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Food & Drink

23 Of London’s Best LGBTQ+ Bars And Pubs

Julie Freeman Julie Freeman - Staff Writer

the best lgbtq+ bars in London

These LGBTQ+-friendly bars and pubs are guaranteed to show you a good time, year-round.

Despite the devastating news that saw London’s Pride Parade cancelled for the second year running, there’s still plenty of spots open you can get down to and celebrate. Whether you’re looking for the best Pride festivities in June, September or want to hit the town any other night of the year, these LGBTQ+-friendly bars and pubs are always packed with fun and great times.

1. Dalston Superstore, Dalston

Dalston Superstore
Photo: Google Maps

Chilled out brunches by day, rowdy fun by night: Dalston Superstore is your go-to destination for great food and smashing parties on Kingsland High Street. Head to the bar and restaurant first, and end the night on the basement dancefloor amongst a lively, diverse LGBTQ+ crowd. 117 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB, nearest station is Dalston Kingsland.

2. The Karaoke Hole, Dalston

Is singing tunes your idea of a fun night out? The Karaoke Hole is Dalston Superstore’s little sister venue, and unites the excitement of drag shows with live karaoke, inviting party people to own the stage themselves. They also have host shows, and bottomless prosecco pizza parties — do you need any more reason to go? 95 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB, nearest station is Dalston Kingsland.

3. The Glory, Haggerston

The Glory prides itself in being one of east London’s best gay bars, drag hothouses, LGBTQ+ performance venues, nightclubs, and curators of London shows, festivals, contests and battles. You can find drag shows and LGBTQ+ arts events taking place here most evenings, and smashing late-night parties on the weekend. 281 Kingsland Rd, E2 8AS, nearest station is Haggerston.

4. Comptons of Soho

Comprising of two bars and a quieter lounge area, Soho’s Comptons pub has been a staple in the city’s gay scene since 1986. With weekly pub quizzes and lively DJ nights, this place is surely a favourite amongst locals. 51-53 Old Compton Street, W1D 6HN, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

5. She Soho

As the name suggests, She Soho is London’s queer women’s venue, basement bar, and after-hours club. Though the space is very women-centric, male guests are also allowed to enjoy a fun night out here. Come here for DJ nights, drag king cabaret, burlesque, and social events. 23a Old Compton St, W1D 5JL, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

6. Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Vauxhall

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has a long, proud history as a party destination for celebrities, drag queens, and the great and good of the LGBTQ+ community, with the site’s first drag shows dating back to after WW2. More recently, in 2015, it became the first building in the UK to gain Grade II-listed status on the basis of its importance to the LGBTQ+ community, and throws some of the city’s best drag events to this day. 372 Kennington Ln, SE11 5HY, nearest station is Vauxhall.

7. The Friendly Society, Soho

If you’re looking for pretty cocktails, eclectic vibes, great music and kitsch decorations, head to The Friendly Society in Soho. Here you’ll find glitter balls, barbie dolls glued to the ceiling, a room resembling a fish tank, and an overall quirky, Instagrammable atmosphere. 79 Wardour St, W1D 6QB, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

8. G-A-Y Bar, Soho

Photo: Shutterstock

Perhaps one of London’s most well-known LGBTQ+ bars (partly due to its name), is Soho’s G-A-Y Bar. Start your early evening at this three-floor party bar with music and a drink or two, and end up at G-A-Y’s late-night club which is located just around the corner, at 5 Goslett Yard, WC2H 0EA. 30 Old Compton St, W1D 4UR, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

9. Ku Bar, Leicester Square / Little Ku, Soho

These sister venues run by the Ku Group are amongst London’s most celebrated LGBTQ+ nightlife spots. Ku Bar at Leicester Square and Little Ku in Soho are both pre-club bars serving cocktails and champagne, as well as nightly DJ entertainment, and early-night parties in low-lit basements. Find Ku Bar at 30 Lisle St, WC2H 7BA, and Little Ku at 25 Frith St, W1D 5LB, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

10. Rupert Street Bar, Soho

Rupert Street Bar is a lively spot for a cocktail evening before hitting the clubs of Soho later at night. With large windows, the bar is a fantastic place to people-watch, and the best part is, their happy hour starts at noon on Saturdays and Sundays! 50 Rupert St, W1D 6DR, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

11. Freedom Bar, Soho

Freedom is a funky bar and club with a ‘theatrical atmosphere’, cabaret club events, and luxurious decor in the heart of Soho. In addition to a dedicated basement club area with dance poles and DJs, there’s also a more quiet cocktail bar on the ground floor. 60-66 Wardour St, W1F 0TA, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

12. The Yard Bar, Soho

The Yard is a clear winner for summer nights, boasting a large heated garden courtyard and balconied loft bar with plenty of space. The inside space is just as attractive, and you can expect an extensive cocktail menu served by barmen who, according to their website, are ‘pretty tasty’, too… 57 Rupert St, W1D 7PL, nearest stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

13. Circa Soho

At Circa Soho, you can enjoy a relaxed mid-week drink or a crazed party weekend accompanied by an impressive roster of DJs. They also have a generous outdoor seating area on Frith Street, and are open daily from 1pm. For a later night out, you can head to Circa’s Embankment nightclub, which is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. Find Circa Soho at 62 Frith St, W1D 3JN, nearest station is Tottenham Court Road, and Circa Embankment at Hungerford House, Victoria Embankment, WC2N 6PA, nearest station is Embankment.

14. Halfway To Heaven, Trafalgar Square

Located between Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square, Halfway To Heaven is a traditional gay pub and cabaret show bar with a laid-back ground floor and club-like basement area. The pub is located not far from Heaven, a Charing Cross night club that’s popular with London’s LGBTQ+ scene, which gave Halfway To Heaven its name. 7 Duncannon St, WC2N 4JF, nearest station is Charing Cross.

15. Retro Bar, Trafalgar Square

Photo: Facebook, Retro Bar

This small indie bar celebrates iconic rock and pop figures, from Bolan to Bowie, while playing the best of 70s, 80s, New Romantic, goth and alternative music. In line with the Retro Bar theme, there’s also a jukebox, and many other fun nods to old school culture. 2 George Ct, WC2N 6HH, nearest station is Charing Cross.

16. Two Brewers, Clapham

Two Brewers is a cabaret bar and weekend-only dance club in Clapham, where you can catch comedy shows, drag bingo nights, theatre plays, and plenty of other fun events. 114 Clapham High St, SW4 7UJ, nearest station is Clapham Common.

17. The Bridge Bar, Clapham

Another popular LGBTQ+ spot in Clapham is The Bridge Bar, a charming wine bar nestled under a railway arch. With both indoor and outdoor space available, guests can enjoy a variety of wines and cocktails, and participate in quizzes, games, drag shows and music nights. 8 Voltaire Rd, SW4 6DQ, nearest station is Clapham Common.

18. Central Station Public House, King’s Cross

Situated in the bustling King’s Cross area, Central Station Public House is a great spot for casual meals, cocktail happy hours, a game of pool, karaoke and cabaret nights, as well as late-night club and DJ events. In addition to being a popular nightlife spot, Central Station is also a boutique bed and breakfast. 37 Wharfdale Rd., N1 9SD, nearest station is King’s Cross St. Pancras.

19. New Bloomsbury Set, King’s Cross

New Bloomsbury Set is a (not so secret) secret speakeasy cocktail bar, tucked beneath Marchmont Street and Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury. The basement lounge features cosy and low-lit private bunkers, a large bar, and hosts regular drag shows, quizzes, dance nights, and special events. 76a Marchmont St, WC1N 1AG, nearest station is Russell Square.

20. The Queen Adelaide, Cambridge Heath

The Queen Adelaide comes from the team behind Hackney’s infamous George & Dragon pub, a well-known east London LGBTQ+ venue which was forced to shut down in 2015. The new pub in Cambridge Heath is a vibrant space with a basement bar pouring draught beer, cider, and a selection of wines and spirits, and is open until 3am on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 483 Hackney Rd, E2 9ED, nearest station is Cambridge Heath.

21. The Cock Tavern, Kennington

The 200-year-old Cock Tavern (cock as in bird, obviously) calls itself a ‘free spirited Free House’, perfect for after work drinks to midnight tipples. The Georgian Tiki-style bar serves classic cocktails and a selection of beers and wines in dim lighting, with eclectic decor adding to the tiki vibes. Make sure to try their ‘Cock Punch’! 340 Kennington Rd, SE11 4LD, nearest station is Kennington.

22. Colours, Hoxton

Colours Hoxton Christmas Sing-A-Long Disco
Photo: @colourshoxton

Colours is a multi-arts bar and club on Hoxton Square, serving as a lunchtime hangout and creative hub during the daytime, and a spot for wild and wonderful events at night. They host disco bottomless brunches, cabarets, drag shows and battles, music nights, and more fun events. 2-4 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU, nearest station is Old Street.

23. The Old Ship, Limehouse

lgbt+ bars
Photo: Facebook, The Old Ship

This independently run East End pub has everything you could wish for, including a beer garden, pool table, a function room for weekend DJ events and live cabaret shows, as well as a big selection of real ale, wine, and beer. The Old Ship also hosts regular charity events for St Josephs Hospice and The Albert Kennedy Trust, which is pretty cool. 17 Barnes St, E14 7NW, nearest station is Limehouse.

For a later night out, here are 14 of London’s very best LGBTQ+ nightclubs.