Hidden deep beneath Exmouth Market’s streets lies Hester’s Hideout, a decadent den rich in history, where those in the know sip extraordinary cocktails, while burlesque dancers, musicians and performance artists entertain until the wee small hours.
If the walls could talk, they’d whisper tales from the early 1900s, when the guv’nor of the then-named Clerkenwell Tavern let his basement for market traders to store their wares. It soon became a hangout for market workers who liked a wager or shady deal, concealed from the prying eyes of drinkers upstairs or local bobbies on the beat.
With the market traders long since moved on, the cosy basement has been given a new lease of life, as an immersive cabaret and cocktail destination, where mixologists prepare tipples using vintage recipes left by the traders, alongside modern, molecular drinks that arrive smoking and bubbling to the table.
The performers, too, have taken over from where the traders left off, moving among fellow drinkers and ensuring the lights are low, and the spirits are high.
•Thursdays will see the secret den filled with music and dancing, as Hester’s Hideout House Band and guest musicians take you on a musical odyssey through the jazz eras, increasing the tempo until DJ Oliver Night takes over with underground East London tunes and old school classics. 21:00 – 23:00 Live entertainment. 23:00 – 03:00 DJ.
•On Fridays, the circus comes to town, as naughty Mister Meredith brings his eccentric rabble of oddball attractions, snake dancers, contortionists and surprise acts for an immersive experience and games, lubricated by remarkable cocktails and rounded off by international, burlesque DJ Mark from The Roustabouts, expertly mashing decadent sounds of bygone eras with current and classic, guilty pleasures. 21:00 – 23:00 Live entertainment. 23:00 – 03:00 DJ.
•Saturdays bring the crème de la crème of London’s cabaret scene to the hideout, from award-winning showgirl and burlesque sensation, Jolie Papillon, to the Deco Noir dancers, magicians and speciality acts throughout the evening, transporting you back to the Roaring Twenties. A DJ keeps the debauchery going until the early hours, 21:00 – 23:00 Live entertainment 23:00 – 03:00 DJ
Named after Kate Hester, the landlady who coined the term “speakeasy” after concocting the cunning plan to launch an illegal bar, and telling rowdy patrons, “speak easy, boys!” to avoid detection, Hester’s Hideout is a secret haven beneath London’s streets.
While the local bobby on the beat might be a thing of the past, guests are still encouraged to keep the location a closely guarded secret - an unassuming door marked ‘Trader’s Entrance’ on Farringdon Road is all you’ll find at street level, with a red light to alert those in-the-know.
But those who find their way inside can work their way through a painstakingly crafted cocktail list that fuses the finest ingredients with molecular science, for an Instagrammer’s dream, leaving tastebuds tingling.
Owner Antony Brown says: “Hester’s Hideout is the place I’ve always wanted to discover - where incredible performances, live music and entertainment are served up beside the best cocktails in town.
“Inside, there will be decadent entertainment, great DJs and performers and a late weekend licence, all adding to a luxurious, high-end night in the depths of Exmouth Market, while unsuspecting passers-by on the street are none the wiser.”
With extraordinary cocktails and late-night snacks every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and a late license, entertainment and DJs until 3am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Hester’s Hideout is THE place in London you’ve been searching for.
Now all you need to do is find your way there, and take your pick from the menu of high-end cocktails, like the Carbolic Smoke Ball, a rich and smoky drink which, in 1892 was believed to be a miraculous cure-all for everything from Diptheria to Neuralgia. Or perhaps the Chinaman’s Night Cap, packed with aromatic Asian notes, which was served up to decadent Londoners in Victorian East London’s smoke-filled opium dens.
But whatever you do, keep your lips for drinking, not for talking about his hidden jewel.