Sometimes, a door is just a door. And sometimes, it's the portal to a boozy haven where those in the know come to indulge in whispered secrets and mysterious potions. Those who take a look around the capital and think there can’t possibly be any more bars are in for a surprise, as the city hides a whole other world of clandestine speakeasies, hidden bars and concealed drinking dens to suit all tastes. Read on to learn all about the most secret bars in London, how to find them, which password opens the door and everything else you need to know to get in.
Where to find London's best secret bars
In this guide
The best speakeasies in London
- Ladies and Gentlemen – Putting the "loo" in "looks hard to find"
- Experimental Cocktail Club – Mixology experiments in Chinatown
- Rooms by the Hour – Secret adult cinema bar
- Happiness Forgets – Award-winning cocktail bar
- Behind This Wall – Lo-fi on the down-low
- Mayahuel – The basement of Mexican spirits
- Disrepute – The basement speakesy that rocked UK politics
- The Blind Pig – Look for the blindfolded pig
- CellarDoor – Underground excess
- Barts – Gangster's paradise
- Nightjar – Late-night jazz
- Cahoots – Popular themed party station
- Discount Suit Company – The suit makes the man, but not the bar
- New Evaristo Club – Soho's best-kept secret
- Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town – Cool cats only
- Found – Cosy nooks and crannies
- The Luggage Room – Hotel secret
- Blind Spot – Do the secret handshake
- Evans & Peel Detective Agency – Put your sleuthing skills to use
- BYOC – Bring your own cocktails
- Lounge Bohemia – Molecular mysteries
- The Natural Philosopher – Nature's secrets
- Callooh Callay – Secrets within secrets
- Looking Glass Cocktail Club – Go through the looking glass
- Call Me Mr Lucky – Are you feeling lucky?
- Opium – Welcome to 1920s Shanghai
- The Vault – Classic bookcase shenanigans
- Supermax – Italo disco haven
- Silverleaf – Minimalist luxury
- Keystone Crescent – Members' club for those in the know
- La Muse Bar – You'll never have a bad hair day here
- System – Go ham at this butchers' speakeasy
The best speakeasies in London
Putting the "loo" in "looks hard to find"
As indicated by the name, Ladies and Gentlemen is housed in a converted public toilet in Kentish Town. It’s easy to miss this hideaway, tucked away down some steps, but the cheeky messages on the sign outside provide a clue. Enjoy classic cocktails in intimate surroundings, as well as beer, wine, prosecco and champagne.
Mixology experiments in Chinatown
Consider yourself lucky or very talented if you manage to find the Experimental Cocktail Club on your first try. Behind the inconspicuous front door in Chinatown, you’ll find a plush cocktail bar that crafts stunning concoctions from unique ingredients – the spirits on offer include quite a number of rare bottles.
Secret adult cinema bar
Slide into one of the private cabins for up to eight people at this mischievous cocktail bar beneath Pix in Soho and you’ll be faced with three buttons – one to dim the lights, one to have the server take your order, and one to play naughty adult films from the 1970s on the screen. Entry to this former adult cinema is via a red telephone, and the whole experience stays on the tasteful side throughout.
Award-winning cocktail bar
One of the best bars in world isn’t the best-kept secret, but perhaps the clue is in the name, as the masterful mixology under the watchful eyes of owner Alastair Burgess has likely caused many a blacked-out night. The compact basement dive in Hoxton manages to be both fun and polished, with the staff willing to mix you a drink based on whatever vague description you come up with.
Lo-fi on the down-low
The hip, knowledgeable, vinyl-collecting art student of London’s cocktail scene, but without the pretentiousness that’s often associated with such types. Behind This Wall is an informal basement cocktail bar beneath the Narrow Way in Hackney. It boasts a bespoke hi-fi system from vintage composite parts, but lacks a fixed drinks list – the expert bartenders will make whichever cocktail you request or suggest a suitable alternative.
The basement of Mexican spirits
Part of a recent buzzy restaurant opening, Mayahuel doesn’t exactly keep a low profile. It’s still easy to miss, however, tucked away as it is beneath the refined Cavita restaurant. The speakeasy mezcaleria in the basement has an authentic vibe and is dedicated to mezcal and agave spirits, which can be ordered as flights, with food pairing, or in cocktails.
The basement speakesy that rocked UK politics
An infamous 1960s private basement club that launched the Profumo political scandal, this drinking den beneath Kingly Court recalls that period of time with its glitzy interior and leather booths. It has improved its reputation considerably since then, however, as it’s considered one of the best cocktail bars in the UK. Choose your so-called narrative cocktail through short descriptions of various characters, and pass a discreet message to a patron who catches your eye on the notepaper provided for that very purpose.
Look for the blindfolded pig
The Blind Pig is secreted away above Social Eating House, with only a blindfolded pig knocker on a door hinting at its location. The award-winning speakeasy serves creative cocktails, fine wines and beer in a dim interior with vintage decor, mirrored ceilings and wooden furnishings. Peruse the rather impressive themed cocktail lists at your leisure and enjoy.
CellarDoor is an intimate 1930s-style, Berlin-meets-NYC cocktail bar in a former loo that was supposedly used by Oscar Wilde and John Gielgud, among others. The lascivious venue beneath Aldwych Street hosts live music, cabaret, drag shows, burlesque and other entertaining performances every night, accompanied by classic cocktails, house concoctions and even snuff.
A lavish speakeasy, supposedly the first such establishment in London and ostentatiously decorated with all sorts of knickknacks, Barts is styled as a gangster’s lair during the prohibition era. You can enter it from the lobby of the Chelsea Cloisters apartment building, after the doorman has peeped through the door and given you a once-over. Inside, you’ll find expertly mixed cocktails, fine wines and more.
With just a small burnished plaque denoting the entrance, it’s easy to miss Nightjar as you walk by, but the original Shoreditch speakeasy has been a firm favourite of music and cocktail fans for years. Try different cocktails from ages past while listening to jazz and blues in a contemporary setting. For a special treat, open up a liquid time capsule with vintage spirits from the 1930s!
Popular themed party station
Located inside the disused Kingly Court tube station, Cahoots is a unique, 1940s-themed drinking den in Soho. During WW2, it was used as an emergency air raid shelter, and the new owners used the various things left behind since then to keep the character of the place alive. Cahoots spans three different areas, serving rations and cocktails, throwing parties into the night, and hosting live music and other entertainment.
The suit makes the man, but not the bar
This well-camouflaged establishment might look more disused than discount from the exterior, but venture through the small black door and you’ll find a cosy bar serving classically inspired cocktails, playing soul and rock ‘n’ roll music and occasionally even co-hosting Jack the Ripper tours that explore the history of the infamous murderer who operated in the area.
Soho's best-kept secret
The New Evaristo Club is a legendary bastion of old-school Soho debauchery, secreted away behind a nondescript blue door and down a dodgy staircase. Having started out as a gambling den decades ago, this modest jazz bar has hosted famed patrons such as Anthony Bourdain and Jarvis Cocker, yet retains a cosy, familiar vibe. There are drinks, there’s jazz, and you can enjoy both in peace.
Cool cats only
To get into Scaredy Cat Town, you'll need to ask to see the mayor at The Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane. The staff will usher you through what appears to be just regular ole Smeg fridge. Inside, however, a dimly-lit, exposed brickwork speakeasy awaits, filled with vintage furniture. There’s a bunch of innovative cocktails on the menu, for example, the Chiquita with whiskey, Advocaat, Licor 43, banana, lemon and sugar.
Cosy nooks and crannies
To find Found, look for the retro lamp above a doorway in Ravey Street. Walk down the stairs to find yourself in a welcoming speakeasy that believes what really defines a bar is the right combo of service and substance. The unpretentious venue features four rooms, including cosy nooks where you can plot away in privacy, and serves a concise, well-rounded menu of cocktails with intriguing twists.
Launched in a former luggage storage room over a decade ago, this discreet yet popular hotel bar is effortlessly sleek and refined. The Luggage Room comes equipped with a “roaring ‘20s” soundtrack, comfy leather seats, and a marble bar. The authentic speakeasy atmosphere is further enhanced by a menu of classic cocktails. Providing a quiet oasis from the hectic surrounding area, this is an intimate spot that doesn’t shy away from decadence.
Do the secret handshake
Blind Spot extends a helping hand to guide you – quite literally, as this deluxe speakeasy at the St Martin’s Lane hotel is located beyond a door with a handle that’s shaped like a golden hand. Grasp it and enter a glitzy late-night drinking lair with a weekly live jazz band. The cocktails are inspired by and named after exotic, distant locations such as Kyoto and Mexico City – and England’s own Taunton. You can also nibble on an assortment of international bites.
Put your sleuthing skills to use
Evans & Peel Detective Agency is a cocktail bar that masquerades as a private eye’s office and leans deep into the bit. You’ll have to convince the front desk that you have an appointment before you’re granted access to a unique speakeasy. There’s a varied choice of cocktails to Humphrey Bogart over, including supposedly the best Old Fashioned in the world. The Agency dabbles in regular live music as well.
Bring your own cocktails
Like many other hidden London bars, BYOC Camden draws inspiration from the 1920s and the Prohibition era, with the main theme in this case being a casino. It stands apart from its contemporaries, however, by providing a cocktail experience that’s unique to each patron. Bring your own bottle of spirits and an expert mixologist will chat to you about your likes and dislikes before concocting five rounds of bespoke cocktails.
At the intersection of science, art and drinking, you’ll find Lounge Bohemia, a laid-back Soviet-era speakeasy with comfy sofas, vintage recliners and dim lighting. To find the bar, however, takes a bit of work – as is often the case, look for a nondescript door, but above all, don’t forget to make an appointment beforehand. The hush-hush cocktail bar explores the art of bartending with the use of molecular mixology, mind-bending arrangements and exciting flavours.
Especially useful if you need some IT help with your laptop, this lush cocktail bar with charming furnishings and a welcoming vibe is found through an Apple Mac repair shop. The drinks menu at this hidden gem draws on the natural environment for its inspiration, using foraged ingredients to mix refreshing herbal potions. Changing the seasonal drinks menu weekly, The Natural Philosopher emphasises obscure botanicals and intriguing flavours.
Secrets within secrets
This Lewis Carroll-themed cocktail bar in Shoreditch, comfortably decked out in rich colours, tomes and booths, hides not one but two clandestine bars. To enter the first one, walk through the wardrobe, then continue up the stairs behind the curtain to get to the Jubjub bar – you’ll need to apply for a key via the website, however. Once there, you can enjoy inventive drinks in a secretive setting.
Go through the looking glass
Lewis Carroll’s works sure seem to fire up bar proprietors’ imaginations with images of hidden worlds. This other Hackney Wonderland-themed cocktail bar hides a secret behind a large mirror, while the absinthe and eclectic cocktails on the menu will soon have you chasing the white rabbit. The snug cocktail lounge features exposed brickwork, quirky decor and retro furniture, hosting events such as drag bingo to keep the fun times going late into the night.
Are you feeling lucky?
Another one of The Breakfast Club’s little secrets, Call Me Mr Lucky is a fun, tequila-fuelled dive in London Bridge where lucksacks can test the fates with the help of dice or a wheel of fortune that determines how many shots you get. To get inside, tell the staff at the café out front you’re there to get lucky and you’ll be led through.
Welcome to 1920s Shanghai
Spanning two floors behind a mysterious jade green door in Chinatown, the Opium cocktail and dim sum parlour houses no fewer than three bars. The two main ones are the comfy Academy lounge with sofas and the bright Apothecary with a tea parlour. The Peony Bar, however, is hidden behind red curtains and is a small, intimate affair for up to 30 guests. The whole place is styled after 1920s Shanghai and serves unique contemporary cocktails.
Classic bookcase shenanigans
Can’t have a list of secret bars without at least one hiding behind the classic trick bookcase. The Vault is located in the cellar beneath Soho’s whisky specialists Milroy’s. Formerly used for sherry storage and clandestine meetings by various local characters, this cosy candlelit bar was renovated in 2014. The award-winning speakeasy offers a seasonal menu of original short and long drinks.
Italo disco haven
This neon-lit basement bar is hidden beneath the Happy Face pizzeria in King’s Cross and specialises in vermouth-based cocktails. Its Aperitivo Hour is just the thing for unwinding after work, combining expertly mixed drinks with plates of Italian nibbles. Later on, the top-notch sound system keeps the party going with Italo disco bangers.
A lavish cocktail bar that offers a multi-sensory experience to its guests, Silverleaf finds inspiration in nature. The drinks highlight minimalist presentation and unexpected ingredients such as sake and miso, and are creatively depicted on the menu with textural paint swatches. Located at a luxurious hotel, Silverleaf itself isn't a secret, but it does hide a hidden area ...
Members' club for those in the know
This drinking den and members’ club beneath the streets of King’s Cross is open to anyone in the know – you’re free to pop in for a drink, host a special event or attend one of the exclusive members’ events, from monthly mixers to masterclasses. Behind the nondescript front door you’ll find different spaces with a comforting mid-century theme, as well as creative cocktails and bar snacks.
You'll never have a bad hair day here
You can be sure you'll always look your best at La Muse Bar in Islington, seeing as this speakeasy is hidden behind a curtain in an actual hair salon. After you've gussied yourself up at Le Chapeau Cloche, head to the back and relax in the concealed cocktail and wine bar. French-inspired snacks are served as well, and the cosy ambiance makes for a top date night choice.
Go ham at this butchers' speakeasy
System is the nighttime alter-ego of a North London butcher's shop, Stella's. The unique spot is snug, intimate, and lit by neon carcasses. It's also furnished with a top-notch sound system and hosts listening sessions and live DJ nights. Alongside the music, you can enjoy fine wines, beers, and other drinks, as well as unsurprisingly great charcuterie.