IT’S a common adage that New York City never sleeps. The same can’t be said about London. On weekdays, finding a spot for a swift drink past midnight can be a struggle, even in hotspots such as Soho. And if you don’t want to commit to a full-on club, then even Friday and Saturday nights can be tricky if you don’t know where to go.
Wander the streets and raid the off licenses no more, with our handy guide to London’s secret underbelly of late night venues that are strictly for insiders only.
Marathon Kebab House, NW1
What two things could go better together than kebabs and late night drinking? This genius of a place in Chalk Farm offers a few post-closing time beers along with some very good Turkish style kebabs. There’s also just about enough space between the tables to pass as a dance floor, if desperate. And it frequently does.
Best Bit: The eclectic group of Camden rockers you’re likely to meet and befriend here.
87 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AR
The Bar, W1
A bar as to-the-point as its name, this is spit and sawdust, without the sawdust. ’60s and ’70s soul, funk and anything a little bit cheesy is the music of choice at this second Hanway Street joint. Drink until early, dance with a group of merry strangers and try not to embarrass yourself by banging into the floor to ceiling mirrors.
Best Bit: You can be as silly as you like, and you still won’t be the silliest person in the room.
36 Hanway Street, W1T 1UX
The Dogstar, SW9
Less of a hidden gem amongst Brixton locals, this pub serves pizzas and a good range of ales until 2am most weeknights, and right through until 4am at weekends. With prices that are more than reasonable, it’s well worth the trip down south for those more familiar with the West End.
Best Bit: Being able to get decent ales late into the night. Or the morning, rather.
389 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LQ
The Princess Alice, E1
A refreshingly quirky and laidback pub, this is a breath of fresh air from the louder, clubbier joints of the East End, yet still boasts 3am opening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. And that’s when there isn’t a lock-in. There’s a jukebox, pool table and pinball, which along with with a hefty wine list and reasonable prices, pleases most late nighters.
Best Bit: Pub games!
40 – 42 Commercial Street, E1 6LP
Experimental Cocktail Club, W1
Well-known amongst cocktail connoisseurs but still hidden away from the rest of us, this bar is accessible only through a unmarked door on a Chinatown street, and is open until 3am each night. In theory you need to pre-book via email, but you can usually get in so long as you’re cool enough to know what it’s all about.
Best Bit: As the name suggests, these are cocktails of the kind you won’t find in many other venues around town.
13A Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS
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