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Sydney's hidden watering holes

Underground Bars in Sydney

The underground bar scene in Sydney is full of wonderful hidden delights guaranteed to surprise and enliven all and sundry. The beauty is in the atmosphere and warmness that only a ‘tucked away’ watering hole can provide. Nothing beats being treated as family and the chance to be privileged enough to sample signature drinks and magical concoctions that are created by skilled bar staff.

1. Papa Gedes Bar

Address: 348 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone number: +61 2 9299 5671
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 4pm - 12am
Saturday: 5pm - 12am

Winner of the Time Out People’s Choice Award and the Time Out Best Neighbourhood Bar, Papa Gedes can be found at the end of a cobblestone alley and is a secret haven for lovers of mystique. With New Orleans and Voodoo inspired decor, this candle lit den is the home of funk, soul and reggae. It may be small but is warm, welcoming and cosy. Excellent for a date or intimate catch up. The friendly, helpful staff will steer you in the direction of something you are guaranteed to like. An 8 minute walk from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, Papa Gedes is unpretentious and the comfy touches make you feel at home. The excellently presented cocktails are inventive and above all, excellent!

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2. Since I Left You

Address: 338 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone number: +61 2 9262 4986
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 4.30pm - 12am
Saturday: 6pm - 12am

A visit to Since I Left You will feel like stepping into the era of the 1920’s!  The heritage listed storehouse has been converted into an art deco inspired space oozing with class. Tucked away in the little laneways of Sydney, this gem will have you relaxing under fairy lights in the stone courtyard, sharing a laugh in the Carriageway or soaking up the romantic atmosphere at the inside bar. This is all complimented by the live music and a definite positive ‘buzz’.  Since I Left You also specialise in tasty bar snacks and mouth-watering gourmet toasties. This ‘Melbourne-esk’ speak easy is 4 minutes from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour by cab or a short 10 minute walk.

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3. Grandma’s Bar

Address: 275 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone number: +61 2 9264 3004 
Opening hours: Monday - Friday: 3pm - 12am, Saturday: 5pm - 1am

As the name suggests, this retro and kitschy themed boho basement is a novelty worthy of a visit.  Surrounded by rocking chairs and knitting needles, the bubbly and friendly staff will serve up something fresh and eclectic.  Rum is the specialty, however the boutique spirit bar will ensure there is something to tempt you. Winner of the Time Out Sydney Best Small Bar and only 6 minutes walk from the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Grandma’s Bar will invite you in and give you a great big warm hug, just like a Granny should.

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4. Baxter Inn

Address: 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday 4pm - 1am

Housing an extensive selection of scotch and whisky, this basement bar is truly a hidden secret and is a quick 4 minute walk from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney. The unobtrusive entrance is easy to miss; the descent down a couple of flights of stairs leaves you wondering where it will end, but you emerge into a softly lit cave of sensational atmosphere. The immaculately dressed and highly knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through a plethora of choices, all to the sounds of smooth Blues music. The exposed brick, retro styling and comfy couches make it seductively easy to wile away the time with whisky in hand.

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5. Lobo Plantation

Address: Basement Lot 1, 209 Clarence Street, Sydney  NSW  2000
Opening hours: Monday - Thurs:  4pm - 12am
Friday:  2pm - 12am / Saturday:  4pm - 12am

As the name suggests, this Caribbean themed bar has a real plantation feel. Entering down a stunning curved staircase, you can’t help but make an entrance.  This is a rum connoisseur’s heaven with over 250 types of rum dating back to 1930.  The kitchen serves an excellent array of tasty Caribbean treats and restaurant quality shared meals that are easy to enjoy from your cosy leather booth.  The tasting tours, called Flights, are recommended for a guided tasting experience, but bookings are a must. Close to PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, it is only a 5 minute drive to transport you across the seas to the Caribbean.

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6. The Swinging Cat

Address: 44 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone number: +61 2 9262 3696
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday  4pm - 12am

A stand out in the Sydney bar scene and a quick 10 minute walk from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, The Swinging Cat is an inviting and comfortable New Orleans themed watering hole.  The décor is retro with a modern twist and there is an extensive array of cocktails to ponder.  A live jazz band every Thursday and Saturday provides the back drop for “chilling” after a hectic week.  The cheese platters are much sought after and much raved about and the table service is excellent.  For the more adventurous, The Swinging Cat also holds swing dance lessons with a live band on the first Tuesday of every month.

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7. Earl’s Juke Joint

Address: 407 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Opening hours: 7 Days 4pm - 12am

Truly a ‘hidden in plain sight’ venue, you could walk right on by and never know the merriment to be had behind the façade! Hidden by the Betta Meats exterior is the popular New Orleans inspired Earl’s Juke Joint. This is a favourite hang out of the eclectic Newtown crowd and has a trendy and mellow atmosphere.  The bar of dark wood and cast iron fittings set the tone, backed up by candles in mason jars and pots of Bhuja nibbles. The dapper bartenders take pride in providing well made cocktails whilst keeping the flavours imaginative and original. Although a little further afield from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, it is well worth the 18 minute drive to experience this  hip and happening joint.

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