Some of the world's most intriguing bars are in locations you might not expect, hidden in taco joints and noodle shops, or disguised as everything from umbrella shops to video stores.
These tucked-away watering holes invite those who find them to enjoy craft cocktails in settings that range from a cozy Prohibition-era hideout to a 1950s airplane cabin. Now Swindon has its very own ‘hidden bar’, in this case housed in the vault of the old post office building in Victoria Road, and named, you guessed it, The Vault!
The Vault Bar & Lounge finally opened its doors for the first time over the August Bank holiday weekend after postponing the original date for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic. All told, owners Alex Mastrodomenico and Matthew Barr have been working on getting the right venue in the right shape for two years.
Alex told us: “I have worked in bars since I was young and more recently I was the manager of a restaurant, but having my own place is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We had looked at a few places but as soon as the vault (taking up half of the old post office) became available we knew it was the one.”
“I’ve travelled all over the world trying different cocktail bars to get ideas so I can do something I’m passionate about. I’m particularly inspired by ‘hidden bars’ and places like Paradiso in Barcelona, 18th Room in New York and Anonymous Bar in Prague.”
“We wanted The Vault to have a select, intimate feel; the kind of vibe you would expect from a members only club, and that’s reflected in the décor, which is very traditional with wood panelling and lots of black and gold features.”
The pair say the bar will “bring something fresh to Old Town” with flavours from across the world.
Matthew says: “The spirit selection will have a taste from various countries and the cocktails we have made ourselves. We have 20 different rums, 15 vodkas, 10 tequilas and whiskies. We just want people to expand their taste. They will get a flavour of Mauritius, America and Barcelona. We also stock Louis XIII cognac, the finest cognac in the world, which is already proving popular.”
Like all bar owners, Alex and Matthew are taking measures to ensure their customers will be safe from the coronavirus.
They are cutting the capacity by 70 per cent so customers can socially distance safely and there will be hand sanitisation stations on the door, masks will be worn and customers will be rotated every two hours so they can clean the area regularly.
“We’re going to extremes to make sure this bar is as safe for people as it possibly can be,” Alex said. “For the moment we are fully booked at the weekend and busy during the week, too, so if you’re planning to visit us I suggest booking in advance.”
As they say in the bars around the world that inspired The Vault - Salud! Prost! Santé! Gesondheid!
To make a booking, please message The Vault on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thevaultbarlounge/
The Vault, 119 Victoria Road, Swindon SN1 3BL / 07305 273393