Shunt Vaults would have to be the strangest bar I have ever been to. Try finding it for a start. It is near impossible. The entrance is via a little door in London Bridge tube station.
Once you finally locate the entrance, you then find yourself heading down a long, pitch black in places, underground tunnel. The tunnel has scary looking alcoves on each side with strange noises and voices resonating from them. Not a place to walk by yourself if you are easily spooked!
Once you reach the end of the tunnel, turn right and you will wonder if you have travelled back in time. The cave-like bar is nothing quite like I have experienced before. Its interior comprises of arched ceilings and crumbling brick walls held together with creeping ivy, along with the odd chandelier, and a mix-match of eclectic furniture.
The music earlier in the evening sounded like a mix between what would have been played in a wild west saloon or at a freak show.
I loved it.
Dress Code: Anything goes
One evening before dinner we needed somewhere to have a drink and we came across Mash. Located close to Oxford Circus, this is a large modern bar with its own Microbrewery. There is also a restaurant upstairs.
When we stopped by it was around 7pm on a Friday night and the bar was packed full with the after-work crowd letting off steam at the end of the week. The noise inside the main part of the bar was deafening! How anyone could have a conversation in there I don't know.
After buying two (expensive) drinks we managed to score a small table in the front section, by the main door, where we could at least have a chat. Ideally we would have sat at one of the tables out the front on the footpath, but these were in high demand.
I liked the look of Mash, and it is conveniently located to Oxford Street, though a bit too noisy for me to bother returning.
Dress Code: Work attire is fine
The Lamb & Flag is a small wooden-fronted pub hidden away in Covent Garden. At over 300 years old, it is the oldest pub in the area. It was once known as the 'Bucket of Blood' due to the bare-knuckle fights that used to be held there.
This is a very traditional British pub, with its wooden panelling, low beams and bare wooden floors. At the rear of the pub is an inviting fireplace surrounded by wooden settles.
Serving up a decent selection of real ale for the beer lovers out there, the Lamb & Flag can get pretty crammed at times. You may have more luck heading up the creaky old stairs to the upstairs bar and restaurant area to enjoy your drink.
In the summer, the courtyard outside the pub is roped-off creating a large paved area for the after-work crowd to congregate with a cold pint or two.
I must admit to being guilty of stopping by post-shop for a half-pint or two ; )
Dress Code: Come as you are - a good mix of business attire and comfy sightseeing outfits are always to be seen, so you'll fit right in.
One Friday night I headed into town after work for a special event....a VT Meeting! The meeting, organised by JulesH (Julia) was being held in honour of Hayward68 (Laura) coming to London.
The venue was a small bar called 22 Below, located close to Oxford Circus in central London. 22 Below is called a 'bar, lounge, kitchen'…I guess cause there is a bar, some lounge chairs (plus other chairs, tables and stools), and they also serve food. They don't mention that it is also a music venue - there was a DJ that was playing 80's music…much to the delight of us older VT'ers who could actually sing along with what the DJ was playing for a change!
Drinks wise, there were some interesting cocktails to choose from (like a Porn Star) and a few wines by the glass, along with the other usual drinks. Drinks were a little on the pricy side, and no early evening happy hour : (
The bar was small, with a relaxed vibe. Entrance is off the street, and then straight down stairs. It got pretty noisy later in the evening when the DJ turned up the music, making it hard to have a conversation unless standing right by the person and speaking loudly.
There were 11 VT'ers all up, and the bar kindly reserved a table for us so we could sit comfortably for the first few drinks and have a bite to eat. With the food, we opted for a Mezze platter and another sharing platter which had an assortment of tasty treats. We also shared a big bowl of chips.
I liked 22 Below and would pop by again for drinks, perhaps earlier in the evening when it isn't to noisy.
Dress Code: The afterwork crowd looked smart, so dress accordingly
One night we headed to Notting Hill for a fancy dinner. Before our meal we wanted to relax over a drink or two, so headed to the Lonsdale.
The Lonsdale is a stylish bar with that 'wow factor' when you first walk in. At the front there is a cocktail bar and to the rear is a restaurant. The restaurant area is very cool looking, with pink glowing lights shining around the walls. The staff were friendly and welcoming and the bar was thankfully not too smoky when we visited.
I had a classic Vodka Martini and Alex got a little adventurous with an Elderflower Martini. Mine was not the best martini I had ever had, but it did the job. Alex's was pretty tasty though and I may have helped him drink it.
If you are looking for somewhere a little funky to meet friends or to take that special someone, you could do a lot worse than the Lonsdale.
Dress Code: Keep it stylish and you'll fit right in
The Phoenix is a cosy pub located one block back from Oxford Street, at Oxford Circus.
It is a great place to pop into for a drink after a busy day shopping on Oxford Street. And, as it turns out, it is also the ideal venue for a group of VT ladies to get together for a drink and a gossip!
The pub was pretty busy on the Saturday afternoon/evening we were there, and had a great atmosphere with loads of large candles flickering around the room.
They do serve food, which we did not try, but from what I could see it looked pretty good.
Dress Code: No dress code - but of course all us VT ladies were looking good ; ))
Hamptons Wine Bar is located a little off the main drag, close to Leicester square.
It was the meeting place of a recent London Ladies TV Meeting.
The bar very kindly reserved a corner table for us, so we were comfortable to commence gossiping!!
Hamptons is quite spacious and bright, and happily was not too smoky when we were there.
There were lots of wines on offer, by the glass or bottle, but to Jessica-b's dismay, only 1 type of beer! They also serve some food here, but only Jessica ordered a small snack, as she was unable to join us later for dinner.
Service was efficient and very friendly - we tortured our friendly Aussie waitress by asking her to take photos of us girls with 6 different cameras!!
In summary - Hampton was a great place to meet friends when you don't want to have to shout to be heard and want a little bit of room to yourself.
The perfect venue for when VT girls get together!!
Dress Code: VT Chic
La Casa del Habano is a fabulous and classy cigar & cocktail bar located in the heart of Soho, in central London.
One night I met up with 3 VT girls for some pre-dinner cocktails - Londonbabe, Jessica-b & AussieMadCow.
I was immediately impressed by this place - very stylish looking - and although a cigar bar, not overly smoky.
We all took a seat at the bar and perused the extensive cocktail menu - all choosing vastly different drinks, which were all proclaimed to be absolutely delicious (not to mention pretty potent!!).
The bar staff were professional, talented....and kind of cute ; ))
It really was a great experience, and I will certainly be going back there again soon.....loads more cocktails to try!!
Dress Code: After a few cocktails it won't matter....
Momo is a Middle Eastern Bar, Tea Room & Restaurant, located just off Regent Street in a quite little lane.
We recently met up with friends for some pre-dinner drinks in the 'Tea Room' section of this establishment.
The Tea Room is a colourful and happening bar. It has low chairs and tables, all packed in close together.
It was filled with people drinking alcohol (and tea) and smoking those big Turkish/Egyptian style pipes - this, coupled with the numerous cigarette smokers, and the cramped surroundings, did make for a pretty smoky bar : ((
On top of this it was very noisy too....not the greatest place to catch up with friends that we hadn't seen for 3 years...so, we didn't stay all night...
Momo is a happening place - it was full at 6pm on a Thursday evening. The drinks were expensive though, the service a bit indifferent and it was way too smoky for my liking.....but then, I am getting old and boring...
From all I have read though, the food in the restaurant is supposed to be excellent.
Dress Code: Well, it is a 'happening' place.....but they still let me in!
Henry's Bar + Cafe is a UK chain of bars/cafes. I have visited the one located on St Martins Lane a few times, just near Leicester Square and Covent Garden. The website link gives you information on all the branches.
It is a convenient place for a pre-theatre drink or snack - quite close to many theatres and plenty of restaurants nearby if you just want to pop in for a drink.
The thing I like most about this bar is that they have a no-smoking section - quiet usual in London. The last time we popped in for a drink, service was rubbish...but it wasn't smoky, which makes it a lot easier to put up with the service!
If you want a classy, spacious funky bar to meet up with friends, in a central location, then Sway Bar could be it.
Sway is located in the West End, and is made up of an upstairs bar and restaurant, a couple of downstairs bars and a nightclub.
I popped in with some workmates early one evening and we took advantage of their fab Happy Hours deal (between 5-7pm each night) - £2.95 cocktails!
We found some seats in the "Velvet Bar" and ordered a selection of cocktails from the extremely efficient barman.
I was so impressed by the look of this bar - with its HUGE Art Deco chandeliers, and will be heading back soon for a friends birthday drinks
Dress Code: Stylish! Only dressy jeans, no trainers
What do you get when you combine several VT ladies with a hairy VT guy from Kansas and a huge bed ?? A fabulous VT meeting that's what!!
A big thank you to JulesH for organising the latest London meeting, appropriately titled "In Bed with BradBrown".
The meeting was held in a fabulous bar called Boudoir, and Julia booked the "red bedroom" for us all, which was a private section with a HUGE bed!
When I arrived the special guest, BradBrown, was sprawled in the middle of the bed surrounded by VT ladies. The other VT men in attendance sat around looking enviously at the plush bed!!
Brad didn't hog the lime light for too long though. After a shot of Polish grog, we all jumped on the bed and the meeting commenced in earnest.
I would recommend Boudoir as a venue to meet up with a group of friends - but book ahead to ensure that you can get one of those huge beds for your group! Certainly makes for a comfy evening - and some great photos!!
Also of interest were the toilets, which included cubicles tiled in tiny pieces of mirror - bizarre, but made for a great photo (in my Travelogue from the meeting).
Dress Code: Pyjamas optional
Steins is a Bavarian Beer bar located by the River Thames, in Richmond, South West London. Its trading hours vary depending on the season...and the weather I would think seeing as all the seating is open air (with umbrella cover).
It is a fairly basic concept. If you want to drink, you need to buy some food. First, find a table - there are large tables, great for groups of happy beer swillers. Then, remembering your table number you go up to the counter to order your food and then to another counter for your beer.
There is not a huge choice of food or beer....but it is all about drinking a cold one by the river.
Alex and I stopped by one sunny day for lunch along with fellow VT'er Jessica-b. We all ate some funny looking meat loaf and enjoyed a Paulaner beer. It was certainly an enjoyable place to relax and enjoy the summers day.
Only one small problem....later that day we all had a slight case of food poisoning....lousy meatloaf.
If you happen to work or live in the West London area of Hammersmith you are in for a treat - an exciting new bar has recently opened called The Old Fire Station. Built within an old fire station (hence the name!) it is a fab looking place, with plenty of bar area, plus a restaurant. Better still, part of the bar is non-smoking!!
I popped in here for a drink after work on their opening day and enjoyed a beer with some work mates, particularly enjoying the free nibbles they were passing out to celebrate the opening.
Since then I have also had lunch there with workmates (and VT'ers) jessica-b & kzngirl. The food was ok....service a bit slow. But I am keen to go back again soon to try out more of the menu....the desserts sound pretty tasty!
The Old Fire Station is a much needed addition to Hammersmith and I think it will be a big hit with workers and locals alike.
Dress Code: Overalls optional ; )
One chilly summer's afternoon, 3 VT ladies met up for a couple of beers in London, and found themselves at Market Place Bar, sitting at an outside table pretending that that breeze wasn't quite so cool.
Market Place Bar is located very close to Oxford Circus, just back from the hustle and bustle of the Oxford Street crowds. It is a busy place during the week for office workers and on the Saturday afternoon we were there was busy with tired shoppers in need of refreshment.
Although we didn't eat there, the menu looked interesting and the food being delivered to people sitting near us looked tasty.
It was a relaxing place to sit and gossip. I am sure it goes off during the evenings and on a warmer day the outdoor tables would be fought over I am sure.
Well, what do you want in the way of nightlife? Whatever it is, I can guarantee you will be able to find it in London. From internationally acclaimed West End shows to intimate music...