WC Restroom reincarnation

Who knew that a public toilet could have such an amazing lease of life? More than 100 years old, this former WC under Clapham Common has now been converted into… WC. Though this time it stands for wine and charcuterie as opposed to water closet. Restoring as many of the old features as they could—the original cubicle doors now table tops, the owners have spruced the place up with reclaimed mahogany furniture and leather cushioning. The space offers an intimate venue for fine wines, cocktails and charcuterie boards, enjoyed on tables squeezed into the same positions as the original stalls. As you will have guessed: the former life of this place is well and truly embraced. Notes found inside the walls from ‘previous guests’ are now framed in their actual toilets, and make for interesting restroom reading. Only seating 40, it’s wise to get there early as while there is an outdoor area, the main draw of this place is in the seclusion and relaxation of the inside. After all, no one likes going to the toilet out in the cold.

The Old Police Station 'ello, 'ello, 'ello

There’s always been a defiant element to urban renewal: Reclaiming spaces abandoned by the powers that be, and repackaging them for the enrichment of the local community. It’s contemporary cultural Robin Hoodism is what it is — just with the nice, green trees of Sherwood forest replaced by crumbling masonry.

Down in deepest, darkest Deptford this sentiment certainly rings true, where an old police station on Amersham Vale has been coerced out of retirement to serve a new purpose as an artistic hub. Imaginatively rechristened The Old Police Station, the former clink is now home to a bunch of artist studios, project spaces, radio stations, recording studios and social spaces. Running on a ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of basis, anyone is free to to rent out one of the spaces for as long as they like and fill it with whatever they like.

This makes for an eclectic program, meaning on any given day you might come across a heady blend of art installations (which tend to lean to the funky, experimental side of things), gigs, supper clubs, and so forth. They also hold exhibitions in the prison cells too, so you can flirt with life behind bars — only you’ll have interesting stuff to look at as you wile away your incarceration, not just a toilet.

UnderDog It comes in cocktails?

BrewDog make awesome beers. And, despite the fact that it’s potentially bankrupting to buy one of said beers on draught in London, they’ve seized the UK’s alternative brewing crown with a triumphant, yeasty fist — opening bars up and down England and Scotland (and, bizarrely, one in Sao Paulo). There’s something extra special about their venue in Shoreditch, though, that sets it apart from the rest.

Under the bar, at the nether limits of a dead-end hallway stands a cupboard. Behind this cupboard… Can you see where we’re going here? Yup, they went and jumped on the speakeasy train. To be fair to them, though, they’ve stuck to their strengths and done things a wee bit differently — tip of the cap to whoever came up with the name UnderDog too, by the way. This here be a speakeasy that specializes in beer cocktails.

So we’ll spare you the decor drivel — it’s your standard secret bar kinda thing, raw, mismatched furniture etc. etc. — and focus on the stuff that’s for supping. Tipping the scales for us is the The Bitter End (a negroni-esque Maraschino liqueur and Sipsmith sloe gin blend beefed up with Dead Pony Club, a Californian Pale Ale) and the Fat Russian — their badass take on a white russian that uses stout instead of Kahlua. That said though, you can’t really go wrong. Those artily dishevelled lads behind the bar sure as hell know how to handle a brew.

White Lyan Cocktail nerdistry

Nomadic bartending extraordinaire Ryan Chetiyawardana has made a hell of a name for himself throwing curveballs at the cocktail rulebook in recent years. White Lyan, formerly the White Horse pub, now a stripped-down, paint-it-black enclave of experimentation, is the mound that he’s currently pitching from.

Perishables (translation: Ice and fruit) and branded products find no home here. Everything in those elegant, stoppered glass bottles (mixers, bitters and even the pre-made spirit mixes) are produced, painstakingly, in-house. You’ll understand why when they’ve been imaginatively blended to form a drink like nothing you’ve ever come across before.

Case in point, the Moby Dick Sazerac: Rye whisky, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe-soaked rice paper and ambergris. Yup, ambergris—because it adds body, obviously. If such liquid wizardry is lost on you, there’s a wine of each colour and a czech lager to tide you over. To opt for one of the three is to miss the point though. This place does cocktails, and you won’t find the like of what they mix anywhere else.

Shimmy London Leave your inhibitions at the door

Daring eccentricity rules supreme at this late-night den of decadence. Optical illusions and Victorian trinkets are dotted about the secretive, candle-lit space—complete with exposed-brick alcoves and a wardrobe-cum-staircase in the corner. Behind the scrabble-tiled bar meanwhile, the staff, dressed in Gatsby-esque getup, mix and blend cocktails with a healthy twist. Amongst them is the ‘Smoking Gun’—a Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, honey water, ginger syrup, lemon Juice and soda concoction that’s sure to put your mind in sync with Shimmy’s surrounds. Prudes, beware—there’s a chance you’ll catch an eyeful through the peepholes in the toilets.

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