EACH week Pillow Magazine asks someone from our network of creatives to open up their little black book and reveal the secret side of London that you only know about if you’re in the know.
Name: Clayton Hartley, 46, Co-owner of the Candlelight Club.
I also co-promote a quarterly night with Kettner’s in Soho, which is similar but has a bill of cabaret as well as live music. It has a Weimar theme and we call it Herr Kettner’s Kabaret.
Tell us a bit about Candlelight Club:
The Candlelight Club is a pop-up cocktail bar, with a 1920s speakeasy theme. Each event has a different cocktail menu—short but innovative, with a combination of authentic recipes from the Prohibition period and new ones invented for the occasion. We have live 1920s jazz bands and our guests are encouraged to dress appropriately: in fact I think the opportunity to wear glamorous period outfits is half the appeal.
In keeping with our speakeasy image the actual location of each party is a secret, revealed to ticket holders a couple of days before the event. The aesthetic is a cross between period glamour and a makeshift, warehouse-like speakeasy feel. But the most visually striking thing about our events is that the space is lit entirely by candles, creating an atmosphere that is both appropriately low-tech but also very atmospheric.
To get an idea of what our events are like, have a look at the photos on our gallery pages from past events.
Which area of London do you live in? Greenwich
Why do you love it? I love living here, with the park and the river it has many of the benefits of the suburbs while still being in London, plus we’ve got the Maritime Museum, the Observatory and the Old Royal Naval College—where I got married. (It’s also used a lot as a film location and we take a certain pride in spotting it in movies.) I love the market too, and we’ve also had the attention of the Millennium Dome (as I still think of it) and the equestrian events during the Olympics: in the summer, with my window open I could hear a roar coming from the park every time a British contestant did well.
Best place to have a coffee: I’m rather fond of the tea rooms in the Wallace Collection, a glazed-over courtyard like a winter-garden or palm court. Also, The Junk Shop at 9 Greenwich South Street has recently opened a café at the back. The whole place is engagingly bonkers, piled high with weird antique things, and mysterious vintage ephemera spilling out on to the pavement, but if you make your way through the labyrinth to the very back you suddenly find this café. (Last time I wandered even further back and discovered an exhibition of African masks too.)
Best place for a great breakfast: Goddard’s pie and mash shop, King William Walk, Greenwich.
Most amazing place to buy vintage clothes: Again Greenwich is very good, with three vintage shops plus the market. Come on Sunday and the Clocktower Market is open too, almost entirely given over to vintage jewellery, accessories, homewares, clothes, luggage, etc. If you’re after classic menswear (suits and evening wear in particular) go to Old Hat on Fulham High Street. It’s not the cheapest but there is no rubbish there. (I don’t know why anyone would buy new evening wear when vintage dinner suits are much cheaper and almost always much better made.) Also check out Radio Days on Lower Marsh by Waterloo and Blackout II on Endell Street.
Best markets for food and second hand: Greenwich, of course, though if it’s specifically food you’re after go to Borough Market.
Best quirky/independent cinema: I’ve not actually been yet, but perhaps Secret Cinema is worth a mention, which is a bit like the Candlelight Club in that you buy your ticket without knowing too much about it. In addition to a screening of a classic film they put a lot of effort into theming the (secret) venue and they hire a lot of actors to bring the whole place to life. Guests are just told a theme to dress up to, and they don’t find out what the film is until they get there.
Best fashion boutique for amazing clothes/jewellery: Hmm, not really my department, but if you’re into the vintage look have a peek at Revival Retro in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, which stock repro (rather than vintage) clothes, shoes and accessories in the style of the 1920s–1940s. A fun place is Paper Dress Vintage on Curtain Road: Their vintage era is more 1960s and 1970s but they’ve also got a bar in there and they put on all kinds of vintage music events too.
Most amazing club night that Pillow Mag readers will love: The Candlelight Club, of course.
Favourite place for reasonably-priced/mid-price dinner: One place I would recommend is the Cork and Bottle on Cranbourn Street, just off Leicester Square. It’s underground, entered by a doorway sandwiched between a sex shop and a ticket agency, I think, and you could easily miss it completely. The food and wine are good and reasonably priced and it’s a great bolt-hole in a part of town where most bars and restaurants are touristy.
Your favourite secret place for cocktails: Aside from the Candlelight Club? I’m fond of Callooh Callay (Rivington Street) and the Zetter Townhouse (St John’s Square). For an oasis of calm in Theatreland, where you can find an excellent Martini, try Christopher’s bar and grill on Wellington Street.
Best pub: I’ve always been a fan of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street simply because of its labyrinthine layout, plethora of nooks and crannies, and aura of antiquity. Aficionados of real ale and real cider should check out the Harp on Chandos Place, though it is rather small and not much to look at.
Greatest place to check out art/exhibitions: If you want somewhere a little off the beaten track try Two Temple Place, which is also a lush building in itself, former home to William Waldorf Astor.
Your ultimate Secret London recommendation: The Candlelight Club, of course!
Anything else you wanna tell Pillow Mag readers? I suspect I have said enough.