The main, and in fact only, room of Bourne & Hollingsworth looks like a particularly twee Northern front room from a simpler time. To play up to this fact, all the cocktails and mixed drinks are served in delicate china teacups, or jars or milk jugs or one of those by-now-familiar vessels that all cocktail bars use. The flowery wallpaper, quaint needlework designs on the wall, and chairs that look like they’re moments away from being examined by a man in a garish suit on daytime TV all combine to give Bourne & Hollingsworth an extremely surreal feeling.
Although initially this visual assault makes you feel like your eyes are throwing up into the inside of your head, it somehow sort of works. The lights are low enough that you don’t go blind from the clashing patterns and adds to the whole ‘I’m pretty sure I saw something similar to this re-enacted on Crimewatch’ vibe’.
At this stage, I know what you’re thinking; this is all very well and good, but how will people know how cool and urbane I am if this bar is easy to find? Well worry not, Bourne and Hollingworth is rather well hidden. Like all the bars on this blog so far, it sits underneath something laughably mundane. In this case; a cornershop (I know, we’re as annoyed as you are to have broken away from ‘under a kebab shop’, but there’s only so much we can do). On the corner of the street, there’s some sort of black and white faux-shop front that looks like a piece of evidence from a horror film set in an orphanage, and in front of that, a black metal staircase leading to the basement. Admittedly, the horror-film-wall-photo actually says ‘Bourne & Hollingsworth’, but don’t worry, it looks more like a piece of street art commissioned by someone’s rubbish Dad than the entrance to a bar.
Bourne & Hollingsworth does a very good job of hiding in plain sight; although it’s on a busy street, and even when the other pubs in the area are packed then there’re never more than a few people standing. It’s an intimate bar with a relaxed atmosphere, and it’s quirky and interesting enough to provide a conversation topic when you inevitably run out of things to say after the first thirty seconds of being there you fraud.
As I mentioned earlier, their speciality is cocktails, but there’s lagers on offer as well if you’d prefer a delicious lager. The prices are reasonable for a cocktail bar just off Oxford Street, but if you’re expecting to pay less than about four quid a drink then you’re sort of on the wrong blog to be honest. If we start another one called ‘Ale Pubs for Tight Bastards’ I’ll drop you an e-mail.
If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve never actually had a cocktail there, and all my companions have had wine or lager, so as much as I’d love to tell you how good the cocktails are, I’m at a loss. Although, even if I had tried one, any, or even all the cocktails, I’m a man who once ate a box of chalk thinking they were those delicious candy cigarettes so I don’t know if my judgement would be worth anything anyway.
Anyway, to sum up, Bourne & Hollingsworth is an interesting and different bar that looks like the inside of someone’s house, and it will definitely boost your kudos amongst impressionable people. Mission accomplished eh? If you want to prove to people you know about these hidden pockets of secret London then head here. Equally, if you’ve secretly got some sort of creepy fetish for drinking in what looks like an old woman’s flat then whatever you do, get some help you pervert.
Bourne & Hollingsworth
28 Rathbone Place
020 7636 8228