unmarked door at the back (eating chicken en route is optional).

Details: 32 Southwark Street, SE1 1TU Book here

Mama Funki | Camberwell

mama funki hidden bar

For their sophomore bar, the people behind Peckham’s award-winning Funkidory have gone underground. Specifically, under an (incidentally fantastic) Italian restaurant, where they’re serving signature cocktails in a rosy-hued bunker…

How to get in: Start by hunting down Forza Win on Camberwell Church Street, then head through the door that’s giving you the eye.

Details: 31 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR Book here

Call Me Mr Lucky | London Bridge

Call Me Mr Lucky

Found deep within the Breakfast Club in London Bridge, the music’s loud, the lighting’s low, the drinks are strong… and there’s a makeshift Wheel Of Fortune on the wall which – when someone spins the arrow to land in the right place – wins a round of shots for everyone else in the bar.

How to get in: Tell a member of staff you’re “here to get lucky”. You’ll be immediately whisked Goodfellas-style through the private door, down the stairs, through the kitchen and straight into the secret drinkery.

Details: The Breakfast Club, 11 Southwark Street, SE1 1RQ Book here



Knowhere Special | Kentish Town

knowhere special hidden bar

This place is just being modest. Knowhere Special is a neighbourhood cocktail den set in what feels like someone’s living room, with Persian rugs and second-hand furnishings scattered about the intimate basement space. Only the experimental molecular cocktails are there to remind you this is actually a bar…

How to get in: Look for the plain door between a pub and a café.

Details: 296 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2TG | Book here

System | Newington Green

System at Stella's

System is a bar disguised as a butcher’s shop on Newington Green… because by day, that’s exactly what it is. But when the end of the week rolls around, the surfaces are wiped down and reset with buckets of beers, cocktail stations and vinyl decks…

How to get in: Keep an eye out for the luminous neon pigs – always the sign of a good night out.

Details: 101 Newington Green Road, N1 4QY Open Thursday – Saturday nights, no bookings

BYOC | Camden

byoc secret bar camden

Know what you deserve? A break from the modern world; from the 21st Century. And while we’re at it, you deserve a break from having to pay for cocktails too.

How to get in: Just make a booking, then track down the unassuming door on Camden High Street…

Details: 11-13 Camden High St, NW1 7JE | Book here


Already visited every secret bar in London? Get back above ground with these rooftop bars