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Written by Mae Bristow - 24 November 2023

The 11 London West End bars you need to check out

The West End, London's theatreland, has a hard-earned reputation for being the place to spend an evening out on the town. Draped in the history of so many nights out, the bars and clubs of the City's den of vice, glamour and curtain calls are world famous.

Of course, that doesn't mean you're bound to step into a good one. Many a big night has been foiled by poor planning. You know the scene, big dreams of a big night spurned by lack of any options beyond the ambiguous "pub?".

If only there was a list of the best bars in the West End; a list of all the greatest drinking spots and storied dives that you have to check out.

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Cahoots West End bar 3
Cahoots West End bar 3

1. The West End's Wartime drinking hole: Cahoots

Soho, London

Cahoots is a West End bar that seems to want to do it all. Its themes confusingly range from wartime London to trains, to any aesthetic from the 1920s-1950s. Despite this relative lack of thematic clarity, it proves incredibly popular throughout the week. This is, in part, due to the care and attention that goes into the decor and drinks. Expect vintage signage, repurposed tube cartridges, menus on broadsheet papers and a whole lot of booze.

On this: the cocktails are good, if pricey. Two or three should give you a steady buzz, and we recommend the Winston Churchill (if drinking gin, cherry liqueur and guava out of a bust of the famed statesman is your vibe).

The Cahoots project has three spaces – Underground, Ticket Hall and Signal Station – with the two subterranean areas by far being the ones to opt for. Private hire is available for 150 guests, and it would be a great shout for themed parties, work or personal.

2. An iconic West End bar: Nightjar Carnaby

Soho, London

Iconic feels like an overused word in the London bar scene. Self-declared icons muddy every back alley of West London, with self-mythologising leaving the average punter more confused than ever.

The original Nightjar is actually pretty iconic. The OG Shoreditch spot is one of the most recognisable speakeasy-style bars in the city, with their extensive cocktail menu and laid-back atmosphere providing the backdrop to countless great first dates.

With that in mind, you can justifiably excited that Nightjar have opened a new venture in Carnaby Street. The imaginatively named Nightjar Carnaby brings its mixological heft to the West End.

Blind pig west end bar
Blind pig west end bar

3. A West End bar hidden above a restaurant: The Blind Pig

Soho, London

Picture the perfect bar. Dim lighting, a low buzz of conversation, drinks in heavy glass, ice melting slowly. That, in a nutshell, is The Blind Pig.

Located above the Social Eating House restaurant, The Blind Pig proclaims itself to bring a 'relaxed, speakeasy vibe' to the first floor of the Poland Street building. We can attest to this. Plush seating is bathed in warm light, leaving plenty of shadows playing across the low-key interior.

Cocktails are the thing to for here. The menu is updated frequently,y often adhering to an overall theme. Though this risks playing into the sphere of the novel, The Blind Pig avoids this by putting genuine care into their concoctions. The most recent music-centric roster is quite a thing to behold: Try a Cure-inspired mix of mezcal, maraschino and charcoal powder – fittingly gothic.

For private hire The Blind Pig can be your own private West End bar, giving ample for space for 65 standing.

people at freud bar seven dials bar london
cocktail at freud bar seven dials bar london

4. No psychoanalysis here, only cocktails and tunes: Freud Bar

Seven Dials, London

Skirting the edge of Seven Dials, at the top of Shaftesbury Avenue, marked by the wisteria-wrapped neon sign, Freud Bar is a gallery, cocktail, and audiophile’s bar in a cellar. The cafe-cum-bar has been around since 1986, and we go there for the cocktails, the regularly updated art exhibited on the walls, and the DJ sets. It’s compact, cool, unfussy, and a top Seven Dials bar worth braving the central London crowds for.

Little scarlett door west end bars
Little scarlett door west end bars

5. A West End bar that feels home from home: The Little Scarlet Door

West End, London

Long live the house party, says the newest addition to the line of Little {insert colour here} Door bars that have been popping up over London the past couple of years.

Joining Soho’s Greek Street this June, Scarlet has had quite the hot girl summer and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you haven’t been to one of the other locations (there’s a Yellow, Blue and Orange Door in the fam), here’s their thing – they do house party vibes, in a kind of secret bar – and it’s great.

Like an actual gaff, when you wander into every room over the two floors you find each is having its own mini-party – you know how it is, bathroom DMCs, smoking area banter, drinking games in the kitchen and dancing in the living room. Dotted around are washing machines, fridges and record players to bring the house, with DJs, disco balls and neon signs adding the party.

The cocktails are TV and movie-themed (yes, ordering the Mad Men will make you feel exactly like Don Draper), with toasties, charcuterie boards and bar snacks for when you get hungry. You can also throw your own exclusive house party and hire out the basement, first-floor open-plan living room and kitchen area, or the whole thing. With no worries of clean-up or noise complaints the next day.

interior of compagnie wine bar seven dials london bar
wine and cheese at compagnie wine bar seven dials london bar

6. The French wine bar: Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Seven Dials, London

We braved the central London crowds to get to Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (from here on out it will be referred to as CVS) and would do so again. This wine bar and restaurant in Seven Dials is the epitome of a quaint, snug interior with quirkily patterned modern decor in neutral and jewel tones.

The outdoor seating in Neal’s Yard is the ideal spot for champagne and oysters – truth be told, there are over 400 handpicked wines at CVS, pair any of them with any dish from the menu and you will regret nothing. In fact, you’re likely to order another bottle of wine and more cheese and erase the word ‘regret’ from your vocabulary entirely.

interior of dalla terra wine bar seven dials london bar
food and wine at dalla terra wine bar seven dials london bar

7. The Italian wine bar: Dalla Terra Wine Bar & Restaurant

Seven Dials, London

Dalla Terra is on the edge of Seven Dials, conveniently near the Royal Opera House, a proper enoteca where you can enjoy some Italian wine, maybe after attending an Italian opera – how very cultured of you.

The restaurant is modern with warm wood and terracotta tones and the terrace is lovely. With over 30 wines by the glass and 600 wines from Italy and around the world, this is another Seven Dials bar in which you will order several bottles of wine and a couple of pasta dishes, and once again regret nothing. In fact, you’re likely to order cheese too. We don’t know the word ‘regret’ in English or Italian.

The cocktail club soho west end bar
The cocktail club soho west end bar

8. An underground West End bar: The Cocktail Club: Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Resembling a subterranean tattoo parlour with a crippling addiction to alcohol, The West End's Cocktail Club makes the most of bare wires, neon signs and a full cocktail menu.

It's unassuming, unpretentious and they make a pretty decent reggae rum punch if you don't mind a hit of sweetness. A 2-4-1 Happy Hour (or three) is enforced from 4pm-7pm, which means you can get pretty boozed for cheap before stumbling up the stairs and into the light and blare of London's West End.

Private hire is available for 110 people, making it a great option for work drink events, or a birthday blowout.

Swingers West London bar
Swingers West London bar

9. West London's mini-golf bar: Swingers West End

Oxford Circus, London

Evoking the quaint British seaside of the 1920s, Swingers West End brings Helter Skelters, Ferris wheels and increasingly absurd golf courses to the mania of Oxford Street.

Crazy golf and drinking are strange bedfellows, but it's proven to work: with two London venues, Swingers have tapped into a clear winner with the city's drinkers who are eager for some organised fun. The seaside theme has you negotiating curves, mazes, hillocks a plethora of other miniature land features, with a dramatic feature finish worthy of a Carry On film.

The drinks tend toward the classics, with twist-bearing themed names also making an appearance. The Fairway to Heaven is a standout mix of pink grapefruit gin, apricot brandy and Earl Grey syrup.

Private hire is available across various spaces, with the bar area accommodating 32 standing.

interior of the escapologist seven dials london bar
drinks at the escapologist seven dials london bar

10. The Seven Dials bar where you can party like it’s 1899: The Escapologist

Seven Dials, London

Underground basement bar The Escapologist takes its name from a mythical vagabond Baron. This whimsical fancy continues into the cocktail menu and decor which, depending on the room you’re in, is glittery disco meets David Lynch, with esoteric motifs that evoke 19th-century occultists and secret societies. It’s bizarre, it’s weird, it’s great for private parties if you want to be sequestered into your own strange room or hire the entire place out for a wild occasion.

exterior of the crown seven dials london bar
interior of the crown seven dials london bar

11. Not the TV series but equally as British: The Crown

Seven Dials, London

The Crown is on the corner of Monmouth Street and Short’s Gardens, two of the seven roads that lead to the historic Seven Dials monument. It’s an old-school boozer in a Grade II listed building with honey-brown tiling on the outside and the expected traditional interiors. It attracts a post-work crowd as much as it does tourists.

The Crown is great for a pint if you’re passing through or on your way to the theatre or you need to duck out of the crowded Seven Dials streets. Real ales, English wines, and cold pints, as traditional a pub as any.

Check out the best bars in West End

We've put together the best bars in West End for you to find and book. From activity bars for a corporate day out to cosy pubs to swanky cocktail bars, West End is full of amazing bars for you to explore. Take a look at all our bar venues in West End. Alternatively, tell us exactly what you need and we'll make sure the very best West End bar venues respond to your enquiry.

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Guide to hiring London West End bars

Whether you're planning a corporate event, a celebration, or simply a night out with friends, choosing the right bar is crucial to the success of your experience. The West End boasts a plethora of bars, each with its unique charm and offerings. In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate the key factors to consider when hiring a West End bar, ensuring your event or night out is nothing short of spectacular.

Define Your Event Needs:

Before diving into the selection process, clearly outline the requirements of your event. Consider the size of your guest list, the atmosphere you want to create, and any specific services or amenities needed. Whether it's a cocktail party, networking event, or a casual hangout, understanding your event's nature will guide your search.

Location and Accessibility:

The West End is a diverse area with bars ranging from the lively streets of Soho to the more refined atmosphere of Covent Garden. Choose a location that aligns with the vibe you're aiming for and is convenient for your guests; ensure there your venue meets any accessibility needs you or your guests may have. Proximity to public transport and other attractions is also a key factor to ensure accessibility.

Capacity and Layout:

Carefully assess the venue's capacity to ensure it accommodates your guest list comfortably. Consider the layout – does it offer secluded spaces for intimate conversations or open areas for mingling? Bars with versatile layouts can cater to a variety of events, so assess the flexibility of the space.

Online Platforms:

There are an endless amount of websites that will provide you with a rundown of London West End bars. It can often feel overwhelming to search through these sites. That’s why at HeadBox we work with the best venues and will circulate your event details directly to them. You’ll hear back from trusted venues that have availability and cater to your event.

Ambiance and Style:

Each London West End bar has its unique ambiance and style. Whether you're looking for a chic, modern setting or a classic, timeless atmosphere, the West End has it all. Visit potential venues to experience their ambiance firsthand and ensure it aligns with your event vision.

Beverage Options:

Bars in the West End are known for their diverse and creative drink menus. Discuss beverage options with the venue, ensuring they can provide the desired selection of cocktails, wines, and other beverages. Confirm if they offer customizable drink packages to suit your event needs.

Catering Options:

Consider whether the bar offers catering services or allows external catering. Some London West End bars partner with local restaurants, providing a seamless food and drink experience. Check if they can accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences among your guests.

Entertainment and Facilities:

Enhance your event with entertainment options. Some London West End bars offer live music, DJ sets, or themed nights. Confirm the availability of necessary facilities, such as audiovisual equipment, microphones, and stages, if you plan to include performances or presentations.

Budget Considerations:

Set a realistic budget for your event and inquire about all potential costs associated with the venue. Some bars offer packages that include drinks, food, and entertainment, simplifying the planning process. Be transparent about your budget to ensure there are no surprises later on.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, the West End is well-connected with excellent public transport links, including the London Underground. Guests can easily access bars in this area by walking, taking the Tube, buses, or taxis.

Booking out a bar in the West End is easy with HeadBox. All you have to do is tell us what you're looking for, we'll share your enquiry with suitable bars in Knightsbridge and you'll get messages from venues & match with your favourites. Easy.

When booking a West End bar, carefully review the contract, including terms and conditions, cancellation policies, and payment schedules. It's essential to have a clear understanding of all the details before finalising your reservation to avoid any unexpected issues.

The cost of hiring a bar in the West End can vary significantly depending on the venue, the number of guests, and the services you require. It's crucial to set a realistic budget that covers venue hire fees, catering, beverages, and any additional services.

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