Pass me that coconut bikini and a grass skirt, I’m going to limbo over to the bar and grab me some pina colada.
Yes, we’re in the world of tiki, that magical part-Polynesian, part-supreme-kitsch, place where it’s Hawaii every day of the year. They may all look TOTALLY IDENTICAL but I swear these are all different bars! Say aloha to some of the best tiki places in London…
Are you on a remote Polynesian island surrounded by beautiful South Pacific women? No, you’re in the basement of a Hilton hotel. BUT, if you squint a little you could be. Heavy on bamboo and trinkets, Trader Vic’s serves a bizarre global menu from their restaurant but there’s one thing that’s constant and brilliant: the pina coladas. And they should be, the classic cocktail was actually invented by in a Hilton hotel. Or so they’ll tell you.
Where: 22 Park Lane, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner (0.3 miles)
Mahiki, it’s not only the most famous tiki bar in Mayfair, but probably the most famous bar in London. That’s mainly thanks to the fact that it’s where the royals come to get their Polynesian fix, which is probably where they’re going wrong, Prince Philip is actually a god on the south Pacific island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Maybe that’s why they love to share a treasure chest at what is actually a surprisingly egalitarian club, without the usual VIP ropes and areas found in other elite nightclubs.
Where: Mahiki, Dover Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.1 miles)
Twice the tiki, over at Mahiki Kensington, which opened last year in the spot formerly occupied by Austrian themed club Bodo’s Schloss. Swapping the alpine slopes for the volcanic flows, the overhaul delivers another version of the club that’s been a royal favourite for over a decade, and handily located by the gate of Kensington Palace.
Where: 2A Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 4PT
It might be owned by the same folks as Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout, but don’t expect sticky floors and slot machines; Kanaloa is The City’s answer to Mahiki and it’s an admirable attempt. The club, round the back of St Paul’s has all the tiki trappings we know and love, plus bankers.
Where: Hill House, Wine Office Court, 18 Shoe Lane, EC4A 3BQ
Okay, bear with me here. Why is a Kennington gay bar that’s notably not festooned with bamboo and tribal masks on a list of tiki bars? The Cock rocks something it calls ‘Georgian tiki’, which is a throwback to their previous incarnation as London South Pacific, a favourite South London tiki club that was as awesome as it was grimy and fun as it border-line edgy. The Cock seems something far more refined, but they’ve kept some tiki touches allowing us to pop them here, if only as a courtesy to the memory of one of London’s great tiki legends.
Where: 340 Kennington Road, Kennington, SE11 4LD
Trailer Happiness should surely be called Trailer OF Happiness? Or maybe it’s a joke I’m not getting. But what I am getting is another of those rum cocktails. This Portobello Road bar brings tiki style to Notting Hill, and brings with it a guaranteed enjoyable evening.
Where: 177 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2DY
Of course Fulham’s in on the whole tiki craze, it’d have to be. Adding to that, Kona Kai brings a soundtrack of cheesy cheesy bangers ensuring that Fulhamites can relive their Exeter/Durham/Bristol/insert-posho-uni-here days with a carved out pineapple in one hand and a riding crop or whatever in the other.
Where: 515 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 1HD
Arguably marginally more sophisticated than your average tiki hangout, Laki Kane (why do they all have basically the same name? Is it all an anagram? Set over two floors, Laki Kane is a fun North London tiki experience, with the added advantage of rum making workshops and an exceptional cocktail selection from their award-winning bartender.
What could be more Clapham than a full-on tiki experience? *insert text from the Fulham one, it applies basically the same*… but seriously, the Polynesian themed bar is the Mahiki of Lavender Hill and is just downright fun.
Where: 247 Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction, London, SW11 1JW, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Clapham Junction (0.3 miles)