What I actually love, is discovering a tucked-away bar that gives you a flutter of excited gratification because it’s slightly off the beaten-track but is slap bang in the heart of town. Perhaps down one of those old London alleys you usually slip past quickly because maybe ghosts live there. Or it’s on the other side of a black door, under a simple hanging sign, halfway down Oxford Street. The kind that is ‘undiscovered’ simply by having been around for donkeys and not having had the slick PR treatment a la Chiltern Firehouse. The sort of bar that’s mere minutes from work, somewhere you’ve been sauntering past on the way to somewhere else for months. You wonder how you ever missed it. If you’re south of the river, say hello to Cecil’s.
The unassuming entrance to Cecil’s is just by one of the railway arches at London Bridge station. You might need a maps app, not least to tell yourself that yes, this dark and empty street really is the right one. But once you’re through the door, expect a glittering sea of fairy lights, lanterns and flowers that decorate the venue like you’re in Narnia. Tables are dotted about in corners and crannies. It feels like an oriental underground den, and it’s so pretty we coo as we walk in.
Cecil’s is quirky and intimate all in one. We went for midweek drinks as a group, and found a big booth under our own canopy of lights. But it’s a great date venue too, with lots of small nooks for two, perfect for snuggling. There’s even a treehouse where you can lounge on floor cushions around a sprawling rug. There’s no food but cocktails start at £6 (yes you heard that right, and yes, London Bridge as in LONDON Bridge).
On Saturdays, Cecil’s takes you to 1930s Shanghai with an extravagant cocktail party night called the Oolong Weekend Blend (£15 entry). There’s live music and a dress code, about which they say: “Outrageous, extravagant or hedonistic, the only scandal would be to remain unremarkable betwixt the glittering moths that come and go among the whisperings, champagne and stars. What better way to stand out than draped in the richest colours and fabrics of the hour? Don’t cache yourself away my dear, this is the night to see and be seen.” Where’s my fur…? (faux – of course).