Cafe Cairo

  • (020) 7771 1201
  • 88 Landor Road, SW9 (map of this place)
  • SW9 9PH
  • I don't know when it opens, but it's open very late indeed. Possibly until the last person goes home.
  • Tube stop: [Clapham North]?

Cafe Cairo business card

The Cafe Cairo is an exotic and wonderful place, known by few but loved by all who frequent it. It's a tea and coffee house that combines an upstairs in the best tradition of the Middle East with a basement of a much more modern, Western style. The cafe sells freshly made fruit cocktails and "smoothies", and teas and coffees of various impeccable pedigrees, as well as offering shisha (aka narghile, hubble-bubble, hookah) pipes and a range of flavoured tobaccos to smoke in them. There are some bottled beers, and San Miguel on tap.

The crown jewel of this establishment must be the back room: a long, warm place, with a tented roof and wall hangings, gentle lanterns to illuminate it, low wooden benches with numerous cushions and Arabic or Arabic-flavoured music playing - a faithful representation of a Middle Eastern coffee tent. The atmosphere is comfortable and friendly, and the air is full of the aromas of coffee, tea, and smoke. People tend to settle in here and stay for a long time, so you might need to get in early if you want somewhere to sit.

Downstairs, the cafe offers a dark, sparkly-lit, loud music environment to get a bit of sensory overload in; I didn't spend any time down there myself when I visited but I'm told it can get very hot and smoky after a while.

Prices I encountered: small pot of mint tea £2, large £3; fresh fruit smoothies about £3; shisha pipe £4 initially and £1.50 for refills. Later on in the night they start charging an entry fee to get in; I'm not sure quite how much it is but I think it's in the nature of a couple of pounds.

Overall, the Cafe Cairo is a hidden gem, and an ideal place to escape from alcohol culture on a Friday night, or to spend a few pleasant hours in with some friends and a pipe, drinking glasses of mint tea. (But watch out, time can pass very quickly!)

Smoking policy

The Cairo has recently started displaying the following sign with regards to the smoking of certain substances on the premises.

Cannabis at Café Cairo

From Monday 12th August 2002 with reluctance we will no longer be able to over-look the smoking of cannabis at Café Cairo.

It is time to remind ourselves how we live under the most restrictive laws in the developed world - when enforced. To their credit, the Met have always allowed creative yet slightly dubious initiatives to flourish - that is until we rattled the cage. History shows that revolution is not this country's way.

We are truly sorry to have to make this childish restriction on your personal freedom. We had 5 good years and I think proved beyond all doubt the conviviality of this herb. Café Cairo became a model for neighbourhood wellbeing.

But the fact remains. If we do not take action immediately Café Cairo will be closed. With such an ultimatum we ask for your cooperation with this matter.

How sad.

(Latitude: 51.465141 Longitude: -0.124517)
Last edited 2006-04-10 15:04:00 (version 8; diff). List all versions.