Coolest Converted Spaces in London
Nothing in architecture is more fascinating than a building with history. And with London’s abundance of the stuff, it’s no great surprise that some of the best conversions in the world are located in the capital. From a telephone box to a previous Magistrate’s court, we take a look at some of the coolest converted spaces in London.
Conversion: Telephone Box to Coffee Shop
With the usage of mobile phones only increasing, it’s no surprise that the number iconic red phone boxes on the capital’s streets have been decreasing at a seemingly unstoppable rate. But married business partners Umar Khalid and Alona Guerra have found an innovative way to revive one such abandoned phone box: by using it as their very own coffee shop! Named after the Philippine coffee capital Barako, Kape Barako is located on Hampstead High Street and sells a variety of caffeinated drinks as well as cakes, pies, pastries, and more. Ingenious.
Conversion: Underground Vaults to Theatre Space
Back in the 1850s, the maze of secret tunnels located under Waterloo Station were used to store dead corpses for the London Necropolis Railway. Nowadays, ‘The Vaults’ are used as an underground home for contemporary art projects. Hosting a vast range of events, The Vaults have been used for everything from crazy golf to an immersive Alice in Wonderland show. It’s even throwing its own festival in the new year!
Conversion: WC to Cafe
As the name suggests, The Attendant is a humble café set in an abandoned underground WC from the 1960s. The über hip café features all the old school toilet features you’d want while you’re tucking into your scone, such as urinals turned into single-seater booths. It’s fairly small so naturally it gets rammed during lunchtime, but head in the morning or late afternoon but some genuinely superb brunch or our favourite Kim Jong-Un Salt Beef sandwich.
Conversion: Air Raid Shelter to Bar
Location: Carnaby Street
The most obvious use for an old school space is undoubtedly a drinking haunt. Luckily, London has an abundance of them, and for us one of the best in the capital is Carnaby Street’s Cahoots. The former air raid shelter has been converted into a 1940s-themed speakeasy bar, complete with original features and even a ticket office. Not only are all the bar staff are in character but there’s also a tube carriage where you can kick back with one of the bar’s numerous top notch cocktails.
Mirth, Marvel and Maud
Conversion: Cinema to Bar
Another awesome converted bar in the capital is Mirth Marvel & Maud in Walthamstow. Dating back to the 1890s, the stunning Grad-II listed building on Hoe Street has been converted from an old cinema and is now a bar, restaurant, gig venue and events space. Grand features remain and the original box office is now a cocktail bar. Head in on a Sunday and you’ll find some live jazz as well as one of the best roasts in the area.
Word on the Water
Conversion: Barge to Bookshop
Location: Regent’s Canal
If you’re partial to a weekend stroll along Regent’s Canal, kick things off near Granary Square and you’ll stumble across a canal boat with a literary twist. Word on the Water is a 100-year-old Dutch barge which has been converted into a quaint little independent bookshop. The shop sells new and second hand books, as well as art and photography from Londoners. There’s also live music events and poetry slams at the barge throughout the year, so keep an eye out!
Conversion: Prison to Hotel
The former Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court has been the scene for some of the capital’s most interesting cases over the years. John Lennon was taken to trial here in 1970 for selling sexually explicit lithograph drawings, and Mick Jagger defended his name when he was caught in possession of cannabis. Keith Richards also received a £205 fine here in 1973 for possession of marijuana, heroin and a Smith and Wesson revolver. Now the Court has been converted into the five-star Courthouse Hotel. Original Robert Adams fireplaces remain in the hotel, as well as iron bars and prison cell doors, nodding to the place’s prison past.