Whether a small get-together or a celebration en masse, these 10 London venues are perfect for a birthday bash to remember. Do note, some venues are not open for private event hire or large bookings until autumn 2021.
The first of the Big Mamma restaurants to land in London, Gloria serves an Amalfi Coast-inspired menu of food and cocktails (including the famed La Gran Carbonara, prepared in a whole wheel of pecorino) with a generous helping of chintzy glamour. While the upstairs dining room is light, airy and perfect for a daytime celebration, the downstairs basement has the feel of a Seventies disco bar, with dark wood walls, a mirrored ceiling and velvet booths. You can book out this space for groups of 26-70 people, or find a smaller group of pals (17-25 people) for a Capri-style feast in the Wine Room, where long banquet tables are lined with candelabras and the walls are stacked with hundreds of bottles of Italian vino.
Address: Gloria, 54-56 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3QR
Rowan’s, Finsbury Park
A North London institution, Rowan’s allows you to recreate the birthday parties of your childhood, albeit with an Espresso Martini in hand. Groups of any size (given you book far enough in advance) can reserve lanes for 10-pin bowling or tables in the bar, where DJs play cheesy party tunes and, if you ask nicely, take the odd request. There are also several pool tables and karaoke booths to hire (up to 12 people per booth), plus an abundance of retro arcade games for an extra helping of nostalgia. Don’t miss the luminous red and blue slushies, which, provided you’ve just turned 18 or over, can be laced with vodka, gin, rum or tequila. Hello brain freeze, my old friend…
Address: Rowan’s, 10 Stroud Green Road, London N4 2DF
Wilton’s Music Hall, Aldgate East
Believed to be the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world, this Grade II-listed building between Aldgate East Tube station and Shadwell Overground station has played host to incredible theatre and live music for centuries. And thanks to the building’s warren of charming nooks and crannies and brilliant hospitality team, Wilton’s can also play host to birthday parties and other private events. Depending on your party size, there are numerous spaces you can book, all of them wonderfully restored and brimming with rustic charm – exposed walls, vintage furniture and enchanting fairy lights. Opt for The Study (which holds up to 20 people) and you’ll encounter a phantom staircase that mysteriously disappears into the ceiling above.
Address: Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB
A five-minute walk north of Dalston Kingsland station, this lively drinking spot is split into two – the Lounge Bar and the Jazz Bar. The former, decorated in a Fifties working men’s club theme with scarlet-leather seating and copper walls, is where you’ll find a busy dancefloor and live DJs pumping out classic R&B and disco bangers. The latter is a more relaxed affair, perfect for small groups wanting to catch up over a Bourbon Sour or fiery Chilli Apple Martini. Both spaces are available for private hire, or you can simply reserve tables to accommodate your party size. When booking, make sure to request a personalised birthday message that will be displayed on the retro cinema sign above the main entrance.
Note: Having temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Ruby’s is set to reopen in September 2021.
Address: Ruby’s, 76 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XB
While not a venue by traditional standards, these self-driving boats fit up to eight people and can be hired on an hourly basis, with no previous boating experience required. Departing from the Paddington Basin, your party can pick a route to sail along Regent’s Canal, taking in Little Venice, London Zoo and Camden Lock. Each eco-friendly electric GoBoat is fitted with a central table and surrounding seating, so pack a picnic, balloons and as many sailor hats as needed, then step on board and let the festivities begin. Do be aware that you can’t consume alcohol while on the boat. Book a table at Kupp, located next to the GoBoat dock, and get 10 per cent off all drinks when presenting your booking confirmation for that day.
Address: GoBoat, Merchant Square, London W2 1AS
Bao, Borough Market
Stretch your vocal cords, and your stomach, at Bao Borough, where you can enjoy a karaoke session with a side of exceptional food. Inspired by the KTV rooms found all over Asia, the luxury booth – equipped with a private stage and dazzling disco lights – can hold up to 14 people for an hourly charge per person. Available at lunchtime and in the evening, the KTV menu features buckets of Taiwanese beer, pitchers of Bao’s signature cocktails and sake by the bottle. To soak up the refreshments, order the sharing platters of fried chicken and hot sauce or glazed tofu with plum ketchup, as well as the restaurant’s renowned individual bao buns.
Address: Bao Borough, 13 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD
Jones and Sons, Dalston
If you’re planning a more formal, civilised celebration, the private-dining area tucked away at the back of Jones and Sons, an über-chic seasonal British restaurant just moments from Kingsland Road, will fit the bill. A minimalist, bare-brick room with exposed pipework and Scandi-style banquet tables, it accommodates as many as 70 people seated, has a private bar and can be tailored to suit your every need. Cocktails and canapés are available, as are two delectable three-course sit-down menus showcasing the incredible ingredients and culinary flair of the main restaurant.
In addition to the exceptional fried chicken – arguably some of London’s best – and oh-so moreish sour cocktails at the Haggerston branch of Chick’n’Sours, its stylish, speakeasy-style basement is a brilliant space for a birthday gathering. With capacity for approximately 35 people, the bar allows guests to plug in their own playlist and even create a bespoke drinks menu for the big event. The higher-welfare, overnight-brined fried chicken is still the star, though, so treat your crowd to a selection of party-friendly mini versions of the restaurant’s signature dishes, which can be ordered in advance.
The Racketeer, King’s Cross
This relatively well-kept secret in King’s Cross strikes the perfect balance between a friendly local boozer and a modern cocktail bar. And for that reason, it’s a popular spot with a buzzing atmosphere on any given day. There are lots of options when it comes to planning a birthday knees-up here. Smaller groups can reserve tables in the front bar, while parties of up to 40 people can either take over the back space, with its wood-burning stove in winter and private terrace in summer, or the basement, which can host a DJ or live music. Drinks come by way of craft beer, fine wine and cocktails (pre-order to get a discount), while La Fromagerie cheese and Cobble Lane Cured charcuterie boards will keep you fuelled for the night ahead.
Granny’s Grotto at Little Nan’s Bar, Deptford
In 2013, Tristan Scutt opened Little Nan’s Bar as a homage to his late grandmother, filling a windowless backroom with her furniture and most treasured knick-knacks and serving cocktails in her old teapots. Fast-forward nearly a decade and Little Nan’s has taken over four railway arches in Deptford Market Yard and comprises multiple event spaces, including Granny’s Grotto. Decked out with disco lights, Union Jack memorabilia and a leopard-print chaise longue, the space can be privately booked for a minimum of 35 people and is free for those with an SE postcode. Individual tables can also be reserved for little groups.
Address: Granny’s Grotto at Little Nan’s Bar, Arches 12-15, Deptford Market Yard, London SE8 4BX
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