London’s theatre bars are great places to hang out, whether or not you’re seeing a show. From hip hangouts to low-key family favourites, there’s somewhere for all tastes. We’ve rounded up the best spots around town.
The cool one: The Young Vic’s Cut Bar
The Young Vic plays host to The Cut, an edgy bar/restaurant that’s definitely one of London’s coolest theatre hangouts. Polished concrete floors, an industrial feel, plus a crowd that often includes some of theatreland’s brightest talents make it a bustling destination on any night of the week. Book a table for dinner downstairs or head to the upstairs bar and soak up the atmosphere.
The historical one: The Mahogany Bar, Wilton’s Music Hall
The star of this theatrical watering hole is the marble-topped bar itself, which dates all the way back to 1828. The elegantly peeling plasterwork, gorgeous speckled mirrors and bare wooden floors that surround it make this an Instagram-worthy hangout to remember. But there’s plenty to excite your tastebuds as well as your eyes, from herb-infused cocktails to the impressively international wine list.
The budget one: Theatre Royal, Stratford East
Inside the Theatre Royal’s traditional Victorian exterior lurks a refreshingly unpretentious spot to grab a drink and a bite to eat. Bring the kids for a relaxed dinner, or enjoy the bar’s nightly happy hour with friends. The Caribbean menu is full of tasty delights including jerk chicken, macaroni cheese and fried dumplings – all at wallet-friendly prices.
The grown-up one: Finborough Theatre
After a few months in the wilderness, the Finborough Arms is under new management, with a shiny new place for audiences of its upstairs theatre to sip a pint in. It’s the perfect spot for real-ale fans, with eight casks on tap, as well as more than 50 different bottled beers from around the world. It’s smarter than your average boozer, too, with handsome exposed brick walls and wrought iron tables.
The arty one: Shoreditch Town Hall
Shoreditch is where London’s creatives come to work, rest and play – and Shoreditch Town Hall’s capacious bar has become their favoured hangout. Don’t be fooled by the grand architecture, polished wooden floor and ornate vaulted ceilings, the crowd here come for low-key socialising with a seriously cool soundtrack. Michelin Star-winning Clove Club is also on hand to offer experimental cuisine at its finest, with edible earth and micro leaves galore.
The chilled out one: Southwark Playhouse
Many theatre bars are victims of their own popularity: you can spend the best part of the interval queuing for drinks, and tables are more sought after than front-row seats for a Sheridan Smith musical. But Southwark Playhouse’s bar feels like a sprawling village pub, full of cosy leather sofas to settle in with a reasonably priced pint. Just don’t get so comfy you miss the second half!