Shoreditch is a hub for culture and diversity which means that tourists and locals have a chance to experience traditions from around the world without even having to leave East London. This diversity is represented everywhere, from curry houses and traditional Turkish barbers to Ethiopian food stalls and French bistros.
But what about authentic shisha?
Whether you’re coming from the Middle East, staying at hotels in Shoreditch and want a slice of home here in the city or are just shisha enthusiast looking for your new favourite hangout, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up the top shisha bars, cafes and lounges in and around Shoreditch for you to add to your bucket list.
What is shisha?
Depending on where you come from, you might be accustomed to a different name. Shisha - also known as hookah, water pipe, and narghile - is a way of smoking tobacco that generally involves a bowl, a hose, and a mouthpiece. Of course, as anyone who has smoked shisha before knows, it doesn’t always taste like the tobacco you might find in cigarettes.
That’s because when smoking shisha, the tobacco is normally mixed with fruit or molasses sugar. While everyone’s tastes or different, some of the most popular flavours tend to be watermelon, mint, and apple.
Unlike smoking cigarettes, smoking shisha is communal and social. Wood, coal or charcoal burns the tobacco slowly and friends pass the hose around while sipping tea or coffee with a view of London.
But enough background – let’s get explore the best shisha spots in and around Shoreditch.
Shisha Garden Grill
This Lebanese restaurant on Hackney Road consistently gets rave reviews from locals, including ‘Best Shisha Terrace UK 2015. It’s small and traditional making it a great place to relax with friends. While the décor is unassuming, they take shisha seriously. And when we say ‘seriously’, we mean it! Their sister company, Tobacco Tasting Station, offers full-service sampling, including electronic, normal and herbal shisha.
Not a fan of shisha? No problem! Come instead for the delicious and incredibly authentic food. Choose from cold and hot starters, a set menu, grill plates, fresh juices, and a range of Turkish and Arabic Karak tea.
Getting here from your Montcalm Luxury hotel in London is easy. Just hop in a black cab and you’ll be there in less than 10 minutes.
Address: 388 Hackney Rd, London E2 7AP
Opening hours: 12PM-2AM daily
Dar Marrakesh is a Moroccan restaurant and shisha lounge that’s been wow’ing Londoners since 2001. It has come a long way since then but continues to serve up traditional dishes with authentic spices and flavours.
Of course, this blog isn’t about food…so what about the shisha? Quality. In fact, the lounge offers the widest range of shisha in London.
Top tIp: If you can, visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday when a live belly dancer performs from 9PM.
Address: 422 Edgware Rd, Marylebone, London W2 1EG
Opening hours: 12PM-11PM daily
Located in North West London, Beirut Nights is the full package, offering authentic Lebanese food, delicious mocktails, fresh juices, high-quality teas, and an incredible array of shisha flavours. This is an especially great option now that the weather is starting to cool down thanks to the heating outdoor seats.
Be advised, though, this isn’t exactly local. But, the journey to North Acton is worth it, especially if you took advantage of London city hotel deals for your accommodation in Shoreditch.
Address: 19 Abbey Rd, Park Royal, London NW10 7RB
Opening hours: 12PM-1AM Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 12PM-3AM on Friday and Saturday
Coming back a bit closer to your room at Montcalm Royal London House, Sara Café in Marylebone was designed back in 2001 to provide an authentic experience of the East. Needless to say, it’s doing a great job!
While we could go on and on about how great the shisha itself is, you can find out for yourself…without even having to visit the café. Confused? Don’t be!
Sara Café offers shisha delivery in 24 flavours, including the ever-elusive rose tobacco flavour.
Address: 13A Crawford St, Marylebone, London W1U 6BZ
Opening hours: 8AM-12AM Monday-Saturday, 9AM-11Pm on Sunday
With venues in Mayfair and Knightsbridge, Mamounia Lounge has become an institution of sorts. Not only is the traditional Lebanese and Moroccan food to die for, but the venues themselves are enough to transport you to the Middle East.
Better still, they have a calendar filled with lively entertainment. Our recommendation? Head to this shisha lounge on a Friday or Saturday for a truly unforgettable experience.
Address: 37A Curzon St, Mayfair, London W1J 7TX|
Opening Hours: 12PM-1:30 AM Monday-Saturday, 12:30PM-12:30AM on Sunday
Address: 136 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1HY
Opening Hours: 11AM-12AM daily
This Moroccan restaurant in Mayfair is a gem, especially well-known for its gorgeous interiors, tasty food, and great service. Of course, it wouldn’t have made the list if they didn’t offer great shisha, too!
You can expect traditional flavours and a knowledgeable staff who will be able to help you navigate the menu if you’re a first-timer. It’s worth noting, though, that the prices are here are slightly higher than others on this list. But, you get what you pay for!
Address: 25 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BH
Opening hours: 12PM-1AM Monday-Saturday, 9AM-12:30AM on Sunday
Which shisha café, lounge, or bar will you visit during your stay in London? Leave us a comment! And, don’t forget, you don’t have to smoke if you choose to visit one of these establishments, just like you don’t have to drink if you visit a bar or club.
Instead, have a bite to eat, enjoy the food, and take part in the social aspect of shisha without actually passing the hose. If nothing else, these lounges offer a great escape from London life, with the ambience of each capable of transporting you to the other side of the world.