The most unique, unusual and quirky bars in London [2023]

Unique and quirky bars in London

Disclosure: I may earn a small commission from the companies or products mentioned in this post.

So your friends have left it up to you to plan the next group night out… Or you’re stuck trying to think of a fun date night idea…

Yes, there are plenty of cool bars in London, but you really want to find somewhere a bit different.

Somewhere that stands out from the crowd.

Somewhere everyone will still be talking about for months to come.

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Based on many years of drinking my way around the capital’s coolest haunts, I’ve put together a list of the most unusual, unique, and quirky bars in London

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BallieBallerson for adult-only ball pits

Location: Shoreditch.

Ballieballerson Ball Pit Bar London

BallieBallerson is the world’s first adult ball pit bar, with over one million balls filling several giant ball pits for guests to jump around and play in.

Combine the ball pits with fun neon signs, plenty of throwback hits, and a sweet-shop inspired drinks list, and you’ll be transported back to the parties of your childhood – except now with the addition of booze so it’s even more fun!

Book a private table for some evening drinks with a twist, or spend your weekend at one of Ballie’s famous bottomless brunches with unlimited pizzas, pornstar martinis, prosecco, and ball pit fun.

What first began as a small pop-up basement bar in Dalston has quickly grown into one of the most popular and unique bars in London.

Otherworld for virtual reality gaming

Location: Haggerston & Victoria.

Otherworld VR, unique quirky bar in London

Otherworld is a virtual reality arcade bar that began life in a hidden railway arch in Haggerston. But after its massive success, it’s no longer a complete hidden gem on the London bar scene, with a second branch now opened in Victoria!

At Otherworld, you’ll step inside your own private immersion pod, equipt with multi-sensory effects (such as heat, wind, and rumble), place on the state-of-the-art headset, and grab the remotes to be transported to the virtual Otherworld Island.

The rest of your party will meet you there so you can explore together while communicating via the headset.

On the island, you’ll find 16 portals to different VR games and experiences, from defending the planet from an evil alien empire or wandering through the Wild West, to slashing fruit or playing virtual racketball.

Before and after your immersive VR experience, you can relax in the Otherworld Bar to enjoy some craft beers and unique cocktails.

The ‘DreamCoins’ you earn during the games can even be exchanged for free drinks in real life. Definitely one of the coolest and most unusual bars in London.

NQ64 for retro arcade machines and classic gaming consoles

Location: Soho & Shoreditch.

Arcade Bar in London

NQ64 is a small chain of quirky arcade bars with a license to serve drinks until 3am daily (except Sundays) and a fantastic collection of classic arcade machines and retro games.

Decorated with neon-splattered graffiti, the cool arcades have plenty of classic games, including Pacman, Space Invaders, Guitar Hero, and Dance Dance Revolution. They also have old gaming consoles like Nintendo Gamecube with games such as Mario Kart and Zelda.

To play the games, you need to buy tokens. £5 gets you 15 tokens, and most games cost just 1 or 2 to play, so it’s a pretty affordable night out!

The arcade bar also has a fantastic selection of craft beer and signature cocktails, with tables and booths to sit and enjoy your drinks. You can simply turn up and hope for a seat or pre-book an area.

Bounce for ping pong, prosecco, and pizza

Location: Shoreditch & Farringdon.

Bounce Ping Pong Bar Shoreditch London

Bounce Ping Pong is another unique London bar concept that lets you enjoy a few drinks over a game of ping pong with friends.

The large underground bars in Shoreditch and Farringdon have traditional ping pong tables and Bounce’s futuristic Wonderball tables, which feature interactive games using state-of-the-art projection mapping.

You can either book a private table or a session with a ‘games guru‘ who will organise unique group games for special events such as birthdays or work-dos (a great option for larger groups!).

The venues also have bars serving drinks and pizzas to enjoy while you play, while on weekends you can book Bounce’s bottomless brunch for 90 minutes of unlimited prosecco, pizza, and ping pong.

Flight Club for futuristic dart boards

Location: Bloomsbury, Islington, Shoreditch & Victoria.

Flight club darts, unique bar in London

Flight Club is a chain of modern darts bars with several locations around London.

Each of their cool themed London bars has plenty of semi-private playing areas available to hire, with a dartboard and a high-tech electronic scoreboard that keeps track of your points.

You can also order food and drinks to be delivered directly to your playing area so that you can focus on enjoying this modern take on a classic British pub pastime.

The Cauldron for magical potions

Location: Dalston.

Harry Potter Bar London, cocktails in beakers and cauldrons
Photo credit: @thecauldronpub

This one’s for the Harry Potter obsessed millennials…

The Cauldron is a magical wizard-themed bar in north London where you can conjure up extravagant cocktails while donning your finest wizarding robes.

With a working wand in hand, you’ll get to create your very own bubbling potions, infusing elements of science and sorcery. The interactive cocktail-making experience really brings magic to life, with unusual molecular creations that bubble, change colour, smoke, and even light up.

The Cauldron is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans and anyone looking for a unique and enchanting night out in the city.

To visit the bar, you’ll need to pre-book a potions-making class in advance.

Harry Potter fan? Check out these other magical London attractions.

Cahoots Speakeasy for a 1940s throwback

Location: Soho.

Cahoots underground bar in Soho London

Hidden down a secret staircase in Soho’s Kingly Court, Cahoots is a 1940s speakeasy-style cocktail bar set inside a disused London underground tube station.

Once you’ve managed to access the bar using the secret password, you’ll be transported back in time to post-war Britain.

Sitting in vintage tube carriage seats, you can enjoy the bar’s extensive cocktail menu, with creative drinks served in quirky containers including old mugs, hip flasks, tin cans, and milk bottles.

Cahoots also has regular live entertainment, as well as special events such as cocktail-making classes and a Bootlegger Breakout escape-room-esque challenge.

Cahoots is definitely one of the coolest bars in London and one of my favourite spots in the city for enjoying a few chilled cocktails with friends. Just remember to book a table in advance as it can get extremely busy.

Evans & Peel Detective Agency to enter the American prohibition

Location: Earls Court.

Evans & Peel Detective Agency is a secret London bar on Earls Court Road that hundreds of people pass by every day without ever noticing.

Marked out only by a discreet sign on an unsuspecting door, guests have to ring the doorbell and wait to be greeted before entering.

Your party will then be escorted into the agency office where you’ll have an immersive encounter with one of the detectives working your ‘case’ (be sure to get your story straight).

Only then will you make it through the secret entrance into the 1920s speakeasy.

Inside the quirky London bar, the American prohibition theme is continued, with authentic 1920s decor, staff in period costumes, beer bottles served in brown paper bags, and plenty of creative whisky-based cocktails.

Rumour has it, Evans & Peel serve the best Old Fashioned in town.

Just be sure to book an appointment in advance. The detectives don’t take walk-ins!

Alcotraz Prison Bar for orange jumpsuits and contraband cocktails

Location: Shoreditch.

Alcotraz Bar, London

Named after the notorious US maximum-security prison Alcatraz, which housed difficult and dangerous felons during the mid-1900s, Alcotraz (get the pun!?) is London’s unusual prison-themed cocktail bar.

At this fully immersive bar, you have to change into an orange jumpsuit and smuggle your liquor past the guards (it’s BYOB) into your private cell.

You’ll then spend your evening sipping on contraband cocktails from tin cans while avoiding the watchful eye of the unpleasant warden making his rounds.

Junkyard Golf Club for pun-tastic crazy golf

Location: Shoreditch.

Numerous crazy-golf bars have popped up around London over the last few years, but Junkyard Golf Club will always be my personal favourite.

Junkyard in Shoreditch offers four rather unusual, twisted, sinister, and (most famously) pun-packed 9-hole crazy golf courses – Bozo’s dark circus, Dirk’s acid house of horrors, Gary’s scrapyard, and Pablo’s tropical jungle. 

Think UV paint-splattered walls, life-sized figurines, elaborate courses, and loud music.

Plus there are several bars strategically positioned throughout the courses selling beer, wine, creative (and very sugary) cocktails, and junk food that you can take around with you as you play.

Junkyard is a fun London bar to get competitive with a group of friends or even a unique date night idea.

Four Thieves for a remote control car race track

Location: Battersea.

Four Thieves race track, unusual quirky bar in London

Located in Battersea, just a short distance from Clapham Junction, Four Thieves is without a doubt one of the coolest pubs in London. Especially if you’re looking for more than simply somewhere to sit and drink.

As well as one of the best craft beer offerings in London, the Four Thieves has its very own arcade with a multi-player remote control car race track, VR gaming booths, and retro arcade games.

The bar also hosts plenty of fun events each week, such as a quirky quiz night, live comedy, bottomless brunches, and more.

Even after just one visit, I can guarantee this is a London bar you’ll be returning to time and time again.

Piano Works for audience-led live music

Location: Farringdon & West End.

Piano Works Farringdon

Piano Works Farringdon and West End are London’s only non-stop audience-led live music venues, with independent musicians and bands playing live every day of the week.

What makes Piano Works so unique is that all of the music is chosen by the audience. Pens and napkins are supplied at each table so that guests can write down their requests and give them to the band.

The bands can cover absolutely anything you want, from Otis Redding to Amy Winehouse, The Killers to Camila Cabello, and so much more.

With their fantastic happy hour deals (£10 bottles of wine), funky live music, and buzzing dance floor, Piano Works is certainly one of the best nights out in London.

Tattershall Castle for beers on the River Thames

Location: Victoria Embankment.

The Pub on the Thames boat restaurant in London

Also known as ‘The Pub on the Thames’, The Tattershall Castle is a cool floating bar and restaurant on The Thames in central London.

At this unique London bar, you can enjoy a few drinks overlooking some of London’s most iconic sites, including the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.

As well as affordable drinks in a prime location, The Tattershall Castle also hosts weekly comedy nights, live music and DJs, and a monthly pub quiz.

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London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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