Weekend, where you at?
Words by James Wong
Think you know London? Think again. The capital is full of hidden gems that even those born ‘n’ bred have yet to discover. With new watering holes, events and pop-ups continuously coming through, we bet there’s something on this list that even the most-in-the-know city-dwellers haven’t heard of.
Talk your unimaginative colleagues out of the busy after work go to’s in Soho and Mayfair, pretend you’ve done some research and delight them with some of these lesser known or hidden London gems. You’re welcome.
The Candlelight Club is a 1920s speakeasy-themed cocktail party and a brilliant chance to get dressed up and celebrate the glamorous old days. Events have live jazz bands and DJs playing music from the era, plus a bit of cabaret. The cocktail menu is short but innovative, with a combination of authentic recipes from the Prohibition period and new spins created by mixologists, and there is an opt-in three-course dining menu for those arriving on empty stomachs. This secret London hidden gem is only revealed a few days before and word is that June is Havana-themed.
Bringing Tokyo to London, Jidori is the new kid on the Covent Garden block that the uber cool are flocking to. The bar and restaurant bring together popular Japanese small plates and skewers over three floors of a Georgian terrace on Catherine Street, designed in the style of a typical Japanese izikaya . During the day, Jidori serves donburi rice bowls and yakitori skewers, and in the evening the joint comes alive with groups enjoying Omakase sharing platters and hitting the secret basement karaoke room to blow off some steam. Jidori work with karaoke kings Lucky Voice to offer over 8,000 songs so there’s definitely something for everyone whether you’re an Ariana or Aretha kinda girl. Food wise we recommend the unique Katsu curry Scotch egg and funky desserts like ginger ice cream with miso caramel and sweet potato crisps.
Amelia’s Mews House Musings
You either don’t own a TV or have been tee-total for many years if you’re in London and haven’t heard of the fabulous Amelia Singer. The presenter and wine expert is Jamie Oliver’s right hand woman when it comes to wine and starred on ITV’s The Wine Show. She has dedicated her adult life to making wine fun, sharing her in-depth knowledge in her own, approachable, girl next door style. Amelia will host a series of exclusive and intimate supper clubs in her Notting Hill Mews House this year. Guests will get a chance to taste off the beaten track wines followed by a feast of fine food prepared by supper club favourite Chef Danny Jack. The evening promises educate as well as entertain, but hurry, space is limited and the secret is out.
Out of the Blue at The Blue Bar
Out Of The Blue is a secret favourite with Britain’s A-List and you’ll find it hidden in the walls of The Berkeley’s Blue Bar – with space for up to just four VIPs a time. A tough one to describe in words, we would say it’s an immersive drinking experience, where you sample specially crafted cocktails while amazing visuals, smells and sounds related to them are pumped into the room to invigorate your senses. The cocktails are revealed at the end (they’re all served in identical cups), so the sessions are a bit of a guessing game which you’ll play with your fellow tasters. Book this with a date, or even your in-laws, and you’ll be raving about it for months. Slots must be booked in advance (5:30pm to 11pm, daily) here.
Our absolute favourite is the ideal hidden spot for any busy London lady who needs a sanctuary to escape with a good cocktail. The Mandrake is a gorgeous art-covered boutique hotel and within it, out on the first floor courtyard is Jurema. This garden terrace bar was designed by world-renowned landscape architects Bureau Bas Smets. It’s a laid-back cabana type of setting with lush, evergreens and hanging passion flowers creeping down the walls, and soft live music transporting you out of London and into a Moroccan oasis. The wooden shack-style bar shakes up amazing feel-good summer-time cocktails including a healthy-tasting green one called ‘Hem’, using hemp oil, sorrel ice cream, yellow chartreuse and basil soda, and tee-totalers will love ‘Hops’, a refreshing mix of hops, rhubarb and kombucha.
The Chelsea Prayer Room at GOAT
Hidden within Italian restaurant GOAT is the luxurious Chelsea Prayer Room, a secret cocktail bar for the West London set. Guests check in at GOAT upon arrival, are escorted to a little door and are given a pass code to it for the evening. Food options include incredible wood-fired pizzas and big fresh salads. You’ll kick back on comfy leather sofas and choose from an A to Z cocktail menu, starting at the ‘Avatrix’ – gin with sky blue violet, and finishing with ‘Zazerac’ – an Absinthe Barcadi creation. Feeling fruity? Your 10th cocktail is on the house. We’ll be in late for work tomorrow.
Sun and sea go hand in hand, so the clever clogs at the Sunborn London yacht hotel have launched a champagne deck pop-up this summer in partnership with Laurent-Perrier. Located in the glistening Royal Victoria Docks, the bar will serve champagne cocktails and nibbles every day from now until 3rd September, noon-10pm. Knock these back with views of the Emirates Air Line, Canary Wharf and The O2, and feel a little bit glam like Kate Winslet in Titanic, minus the pesky iceberg.
Stressful week in the office? Relieve some tension with retro sweet cocktails and one million balls across three pits at London’s very unique Baillie Ballerson bar, which is basically an adult playground. There is a pit of clear balls which make you feel like you’re in some kind of waterless bubble bath, and next to it is the VIP booth area, which we highly recommend booking if you want to avoid queues. Cocktails are themed after classic pop culture moments including ‘You’re a Wizard Harry’ and ‘Hit Me Baby’, while DJ’s pump out a variety of funk, disco and R&B.