Library bars may seem like a bit of a niche but, surprisingly, London is full of them.
Nothing screams sophistication like tucking into a good book with a dram in hand – so we’ve rounded up the best of London’s library bars for a classy and cosy night out. (Going out can now be classed as educational – you’re welcome).
1. Library Bar at The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner
Its outstanding mixology, “liquid museum” of spirits and warm, vibrant atmosphere make The Library Bar at The Lanesborough a popular choice with Knightsbridge and Belgravia’s locals, as well as hotel guests. While bartenders often hesitate to tamper with classic cocktails, the team at this library bar have re-imagined some old favourites with fantastic results, featuring additions such as rosemary, lemongrass and popping candy!
Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA. Closest station: Hyde Park Corner.
2. Library Bar at The Ned, Bank
This intimate bar, hidden behind a jacquard curtain, boasts a menu of thirty different Champagnes, a martini trolley, signature and vintage cocktails, and a healthy selection of vermouth. Create your own Martini using your choice of spirit and garnishes, and get cosy on a velvet sofa – you’ll feel oh-so suave. Reservations are a must.
27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ. Closest station: Bank.
3. Swan Bar at Maison Assouline, Piccadilly Circus
In the heart of Piccadilly and housed in the landmark building that was once a former bank, it would be rude not to have a drink or a spot of afternoon tea in what is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful book stores.
196A Piccadilly, W1J 9EY. Closest station: Piccadilly Circus.
4. The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
Once the reading room of the old Westminster Library, this Grade II listed building is now home to contemporary Indian restaurant, The Cinnamon Club. The beautiful restaurant has, however, honoured its history and retained its literary spirit in the book-filled walls. All food is complemented with carefully sourced wines, and their gin trolley offers an exceptionally curated collection of gins. A cocktail menu in both bars promises an exploration of tastes with signature famous cocktails. Eat, drink, and admire the history of literacy!
30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU. Closest station: St James’s Park or Westminster.
5. The Fable, Holborn
Inspired by the fantasy world of fairy tales and Aesop’s fables, The Fable (looking out onto Holborn Viaduct) offers a space of tranquility in the heart of the city. From the leather bound books to the vintage typewriter, every detail tells a story. Whether you’re just popping in for a drink or sitting down for an evening meal, you’ll quickly spot the venue’s enchanting quirks. This (pictured 👆) is, of course, the best seat in the house.
52 Holborn Viaduct, EC1A 2FD. Closest station: Farringdon or City Thameslink.
6. The Library Room in the Gorringe Park Pub, Tooting
Choose from hundreds of books as you enjoy something from the fine selection of ales, wines and spirits, which you’ll find alongside a food menu of British classics. Alternatively, wander over to The Alchemy Room, which they describe as a ‘dining space meets Hogwarts potions room meets chemistry lab’. While you’re there, head to their boutique cinema hidden away in the cellar, where you can sit in an old-school London cinema seat or sprawl across a bean bag as you enjoy a flick.
29 London Road, SW17 9JR. Closest station: Tooting Broadway.
7. The Drawing Room at Benugo Bar & Kitchen, Southbank
Somewhere within the BFI Southbank’s Bar & Kitchen, you may well spot a fake bookcase. But if you give it a little push, you’ll stumble into the ‘secret’ Drawing Room, complete with real bookshelves and lots of comfy armchairs. Grab yourself a G&T, pick a chair and get stuck into a good book – this moment is yours.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT. Closest station: Waterloo.
8. Scarfes Bar, Holborn
This may look like your generic (but equally beautiful) countryside cottage getaway, but it is in fact so, so much more. Named after British caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe, the bar is filled with Scarfe’s own collection of amusing paintings – making it an educational trip for art fans. Music lovers will enjoy selecting a ‘potion’ of their choice from Soul inspired by Aretha Franklin, Rock inspired by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Hip-Hop inspired by Tupac, Electro inspired by Daft Punk, or one of their many other genres of cocktail. Choose a ‘piano’, ‘mezzo forte’ or ‘fortissimo’ depending on your preferred level of flavour.
The Rosewood London Hotel, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN. Closest station: Holborn.
9. Library Bar at the Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush
During the day, the Bush Theatre’s Library Bar is a relaxing workspace and coffee hub. But by night, it serves up craft beers, bespoke cocktails and great wines. Whenever you choose to visit, there are always thousands of playtexts in the library, if you’re after a bit of inspiration.
7 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 8LJ. Closest station: Shepherd’s Bush Market.
Looking for another quirky night out? Check out these weird and wonderful London bars.
[Featured image: Scarfes Bar]
Also published on Medium.