London's Most Unusual Seats

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 48 months ago
London's Most Unusual Seats

Had a long day? Looking for a pub or bar to dive into, grab a seat and take the weight off your feet? If you enter into one of these London establishments, you can do just that — but it may not be a regular chair you find yourself perched on. Saddles, tube seats and even church pews have been taken from their original settings to furnish London.

Prison Cell Toilets

Courthouse Hotel's bar is set in old prison cells. Photo: Matt

In the VIP rooms of the bar at the Courthouse Hotel near Carnaby Street, drinkers can relax in an old prison cell — complete with prison cell toilet. The hotel is on the site of the former Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court and the cells used to hold prisoners until their trials.

Courtroom Benches

Also in the Courthouse Hotel is the Silk Restaurant, an Asian fusion restaurant which still resembles the courtroom it once was. The trials of Oscar Wilde, Mick Jagger and John Lennon all took place here, and it retains original features including the judge’s bench, dock and witness stand. See a photo of the restaurant.

Tube seats

The Upper Deck at London Transport Museum. Photo: Helen Rainford

If you don't get enough of tube seats in your day to day life, head to the Upper Deck Cafe at London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It features seating upholstered in a unique ‘moquette’ fabric design based on the pattern used on the Northern line in the 1930s. London history AND transport-themed cocktails? Where do we sign up?

Cahoots, a bar on Carnaby Street, is designed to look like a closed tube station in post-war Britain — and drinkers can sit in tube carriages, which London Transport Museum experts helped design.

Theatre seats

The long table in the centre of The Riding House Cafe has rows of wooden theatre seats

The Riding House Café, a brasserie on Great Titchfield Street, has some old wooden theatre seats found in an old theatre near California and fixed up in an architectural salvage yard.

When en-route to their new home at Riding House Cafe, the UK port the seats were shipped to lost them after a mix-up with an oversubscribed ship. They were discovered several weeks later in Manchester, meaning they were being screwed into the floor just 30 minutes before the restaurant opened its doors.

Other places known to have theatre seats include Pratts & Payne in Streatham.

Aeroplane seats

"Your emergency exits are here, here, and here". Aeroplane seats at the Phoenix Artist Club


Ice, ice baby. We bet the staff at IceBar near Regent Street get fed up of hearing that one. While the majority of the building is taken up by a regular bar and restaurant, one chamber can be reserved for 40 minute slots. Before you enter, you are given a special cape and gloves to keep you warm within — where everything is made from ice. The temperature is kept at -5°C all year round, as the chairs, tables, and even the glasses are made from ice.

School Desks

Stretching the boundaries of "seating" slightly, the Fitzrovia branch of cocktail bar Simmons goes retro with old-fashioned wooden school desks (complete with lewd graffiti).

Motorbike/scooter seats

Scooter seats formerly at Camden Market. Photo: Jon Dickins

Update: We're informed these scooter seats in Camden have since ridden off into the sunset. Shame.

If you're eating from the street vendors at Camden Lock Market, finding a seat to enjoy your lunch can be tricky. So someone came up with the idea of installing these scooter seats instead. There's even a wooden bar-style table on which you can balance your lunch while you undertake the delicate act of climbing on (all the trickier if you're wearing a skirt).

Similar seats can be found at Joe Delucci's gelato counters — there are branches at Westfield centres in Shepherd's Bush and Stratford, as well as at Brent Cross.

Church pews

Hugo's Restaurant in Queen's Park has a mish-mash of reclaimed furniture, from sanded floorboards taken from a school in Norfolk, to old church chairs and pews, and a bar made from Oak from the London storm of 1987.


Saddles at Beaver Lodge

Beaver Lodge, a Wyoming mountain ranch style bar and club in Chelsea, has more stetsons than London could ever need, plus a life-sized (fake) stuffed bear propped up in the corner and a cow-print bar. Naturally, the bar stools take the form of saddles.

Frog legs

Release your inner animal by perching on one of Rainforest Cafe's bar stools. The animal-themed restaurant, round the corner from Piccadilly Circus, has stools to make your lower half look like that of a giraffe, zebra, frog, duck or a plethora of other animals. Top tip — wear a long coat (longer than waist length) and swing your legs straight out in front of you (hips at a 90° angle). Then have someone take your photo from behind, and voila, you've grown duck legs.

Have we left out any interesting seats? Tell us in the comments below.

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Last Updated 02 October 2017