How to Design a Bar in the UK : 20 Bar Design Concepts and Ideas

Sarah JohnsonAuthor

Aside from location and licences, design is probably the most important thing to consider when you open a bar. Space for bartenders to work at maximum speed and servers to weave around tables to ultimately get drinks in as many hands as possible is absolutely imperative to making money.

But what is all of that worth without a memorable experience that will bring guests back?

In this article, we’ll discuss the best bar interior design ideas and how to apply them as you open your own bar. From live music hubs to cosy pubs, we’ve got you covered!

Ready to dive into bar decor? Let’s get started.

Restaurant bar design considerations

Creating a beautiful bar is important, but its functionality is essential. As a bar owner, you want to build a space your staff can comfortably work in and easily access all their bar equipment. Some equipment to consider when designing your bar and restaurant include:

  • Ice wells
  • Storage containers and shelving
  • Sinks (both handwashing and dump sinks)
  • Glassware (lots of it)
  • Server station area with garnishes
  • Draft beer lines/kegs

In addition to equipment, you want to make sure your bar area is as spacious as you can make it. One thing about the food and beverage industry is workers are always right on top of each other. It’s easy to run into co-workers during a chaotic shift. Make sure there’s enough space for your staff first and then start considering wall art and ambience.

20 of the best bar designs and concepts in the UK

Ready for some inspiration? Here are some of the best bar designs, setups, ideas, and concepts that can help you build your bar vision.

1. Spiritland King's Cross - London

Nestled in Coal Drops Yard, Spiritland offers an immersive experience that blends the love for coffee and cocktails with an unmatched appreciation for music. Its design is a nod to the 70s, with retro furnishings and wood panelling throughout. The venue hosts live DJs and musicians, making it a haven for music enthusiasts. 

2. The Shrub and Shutter - London 

The Shrub and Shuttter stands out for its use of unconventional ingredients and its dedication to the Japanese-style listening bar concept, where the ambience is as much about the music played on vinyl as it is about the drinks. Edgy house cocktails shine brightly in a space that marries snug, rustic elements with modern design.

3. Old Street Records - London

Combining the allure of live music with the comfort of pizza and cocktails, Old Street Records has established itself as a Shoreditch staple. The bar's design, reminiscent of a record store, and its vibrant entertainment lineup, spanning from EP launches to DJ sessions, make it a go-to for music lovers. 

4. Homeboy Islington - London

Bringing a slice of Ireland to London, Homeboy Islington has quickly become a favourite for its cosy ambience and extensive whiskey selection. With accolades from the Spirited Awards and a spot in the Top 50 UK Cocktail Bars, it’s a testament to the bar's quality and its role in introducing Irish hospitality to the city. The bar's relaxed design features exposed brick, warm wood, and green leather banquettes, all set to a soundtrack of Hip-Hop and R&B.

5. Opium Cocktail Bar - London

Hidden behind a nondescript door in Chinatown, Opium is a multi-level cocktail bar and dim sum parlour that transports guests to a secret world. Its 1920s-inspired design, combined with a menu of Asian-inspired cocktails, offers a unique escape in the heart of the city.

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Restaurant Menu Templates

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6. Burlock Rum Room - London

A stone's throw from Oxford Street, Burlock celebrates the Caribbean's rum culture with one of London's most extensive selections. The bar's design, reminiscent of an old-fashioned speakeasy, and its vibrant party atmosphere, make it a standout destination for rum enthusiasts. 

7. Silverleaf Bar - London

Within the Pan Pacific hotel, the Silverleaf Bar merges designer Tom Dixon's signature sleek aesthetic with innovative mixology. The bar's interior combines minimalism and glamour and is known to draw in a sophisticated crowd. 

8. Lyaness - London

The design of Lyaness incorporates nautical elements that pay homage to its Thames River location at Sea Containers London. This theme aligns with the bar's innovative approach to cocktails and its vibrant, maritime-inspired style. 

9. Alcotraz - London

Alcotraz is an immersive bar experience that combines the thrill of escape rooms with the enjoyment of craft cocktails. Guests, or "prisoners," smuggle their alcohol into the prison-themed bar, where it's transformed into unique cocktails. The concept and design draw on the notorious Alcatraz prison, providing a night of entertainment and mystery.

10. The Little Scarlet Door -  London

Nestled within Soho, The Little Scarlet Door is a trendy hotspot known for its wild house party aesthetic and quirky cocktail menu. The design is playful and vibrant, with exposed brickwork and plush sofas. It's decked out with art from the Soho Revue Gallery, perfectly capturing the essence of Soho. 

11. SOMA Soho - London

SOMA, situated just above the Indian eatery Kricket, stands out for its upscale and minimalist approach to the traditional speakeasy. Its design includes a 9-meter-long stainless steel bar and an intimate lounge area with burnt orange sofas, creating a sophisticated space inspired by Indian influences.

12. The Spiritualist - Glasgow

The Spiritualist in Glasgow really leans into a blend of old-world charm and sleek, modern design. It’s all about creating an atmosphere that’s both luxurious and welcoming, a balancing act that they have mastered perfectly. It proudly displays Scotland’s biggest bar gantry, which is so packed with bottles that staff need a ladder to reach the top! It's fancy without trying too hard, and the drinks are as enchanting as the decor.

13. The Beaufort Bar - London

The Beaufort Bar at the world-renowned Savoy Hotel is all about that wow factor, mixing up a storm with its bold black and gold theme that just oozes glamour. Picture this: you're sipping a cocktail, surrounded by art deco elegance that's as eye-catching as the drinks menu. It's like stepping into a swanky, bygone era but with a modern twist.

14. MAP Maison - London

An East London establishment, MAP Maison combines chic aesthetics with a cosy atmosphere. Its design features dark furnishings and elegant booths, creating a sophisticated space perfect for enjoying Europe's largest collection of Japanese whisky. 

15. Disrepute - London

A hidden Soho gem, Disrepute is like stepping into a cosy, dimly lit nook where the world outside just fades away. Picture plush, velvety seats you can sink into, warm, muted lighting that sets the perfect mood, and little design touches that feel both vintage and cutting-edge. It's all about creating a spot where the drinks are as rich as the conversation. 

16. Mean Eyed Cat - Manchester

Mean Eyed Cat in Manchester transforms the essence of the Deep South dive bar scene into its own with a vibrant American dream flair. This space, once a futuristic dining area, now flaunts neon signs, weathered wooden walls, and an extensive selection of beers and bourbons. The basement has been revamped into a Hawaiian-themed rum shack, complete with straw ceilings and bamboo walls, offering a unique party atmosphere. 

17. TT Liquor - London

Set within an old Victorian police station, TT Liquor cleverly combines the building's original features with a modern twist. A three-story haven with quirky charm and contemporary comfort makes this bar not just a place to drink but also a piece of history and a whole lot of fun. It's a standout for its creative use of space and for providing a distinctive drinking experience. 

18. Little Nan's Bar - London

Little Nan's Bar is a unique and quirky bar inspired by the concept of a kitsch British living room. The decor features eclectic furnishings, vibrant patterns, and an array of nostalgic memorabilia.  Known for its playful vibe, Little Nan’s offers a mix of fun cocktails served in teapots and a selection of comfort food. 

19. Hoot the Redeemer - Edinburgh

Hoot the Redeemer is reminiscent of a 1950s funfair, featuring an eclectic mix of funfair games, a tarot reading machine, vintage posters, and even alcoholic ice creams and slushies on tap! It's a unique bar that perfectly captures the playful spirit of the past with a modern twist on the cocktail experience.

20. Coq d'Argent - London 

The rooftop garden at Coq d'Argent offers stunning views over the City of London, providing a serene and lush escape above the hustle and bustle. It's the perfect spot for savouring a fine selection of wines, cocktails, and classic French cuisine, all with a stunning backdrop. This serene garden escape in the heart of the city is perfect for dining al fresco or hosting events. The design is as refined as the menu, making it a standout destination for those looking to dine or drink in style.

Set your bar up for success

Now that you’ve read about these 20 incredible bar design ideas, pick and choose what details make the most sense for your bar layout. What comes after that? Your bar will not succeed without the right staff. Great bartenders respect their craft and are creative, motivated, and excited to come to work every day. 

To find excellent candidates, you can use sites such as:

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