Rumba is set in one of the most unappealing yet popular parts of London, just off Piccadilly Circus. Upon walking down to this basement bar, hopes of anything high brow are quickly dashed with its slightly grungy decor. However, they offer some good nights such as Rockaoke on a Thursday, which is worth checking out.
Rumba has had a renovation, dropping the ‘Bar’ in its name, and the results are fairly impressive, albeit slightly underwhelming. With American cafe style booths featuring comfortable seating, two bars and an almost complete lack of decoration, the overall impression is of a slightly chaotic attitude to interior design. However, when the place fills up the last thing drinkers will be focusing on is the interior.
The atmosphere here tends towards rowdy, although that’s meant in the best possible way. People come here to let their hair down, and let their hair down they do. The staff buzz around with quiet efficiency and (oddly for London) even apologise if you have been made to wait for a drink.
During the week, you can expect a mix of suited drinkers engaging in mid-week revelry, groups of friends on a slightly quieter night out, and a few people taking the music a little too seriously. At weekends the area attracts a larger contingent of out-of-towners who crowd into Rumba after seeing the flyers boasting of the nights on offer.
Rumba has a varied focus on music, depending on the night that you attend. For example, Tuesdays you’ll find RnB and reggaeton, and Fridays play host to a mix of house, old school and garage.
On Thursdays, the bar hosts Rockaoke, billed as the ‘Ultimate Rock Star Experience’. A halfway house between karaoke and live music, Rockaoke allows audience members to sing one of their favourite songs backed by a live band. Expect to endure butchered versions of tunes like Let It Be by the Beatles, an Oasis song that sounds like, well, Oasis (not necessarily a good thing), and to learn that The Smiths really should be left in the '80s. There are a few diamonds in the rough though, as there always is with karaoke. The play list is extensive, which is impressive considering that the band has memorised all of the selection. There is everything from Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen to Like A Virgin by Madonna and The Kinks’ You Really Got Me. It certainly fits in well with the bar's fun ethos and shows that this is a bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously – much like the punters who visit it.
The drink here is fairly standard, although it’s well priced for Central London. You can choose from a list of cocktails including Mojitos, Cosmopolitans and Mai Tais. You can even order a giant Martini that, considering its £60 price tag, must be truly giant.
The choice of beer ranges from Budweiser to Becks and Peroni, priced at £3.50. There is a happy hour on Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week where cocktails are priced at just £3.50 for a glass or £9 for a jug, Stella is £2 a pop, and all wine is reduced by £6 and Champagne by £10. Dangerous stuff. There are also a few shooters available.
The Last Word
If you are struggling for options on the tourist-belt of London, Rumba presents a good option for a fun night out. On busy nights like Friday and Saturday, get there early.