Speakeasy bars can make for a really fun night out, especially if you’re in London for a limited time or if you’re a tourist who wants to mingle with the locals and experience the London and Mayfair nightlife.
The allure behind these secret bars comes from the closed circle of patrons and the unique low-key atmosphere.
The speakeasy type of bar was founded back in the 1920s during the time of prohibition in the United States. To keep those bars alive, they had to be kept completely hidden so the patrons were asked to do two things. One, to speak quietly inside those bars to avoid the attention of law enforcement. Two, not to mention the bars in public.
So, as you see, the name ‘speakeasy’ came from the bar owners asking their patrons to “speak easy” in and about those secret bars.
Now, while prohibition is no longer a thing, there still are some bars in the United Kingdom that stick to the discrete and secretive speakeasy aesthetic. Here are the 5 best speakeasy bars in London.
1. The Luggage Room
The Luggage Room is one of the best-hidden gems in the Mayfair nightlife and one of the best places for a quiet get-to-know-you first date in London. Behind a small black door lies Mayfair’s own old fashioned yet infinitely classy speakeasy bar. It’s hidden in plain sight, overshadowed by the entrance of the Grosvenor Square London Marriott Hotel.
Leather furniture, a marble staircase, and well-tucked booths – the speakeasy is luxurious, but very low-key. They offer a selection of both classic and modern cocktails and, most of the time, the bartenders are willing to go off-menu for their clients.
2. Amazonico London Speakeasy Bar
While the ground floor of Amazonico London serves as a Latin restaurant, the floor below is where you can find the well-kept invite-only Amazonico speakeasy. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for a great after party in London, simply put. All you have to do is find the hidden door and the stairs will take you right to this top speakeasy bar.
The decor is inspired by life underwater. This means anything from submarine portholes caked with seaweed to clam-shaped blue velvet chairs. It also means a selection of interesting cocktails served in novelty cocktail glasses.
Unlike your classic speakeasy, the Amazonico secret room adds a DJ to the mix which makes it a perfect venue for a stress-free fun time. Classy, but not cripplingly luxurious or stuck-up, the Amazonico speakeasy is definitely the light-hearted, fun one among the bunch.
3. Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown
The Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown is one reason why you should never judge a book by its cover. Behind a worn-out wooden door, there’s a staircase that leads to this luxurious Chinese-themed speakeasy bar, one of London’s best speakeasy bars.
With engraved ceilings showered with a golden light, exposed brick walls, and black curtains, the venue really embodies the spirit of a secret bar in the time of prohibition. As for the Experimental Cocktail Club menu, it’s truly one-of-a-kind.
They have interesting recipes, like their 11-ingredient recipe for the Work of Art cocktail, and intriguing cocktail names, like Drunken Viking and Winnie the Pooh. That’s not all, though. Some of the liquors go all the way back to the 1950s and the 1970s. Meaning that you’ll get a real taste of how proper cocktails were made.
Well-hidden is not accurate enough to describe this one, so whenever you’re in Chinatown, look for ‘Far East Chinese’ restaurant and you’ll find the Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown door on the right-hand side. All in all, it’s the perfect venue if what you’re looking for is a speakeasy full of character and truly creative drinks.
4. The Jack Solomons Club
The Jack Solomons Club in Soho is a retro-chic speakeasy with a lot of character just like its founder and namesake, Jack Solomons OBE, the legendary boxing promoter.
The venue definitely bears a lot of resemblance to underground comedy clubs and jazz bars: grey-painted walls, exposed brick, contrasting warm and blue lighting, and leather/velvet furniture. It’s not a surprise that the venue frequently hosts jazz musicians on its stage.
The Jack Solomons Club Soho prides itself on specialising in Whiskey and Gin-based drinks. From unique house recipes to classic cocktail recipes, they have it all. The best part is that the menu is crafted around Jack Solomon’s life, from the love of his life to his biggest achievements.
It’s pretty interesting to see how someone can express themselves through cocktails and for that, we suggest you pay the Jack Solomons club a visit.
5. The Vault Soho
The Vault speakeasy bar in Soho is the most inconspicuous of all. It’s hidden behind a bookcase in Milroy’s of Soho liquor store.
The Vault Soho offers a refined and sophisticated atmosphere while fully embracing the underground cellar aesthetic: dim lighting, exposed brick walls, simple wooden furniture, and liquor bottles in cages and on shelves all around. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date in London, especially with your twin flame.
As for the Vault Soho menu, it’s simple and to the point. They don’t have many items on there, but each cocktail is made to perfection. Not just that, but the menu changes depending on the season to guarantee the freshest ingredients. And, to top it all off, the bar is located within one of London’s most famous whiskey-specialised liquor shops. Meaning, it’s the best place to get whiskey-based cocktails and to try the finest whiskey from all over the world.
If you’re planning on going to The Vault, it’s always a great idea to book beforehand or arrive early. The Vault is not just buzzing most of the time, but the venue is also a small space which makes it even harder to find available seats.
So, there you have it, the top 5 secret speakeasy bars in London. If you’re here for a short time, it’s always recommended that you swing by one of these. Although, if you’re more of a wild soul, you may be interested in joining a London guestlist or getting a VIP booking to one of Mayfair’s many exclusive clubs.