Must-see nightlife in London

  • Punchbowl

    The West End

    The Grade II–listed Punchbowl, one of Mayfair's oldest pubs, is split between the public bar, a more formal dining room, and a reservations-only club…

  • Dove

    Notting Hill & West London

    Severely inundated by the epic floodwaters of 1928, this gem of a 17th-century Fuller's pub revels in historic charm and superb Thames views. Scottish…

  • Connaught Bar

    The West End

    Drinkers who know their stuff single out the travelling martini trolley for particular praise, but almost everything mixed at the silver-and-platinum…

  • Purl

    The West End

    Purl is a fabulous underground drinking den – decked out in overstuffed vintage furniture in intimate nooks, and adorned with antique wood, stripped…

  • Rivoli Bar

    The West End

    You may not quite need a diamond as big as the Ritz to drink at this art-deco marvel, but it might help. All camphor wood, illuminated Lalique glass,…

  • Dukes London

    The West End

    Superb martinis and a gentlemen’s-club-like ambience are the ingredients of this classic bar, where white-jacketed masters mix up perfect preparations…

  • Callooh Callay

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    Given it’s inspired by Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poem, this bar’s eccentric decor is to be expected, and the top-notch cocktails have…

  • Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

    Notting Hill & West London

    With its statues, religious paintings, gaunt oil portraits, panelling and dense drapes, the wildly eclectic, eccentric, boho and gothic Kensal Green bar…

  • Found

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    Single-handedly propping up Shoreditch's cocktail scene this side of Rivington St, speakeasy-style Found employs a decidedly simple equation for success:…

  • Seven Stars

    The West End

    Despite this 1602 coaching inn's Lilliputian dimensions, swarms of lawyers from nearby Lincoln's Inn congregate here after each day's business. Expect to…

  • Mikkeller Bar London

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    Legendary Danish microbrewery Mikkeller is known for its collaborations, but its latest is next level. Mikkeller's founder met musician Rick Astley on a…

  • White Swan

    Richmond, Kew & Hampton Court

    This traditional pub in Twickenham overlooks a quiet stretch of the Thames from what must be one of the most English-looking streets in London. It boasts…

  • Swift

    The West End

    A favourite Soho drinking spot, Swift has a sleek, candlelit upstairs bar for walk-ins seeking a superior cocktail before dinner or the theatre, and a…

  • Tap on the Line

    Richmond, Kew & Hampton Court

    Right by the platform at Kew Gardens station (the only London tube platform with its own pub), this lovingly restored Victorian yellow-brick boozer is…

  • She Soho

    The West End

    This intimate basement bar has DJs, comedy, drag-king cabaret, burlesque, live music and party nights, all in addition to a generally friendly and…

  • Rake

    South Bank

    Run by the founders of hop emporium Utobeer, Rake has an astonishing selection of suds, including rare brews impossible to find anywhere else in town…

  • Fourpure

    Brixton, Peckham & South London

    Though it's buried at the back of a security-gated working industrial estate, Fourpure has the fanciest taproom on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Revamped and…

  • Glory

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    A charming cast has taken over this cosy corner pub, transforming it into one of London's most legendary queer cabaret venues. Order a Twink in Pink or a…

  • Scarsdale Tavern

    Notting Hill & West London

    This Fuller's pub, quietly located along Edwardes Sq, is a lovely place for a pint of ale or some satisfying food. Out the front in warmer weather, there…

  • Queen’s Arms

    Kensington & Hyde Park

    Just around the corner from the Royal Albert Hall is this blue-grey-painted godsend. Located in an adorable cobbled-mews setting off bustling Queen’s Gate…

  • Outdoor area at Kings Head & Courtyard

    Kings Head & Courtyard

    Notting Hill & West London

    Carefully choreographed randomness is the order of the day in this sizeable Fulham establishment, which has a large indoor drinking and seating space …

  • Frank's

    Brixton, Peckham & South London

    It doesn't take much to make Londoners happy on a sunny day, and the simple summer-only setup at Frank's is an al-fresco favourite. Drink in the views …

  • The exterior of Trading House

    Trading House

    London

    Formerly the Bank of New Zealand, this magnificent Grade II–listed building has reincarnated as a whimsical mock Victorian-era trading outpost stuffed…

  • Entrance to London Cocktail Club.

    London Cocktail Club

    The West End

    Pendant bar lights, bright clutter, graffitied walls and raucous atmosphere give a New York vibe to this snug basement saloon just north of Oxford St. If…

  • The discreet entrance to Hawksmoor, famed for its high quality steaks

    Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    Black leather, bevelled mirror tiles and a copper wall gleam with candlelight in this darkly glamorous basement bar below the eponymous steak restaurant…

  • The facade of Jamaica Wine House, a popular bar in the City

    Jamaica Wine House

    London

    The 'Jampot' does double duty as a historic wood-lined pub with a basement wine bar. It stands on the site of London's first coffee house (1652),…

  • Outside Vaulty Towers, a quirky bar and events space in Waterloo

    Vaulty Towers

    South Bank

    This wacky bar is a mess of eccentric theatre props courtesy of its partner, nearby arts space Vaults. You can't miss it on the street; it's covered with…

  • The art deco exterior of The Blackfriar, a pub near the station of the same name

    Blackfriar

    London

    Built in 1875 on the site of a Dominican monastery (hence the name and the corpulent chap above the door), this much-loved pub was famously saved from…

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    Ye Olde Mitre

    Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

    A delightfully cosy historic pub with an extensive beer selection, tucked away in a backstreet off Hatton Garden, Ye Olde Mitre was originally built in…

  • The entrance to the Castle, an historic and popular pub in Tooting

    Castle

    North London

    A gorgeous, boutique pub – if there is such a thing – with a winning formula of snazzy decor (wooden floors, designer wallpaper, soft furnishings and…

  • The outside of Balham Bowls Club

    Balham Bowls Club

    Brixton, Peckham & South London

    This former lawn bowling clubhouse no longer has its green, but it’s lost none of its retro allure. 'BBC' is now one of the best pubs in South London. The…

  • The exterior of The Alma

    Alma

    North London

    This friendly pub features film-themed posters and paraphernalia, and serves a decent variety of craft beer, ale and cider. The Sunday roasts are superb…

  • The exterior of The Old Frizzle in Wimbledon

    The Old Frizzle

    Richmond, Kew & Hampton Court

    This lively, spacious bar serves reasonably priced drinks and impressive food – take on the Wimbledon Whopper burger if you fancy a challenge. The staff…

  • The entrance to the Prince Alfred, a Victorian pub in Maida Vale

    The Prince Alfred

    Notting Hill & West London

    The Prince Alfred is a handsome pub in the upmarket neighbourhood of Maida Vale. Its original Victorian decor is intact – complete with ‘snob screens’…

  • Merchant House

    London

    This well-hidden bar, on a seemingly forgotten alleyway off pedestrian-only Bow Lane, has some 600 whiskies, 400 rums and 400 gins. Don't worry about a…

  • Viaduct Tavern

    London

    Opened in 1869, the Viaduct Tavern is one of the only remaining Victorian gin palaces in the City, with etched glass panes, blood-red embossed vines…

  • Earl of Lonsdale

    Notting Hill & West London

    For those traipsing Portobello Rd this is a good bolt-hole, named after the bon vivant founder of the AA (Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous…

  • Heaven

    The West End

    Encouraging hedonism since 1979, when it opened on the site of a former roller disco, this perennially popular mixed/gay bar under the Charing Cross…

  • Counting House

    London

    With its grand wooden staircase and painted ceilings edged with gold-coloured crown moulding, this pub, part of the Fuller's chain, is still every bit as…

  • Museum Tavern

    The West End

    Inaugurated in 1723, this storied pub has refreshed scholars from the British Museum's Reading Room including Karl Marx, George Orwell, Sir Arthur Conan…

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