A queer guide to London’s bars and clubs
London’s LGBTQ scene continues to evolve — familiar places close down and new favourites emerge.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the places that you might want to check out.
This is the most well-known LGBTQ precinct in London, centred around Old Compton Street. Popular with tourists, Soho still draws a lively mix of locals due to its central location.
- Rupert Street: A basic bar. You can stand drink outside when the weather is warm.
- The Yard: Probably the best option for a beer, their outside space is one of their features.
- Circa: Can get a bit rammed, but probably one of the better options in Soho.
- Admiral Duncan: One of the mainstays of Old Compton Street. Generally attracts a slightly older crowd.
- Village: Generally busy with an upbeat energy.
- Ku Bar: Just off Leicester Square, this is generally fairly lively with attractive tops-off staff. There’s also a smaller bar in Frith Street.
- Duke of Wellington: Popular gay pub that exudes a masculine vibe.
- Friendly Society: An odd sort of bar that is generally more miss than hit.
- Comptons: Popular gay pub on Old Compton Street.
- New Bloomsbury Set: Not really Soho, but Soho-adjacent, this is relaxed and civilised. If you lived nearby you’d be here all the time.
- G-A-Y: There’s a bar on Old Compton Street and a club on Charing Cross. This is all about cheap drinks and a young crowd.
- Kings Arms: Tucked away in Poland Street, this is a pub for bears – the perfect place for a quiet pint.
Generally known as a clubbing destination, Vauxhall is where you’ll find the South London gays.
- Royal Vauxhall Tavern: An institution — known for cabaret and performance.
- The Eagle: This used to men-only but is now aiming for more of a mixed crowd.
- Fire: A club that hosts a variety of different nights.
If you like things a bit alternative, then East London is going to be where you find your people.
- The Glory: Ruling the East London scene with an eclectic mix of drag, cabaret, and performance.
- Dalston Superstore: You never quite know what you’re going to get at Dalston Superstore, but it’s always interesting.
- The White Swan: This is an old-school gay bar with drag acts and amateur strip nights.
If you live south of the river and fancy a night out without making the trek into town, then you’ll probably end up at one of the bars in Clapham.
- Two Brewers: Lots of drag shows and a relaxed atmosphere.
- The Bridge: A good option if you’re looking for somewhere to hang out with your friends.
- XXL: Located beneath Blackfriars Bridge on the south side of the river, XXL is a Saturday night destination club. While it began life as a club for bears and their admirers, it now attracts a diverse crowd of all ages and sizes — mainly thanks to its big dance-floor and great music. One of the features of this place is its large darkroom where anything goes.
- Brut: A regular night. Aimed at muscle bears.
Saunas and sex-on-premises
- Pleasuredrome: Just near Waterloo station, a big modern space with all the amenities you’d expect.
- Chariots: In the heart of the Vauxhall clubs, this is often where the after-party is at.
- Sweatbox: Centrally located in Soho. Generally attracts a slightly younger crowd.
- Hard On: This is a popular sex club night that is generally held in Vauxhall.
- Vault: A sex club near Warren Street.
- The Backstreet: A sex club in Mile End.
- The Stable: A sauna located in Covent Garden.
- Saunabar: Located in Marble Arch.
- Locker Room: Located in Kennington, not far from Vauxhall.
- Sailors: Located in Limehouse.
- E15 Club: Located in Stratford.