Expect the unexpected at this vibrant yet sparsely decorated arts club, bursting with nightly live music.
This underground bar and club can be found on Notting Hill Gate, a short walk from the tube heading towards Hyde Park. Look out for two heavy wooden doors which lead down a staircase to a rough and ready basement bar, dimly lit by angular lampshades and images projected on the black and white walls. The staircase neatly divides the room in two: a makeshift concert hall comprised of a stage, speakers and mixing booth can be found to the right, while to the left a circular, white brick bar looks out onto a well-worn collection of leather booths and armchairs. Ducts, fans and projectors have been left exposed, and the floor is resolutely concrete, but artful decoration comes in the form of murals and posters for upcoming events, while televised documentaries and films are often broadcast on pull-down screens.
The vibe at the Arts Club is suitably bohemian and extremely relaxed, with less than punctual opening and stage times, and bar staff routinely sporting shorts and t-shirts. That said, service is friendly and the customer base, made up of bright young things from nearby Notting Hill and the Westway, are a vibrant, enthusiastic bunch. It's worth checking the listings before turning up, as an eclectic variety of DJs and live acts take the stage and decks almost nightly, with a small cover charge usually levied on the door. Record launch parties, industry events and private soirees are common occurrences in this most arty of venues.
Happy hour (7-9:30pm daily) sees house beers and wines reduced to £2.60, and cocktails a mere £5. The rest of the time, prices are steep but not outrageous, with glasses of wine and prosecco starting at £4.30 and a host of predominantly rum-based cocktails, such as the delightful Apricot Mule, available for £6.50-8. There is no draught lager behind the confines of the bar, but Efes, Meantime and Rekordelig are on hand among others, for around £4-4.50 a bottle.
The Last Word
Vibrant, friendly and boasting an impressive line-up of live acts and DJs, the Notting Hill Arts Club is a commendable, if cramped, institution.