Whether you've got a hot date you're looking to impress, a heightened sense of nostalgia for the prohibition era, or you're just looking for something a little different from the usual London night out, you'd be crazy not to give Bart's a try. A 'secret' (well, sort of) speakeasy, hidden away in the heart of Chelsea, Bart's offers a fun air of exclusivity that has nothing to do with elitism. And finding this little gem is half the adventure!
Would be flappers and rogues should head down to South Kensington Tube and saunter along Sloane Avenue to the Chelsea Cloisters Hotel. Once inside the lobby, ask the receptionist (in hushed tones of course) for the entrance to Bart's. You'll be directed to the left down a corridor near the toilets to an unassuming black door. Don't be fooled by appearances. Knock and a tiny window will slide open to allow a pair of cautious eyes to size you up. Then the door will swing open to admit you into a tiny space not much bigger than the average living room, but packing more personality per square inch than most night spots do in several floors. Mickey Mouse wallpaper covers the walls and all manner of antique curios and kitsch brick-a-brack are proudly displayed wherever you care to look. A television plays old black and white movies, jazz and bebop fill your ears and for the more adventurous reveller, a dress-up chest in the corner contains costume pieces to help you match the décor.
The wait staff – dressed like newsboys from the 30's complete with flat-cap and braces – will bring you period cocktails served in teacups (so as to confuse the coppers). Particularly good are the Brockman's Bugsy (Brockman's gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and a dash of gomme syrup), and the Dietrich's Kiss (Angostura Bitters, sugar, Campari, and Perrier Jouet Champagne) – and with prices starting from as low as £5, even the great depression won't stop you getting another round. The menu features a host of home-style classics like mac n' cheese and shepherds pie, along with some delicious sharing platters, also all reasonably priced.
The fun, relaxing atmosphere, and the eclectic clientele – a mix of artists, filmmakers, hipsters, and sloane rangers with the odd good ol' boy thrown in for good measure – makes for sparkling conversation and by the end of the evening you'll be vowing to return. Just remember to keep 'mum'!