Secretive Urbanism: 13 Exclusive Speakeasies & Shops with Hidden Entrances

Shareen Vintage, New York City

The only outward sign of the existence of Shareen’s Vintage in New York City is a strapless red ball gown hung from a balcony when the shop is open. Otherwise, there’s no sign and no obvious facade. Ring the buzzer, and they’ll let you into the women-only boutique full of vintage dresses and originals by Sharon herself, where you can enjoy complimentary wine, champagne, candy and popcorn while browsing.

Sunshine Laundry & Arcade, New York City

Sunshine Laundry in Greenpoint has always had a few pinball machines mixed in with its washers and dryers, but after a recent renovation, all of the arcade components were placed behind a soundproofed wall. To play, pull on the two dryer doors mounted to the far wall, which will grant you access to the new ‘pinball speakeasy.’

Ladies and Gents, London

A former underground public restroom in Kentish Town, London now hosts ‘Ladies & Gents,’ a bar and distillery. The sign outside still suggests that you’ll find a place to relieve yourself upon entering, and technically, that’s still true, but some people might be surprised to find themselves in a small, dimly lit cocktail bar instead of a tiled toilet.

Beauty & Essex Pawn Shop, Brooklyn

The fading sign of Beauty & Essex, located just around the corner from the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, seems to tell of an almost entirely bygone era of New York City, where businesses with similar facades once blossomed. Today, most of them are being replaced by sleek chain stores and banks, which might be just about the only suspicious thing about this particular business still existing in a gentrified neighborhood. Signs outside say things like ‘Stuff – Get It While It’s Hot!’ There’s a functional pawn shop inside, but the real destination is an upscale restaurant hidden behind an unmarked door in the back.