Prepare to don an orange jumpsuit as you become an inmate at these immersive cocktail bars in central and east London. Inspired by America's infamous prison and the Hollywood movies surrounding it, Alcotraz creates tailored cocktails based on your liquor and tastes - just make sure the warden doesn't catch you.
Cool and Quirky Bars in London
This beaut of a city is fortunate enough to host several of the most unique, weird and wonderful bars in world, ranging from secret speakeasy dens and bars in toilets to rooftop palaces. Whether it's taxidermy or immersive experiences, fire-spitting bartenders or just the downright outrageous - you're spoiled for choice in the capital. So in no particular order (because hey, what's life without a little surprise), here are the best cool and quirky bars in London.
Inspired by party animal Josephine Bonaparte, Tonight Josephine is a kitsch and fun bar. Our top choice for a girls night out in London, this Instagrammable spot boasts a cracking cocktail menu, as well as neon signs, glittery cocktails and celebrity mugshots.
There are multi-sensory drinking experiences, and then there is Purl. A speakeasy-style drinking den located in the heart of Marylebone, the venue's pioneering approach to their cocktails involves utilising aroma, fogs, foams and liquid nitrogen to bring each and every drink to life. Just remember the password for entry (Hair Of The Dog).
Throw it back to 1920s Havana and join the fun-loving crew at the notorious Burlock as they churn out rum cocktails in a quirky London setting for the party hardy. Located just moments from Oxford Street, this is one for a fun night out in the West End.
So much more than your average bar, this quirky spot in Tottenham houses a full roller skating rink for when you're looking to get a little active on your next night out. Round up your mates and prepare for diner bites and a skating sesh at this cool North London space.
The Courtesan is a cool South London bar that welcomes discerning diners and drinkers to sample unusual cocktails and traditional dim sum sharing plates. Settle down with a drink in the gilded Birdcage Bar or get ready for a late night burlesque performance as you wine and dine.
Killer cocktails, a cracking bar team and a thriving Shoreditch location... Yep, LCC is good to go for a memorable night out in East London. Come in, get comfy on the black leather couches and work your way to the bottom of an expertly mixed drink.
Rehab is Homerton's neighbourhood bar serving good quality cocktails and locally sourced vegan food. It's housed in a former launderette, and you can still find the original washing machine covers adorning the bathrooms. Intimate and charming with plenty of raw brickwork and low lighting? You know it ticks all the right boxes.
Opium is a great London speakeasy-style cocktail bar. The bar team deliver themed cocktails, in a discrete and decadent setting. Widely considered one of London's best bars, Opium is a cool and quirky London spot hidden among the bustling streets of Chinatown.
Aeronaut's quirk comes in the form of the amazing circus performances they showcase. Hosting a whole host of entertainment including swing dancing classes, live music sets, DJs and themed brunches, Aeronaut definitely satisfies that quest for something cool and quirky in Acton.
Powering up in Canary Wharf this winter is one unique bar concept from the minds behind Flight Club. Electric Shuffle is an all-new technological spin on the classic pastime, with additional food and drinks to forge an unforgettable evening.
The Exhibit is Balham's all-in-one social destination. Come for a majestic cocktail or get stuck in at the dinner table, and don't forget they love a big party come Friday Night. There's comedy at the weekends, life drawing classes, art exhibitions and the chance to catch a film in London's smallest independent cinema space.
One-hundred-and-eiiiiighty! Flight Club breaths a new lease of life into the UK's favourite pub game, welcoming you into their beautifully designed oches to play interactive games. Throw in some real-time scoring (there's not a chalk board in sight) and a dash of competitive spirit and you've got hours of unadulterated fun at one of the most unique bars in London.
The Four Thieves in Battersea has everything you need for a trip to the boozer. From more than 70 gins, a microbrewery on site and enough craft beer to keep you drinking the week's woes away, the fun doesn't stop there. Head upstairs for an incredible games room, filled with car racing, ping pong and virtual reality.
There's more than a hint of West London suave about this basement bolthole. It's found beneath the Arbitrager, offering a relaxed yet refined atmosphere to the city's after-work crowd. Cross this one off your 'must-visit' list and you'll soon be enjoying a daring and innovative list of signature drinks in one of the hot-to-trot basement bars in London.
Get to know some of our city's coolest and quirkiest bars with a little help from London Cocktail Week. For just £15 a wristband, you'll get access to over 250 establishments serving discounted drinks from 1st - 31st October, as well as some amazing events held by the venues themselves.
East London is home to the capital's cool and quirky bars, but it is yet to have one dedicated to the creation of The Gibson. That was, until now, as expert mixologists have been experimenting with the Edwardian recipe to create a cocktail list perfect for the dark, intimate and extravagant Clerkenwell venue.
Boasting a DJ booth tucked inside of a vintage piano, cocktails served out of the finest of China, and luxurious seating arrangements, The Arts Theatre Club is certainly in the upper echelon of cool and quirky bars in London. This members-only Soho speakeasy acts as the perfect, Prohibition-era getaway amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Wacky interiors, pretty cocktails and party tunes are all on the menu at Blame Gloria, a cool South London bar and late-night spot. Whether you fancy some happy hour drinks or a wild night of dancing with mates, this Clapham den is ready and waiting to play ball.
A hidden treasure marrying inventive cocktails with an eclectic music programme, you don't go forgetting a trip to Apples & Pears in a hurry. The venue's radiant atmosphere makes it perfect for date night or stopping by after work, and with a medley of live acoustic acts and animated DJ nights, we challenge you not to find yourself tapping those toes deep into the night.
From neon artwork to cushy green sofas, fresh flowers and marble fireplaces, every corner of The Little Orange Door oozes style. Head to the quirky Clapham Common spot for boozy brunches and late night dinner parties.
Hidden below ground level and coated in Parisian chic, this is the perfect hangout for you and your trendiest of friends. Nestle into plush leather armchairs and admire your sophisticated surroundings as you taste cocktails mixed by the gods and nosh on inventive desserts at Basement Sate.
Beaming with intimacy and tiki flair, it almost seems a shame to lift the lid on this secretive basement bar on Portobello Road. Head downstairs to uncover a world of exotic drinks, kooky interiors and date night vibes at Trailer Happiness. You won't want to miss the punchy Polynesian Princess.
Step off the cobbled streets of East London and into this multi-award-winning cocktail bar permeated by a wonderfully eccentric vibe. Expect punchy cocktails and an eclectic crowd, as well as a hidden bar that you'll find if you venture upstairs.
BYOC Camden is not your average cocktail den; for starters it has an amazing 1920s theme, complete with vintage blackjack tables and roulette, and secondly, you are expected to bring your own bottle of spirit for bartenders to whip into masterpieces.
The Alchemist have quickly built up a reputation for being one of the UK's most exciting bars, serving unique creations from the heart of Old Street that fizz, change colour and come to life right before your eyes. Head to East London this summer to experience the theatrics for yourself.
Based on the HQ of the secret society that ran Victorian London, The Escapologist is part Victorian men's club, part Masonic Lodge; a totally unique drinking den based on the shady exploits of the infamous Baron. Head this way for sharing cocktails and cheese-drenched pizzas in one of the most eye-catching basement bars in town.
Sister site to the mighty Nightjar speakeasy, Oriole is a sumptuous space of global influence and exotic design in Smithfield Market. Come for luscious cocktails made up of tastes and flavours from all corners of the globe, equally tasty bites to eat and a live music schedule which spans everything from Cuban Son to West Coast African blues.
Taking residence in Victorian listed basement, The Piano Works is the revival of the loud and vibrant live music bars, where you can dance and party to the sound of a 6 piece band playing your song requests. Taking on a vintage style speakeasy, this House of Song is one of the best hidden gems London has to offer.
A characterful den complete with gin, kooky artwork and a snug basement space, Ask For Janice is a popular Farringdon local. Serving brekky and your morning coffee early doors, the venue lays on a choice of locally produced fare throughout the day and offers a livelier vibe later.
Inspired by the Wild West, this immersive cocktail bar is one of a kind. Try your hand at card games and solve clues, in the heart of East London. Make sure you've smuggled in your choice of tipple which expert bartenders use to create personalised cocktails based on your own choices and tastes.
From retro wares which include old-fashioned maps and an incredible plant-ridden conservatory, Powder Keg Diplomacy is a vintage watering hole in South London. The Clapham spot serves up delicious cocktails mixed with everything from Earl Grey tea to citrus fruits, there's also a hearty menu if you're peckish.
Giving it some serious welly in the quirky department is hidden Peckham gem, The Four Quarters. A stand out name on the bars with games scene, not only do they provide top entertainment in the shape of retro games, consoles and arcade machines, there's American bites, cocktails and a secret speakeasy bar in the basement.
Draped with wicker masks, brass icons and even featuring giant maypoles (Maypole Dancing actively encouraged), Hand of Glory boasts an interior design to behold. Grab one of their rotating 'deadly ciders', sample some home-infused gin and gorge on a plate of fresh, lovingly prepared pub grub.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat, how I wonder what you're at. Borrowing its name from the Mad Hatter's poem, Little Bat is a quirky neighbourhood cocktail bar featuring plenty of Wonderland-themed influences. Expect a playful and imaginative ambience complemented by superb cocktails at Callooh Callay's sister site.
This charismatic Angel hangout features a quirky train-carriage theme that takes you on a journey calling at great food central and innovative cocktails parkway. A plethora of shadowy foliage adds to the atmosphere and the friendly bar staff/train conductors make this a venue you won't go forgetting any time soon.
The Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a quaint bar in North London, based just a short stroll from Angel tube station. With a sleek bar serving all the signature cocktails that have made the B&H name famous over the years, the venue's idyllic greenhouse and airy cafe offer prime spots to unwind in with mates. Soak up all the vintage and carefree vibes at this quirky bar in London.
Gigi's is an eccentric London DJ bar, live music venue and restaurant in the heart of Hoxton Square. Shoreditch clubbing, dining and drinking can all be enjoyed in this bar's bold and beautiful interiors making it one of the best London late night bars without a doubt.
Peckham Levels' quirkiest bar is Near & Far, a kitsch retro haven with an import/export theme. Come inside and you'll enjoy cocktails and bar snacks created with both locally sourced ingredients and exotic imports, and you can enjoy all this while soaking up the panoramic views of London.
Ping pong bars are all the rage in London right now, and few do it better than Bounce. A buzzing underground spot made for eating, drinking and playing ping-pong late into the night, the tables here can fit up to 20, and the table service policy means you won't have to ditch your area when ordering in the delicious pizza or a few gin-based cocktails.