Could there be a better place to stay dry when the weather is at its most miserable?
Isn’t there something magical about a beautiful, old library? Maybe we watched Beauty and the Beast too many times when we were youngsters, but images of dark-wooden walls, lined with jewel-coloured books just make us weak at the knees.
But as much as we love looking around libraries in the daylight hours, they get even more delicious at night, and when accompanied by a good cocktail menu.
Library bars have become a bit of a London cult favourite, hiding away in all sorts of places from Soho House to Benugo cafes. A great place for a date or catch up with close friends, these charming, often hidden, little hot spots aren’t to be missed.
We’ve collected together our best recommendations of library bars in London, bringing together two of our great loves – books and booze – for all those bookworms looking for an extra special night on the tiles.
The Library Bar, The Lanesborough
Head to west London for the evening and take refuge in plush hotel, The Lanesborough. This place is big on opulence, so you can expect expertly mixed drinks from the accomplished bar tenders, the most comfortable nooks to cosy up in and grand decor to feast your eyes on.
If you consider yourself a cocktail connoisseur, you’ll also be impressed by the huge and varied selection of spirits on offer, including some that date back to the 1770s.
The Library Bar in The Ned, Bank
Library Bar feels like The Ned’s best kept secret. The limited seating creates an exclusive feel and the dark wood features, combined with carefully selected props, conjure up speak-easy vibes without the faff or gimmicks.
But what makes this bar stand out from the rest of the bustling establishment? It’s housed in a library, of course. Book lovers will rejoice at the wall of old books in jewel colours that line the left-hand side. The deliciousness is further echoed in the vintage-themed menu that’s inspired by the early 1800’s. Think the freshest of oysters, specialist champagne and a martini trolley. Talk about living the high life!
Maison Assouline, Piccadilly
Maison Assouline is what happens when all of the right stars align. By that we mean, a place where you can browse design-focussed tomes and rare first-editions of classic titles. But, as well as a gorgeous book shop, it also happens to be a museum of eclectic artifacts, a concept store and a Parisian style eatery and bar. Can it get any better?
The Hidden Library in the Gorringe Park Pub in Tooting
It seems even London pubs are getting on the literary action. The Gorringe Park Pub is a quirky little boozer in Tooting, only a year old but with bags of character, not least in its library room.
Shelves are packed with a wide range of whimsical books to suit all tastes, from novels such as Alice in Wonderland to Encyclopedias. Tucked away on the first floor of the pub, the library bar is a quiet space to hide away with a coffee and a book, or beaver away on your laptop with the pub’s free wifi.
They also have a free cinema room in case you need another helping of culture with your cocktails.
The Martini Library at The Arch London in Marylebone
The Arch London Hotel, opposite Maddona’s London townhouse in Marylebone, is home to an elegant Martini Library. As well as serving mind-blowing Martinis and bespoke cocktails, the bar also offers an array of beautiful Taschen & Daunt books, celebrating the golden age of Broadway.
A roaring open fire and discreet ‘butler buttons’ by the armchairs make the Martini Library one of London’s most enticing bars to hole up in this winter. Binoculars for Madge-spotting not included.
The Malt Whisky Library Bar at the Grange Hotel in Bloomsbury
The Malt Whisky Library Bar in the Grange Hotel offers a quintessential British setting in which to enjoy a dram or two with friends. Guests can unwind amongst the Downton-esque décor, whilst taking in the impressively stacked bookshelves. A range of classic bourbons, single malts and spirits is available.
Le Chiffre Library Bar at South Place Hotel in The City
Named after the poker-playing Bond villain in Casino Royale, Le Chiffre is the epitome of a suave London library bar. Created to replicate the feeling of a private members’ club for guests at the South Place Hotel, the room features super-chic furniture and a stylish library of books and magazines.
Guests can spin classic vinyl on the turntable, challenge someone to a board or card game, or order from the bespoke cocktail menu at the slick new marble bar. Entry is restricted to hotel guests, club members and a select group of friends and neighbours.
The Library Private Members Club, Leicester Square
What did we tell you? Library bars are so hot right now; one of London’s new super-exclusive private members clubs has even been created to resemble one. Opened in June 2014, ‘Library’ is an eclectic meeting place for young literary and design aficionados. Offering a stylishly designed contemporary space for guests to socialise and swap ideas, plus an engaging events programme and literary society.
The venue boasts an impressive open bar area with statement furniture, open fireplaces and multitudes of books and sought after catalogues, as well as a restaurant, events spaces and guestrooms. Library will also host literary talks, book readings, cultural events, seminars, special live music bookings and DJ’s. We can’t wait to hear some of Library’s stories…
Secret Library Bar in Benugo Bar & Kitchen, the BFI Southbank
You’ve heard of Secret Cinema but what about a secret library bar? If you’re visiting the BFI on the Southbank, chances are you’re already a bit of a culture vulture, so this high-brow bar should suit you down to a T.
In Benugo Bar & Kitchen, a faux bookcase hides a secret drawing room cocktail bar lined with yet more bookshelves.
The Library Bar at The Cinnamon Club in Westminster
The Cinnamon Club is a modern Indian restaurant housed in a truly unique London venue, the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library. In homage to the historic building, The Cinnamon Club is home to a stunning library bar which was originally the Reading Room in the old Westminster Library.
The room retains a relaxed atmosphere and is the perfect chic pit-stop for drinks before lunch or dinner.
Library bar at Electric House, Notting Hill
The achingly cool Electric House private member’s club in Notting Hill is home to a retro library bar filled with books and vinyl records. Cocktails are shaken at the large central bar, and a turntable is set up so guests can choose an album from the shelf and play whatever they feel like hearing.
Staying in London for the weekend? Check out our gorgeous London hotels guide.
Images: Instagram / venues