Our favourite London venue conversions

Large-scale recycling

If London does anything well it's making the best of available space. So that means reusing and repurposing just about everything you can imagine - and that goes doubly for venues and public spaces. Don't get us wrong, there are some pretty god-awful conversions out there, but when venues get it right, they celebrate the building's past, re-imagine it and make it relevant for today.

Today in London we drink and eat in all kinds of buildings, from warehouses, to toilets, to crypts, to sheds for housing trams - we take you through some of our favourite London venue conversions.

19-21 Great Marlborough Street W1F 7HL
Region: Marylebone
Nearest Station: Oxford Circus

AIL Says: Who knew that the interior of a magistrates' court could look so glam? That's exactly what the designers for this five star hotel realised when they set about transforming it from The Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court. Thick iron bars divide the lobby from the bar, where the private tables are inside what used to be padded cells. The restaurant has kept the decor of the original court room, complete with the wood-panelled witness stand and judge's seat.

Tooting Tram & Social
46-48 Mitcham Road SW17 9NA

Nearest Station: Tooting Broadway

AIL Says: Before the days of the tube, Londoners got around the city by tram. This former tram shed in Tooting is now a late-opening bar and music venue. With chandeliers hanging from the super high ceiling, exposed brick walls covered with quirky portraits, and the long bar taking up one side of the venue, it looks like a cool warehouse space rather than an old depot.

  • USERS 9/10
Village Underground
54 Holywell Lane EC2A 3PQ
Region: Shoreditch
Nearest Station: Bethnal Green

AIL Says: This Shoreditch venue below a rail viaduct is well known as an all-night club and live music venue. It's also used as a gallery space by day, and its cavernous, bare brick look even lends itself to wedding receptions.

  • OUR REVIEW 6/10
The Crypt Gallery
St Pancras Church, Euston Road

AIL Says: It's no surprise that the basement of St. Pancras Church was once a burial site. Walk through the eerie dark tunnels and you're quite literally walking over hundreds of graves. It also served as a shelter from bombs during both the World Wars, but today its mysterious qualities are put to use as a gallery and live performance space.

Cellar Door
0 Aldwych WC2E 7DN
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Covent Garden (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: It may be bang-on trend to open an artisan coffee shop/botanical cocktail bar/dog cafe in closed public conveniences nowadays, but Cellar Door can boldly claim they went there first. You'd never guess this jazz club used to be a loo, thanks to its super glam purple neon lighting and mirrored walls.

    1A Camden High Street NW1 7JE
    Region: Camden
    Nearest Station: Mornington Crescent

    AIL Says: It's always been a performance venue, but in its 100 year history Koko has been a cinema, a theatre, the epicentre of punk, and the host of some of London's biggest garage nights. It still has the look and feel of an early 20th century auditorium, and is as likely to feature big names like Madonna as up and coming indie bands.

    • OUR REVIEW 7/10
    • USERS 8/10
    32 Rivington Street EC2A 3LX
    Region: The City
    Nearest Station: Old Street (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: When entrepreneurial chef and restaurant owner Mark Hix took over this former tram shed (yes, the clue is in the title) he transformed it into a too-hip-for-school venue. He focused the menu on chicken and steak eatery, threw in some specially commissioned Damien Hirst art and voila, Tramshed was birthed.


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