Famous Theatre Folk Bars in London

London, a city renowned for its vibrant theatre scene, boasts a plethora of iconic bars where actors, directors, playwrights, and other theatre professionals gather to unwind and socialize. These establishments, steeped in history and creativity, are not just watering holes but integral parts of the city’s cultural fabric. Here, we explore some of the most famous bars in London where theatre luminaries have been known to frequent.

The Ivy and The Club at The Ivy

Located in the heart of the West End, The Ivy is a legendary restaurant and bar that has been a favorite haunt for theatre people for decades. Its close proximity to numerous theatres makes it a convenient and glamorous spot for pre- and post-show drinks. The Ivy’s sophisticated atmosphere, complete with its iconic stained-glass windows and lush décor, provides a perfect backdrop for star-studded gatherings. Upstairs, The Club at The Ivy offers an exclusive private members’ club, ensuring privacy for high-profile patrons. The Ivy has hosted countless theatre legends over the years, from Laurence Olivier to Judi Dench, making it a cornerstone of London’s theatre culture.

Joe Allen

Tucked away on Burleigh Street in Covent Garden, Joe Allen is an American-style brasserie that has been a beloved spot for theatre professionals since it opened in 1977. Often referred to as “the West End’s canteen,” Joe Allen exudes a casual, welcoming vibe with its brick walls adorned with Broadway posters and theatrical memorabilia. It’s a place where actors and directors come to relax after a performance, sharing stories and enjoying the camaraderie of the theatre community. Joe Allen’s timeless charm and reliable menu have made it a staple in the theatre district, frequented by stars like Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.

The Groucho Club

Situated in Soho, The Groucho Club is a private members’ club that has become synonymous with the creative elite, including many from the theatre world. Founded in 1985 by a group of publishers and agents, The Groucho Club quickly gained a reputation as a hub for artists, writers, actors, and musicians. Its eclectic interiors, featuring works by contemporary artists, create a vibrant atmosphere that encourages creativity and networking. The club’s exclusivity and bohemian spirit attract a mix of established stars and emerging talents, making it a melting pot of creativity and a key location for informal industry meetings and celebrations.

The French House

Located on Dean Street in Soho, The French House is a historic pub known for its bohemian clientele and rich cultural history. The pub, which famously serves drinks in half-pint glasses and shuns music and mobile phones, offers a quaint and intimate environment that has attracted theatre and literary figures for decades. The French House was a favorite of figures like Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon, and it continues to be a popular spot for actors and playwrights. Its convivial atmosphere and storied past make it a cherished haunt for those in the theatre industry looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Soho.

The Phoenix Artist Club

Hidden beneath the Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road, The Phoenix Artist Club is a haven for theatre professionals. This members-only club, which is open to the public for certain hours, is renowned for its theatrical décor and lively atmosphere. The club’s walls are lined with posters and photographs from countless productions, creating an ambiance steeped in theatrical history. The Phoenix Artist Club hosts a range of events, from cabaret performances to industry parties, making it a lively meeting spot for actors, directors, and producers. Its welcoming vibe and close-knit community feel attract a loyal following of theatre enthusiasts.

The Royal Court Bar & Kitchen

The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square is not just famous for its groundbreaking productions but also for its vibrant bar and kitchen. The bar is a favorite among actors, playwrights, and directors who work at the theatre, as well as those from the wider theatre community. Its relaxed, contemporary setting provides an ideal space for post-show discussions and informal gatherings. The bar’s association with the Royal Court, known for championing new writing and innovative productions, means it’s often buzzing with creative energy and industry buzz. Notable theatre figures like Harold Pinter and Caryl Churchill have been known to frequent this iconic spot.

The Hospital Club (now The London EDITION)

Formerly known as The Hospital Club, The London EDITION hotel in Covent Garden continues the legacy of being a hub for creatives, including many from the theatre world. Originally founded by Paul Allen and Dave Stewart as a private members’ club for the creative industries, it has hosted numerous events, screenings, and parties for theatre professionals. The club’s modern, stylish interiors and vibrant social scene make it a popular choice for networking and relaxation. Though the club has evolved, its reputation as a gathering place for London’s creative talent endures.

London’s rich theatrical heritage is mirrored in its vibrant bar scene, where famous theatre personalities come together to relax, network, and celebrate their craft. From the timeless elegance of The Ivy to the bohemian charm of The French House, these bars are more than just places to drink; they are integral parts of the city’s cultural tapestry. For theatre enthusiasts, visiting these iconic establishments offers a glimpse into the world of London’s theatre elite and the chance to soak up the creative atmosphere that makes the city a global cultural capital.

Learn more about the London theatre scene over the Butley London News Blog.