Opinion

This new bar trend was inspired by the housing crisis, and it’s quite worrying

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published
Housing crisis bars

Bars are starting to replicate trendy millennial flats, which people can hire out and party in. But, why are we choosing to spend money socialising in fake apartments rather than invite friends to our own? 

Last night, I met a group of friends at a new Waterloo bar that I knew nothing about. The barman told me I’d find them by entering the secret door that was located next to the toilets. Playing along with the novelty, I pushed the door, walked up the creaky stairs and found myself in a top-floor flat.

My friends were sitting in the living room, which was adorned with a papier-mâché tiger’s head mounted on the wall. In the room next door there was a bed for anyone who fancied a nap or – depending on what turn the night took – a jump around. 

The bathroom boasted a roll-top tub filled with cushions, while the library was filled with books, butterflies and an array of antiques. 

And as we all know: “you will always find me in the kitchen at parties”. So the large countertops in this flat’s kitchen were perfect for sitting on while discussing Brexit and Bumble near the end of the night. 

To top things off, each room has a speaker which pumps out 70s funk to accompany the eclectic and retro decor (or you can plug in your own playlist). 

It was the perfect place for a very Instagrammable house party, which is the exact idea behind its design. 

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Groups can book out the Hello House at Hello Darling and spend the night partying away in the six rooms. Or, you can book out a single room and mingle with other groups. The idea is that you can enjoy those casual house party vibes without worrying about the mess in the morning. It’s also the ultimate Instagram #interiorlovers fodder. 

And Hello Darling isn’t the first bar to invite customers to its house party. 

The Little Blue Door in Fulham and The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill follow a very similar theme. 

Run by the same company, the website describes both venues as “an authentic customer experience through a series of house parties and dinner parties in a fun and intimate environment, for those after a homely, neighbourhood style experience”. 

This all sounds great, right? I quickly found myself taking photos before getting comfortable on the chaise longue while sipping a negroni, chatting away and loving life during my visit. 

But, thinking about it, there’s actually something quite troubling about this ‘cool’ new bar trend…

Why are we paying money to go and meet friends in bars that are, essentially, designed to look like a millennial’s dream Instagram flat? Why can’t we just throw parties in our own homes? Has the housing and renting crisis driven us to live out our property and interiors dreams elsewhere? 

Bars have started to replicate flats and houses to party in.

Because the truth is: I don’t want to show off the flat that I rent. So I can’t actually remember the last time I threw a party or invited a group of friends round.

There’s mould in the bathroom, the magnolia paint in the living room is peeling off, our sinks are constantly blocked, the carpet is from a time when beige was big. The only things I actually own in the flat are my wardrobe, a painting in the living room, two plates and a pan. Everyday, my two flatmates and I discover leftover ‘things’ from the former tenants who slept in our beds and snuggled on our sofas. Oh, and you have to navigate your way through the foul smell of pot and pee in my building to reach my door. 

It has its own little charm, the Broadway Market location is great and I couldn’t ask for better flatmates – but this isn’t the penthouse life I thought I’d be living in by now. 

However, at a time when London rents are the highest they have ever been, this is what my well-earned dollar gets me these days. 

And I can guarantee that a good proportion of people reading this will relate. But instead buying to things to make our flats more personal, the more sensible thing is to start saving for a house, right?

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So when the time for a blow out does come around, it’s easy to see why I want to spend the night pretending I live in the kind of cool and kooky flat that I bet Alice Levine rents in east London. After all, we are a generation that loves to filter the realities of everyday life.      

It’s a trend that I can only see catching on, inviting us to spend the money we should be saving on overpriced bar drinks. But despite the slightly sinister reason behind the trend, why can’t we have a little fun playing make believe? 

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