There are tucked-away bars and then there are hidden speakeasies, tricky to find, but well worth the legwork. We’ve rounded up five of these secluded watering holes around the world from Bangkok to London with a perfectly paired stay to retreat to after a drink at each.
Drink: Noble Experiment
There’s no sliding bookcase or swinging refrigerator door leading to this secluded hideaway, whose entrance can be found inside gastropub Neighborhood. Instead, look to the mound of kegs.
While Neighborhood is a low-key watering hole with loads of craft beers and stacked burgers, Noble Experiment looks more like secret catacombs. The bar can hold 30 tipplers max, and the creative cocktails can take a few minutes to concoct, so be patient.
Try La Guapa (blanco tequila, an ancho chile liqueur, red pepper and lime) or be brave with the Dealer’s Choice, and wait for your favorite flavors to be interpreted into a one-of-a-kind cocktail by the bartender.
Stay: The US Grant
During Prohibition, this historic Four-Star hotel housed a speakeasy accessed only by underground tunnels, making it a fitting spot to rest your head after a few sips.
The bar is just a 10-minute walk from the 270-room property, where the beds are plush and are backed by Yves Clement drip paintings.
The art-focused icon houses a gallery with roughly $6.5 million’ worth of paintings, sculptures and ironwork, showcasing the work of creatives like Marie Najera and Shane Hendren.
Drink: Havana Social
The fact that Havana and Bangkok are nearly 10,000 miles apart makes enjoying a tipple at this hidden drinking den even more fun. Naturally, there’s no sign for the bar. Instead, head down Soi 11, look for a white sign that reads “Telefono” and an accompanying retro phone booth; dial the password (which you’ll get by calling Havana Social on its real number) and you’re in.
The bar is reminiscent of a parlor you might find in one of Havana’s grand heritage mansions — appealing Moorish (Moroccan) tiled floors, vintage midcentury furniture, low lights, ample rum and, on Friday and Saturday nights, a band playing Cuban jazz.
Naturally, rum cocktails are the stars of the menu. The Cuba Libre is good, with black rum, cola and Kaffir lime, and so too is the The Ricardo Robson, with Flor de Caña Gold rum, housemade hibiscus grenadine, orange juice and honey.
On the second floor is a cigar lounge, though genuine Cubans haven’t made it quite this far.
Stay: The Athenee Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel
A quick tuk-tuk ride (or 19-minute walk) from the bar, this Bangkok hotel is an oasis in the chaotic city. You’ll especially feel it in the free-form outdoor pool surrounded by gardens with a backdrop of skyscrapers.
The Athenee has quite the pedigree: its grounds used to house the former Kandhavas Palace, the residence of Princess Valaya Alongkorn. You can get the royal treatment at Athenee Spa, which specializes in Immunetra services tailored to your blood type, or in the sophisticated suites featuring silks and original paintings.
Ghermai Zerazion and Marco Vinci concocted their idea for hidden bar Rasputin — Florence’s first — when both were working at not-so-secretive speakeasy Barts in London. Though their bar is named for Siberian Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin — the infamously wild-bearded, self-proclaimed holy man from the 19th century — the patrons are far from unkempt.
Savvy visitors and Florentines know how to spot the entrance: a squat wooden pew, antique portraits in mismatched frames and, the tip-off, flickering candles. Inside the red-walled space, Zerazion and Vinci have decorated with dark, heavy 1930s-era furniture; somber portraits in gilded frames; and wax-coated candelabras. Sit under an arched brick ceiling sipping cocktails from pretty cut-glass cups.
Reservations (by phone or Facebook page) are recommended. The menu offers classic cocktails like a Negroni, old-school but lesser-known drinks like the herbal Hanky Panky (gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet) and Zerazion’s own creations, such as a bloody mary that gets a serious punch from Ethiopian-Eritrean spice blend, Berbere (a nod to his heritage).
Stay: Helvetia & Bristol Firenze – Starhotels Collezione
Less than 10 minutes after paying your bill at Rasputin, you can be cozied up at this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended gem. The 67-room property opened in the late 19th century and continues to impress with its Old World charm.
The accommodations all have slightly different décor, furnished with 19th- and 20th-century antiques, warmly lit by brass and Murano glass lamps, making it an inviting retreat after one too many tipples.
Drink: The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
Inside the Spitalfields (East End) branch of all-day pancakes-and-eggs joint The Breakfast Club is a handsome Smeg refrigerator. If you just popped in for a bite, you’d never know the fridge led downstairs to this hidden bar. If you want to eat, grab a table. But if you’ve stopped in for drinks, tell the staff, “I’m here to see the Mayor.”
This is not a serious craft cocktail bar — tipplers are here to have fun and the offerings reflect the mood. The Zecapa Su Casa (rum, lime, mango, pineapple and coconut cream) is a sweet antidote to London’s oft-overcast skies.
If a saccharine sip sounds a bit much, simply order wine, craft beer or some of the more standard mixed drinks that can also be found on the menu.
Stay: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
Walk 15 minutes south of the speakeasy to check into this ultra-posh 100-room hotel, housed in a stunning 1922 building with a colonnaded façade. The property suffered damage during World War II and again in the 1970s. But thanks to a loving resoration, you’d never know today.
The original staircase remains, begging for a grand entrance; the walnut paneling in the UN Ballroom — used for the United Nation’s first General Assembly — gleams, and the suites are simply sumptuous with handsome columns, intricate plasterwork and 16-foot ceilings.
Sitting on tufted leather banquettes beneath a long beaded chandelier and surrounded by taxidermy, couples and small groups sip elaborate cocktails like The Standoff (mezcal, agave, pear brandy, sherry and lime).
Closed on Mondays and particularly packed on Thursdays, the bar is an intimate space that’s best for parties of two to four looking to imbibe.
Stay: Crosby Street Hotel
Ambling 10 minutes from the Lower East Side to Soho brings you to this 86-room British-themed charmer. Situated on one of the neighborhood’s quietest streets, this Four-Star hotel feels like a sleek, luxurious residential tower with an eco-conscious side — the property earned a LEED Gold certification.
The Crosby Bar & Terrace is popular with Soho shoppers and can get full, but the 24-hour Drawing Room, open to guests only, is quieter with a tranquil courtyard and sculpture garden.