You’ve worked 9-5. We get it, it’s a hard way to make a living and rather than going home, you fancy going to a bar to have some fun. Only most of the bars around seem either a little too expensive or too pretentious to really feel fully comfortable. Despite its unassuming exterior – it’s an old pub with a big ‘S’ sign flapping in the wind – Simmons is here to fill that void in the post-5pm world.
You know ‘drunk person mentality’ that sees you doing things because ‘that’d be funny’? Decisions not based on logic, but instead ‘for a laugh’ or because ‘why not?’ It feels as though the whole of Simmons was decorated from this mindset, and it’s fascinating. Rather than a door handle, you’ve got a guitar’s neck and headstock. Instead of the oh-so-chic filament lights which hang from here to Brixton, you’ve got lampshades everywhere, the likes of which seem more Aunty styled 80s-living-room than Soho bar. Exposed brick work? Don’t be silly, that’s far too predictable. Instead it’s animal wallpaper and bright neon signs, and we love it. There’s a taxidermy owl with RBF casually sitting on top of the speaker in the right corner and a mirror-disco-ball-that-isn’t-really-a-mirror-ball-but-a-massive-rotating-skull spinning in time with the music. Some might call all of this eclectic. We prefer ‘job lot’, where the bar’s packed with fun stuff and a wonderfully fun atmosphere to boot.
Music: Ambient, Indie, RnB, Commercial, Hip Hop, Disco, Pop
Dress Code: None
Train Station: Tottenham Court Road
Address: Simmons Soho, 2 Bateman Street, London, W1D 4AE
Simmons make a big deal out of their prices. And so they should. They’ve got happy hour deals on every day which include spirit and mixers for £2.50, cocktail teapots (an item that, frankly, ought to be everywhere) for £15 and bottles of Prosecco to wash it all down for £16. There’s a vodka selection big enough to sink a ship, the full JD lineup and all the gin, rum and tequila you could ever need (or handle). London Pride’s on tap; bottles of let’s-add-lime beers knock around in the fridges. Malibu, that fun, coconutty sensation sits front and centre on the shelf. We can’t help but think that sums up the whole Simmons experience: you shouldn’t like what’s here – it’s a bit too sweet, a bit mental – and yet, despite your mind telling you nooooo, your body, your bodddddyyyy is telling you yes. In the space of 20 minutes you’ll hear everything – Mary J Blige, Loud Reid, Flëur, a bit of rock – and they’ve even got DJs on the weekends.
Most Soho bars have the same person. They’ve left work, but work’s plastered all over them like a rash: tight tie, tucked shirt, cufflinks in. Simmons, though, is the kind of place where people roll shirt sleeves up, undo top buttons and loosen Windsor knots. To put it simply, it’s anything but work here. If people aren’t dancing in the corner with their mates or pouring another glass of wine, then they’re playing Mario on the Nintendo 64 they’ve got plugged into the old television set in the corner. And if they’re not doing any of that, they might be adding to the already substantial array of graffiti on the tables: ‘Zoe and Mikel forever’ reads one. Aww, Simmons love.
Simmons is that rare place that combines a brilliant, fun atmosphere at a price point that’s accessible for everyone. That’s the whole point. You’re encouraged to have fun here and you’re encouraged to have fun with everyone else, regardless of where you work or what you can afford. It’s for that person who dreams of putting their phone in aeroplane mode and talking to a real person. It’s for that person who thinks playing Super Mario is better than Angry Birds. And it’s for that person who thinks ordering another round is the best idea they’ve had since that 9AM meeting. They’re right. It is. Drink up and when you’re done here, move on to one of the other six (and soon to be eight) Simmons across the City. We’re already dying to see how they decorate the new ones. Whatever next?