Late night London pulses with verve and diversity; bars and clubs suited to all tastes are open 24 hours a day and, on any given night of the week, you’ll find a party and new friends to fill it with.
Conversely, the city has tragically seen half of its live music venues shut their doors over the last decade. A feeling pervades that, slowly, the independent locations that remain the city’s creative heart are being razed in favour of faceless chains and apartments for the privileged few.
Regardless, the potential in the city is, quite literally, intoxicating. The West End’s Soho is the city’s de facto gay area, though it also has a rich history of hard drinking pubs. The hippest bars are now over in Peckham, though for a cocktail-in-a-jam-jar fix you could head to the formerly-mean streets of Dalston and Hackney. Angel or Clapham have a wealth of options, and though the streets of Camden and Brixton - traditionally the heartland of punk and reggae in the capital, respectively - aren’t as raw as they once were, there’s still a special energy on these rain-splattered pavements.
Even though in theory there are no longer any fixed closing times and a number of venues have applied for extended or 24-hour licences, in practice most pubs and bars still close at midnight. Concerts normally start at 2000, and clubs usually open at 2200, and stay open until 0200 during the week and around 0400 at weekends.
Bars in London
Bradley’s Spanish Bar
Tucked in a tiny, winding street off Tottenham Court Road is one of the few remaining bastions of classic London drinking culture. The velvet sofas may be faded and the toilets may be ropey, but the vinyl jukebox doesn’t stop until the beers do. A joy.Address: Fitzrovia, 42-44 Hanway Street, London, W1T 1UT
Telephone: +44 20 7636 0359
The Auld Shillelagh
London is blessed by a wealth of Irish bars, but The Auld Shillelagh might be the best. With its narrow bar, it's not one to visit if you don't like bumping elbows with strangers, but there's nowhere better when the Irish are playing rugby. Goes without saying that the Guinness is transcendental.Address: , 105 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 OUD
Telephone: +44 20 7249 5951
If a traditional English pub is what you are after, then the 17th-century George Inn is the perfect starting point. It’s been serving mead since medieval times, and is listed as a Grade 1 building. If you need to soak up the ale afterwards, Borough Market is just round the corner.Address: Southwark, 75-77 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1NH
Telephone: +44 20 7407 2056.
Clubs in London
Its status as Peckham’s hippest club is a hard one to challenge, nowhere has done more to put the area on the nightlife map as this multi level venue in Block A of the CLF Art Cafe. You’ll find all strands of dance music there, though it’s most famous for its legendary, twice-monthly South London Soul Train club night.Address: Peckham, 133 Rye Lane, London, SE15 4ST
Telephone: +44 207 7732 5275
Fabric has long been the spiritual home of UK club culture and features sets from the world’s best DJs playing techno, house, drum n’ bass, electro and everything in between. It sells out its 2,500 nightly capacity most weekend nights and if you asked most seasoned UK clubbers for a recommendation, they’d send you here.Address: Clerkenwell, 77A Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HJ
Telephone: +44 20 7336 8898.
It’s definitely at the cheesier end of the scale, but G.A.Y is an icon of London gay culture. Situated on Soho’s Old Compton - traditionally the home of the capital’s LGBT scene - the three floors offer a flamboyant array of entertainment, with theme nights, drinks promos and a video jukebox system drawing large, party-hard crowds.Address: Soho, 30 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4UR
Telephone: +44 20 7494 2756.
Ministry of Sound
Situated in the site of an old bus garage, Ministry of Sound was the UK’s first Nightclub dedicated to ‘house’ music. The music has become so popular that the Ministry of Sound also has its own record label, boasting to launch the careers of artists such as Example, Wretch 32 and Sigala.Address: , 103 Gaunt Street, London, SE1 6DP
Telephone: +44 20 7740 8600.
Live music in London
Legendary among London music venues and a favourite stop for big names and alternative acts alike, it has a particular penchant for rock, metal and indie. Previously a cinema, Brixton Academy – officially known as O2 Academy Brixton – has become one of the city’s most frequented music venues and tickets for popular names sell out fast. It is one of London’s most sizeable non-arena venues, with a capacity of around 5,000.Address: Brixton, 211 Stockwell Road, London, SW9 9SL
Telephone: +44 20 7771 3000
It’s a hanger but the vast multi-purpose arena at the heart of the O2 entertainment complex in Greenwich attracts the world’s biggest names and most flamboyant shows. Stars such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and, uhm, Peter Andre, have all graced the stage of this ginormous, 20,000-capacity venue.Address: North Greenwich, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DX
Telephone: +44 20 8463 2000
From big name gigs to like the Apple Music Festival, Camden’s Roundhouse is a jewel of London’s live music scene. Previously a railway engine shed, this 1,700 capacity Grade II listed circular building is renowned as one of the capital’s foremost for sound and ambience.Address: Chalk Farm, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8EH
Telephone: +44 300 678 9222