The Essential Tourist's Guide to LGBT London

If you're looking for London's gay bars, or are interested in taking in a special night, our essential guide will give you the rundown to the best parts of LGBT London.

Soho has long been a centre of gay culture and is the area most of us think of when we think of LGBT-friendly London

The West End, however, isn't the only place where the gay community can go to network. Vauxhall, Hackney, Camden, and even Clapham attract diverse crowds for nights out, art exhibitions, live music, and more.

That's why we figured we'd give you a quick Plum Guide to LGBT-friendly neighbourhoods, bars, and events around London, and some handy places to stay.

EAST LONDON'S BEST LGBT-FRIENDLY ESTABLISHMENTS

After the recent wave of gentrification to sweep the area, Hackney has become the hottest LGBT-friendly borough in London. 

Nearby Stoke-Newington (known affectionately as Stokey) is also something of a lesbian mecca and used to be home to the fab local, Blush. 

While Blush is now closed, many of the gay bars in East London have a rich mix of clientele, regardless of their gender.

Dalston Superstore: During the nighttime hours, the Superstore's floors are packed. During the day, it turns surprisingly easily into a  relaxed daytime spot where you can get comfort food and coffee.

Events: Disco Brunch is a drag brunch every Saturday and Sunday afternoon to help you recover from the night. Delicious food and great entertainment provided with free entry.

Address: 117 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB

The Glory: This queer/alternative East End party pub with a cabaret lounge and downstairs nightclub. The Glory reinvigorated London's gay scene and is constantly rebooting the queer scene for a more forward-thinking crowd.

Address: 281 Kingsland Road, E2 8AS

Queen of Hoxton: Rooftop films, drag bingo, and plenty of fab, campy entertainment is what the Queen of Hoxton is known for. 

Events: Glee Club (yeah, you read that right) is a new Monday night event where the LGBT fam can get together for a communal sing-a-long. You also don't have to be based in London to attend.

Address: 1 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX

vFd: As well as its non-judgmental nightclub area, vFd (formerly Vogue Fabrics) is one of London's last underground venues that provides everything from poetry readings to film nights and live music.

Events: Femmetopia Festival is a five-day festival of art, protest, performance, queer-celebration.  
Address: 66 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7XB

SOHO & THE WEST END

Gay history in the West End goes back hundreds of years. Soho, on the other hand, is relatively new to the game. 

During the AIDS crisis in the 80s, gay discos and bars were blamed and shunned. All but one - Heaven - had no choice but to close their doors. Thankfully, around '86, Soho's LGBT bars and clubs saw a resurgence. 

SHE Soho: SHE is now London's only exclusively female hangout. After recent refurbishments, this small basement bar looks like a lavish cocktail bar and attract women of all ages.

Events: She's Single Mingle is a fun new way to meet people. And who knows - maybe you'll find the love of your life.

Address: 23 Old Compton St, W1D 5JL

The Retro Bar: Eccentrics aren't just welcome but praised at The Retro Bar. With music along the lines of Bowie and Blondie and themed nights, The Retro Bar is a hidden treasure of Soho. Its clientele is mixed but there's a lot of women here.

Address: 2 George Ct, WC2N 6HH

Comptons of Soho: A great, no-frills bar and Soho staple, which has been serving the community for decades.

Address: 51-53 Old Compton St, W1D 6HN

The Yard Bar: As its name suggests, Yard is tucked away inside a courtyard away from the raucous London nightlife.

Address: 57 Rupert St, W1D 7PL

Village: With three separate-themed floors (boudoir, café-bar, and disco), Village has been a firm fixture in the Soho gay scene for almost 30 years.

Address: 81 Wardour St, W1D 6QD

Gay's The Word is still Britain's best outlet for lesbian, gay and trans-interest books. The stock is wonderfully wide-ranging, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the atmosphere's great.

- Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet

Gay's The Word: The only exclusively LGBT bookshop in the entirety of England, Gay's the Word has been open since the 70s and must be protected and savoured. 

Address: 66 Marchmont St, WC1N 1AB

Bonus: Take a curated queer tour of Soho!

South of the River in VAUXHALL

Vauxhall is a village steeped in gay history. Everyone in the LGBT community has heard of The Royal Vauxhall Tavern: One of London's oldest, still-running cabaret venues, it has been a staple for drag queens and entertainment for generations.

For the most part, the bars under Vauxhall's railway arches are very male-oriented and attract a younger crowd but they're also some of the only bars that stay open 'til dawn.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern: LGBTQ stalwart Vauxhall is the queen of Voho. Providing a welcoming and unique atmosphere to all who enter through its doors, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern provides reasonably priced drinks and diverse entertainment. LGBT-friendly London begins and ends at the Vauxhall.

Events: Bar Wotever is a Royal Queer Variety Show that takes place every Tuesday. Every single person under the LGBTQ umbrella is welcome and embraced. 

Address: 372 Kennington Ln, SE11 5HY

Eagle: A fully refurbished bar in the heart of Vauxhall, the Eagle is an iconic LGBT London venue known for its vinyl discos, beer garden, and live music.

Address: 349 Kennington Ln, SE11 5QY

SOUTH LONDON: FROM BRIXTON TO CLAPHAM

George and Dragon: Greenwich's most vivid and exciting venue - including the O2 Arena - George and Dragon is a late-night bar with an old-school British pub atmosphere. George and Dragon is open until 2 am every night.

Address: 2 Blackheath Hill, London SE10 8DE

Two Brewers: Pub quizzes, drag cabarets, live music, and rock 'n' roll bingo; you name it, it's all happening down at Clapham High Street's most corking gay bar.

Address: 114 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UJ

ASSORTED LGBT MEETUPS, EVENTS & FESTIVALS in London

  • MINT Events hosts the most popular lesbian and bisexual events around town in different venues every single time.
  • The Cocoa Butter Club showcases and celebrates queer performers of colour with cabaret and other regular events.
  • Butch, Please is a monthly night for lesbians of all shapes and sizes. While it's butch-centric, everyone is encouraged to bring along their friends of all genders and sexualities.
  • And What? Queer Arts Festival takes place annually in October and is a platform to display all kinds of art from all kinds of queer individuals.
  • Queers Without Beers is a monthly sober social for all non-drinking branches of the LGBTQ+ collective.
  • Diversity Choir is London's original LGBT chamber choir who put on events and concerts throughout the year.



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