LGBT guide to London
London frequently tops the list of best LGBT destinations and it’s not hard to see why. From the buzzing bars and restaurants of Soho – the city’s gay heartland – to Vauxhall’s infamous party scene and the East End’s hip hangouts, the city offers endless possibilities. Explore our guide to gay London for the rundown of the best neighbourhoods, hotels and events in the city.
OUT AND ABOUT
All shades of the rainbow gravitate to Soho, from young, international gay and lesbians enjoying cheap drinks at G-A-Y Bar, to beefier grown-ups at Comptons of Soho, a grand old gay pub that’s been here for almost 30 years.
Stylish gay venues Ku Bar, The Edge, Village and The Green Carnation have a trendy mix of discerning, professional gay men and friends while She Soho, Old Compton Street’s first ever lesbian bar, is great for live music and comedy.
For post-bar socialising, G-A-Y Late, Circa and KuKlub are fun, neon-lit choices, while a visit to G-A-Y Club at world-famous gay venue Heaven is essential: gay icons Madonna, Kylie and Lady Gaga have all performed here.
Vauxhall in South London is the place to head for testosterone-fuelled gay nightclubs and an after-hours party scene. Home of hunky hedonism, Eagle London is known for legendary gay party nights while clubbing mecca XXL is a wild home to bears, polar bears, cubs, otters and other sexy nocturnal creatures.
You’ll find a cool LGBT community hanging out in pubs, gallery spaces and dive bars throughout East London. Quirky British boozer The George & Dragon is popular with East London’s gays, straights and everyone in between while café-bar, art space and club, Dalston Superstore is another unquestionably hip gay and lesbian favourite.
Occupying an elegant row of Victorian townhouses, this boutique hotel retains the sophisticated ambience of a private gentleman’s club despite being in smack bang in the middle of hedonistic Soho. Owners Peter and Douglas were personally involved in the creation and design of each of the 30 guestrooms, and their passion for interiors shines through in quirky details like character beds, feature marble washstands and claw-foot baths.
Travelodge London Vauxhall
A large, modern chain hotel with simple, functional en-suite rooms, Travelodge London Vauxhall is the closest hotel to Vauxhall’s gay scene. If your priority is to party then this is a smart budget option, just a 2-minute walk from key venues like RVT and Fire.
The Town Hall Hotel
The Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green is one of the East End’s coolest stays. Step inside the imposing Edwardian building and you’ll find original features mixed with trendy mid-century Scandinavian interiors and award-winning restaurant The Typing Room.
DATES FOR THE DIARY
The biggest day in London’s LGBT calendar is the annual Pride in London parade. As many as 30,000 whistle-blowing, rainbow flag-waving members of LGBTQI community take part in the spectacle that sashays its way through London, ending with a mega street party in Soho.
Fringe! Queer Art & Film Fest
Established in 2011, Fringe! Queer Art & Film Fest is a film and arts festival born out of London's queer creative scene. The schedule includes everything from feature films and workshops to interactive walks and wild parties, and takes place each November at pop up venues in east London.
A new date on London’s LGBT calendar, Winter Pride is a more cultural offering that its summer sibling. Aiming to celebrate diversity through creativity, this social enterprise includes an art competition and a humanitarian award as well as parties hosted by London gay clubs such as East Bloc.