Sticking my head through the entrance door, everyone stopped talking and looked at me.
It was almost as if a foreigner had stumbled across a hidden local gem.
That’s what it was actually felt like.
Here I was, a northern person in London and I had just discovered India in the middle of Tooting Bec.
This my friends, or sahibs, is The Imperial Durbar. Within, there were exotic decor and tales enough to delight all your senses and transport you to another world.
So why have I come here?
I want to explore the unexpected travel side to London and be wowed with limitless possibilities that you are feeling like you are taking an adventure of a lifetime whilst doing your 9-5 job in the City.
Actually, London to me is where you’ll find anything and everything unexpected. Don’t be surprised to see a man in a tutu pirouetting on the tube during the Monday morning rush hour, chances are no-one will bat an eyelid. But for me, it’s one of the things I love about London and it’s something I truly want to show you.
Starting with The Imperial Durbar:
Thanks to Design My Night, I was able to find a travel themed London cocktail bar only one stop on the tube away from where I was living.
Offering refreshing cocktails, they were just the tonic needed to quench that summer thirst and cool down our sweaty bodies in this 34 degree heat on this hot July day.
The temperature actually felt we were in India!
Literally only under one minute’s walk away from Tooting Bec Underground Station, you’ll find yourself at the seemingly hidden The Imperial Durbar that inside, is fit for a Raj Prince.
Taking blessed pleasure from the wooden ceiling fans, we parked up on the floating tables on our stools amid the laughter and enthusiastic of foreign tongues followed swiftly by the delicious smells of Indian curry that swirled about under our noses.
The smell of spice hung in the air as we browsed the rather quaint menu that is in the form of a newsletter from the Imperial Durbar. You’ll definitely find yourself wrapped up in the menu, offering sweet exotic delights with Indian city names, old and new, being revealed to you like a completed puzzle. Bombay is a name I’ll always associate with India, where I hope to travel in 2017.
I swiftly ordered an Indian Summer cocktail without question. I wait for my change from a £10 note and couldn’t help staring at the gilded golden cash register that day in front of me. Behind it was a selection of exotic sounding spirits intermingled with the spirits of today.
Gin seems to be the popular choice here and quite rightly so for the very friendly staff who told me in a purring voice to sit myself down and she’ll bring the drinks over.
But life in India is not all about sitting outside thanks to their terraced garden out back offering shade and comfy seats to sink in. But I recommend that you explore the rest of the bar and perhaps even in the darkened love nest room offering privacy from prying eyes.
But it was the piano that was my favourite. I could imagine in colonial times when the British tried to maintain their Britishness in stifling heat whilst wearing tight-fitting and heavy clothes, hoping that you wouldn’t swoon from the weather whilst playing the piano with gusto.
That’s what I was feeling like!
Another round of cocktails later, my jacket slung over the arm of the chair, buttons loosened on my shirt, I could feel myself relaxing, my mind going blank and enjoying each minute as it went by. What can you do in scorching weather but relax with a delicious Indian cocktail by your side?
Soon, I was feeling hungry, stomach growling. The Imperial Durbar do offer Indian meals fit for a king button can only pay in cash. Sadly, I only had my card on me so with regret, I had to leave to find food elsewhere.
But I just know, that only a tube stop away where I live, there would be a place where I would be transported back in time and experience a whole new world.
That, my friends, is the Imperial Durbar.