Inside guide to vintage London

By Katherine Smith, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on London.

Overall rating:3.0 out of 5 (based on 2 votes)
Recommended for:
Cultural, Romance, Short Break, Budget, Mid-range, Expensive

Retro's never been so now, and for anyone who's a lover of all things past, London has lots to offer. So don the red lipstick and seamed stockings and try out the best vintage experiences in town...

If you love the past, then London has a lot to offer. From 1940s themed restaurants to cabaret and burlesque nights, there's something exciting for all vintage fans.


Volupte Lounge
A fabulous dark supper club with great cabaret and burlesque shows. Have dinner or just cocktails and watch the variety shows. Also, try the Afternoon Tease for tea cakes and burlesque.
9 Norwich Street, EC4A 1EJ. Tube: Chancery Lane.

The Last Days of Decadence
An Art Deco-styled bar with live theatre, music, cocktails and a tea room.
145 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE. Tube: Liverpool Street.

The Pigalle Supper Club
An opulent 1940s-style supper club.
215 Piccadilly, W1J 9HN. Tube: Piccadilly Circus.

Lost Society
A 16th-century barn converted into a two-floored Art Deco oasis with secret outdoor garden. Also try sister bar, Lost Angel.
697 Wandsworth Road, SW8 3JF. Tube: Clapham Common.

Callooh Callay
An eclectic bar that takes its theme from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. Peek behind the wardrobe door and you'll find a hidden room in which to drink your Mad Hatter's Tiki Punchbowl - served in a gramophone.
65 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY. Tube: Old Street.

Cafe de Paris 
A bastion of lavishness since 1924, when Louise Brooks first showed Londoners how to do the Charleston here.
3-4 Coventry Street, W1D 6BL. Tube: Piccadilly Circus.

Bourne and Hollingsworth 
A tiny, charming bar that serves cocktails in teacups and holds regular Prohibition-themed nights. Don a flapper dress and try the gin fizz.
28 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JF. Tube: Tottenham Court Road.

The Black Gardenia 
Lots of jazz and cabaret in this 1940s-themed bar.
93 Dean Street, W1D 3SZ. Tube: Tottenham Court Road.


London Blitz Party
1940s Blitz-themed events. Put on your red lipstick and seamed stockings and grab a glass of gin.

Fitzrovia Radio Hour
1940s and 50s radio plays performed live in speakeasy settings.

Viva Cake
Tea, cakes, drinking and dancing at various venues.

At the 100 Club; learn to Lindy Hop then practise your moves to a live swing band.
100 Oxford Street, W1D 1LL. Tube: Oxford Circus.

Bethnal Green Working Mens Club
Lots of vintage and retro club nights and events are held here. Check out the Whoopee Club events.
42 Pollard Row, E2 6NB. Tube: Bethnal Green.

St Aloysius Social Club
More quirky themed nights.
20 Phoenix Road, NW1 1TA. Tube: Euston.

Madame JoJo’s
See their listings for burlesque and cabaret nights.
8-10 Brewer Street, W1F 0SE. Tube: Piccadilly Circus.


Miller's Residence
This small 18th-century hotel is a feast for the eyes: walls covered in vintage pictures, every space crammed with antiques and surely the most eccentric breakfast room ever. There is a free bar where you can sip gin by the roaring fire, play chess or simply stare at the objects surrounding you. The large rooms, named after romantic poets, are equally over the top, in the most fantastic 'mad uncle's country estate' sort of way.

The Gore
A luxury hotel with eccentric vintage twists. Stay in rooms named after famous ex-residents such as Judy Garland and Dame Nellie Melba.

The Rookery
A charming boutique hotel filled with antiques and special touches. The staff are very friendly but leave you quickly to your own devices if that is what you wish.

The Portobello Hotel
Period touches in luxury surroundings make it chic and not fusty. For decades the rich and famous have flocked here (including Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, who famously filled the bath with champagne); one look and you'll see why. Quintessential English eccentricity at its finest.

Hazlitt's Hotel
Another quirky and charming boutique hotel, with claw-foot baths, four-poster beds and antiques, yet all of the comforts expected of a high-end hotel. As it is a short walk to many London tourist attractions (it's in Soho, near Soho Square), it is the perfect base for a stay in London.

The Ritz
The ultimate luxury vintage stay in London! Old-fashioned glamour abounds, from the elegant rooms to the breathtaking dining room.

The Savoy
Currently undergoing a £100 million renovation, but when it reopens it would be a fantastic choice for a luxury vintage stay. I hope they keep the Art Deco glamour.


There are plenty of vintage shops throughout London. For general areas, try Portobello and Carnaby Street, plus Camden Walk in Islington and Alfie’s Antique Market in Marylebone. Some highlights for me are:

Fur Coat No Knickers 
This is surely the most beautiful vintage dress shop in London, with stunning vintage gowns, gorgeous accessories and the nicest proprietors in town.
Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW. Tube: Oxford Circus.

What Katie Did
Faux vintage lingerie, corsets and stockings. They even run pastie and fascinator workshops.
26 Portobello Green, 281 Portobello Road, W10 5TZ. Tube: Ladbroke Grove.

Portobello Road Market
Open Saturdays.
Tube: Ladbroke Grove.

Radio Days 
Clothing, accessories and homewares from the 1920s to the 1970s.
87 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB. Tube: Waterloo.

Nina's Hair Parlour
The UK's first specialist in vintage hair and make-up.
Alfie's Antique Market, 13-25 Church Street, NW8 8DT. Tube: Edgeware Road.

Frock Me!
Monthly vintage fashion fairs held in Chelsea Town Hall.

There are also plenty of other vintage fashion fairs in London. Look online for details of Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fair, fairs in Clerkenwell, Hammersmith and Battersea, and the Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair.

Be sure to pick up a copy of The Chap magazine at WH Smith or Borders!


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More information on Inside guide to vintage London:

Katherine Smith
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
Average: 3 (2 votes)
Total views:
First uploaded:
11 July 2009
Last updated:
5 years 19 weeks 5 days 11 hours 53 min 55 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive

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Community comments (2)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I do agree with Jill that that isn’t a perfect piece of “travel writing”, but much can be forgiven with such a wealth of advice on offer. This sort of themed guide works well when the destination is as big as London. Thanks Katherine.

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1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

I was intrigued by the title but disappointed by the piece of "writing", which is really only a list of pubs, hotels, shops etc. This would be much more appropriate in a listings publication rather than billed as an example of "travel writing"!
London's size, diversity and history make it an ideal subject for a themed approach. A true piece of travel writing would have have linked to, and included, the people, buildings and events of the period in question;eg,surely any reference to Bourne and Hollingsworth merits mention of the original store a stone's throw away? It's fine as a bar review but not as travel writing.

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