Vintage Inspired Bars in London
There are an abundance of excellent vintage bars to explore across London, each offering guests the chance to step back in time and revel in the delights of our predecessors. The only problem is, these places can sometimes be so detached from the hustle and bustle of the contemporary world that they completely slip under the radar. Here's our guide to the very best old-school bars in London, crammed full of the most charismatic hideouts the city has to offer.
Last updated on 14th September 2016
For an authentic insight into the mechanics of a 19th Century gin-palace in London, look no further than the Worship Street Whistling Shop in Shoreditch. Sip on one of their many distinctive cocktails whilst you take in the Victorian ambience - waiters come decked out in full Dickensian dress, whilst Victoria and Albert portraits adorn the menu. A hang-out especially tailored to the taste of gin-lovers, be sure to check out the Dram Shop private area with a library of sumptuous gins to choose from.
Doused in classic 50s decor and style that takes you back to those vintage diner days, Love Die Late knocks up retro artworks, pink washed walls and throwback flowery wallpapers to create a period vibe where tailored tipples are the name of the game. Slurp on your freshly ground coffee and then descend to the lair of liquor laced mixology for some real fun.
Luxe, indulgent and classic, and that's just the cocktails. If you're looking for a vintage bar in London that will tease with charming interiors and dated furniture then look no further than this Hammersmith gem. Decked in finery and toting cocktails remember, Smiths makes for the perfect night out.
Exposed-brick and industrial wall lighting, a sprinkling of old books, vintage prints and rickety wooden crates, Bermondsey's 214 Gin & Cocktail Bar definitely shouts old-school. Red leather bar stools and wide leather brown sofas beneath oversized lamps mark a traditional New York diner feel, so pull up a seat and sample the selection of liquor in retro style.
Simmons Soho has got to be the quintessential 'vintage-inspired bar in London'. Step inside to find a space donning garish wallpaper, a super nintendo, and a bar that serves up cocktails in bric-a-brac-esque teapots. But this quirky cocktail spot boasts a modern heart - expect a buzzing late night atmosphere as crowds of partygoers intermingle and dance into the early morn.
If you like high-quality cocktails, available at very reasonable prices, in a quirky bar decked out with a plethora of vintage artefacts (and lets face it, why wouldn't you?) then Simmons in Camden is most certainly for you. Cocktails arrive at the table in old-school tea cups and, if you're visiting between 4pm and 9pm, you can enjoy two for a tenner.
Laced with the swagger of 1920s opulence and decked out with a gold and black chevron floor, Smith & Whistle is as vintage as they come in Mayfair. Toting elegance and hand crafted mixology, this bar makes cocktail making look like more of an art than anything else. Sup on fine spirits and liquor laced crystal-cut glasses here.
Inspired by the swinging sounds of New York's never-ageing piano bars, Farringdon's Piano Works rolls back the years with an awe-inspiring musical performance delivered by there talented band. Based in an old Victorian warehouse, the airy, industrial feel of the venue wonderfully contrasts with the sleek, opulent vibes of a smooth piano bar. With a bar stocked full of all your favourite liquid treats and a food menu worth its salt, this spot is a real treat for any jazz and blues fan.
Killer liquors, timeless style and classic decor characterise your debut drinks at The Luggage Room. One of London's best kept secrets and always under wraps to keep its intimate, low profile, The Luggage Room promises vintage inspired drinks in London from some of the city's top mixologists for a truly unique experience.
Established in 1972 and maintaining a traditional, yet stylish look with its wealth of rich wooden walls, beams and tables alike, Davy's Wine Lodge definitely sends you back the clock. A scattering of vino-related hodgepodge, a bunch of barrels, bottles and bits make for an elegant artistic edge, so pull up a stool and grab a glass of the house Rioja red as you tuck into their delicious meal.
Fronting vintage leanings that nod to the classic drinking era of American watering holes, Cartizze bar is a Mayfair haunt off the beaten track waiting to be discovered. You'll find the air infused with rich liquors and spirits where world class mixology is the name of the game. Perch at the bar for some atmospheric supping.
Fine china and the elegance of the early 20th century are what make Soho's Arts Theatre Club the grand romantic gesture amongst vintage-inspired bars in London. Woo your darling easily at this members-only speakeasy-- as its solid drinks, private seating, and steady stream of classic songs set the perfect scene for any lovely, intimate night out.
If you're looking for a truly unique cocktail list against the backdrop of a speakeasy atmosphere, the Looking Glass Cocktail Club is the place for you. Standard social conventions go out the window here, with vintage travel trunks acting as makeshift tables and guests sipping their cocktails out of tea-cups. Fans of the weird and wonderful come into their element once they step through the Looking Glass, so ensure you experience this transfixing vintage bar for yourself.
Ruby's in Dalston has got the art of infusing a traditional atmosphere with modern-day standards of quality down to an absolute tee. DesignMyNight's Best New Bar of 2012 serves up its signature cocktails in authentic milk bottles from the 1940s, whilst the Passion Fruit Bison Vodka Juleps come to you in tin cups. Don't miss out on experiencing this charismatic and endearing speakeasy bar!
Showcasing colonial stylings and décor that fits a 70s kind of outfit (but with a bit more suave), 68 and Boston is the perfect image of vintage inspired drinking in London nestled in the heart of Soho. Split over two floors there's a dedicated wine bar fit for intimate drinks and date night vibes or a plush cocktail bar upstairs where the cocktails do the talking.
Styled on the exploits of the infamous Baron - a man known for his illicit and scandalous activity - The Escapologist is a themed basement bar based at the HQ of the secret society that ran Victorian London. Expect a fun yet refined cocktail list and cheese-drenched pizzas served up in a beautifully designed space, with bottle service and guests very own secret lockers adding some extra intrigue.
Brimming with trinkets, Simmons is not only a haven for cocktails, it's positively falling out of the door with kitsch bits. Vintage through and through, there's likely nothing contemporary to be found in this charming cocktail haven where floral wallpapers, vintage furniture and unique concoctions reign supreme.
Inspired by the 19th Century Manor House libraries, the Punch Room is like a time capsule of vintage-inspired drinking in London. A place fitted with oak panels, velvet furnishings and leather finishes that plays ragtime music, timeless soul and Doo-wop classics is what you'll find at the back of the London Edition hotel.
Everything about the Chelsea Prayer Room on Fulham Road is shrouded in secrecy, but this hidden gem just upstairs from the Goat restaurant is a stylish speakeasy venue that oozes an authentic vintage charm. All lighting and furniture for this 30-capacity venue was sourced from markets and vintage sellers to contribute to the already slick atmosphere and unbranded bottles create an heir of mystery for the curious drinker.
Looking for a vintage themed bar in London that harks back to the cool and quirky tales of the prohibition? Then why not try The Bootlegger on for size as they promise stunning and retro cocktails in a strictly cool and dated enviroment.
Hark back to the glamour of 1930s New Orleans as this hidden vintage bar in Shoreditch promises to be a blast from the past. Toting dated furniture and classic cocktails, guests to NOLA will get a unique taste of the Deep South with live music and unique interiors to boot.
Accessible only after locating the secret entrance and a cross-examination from one of the Agency's detectives, guests can enjoy an authentic prohibition experience - with beers served in brown paper bags and members provided with their own drawer behind the bar to store personal belongings. Evans & Peel leaves no stone unturned when it comes to creating an authentic speakeasy atmosphere, and the venue's excellent attention to detail make it one of London's most distinctive retro bars.