London’s top 5 gay bars
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, so we thought it high time to check out some of our fine city’s celebrated gay nightlife. From laid-back locals to disco joints, here’s our pick of some of the hot spots.
The George and Dragon is a Shoreditch haunt popular with gays, straights and everyone in between. What it may lack in size it makes up for with character and charm – it is probably an understatement to describe the décor as ‘eclectic’ – it’s winningly bizarre. When London Living popped in for a quick drink, an elderly lady was spinning disco tracks on the decks to an enthusiastic reception. Clientele are generally attitude-free, a plus point in super-trendy Shoreditch. Perfect for a few drinks with friends or a stop-off before heading on to the Joiners Arms which is down the road within easy stumbling distance.
For a gay pub, The Retro Bar is as relaxed and as unpretentious as can possibly be, with a more indie/alternative vibe than other gay venues in London. Neatly tucked away down an alleyway off The Strand, The Retro benefits from a hidden-away location and tends not to pick up any passing trade or tourists. With plenty of seating, relatively cheap drinks and a great jukebox selection, The Retro Bar is the closest thing to your ‘local’ you’ll find on the gay scene.
The Duke of Wellington is one of the most popular gay pubs in London, which probably owes more to its location (in the heart of Soho) and clientele than it does to the pub itself. Unremarkable décor and standard inner-London drink prices are compensated for by the busy crowds which tend to be of the older and bearish variety. The place to be is crammed with the crowd outside on the pavement, regardless of whether you smoke or not.
In the midst of Soho, this bar, set back from the street, with its own rather exotic front yard, has Euro-trash charm by the gallon. In the summer, tanned, handsome men in vests showing off their well-honed muscles cluster together sipping frosty bottled beer and checking one another out. There’s a distinctive Ibiza vibe with tropical plants, exposed brick wall and a balcony on the upper level overlooking the yard itself. A pick-up paradise.
So cutting edge no-one is really sure if it is gay, straight or somewhere in between, this hipster haven bang in the middle of Dalston’s buzzing night scene is packed with boys, girls, drag queens and everything in between, all decked out in their finest gladrags. There’s a club downstairs where you can dance the night away plus imaginative theme nights, from Let’s Get Quizzical to Gorgeous Trolls. If you’re hungover the next day, they also do a seriously good brunch which will have you up and at them in no time.
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