Cellar Door is perhaps one of the most unique drinking spots in the capital. Located at Zero Aldwych on the junction with Wellington Street, this intimate bar and club is actually in a former Victorian men’s public toilet! According to their website, it was previously one of the most infamous men’s toilets in Theatreland, with Oscar Wilde, Sir John Gielgud and Joe Orton among its former users. However, don’t be fooled and think you may be drinking among porcelain urinals. This small space has been cleverly converted into an entertainment venue, with just the square windows from the street above the only hint at its former incarnation.
The entrance certainly gives a hint of the grandeur which lurks below with red VIP-style velvet rope outside the door. Once you’re downstairs, a doorman sweeps open the velvet curtain to reveal the space – a bustling well-lit bar to the left, a mix of sofa and bar stool seating and a little ‘stage’ area in the corner. The venue includes just two actual toilets – which, fortunately, could not be further from the ones which would have stood here over 100 years ago. The cubicle doors appear to be worryingly clear when you first step in, but cleverly ‘frosts’ over when you lock it… so make sure you do! Entrance is free and so is the entertainment, but a service charge is added to your drinks to cover both.
A few female friends and I visited on a Saturday night and were lucky to get the last table and stools. As you would expect, there isn’t much space so it’s worth arriving early or reserving. The bar is open from around 6pm and includes entertainment from 9pm nightly and gets full pretty quickly. We managed to get in a round of cocktails during the Happy Hour (1/3 off), which finishes at 8pm. Their extensive menu features a range of original and classic cocktails, with many themed around the bar’s style icons Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page and Dita Von Teese. I started with an Angel Eyes (Nicaraguan white rum, Blackberry liqueur, Campari, lemon juice and soda), a sharp but refreshing long drink. I followed with an old classic – a Moscow Mule (Vodka with fresh line, sugar and ginger). As well as cocktails, wine, hot drinks, they also sell snuff, which fits in with the retro basement dive vibe. The Cellar Door ‘Angel’ waitress serves your drinks with complimentary popcorn, although there is a small bar menu, serving food like olives, nuts and pitta plates.
At 9pm every night, the entertainment kicks off. Includes cabaret, DJs, magic acts, film screenings, drag queens and open mic nights. On the night we were there, we were provided with a soundtrack and some laughs by a flamboyant drag DJ. Unfortunately, we missed the burlesque act which performed later on, so I will have a make a repeat visit to see more of the entertainment. Overall, I really liked Cellar Door. The venue was cosy and intimate, the bar staff were friendly and what we saw of the entertainment was good. The clientele was a friendly crowd ranging from 20s to 40s. The cocktails were really delicious and I was tempted by many of the original concoctions, so will have to make a return visit to try those out.
- Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN. Open from 6pm until 1am nightly (sometimes opens earlier for weekend events). Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information and listings, visit Cellar Door’s website.
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Le Crazy Horse is a legendary nightspot in Paris, with tourists and locals alike flocking to the nude cabaret. The club was started in 1951 by Alain Bernardin with the premise of deliberating hiring females dancers who are indistinguishable in height and breast size. Following decades of entertaining people in Paris, the club has come to London in a new production, Forever Crazy.
West End impresario Harvey Goldsmith has wisely spotted a gap in the market for some male and female-friendly adult entertainment by opening a pop-up version of the club on London’s Southbank this autumn. While many women wouldn’t feel comfortable in lap-dancing clubs, Crazy Horse is very female-friendly. The dancers are far from the EE-cup, surgically enhanced women we associate with other seedier establishments. They are sexy, classy with plenty of personality. The 10-strong cast have similar svelte figures with an impressive Christian Louboutin collection – prompting both body and shoe envy amongst myself and my fellow female audience members.
Forever Crazy takes place in a temporary venue just opposite the National Theatre. As you walk in, you are instantly transported to the heady nightlife of Paris with the velvet curtains, neon-lighting and framed photos giving a hint of what’s to come. Going through to the bar, you are greeted by chandeliers, chaise longues and cheeky images setting the mood for the luxury and sexiness on its way. The actual stage area is an intimate space – with tables at the front for those able to pay a bit more, with a semi-circle of seating for everyone else. The venue’s size means everyone has a good view of the action. The show has become one of the hottest spots in town with a celebrity clientele. On the night I visited, I spotted Kelly Brook, Thom Evans, Leigh Francis (aka Keith Lemon), Professor Green and Millie Mackintosh in the audience. Just like a cabaret club, you are able to drink a bottle of wine or bubbly while enjoying the entertainment. Read the rest of this entry