London. The greatest city in the world. One of the most exciting places to live in with THE best gay scene you’ll ever come across. FACT!
Of course, we’re totally biased! London was our home for decades and the place where we met – back in February 2009 in the GAY bar in Soho…
But setting aside our biases, London is truly a terrific city. It’s so eclectic, home to many different people from everywhere in the world. There is always something to do here at any time of the day. The museums are grand, iconic, and are nearly all free to enter. All of the world’s best musicals feature on the West End and cost a fraction of the price of a show on Broadway.
And then there’s the gay scene. It’s massive! Yes, we see more and more businesses close shop due to gentrification, but London still retains its pink shine, with an abundance of queer hangouts spread out all over this mega city.
London can be overwhelming for the first-timer. It’s enormous, stressful, and let’s face it, the grey weather doesn’t quite help. But almost every gay guy who comes to London often ends up staying and making London their home base for good reason – just as Seby did as a shy young twenty-something gay boy fresh off the boat from France, many many many moons ago…
This is our gay guide and love letter to the place where we met, the city that we will always call home.
This is our gay London.
Travel worry free!
Don't skimp out on your travel insurance: make sure your trip is fun, frivolous, and free! Most importantly, good travel insurance will cover you for any medical emergencies, flight cancellations, pricey hospital bills, car rental protection, and more.
Is London safe for LGBTQ travelers?
Overall, London is very gay friendly and safe. I’d go as so far as to say, it is one of the most gay friendly places in the world. Whether you’re looking for a gay show, restaurant, café, networking event, or queer-friendly space, you’ll very quickly find it in London.
We always feel safe walking hand-in-hand through most of London, particularly in the gay pockets of Soho, Vauxhall, and Clapham. However, as with every megacity, London has areas where you need to be careful regardless of whether you're straight or gay.
Petty theft is common everywhere, so lock up valuables you don’t need with you in your hotel room, and ultimately follow your gut reaction… if you’re out solo in a dodgy-looking street in East London, best call an Uber to get back to your hotel. The TfL (Transport for London) offers some sage practical safety advice for staying safe and secure in the big capital.
London's gay area
Soho is the traditional and historical beating heart of gay London, home to many queer hangouts. It is in Central London, just north of Chinatown/Leicester Square, and south of Oxford Street. It is concentrated along Old Compton Street (the “gay catwalk”).
The main gay bars in Soho include Comptons (for men 30+), G.A.Y. bar (for younger guys and teens), Ku Bar (for gays in their 20s), and She Soho (for the ladies). Others include Village, Admiral Duncan, Circa, Rupert Street Bar, Freedom, GAY Late bar, Friendly Society, The Yard, Little Ku, the Kings Arms for the senior gents, and a bit further north from Soho, the New Bloomsbury Set basement bar in Bloomsbury.
Just south of Soho in Charing Cross/Embankment is the world-famous mega gay club, Heaven (where the likes of Madonna, Kylie, and Lady Gaga have performed), as well as Circa Club, the Halfway to Heaven bar, and Retro bar.
Other parts of London with a thriving gay scene to look out for include:
- South London: Vauxhall is home to the big Circuit style parties with club nights like Beyond at FIRE, as well as more “themed” parties over at Union. Vauxhall is also home to the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and the Eagle. Further south there is The Cock Tavern and Horse Meat Disco in Kennington, and then over in Clapham check out the Two Brewers, ARCH bar, and The Bridge.
- East London: home to the cool kids, hipsters, and trendy queer hangouts. Glass House queer space and the BGWMC (Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club) in Bethnal Green, The Glory bar, Dalston Superstore, the Karaoke Hole (aka The K Hole!) in Dalston, Harpies in Limehouse, George & Dragon in Greenwich.
- North London: check out Central Station in King's Cross (another popular spot for various “themed” parties!), ZODIAC bar in Euston and the cruise club called Vault 139 just south of it. Further north in the plush area of Hampstead the King William IV Pub has for years been flying the flag.
- West London: Earl's Court was the former heart of the London gay scene many decades ago. The remnants of the West London gay scene can be found at Ted’s Place in Earl's Court (popular with the trans community) and at the West 5 gay bar in Ealing.
Gay Hotels in London
There is one outright gay hotel in London – namely, Central Station Public House (so it's a gay bar too) in King's Cross! Otherwise, London doesn’t have the gay men-only type of hotels/resorts that you’d find in Fort Lauderdale or Palm Springs. However, there are several that openly welcome LGBTQ travelers. These are the hotels we’re tried, loved, and found to be the most welcoming.
One very important point to note, London is not a cheap city to stay in, especially in the center, so be prepared to spend some coin here!
In a nutshell
- London's only gay hotel
- Great location in King's Cross
- Cute, cozy rooms
- On-site gay bar and underground gay club
Mostly known for the gay bar and club downstairs, Central Station is great for those eager to be in the midst of all the action.
It’s located in King's Cross, which is not only a huge transport hub in London (the Eurostar terminal is here), it has uber-cool Coal Drops Yard just around the corner.
Rooms are simple and modern – we love the wooden furnishings and soft color palette. They are cozy and cutesy looking, almost like your late grandmother’s country house… which is what makes what happens downstairs ever more scandalous!
Who would expect to find such a “raucous” and frivolous(!!) club? Not only that, but one that hosts regular themed gay events such as “Feet on Fridays”, Nude parties, and SOP – we’ll let you Google that last one. Drinks are hard and stiff (though that can be said for the patrons as well), and the music is nothing but dance-pop and feel-good house.
Prices at Central Station start from $174 per night:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
The Z Hotel Soho
In a nutshell
- Excellent location in Soho
- Comfy, soundproof rooms
- Lovely courtyard area
- 40-inch HD TV in all rooms with free movies!
Back in the day, the Z Hotel was nothing more than a row of classic, Georgian-style townhouses. Today, it has been transformed into a luxurious gay friendly hotel consisting of 85 rooms.
All rooms have a slick, modern feel to them, fitted out with a flat-screen TV and expert soundproofing, handy for when you’re snuggling up with your partner. It's also great as there are no loud drunkards waking you up from the street below in the wee hours. The surrounding area is filled with pubs, clubs, and theaters, so having a bit of peace and quiet in your room is a must!
We recommend going for the Queen room, which has a terrace that overlooks the bustling Soho, a clothes press (so you look extra suave on your nights out), and access to the private lounge.
There is an on-site restaurant which whips up a delicious breakfast buffet, getting you perfectly set up for the day.
Prices at The Z Hotel start from $141 per night:
In a nutshell
- Gorgeous luxury gay friendly hotel
- Right in the heart of Leicester Square
- Fancy on-site bar and restaurant
- Excellent spa, sauna and swimming pool
When approaching the W London, we both did a double take… This isn’t just another “modern” hotel, this is the future! Its exterior is a large, impressive, glass-paneled building, formed in the shape of a giant triangle.
Rooms are decorated with a mixture of silver-white furniture and dark wood fittings, which we found trippy for a color scheme. One side of the room was giving Elsa’s castle in Frozen, whilst the other gave the dwarf’s cottage in Snow White.
There’s an on-site bar and restaurant, which echoes the fine dining of the 1920s. Golden chandeliers and mouth-watering cocktails make you feel as if you’ve stumbled from the pages of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Note that their bar/restaurant has a smart casual dress code, so be sure to dress to impress.
In the luxury spa, enjoy world-class treatments, such as massages and facials, whilst overlooking the glittery West End. There’s also a sauna and pool for you to dip in and out of.
Prices at W London start from $566 per night:
Hart Shoreditch Hotel London
In a nutshell
- Part of the gay friendly Hilton collection
- Free bikes for exploring
- Lovely on-site restaurant and cocktail bar
- Excellent fitness center
To stay at Hart Shoreditch is to fall in love with London over and over again. As a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel you know it's going to be welcoming to gay travelers and the Hart Shoreditch will definitely steal your heart!
Every room features a mini fridge, fluffy bathrobes, and an HD TV so you can curl up in bed with a loved one, tuck into some sweets, and watch a camp classic.
Those who opt for a suite are in for a real treat – massive windows that overlook the iconic skyline. Who wouldn’t feel a tingle of excitement every time they looked out the window over London?
There is an onsite restaurant that serves exquisite Mediterranean food, with all meals being freshly prepared over a wood fire and grill. There is also the adored cocktail bar, Tavla, where guests can sip on fruity cocktails and take part in fun activities like a game of backgammon. Sound random? That’s the fun of it!
Prices at Hart Shoreditch start from $295 per night:
The Other House
In a nutshell
- Fantastic choice for longer stays
- Choose from rooms or small flats
- Communal dining area and club room
- Cocktail bar and fitness center
Planning a long stay in the city? The Other House South Kensington is perfect for gay travelers staying for an extended period in the English capital.
Some people opt to book for up to 3-months in the House. And it’s easy to see why, as they are adamant about guests making the space their own.
When you check in, staff provide you with everything you could need to make your time there special. All rooms are fully fitted out with dishwashers, fridges, ovens, and microwaves. Guests have access to laundry service. And there are always “house jacks” to help with anything one could need. Now do you get why people don’t want to leave?
You can mingle with fellow guests in the dining area and club room, enjoy some light reading in the library (the book kind, not the throwing shade type), take advantage of the wonderful cocktail bar, and work up a sweat in the fitness center.
Prices at The Other House start from $379 per night:
In a nutshell
- Best gay friendly budget option
- Great location in the gay neighborhood of Soho
- Dorm beds or private rooms
- Awesome rooftop bar
SoHostel is currently closed for renovations but will reopen! Updated September 2022.
Amid the twinkling lights of the West End sits the SoHostel. A fun, frivolous, and fabulous hotel, that's always populated with LGBTQ guests, a stay at the SoHostel is never unadventurous.
This gay friendly hostel is perfect for when you’re new to London or simply passing through for a night. It’s conveniently close to dozens of gay bars, clubs, and restaurants of every type of cuisine, so you never have to spend too long deciding on a plan for the evening. And then wake up every morning to a delicious continental breakfast, which perfectly sets you up for the day.
There are a mix of dormitory rooms available, where you can share with either 4, 6, or 8 people depending on your preference. You can also get a double room if you want a little extra privacy.
Most of the action takes place on the rooftop bar, which overlooks Piccadilly Circus and the surrounding theater district. This is where guests can hang out, chat, and even get a little frisky should they find the right person… go put the Ho! in SoHo!
Prices at SoHostel start from $30 per night:
Gay Bars in London
There are LOADS of gay bars in London… way too many to cover in this guide. We’ve therefore focused on the most popular ones in Soho, and the ones we think you’ll like the most:
With the best DJs on the Soho scene, combined with the cutest bar staff in London, time spent in Circa Soho is the perfect intro to gay British nightlife. Whilst the bar is generally quiet during weekdays, which makes it a cozy and relaxed spot to nab a drink and enjoy a chinwag with locals, it transforms into a “party-crazed” pit on weekends.
Fridays are by far the most popular night. This is when the big chart hits get played, whilst Saturdays are house-only nights, featuring a mix of both underground and new age hits from the genre.
On Sundays, they host a much-needed brunch. For £20, you get delicious brunch food, 1-hour bottomless prosecco or mimosas, and are treated to a fantastic drag show. It may be an early-closer, but staff hand out wristbands for you to get into their sister club in Embankment, so you can keep dancing!
Opening Hours: Circa Soho is open daily from 1pm until 1am
Location: It can be found at 62 Frith Street in Soho
Ku Bar has been enjoying a steady incline in popularity over the last few years. The GAY bar better watch out, as Ku’s coming for its crown… This bar is all about celebrating the here and now, which is why it mostly plays current pop hits and floor-fillers. After all, a throwback tune is always fun, but the hits today are equally as bop worthy. It's part of a group of independent venues, which also includes the Ku Klub, The Light Lounge, Little Ku & She Soho.
During the week, there are drag shows and other events happening in the lounge. On Wednesdays, Vicki Vivacious hosts a cabaret show. Whilst in She Soho, drag artists Adam and Apple (aren’t they the most genius drag names ever?) host a karaoke night.
Opening Hours: Ku Bar is open every day from midday until 3am
Location: It's located at 30 Lisle Street in Chinatown
During the dark ages of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s/90s, Comptons gay bar served as a comforting refuge for gay men across London. It was a nonjudgmental place where queer people could gather, away from the crushingly discriminatory society that plagued Britain at the time.
Today, it still holds onto its welcoming charm, but it’s less of a hideaway. In fact, it’s impossible to miss. It’s famous for the groups of LGBTQ folk who congregate around the front of the venue, singing pop songs and drinking from beer cups.
It was built inside a 200-year-old, Swiss-style hotel, which makes it look way more regal than it is. It’s every bit as “naughty” as the other gay bars on this list. Drag queen DJs, drink deals, and feel-good pop hits, there’s simply nothing better.
Opening Hours: Comptons of Soho is open every day from midday and closes between 10.30pm – midnight
Location: Comptons is located at 51-53 Old Compton Street in Soho (duh!)
The Village is one of the OGs spots on the SoHo scene. It’s both a gay bar and a club, depending on what time you go. In the early evening, there’s no better place to grab a drink and meet with friends. Every day, they have Happy Hour between 4 and 9pm, where selected drinks are 50% off.
On Wednesdays, they host karaoke nights, which we regularly partake in – you know we never turn down the chance to show off our *ahem* stunning vocals! As the night approaches, the bar slowly transforms into its party-centric self, with loud, pumping music, fizzy drinks, and hot exotic dancers.
It’s like watching Batman take his mask off, as friendly chatter gets tucked away, and people start getting turnt up on the dancefloor. And that’s not the only thing that gets tucked away, as this is when the drag artists come out to start their shows or DJ sets.
Opening Hours: Village is open every day from 4pm until late (between 11.30pm and 1am depending on the day)
Location: It's located at 81 Wardour Street in Soho
So chic, so glam, so fab! That’s the Rupert Street experience. Though it did give us more lounge bar than pub vibes, with its hanging disco balls, sleek wooden floors, and sparkling bar area. Staff were super friendly and offered great suggestions on the best cocktails.
The bar’s ethos of welcoming everyone regardless of age, shape, size, or background, creates an atmosphere where everyone can feel like their best and authentic self. They have drag nights on Thursdays, disco and house club nights on Fridays, and the iconic Tasty Tim DJ set on Saturdays. And between Thursday and Sunday, 12pm – 8pm, they whip up a fantastic deal of 2 cocktails for £12.
Opening Hours: Rupert Street Bar is open daily from 3pm (midday on the weekends) until 11pm (and midnight on weekends)
Location: It's located at 50 Rupert Street in Soho
During the week, there is no better spot for a quiet drink with friends or a post-work gossip with colleagues than at the Welly. And on the weekend? Strap on those heels and get onto the dancefloor for a gay night of feelgood dance pop and crazy drag shenanigans. If you’re feeling lucky, stop by on Tuesday for bingo night with Busy Lady and on Wednesday, break out those thinking caps for a pub quiz with Lola Lasagna.
The bar is always super busy, but it never feels overcrowded. Staff are extremely welcoming and have a talent for remembering their patrons! Imagine our blushes when the handsome, Scottish barman knew us by name, despite us not having been in the bar in two months!
Opening Hours: The Duke of Wellington is open every day from midday until midnight
Location: You can find it at 77 Wardour Street in Soho
Fed up with tiny pub rooms and noisy crowds? Sometimes it’s nice to get out into the open-air, which is why we love The Yard Bar. Found in a hideaway spot along Rupert Street, this is a beautiful courtyard gay bar, where you can enjoy a nice drink away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
We know what you may be thinking… drinking outside… in rainy, cold London? We can assure you the garden is heated, so it is very comfortable to hang out in. There is also some indoor seating, which has a rustic, cabin-in-the-woods vibe.
The yard is decorated with cozy couches, trees lit up with fairy lights, Chinese lanterns, and marble statues, which give it a lovely ambiance. You can also book a table for larger groups and parties.
Opening Hours: Yard Bar is open from midday most days (from 4pm on Mondays and 2pm on Tuesdays) until 11.30pm most nights, until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and until 10.30pm on Sunday nights
Location: It's located at 57 Rupert Street in Soho
This is the oldest gay bar in SoHo (well, depending on who you ask…) It’s been serving its local queer community for over 40 years – and it is still going strong. It’s very popular with the local bear population – we felt like two otters dropped in the middle of a Canadian forest!
Its interior gives us typical, English countryside pub vibes. With its dark-paneled bar, older clientele, and dim lighting, it feels just like your hometown local except a lot gayer!
There is an upstairs and downstairs section, with the upper floor being much quieter, if you’re looking for a more chilled evening. Downstairs, there are always events including their midweek pub quiz, drag karaoke, or a DJ playing their set. There is never a dull night at the Kings Arms.
Opening Hours: The King's Arms is open every day from midday (from 1 pm on Sunday) until 11.30 pm or midnight on Friday and Saturday nights
Location: It's located at 23 Poland Street in Soho
We love ARCH Bar. Unlike the other gay bars in this list, ARCH is not in Soho but in Clapham, an area of London that has a large LGBTQ population. During the day, ARCH is a cool place to get a bite to eat and catch up with friends over a few drinks. Pick the right season and you can also time this to coincide with Watch parties of the latest Ru Paul's Drag Race episode. By night, the bar transforms into a thumping party dance area that goes on into the early hours.
ARCH bar also hosts really cool events: if for example, a very famous drag queen is in town – Pangina Heels, Jimbo, Baga Chipz (to name a few previous ones), they will perform here and host a Meet-and-Greet afterward.
Nieko Strobel is the super cute manager/owner behind ARCH bar who we absolutely adore. After a decade of managing Ku Bar, he moved south to set up this uber-cool gay bar in London.
Opening Hours: ARCH bar is open daily until midnight; 10pm on Sundays, and till 2am on weekends.
Location: It is located at Arch 642, Voltaire Road, London, SW4 6DH (Clapham North is the nearest tube).
Explore Soho with a Disco Diva Drag Queen!
This has got to be the most fun and unique way to explore Soho! Join a disco diva drag queen to dance and sing your way through the main gay neighborhood of Soho.
Gay Clubs in London
When it comes to gay clubbing, Soho doesn’t offer much. You can boogie all night long at Ku Bar’s downstairs area until the early hours, but otherwise, you must venture a little bit further for the best gay clubs in London, especially in the Embankment area and Vauxhall.
GAY Heaven in Embankment
You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Heaven. Undoubtedly one of the most famous clubs in Britain and one of the biggest gay clubs in the world! There isn’t a British gay boy who hasn’t been to Heaven – though Bible-thumping, Conservative Christians may disagree. Officially part of the large GAY enterprise, Heaven is a massive club, consisting of two dance floors, three smaller rooms, and four bar areas.
It features a giant stage that has hosted insanely famous musical artists. Everyone from Kylie Minogue to Madonna, Lady Gaga to Cher, Adele to Jessie J, they’ve all performed here. Plus, a rake of Drag Race queens.
The only drawback is that it gets extremely busy, especially on weekends, and there is always a ginormous queue to battle through. But once you’re in, you’re in (!!!) and guaranteed for an unforgettable experience. You can usually get in cheaply, especially if you collect a flyer from the GAY bar on Old Compton Street.
Opening Hours: Check the website for the next event at Heaven
Location: The Heaven nightclub is located at 9, The Arches, Villiers Street, right by Charing Cross Station
Circa The Club in Embankment
Loud music. Hot bar staff. Epic lighting effects. It’s all to be expected on a night at Circa. As the youngest queer nightclub in Central London, Circa has already developed icon status in the city. They have several rotating DJs, some of whom are world-renowned, like Adam Turner who has remixed tracks of Robbie Williams, Olly Murs, and Years & Years.
There are often live performances from drag artists and rising R&B talent. House nights are by far the most popular, taking place every Saturday. Picture euphoric beats and pounding melodies playing until the wee hours, whilst you party alongside the London gay community. We could barely walk home after dancing so hard.
Opening Hours: Circa Embankment is open every day from 11am until 9pm, but stays open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights
Location: It's located at Hungerford House, Victoria Embankment, outside of Embankment Station
Two Brewers in Clapham
Merging club with theater, Two Brewers is one of the only places you will find performances seven nights a week, all-year round. Known for its drag nights, cabaret extravaganzas, bingo, and lip-sync competitions, we’ve always had a magical experience whilst visiting.
Drag artist legends such as Danny Beard, Mrs. Moore, Poppycock, and Mary Mac regularly perform there. Comedian Skyler Gentry puts on one of the filthiest performances we’ve ever watched (and we’ve seen what happens at the cruising clubs in gay Berlin…).
We also went for a Drag Race viewing party – which was one of the most fun nights we’ve ever had. Cheering on our favorite queens, laughing at every shady comment, booing at Michelle Visage’s critiques, is that how straight people feel watching a football match?
Opening Hours: Two Brewers is open every day from 5pm (from 4pm on Sundays) until 2am and until 4am on Friday and Saturday
Location: It's located at 141 Clapham High Street in Clapham (near the Clapham Common tube station)
Beyond in Vauxhall
Beyond takes place inside a massive clubbing venue in Vauxhall called Fire. They host a different party/theme each weekend, so there is always something new and exciting happening. Whether it’s the Summer Sessions, Beyond Heat, or Beyond Mad Men, it’s always naughty, hot, and fun. They are famous for their late nights. In fact, all the gays go here once they finish up at a previous club/bar.
Crowds at Beyond always notice a huge surge of gay guys stampeding in after the other clubs close, all eager to keep the night alive. And who could blame them? Beyond is full of hot men with chiseled torsos and abs so hard you could grate cheese off them.
The club often welcomes international DJs, which combined with the quality sound system and lighting effects, makes for an other-worldly atmosphere.
Opening Hours: Beyond parties start on Saturdays at 11pm and finish the following Sunday morning at 11am
Location: The parties are held at Fire Nightclub which is located at South Lambeth Road, under the arches of the railway line near Vauxhall Station
BRÜT club is London’s most intense gay party. A male-only club night featuring heavy dance music, and strobe lighting that lasts until 6am. Especially popular with the bear gay population of London, BRÜT is all about celebrating men of all shapes and sizes, from the muscle gays to the preppy guys to the leather daddies.
It’s all a go at BRÜT! Staff are always welcoming and unafraid to have fun with their patrons. And they whip up a stiff drink that helps gets you buzzed for the night. It takes place roughly once a month, with a different theme each time. Halloween time is when all clubgoers are encouraged to rock out their best costume.
Opening Hours: BRÜT parties are usually held on a Saturday night from around 10pm until 6am the next morning
Location: The parties are held at different locations throughout London, so check the website for the next one
Feel It is one of the newest monthly LGBTQI club nights in London, taking place on a Friday night at OMEARA in London Bridge. Expect an epic night of debauchery, with three ‘rooms of pleasure' where all sorts of naughty shenanigans happen!
With a rotating line-up of DJs and performers, every Feel It party is a little different, but always has a vibe. Outfits are often wild but everything about Feel It is meant to promote the family feel of dancing and singing with other queer partiers.
Opening Hours: Feel It parties start on Friday nights at 10.30p m and go until 5 am the next morning.
Location: Feel It parties are held at OMEARA which is located at 6 O'Meara Street on the other side of Borough Market from London Bridge station.
Gay Cruising Clubs in London
Love to dance with a stranger in a club, but wish things could lead to a little bit more? There are a handful of gay clubs in London where you can get as down and dirty as you like.
The Underground Club at (beneath) Central Station
The Underground Club doesn’t believe in kink-shaming. In fact, it’s all about kink-celebrating. It’s well known for hosting themed events each week that appeal to various types of f3tishes, from the obscure to the outright bizarre.
Their “Feet on Friday” is on the 3rd Friday of each month, and you guessed it, it’s all about feet. Guys who are into feet, toes, shoes, sneakers, you name it, gather and relish in their toe-rific obsession. Perhaps the most, er, famous(!) night is The Horse Fair on the first Saturday of each month.
It’s one of the most intense experiences we’ve ever encountered. Men decide whether they want to be a Mare, Stallion, or Stable Boy for the night. The Mares are completely undressed and blindfolded by their appointed Stable Boy who then present them to the Stallions. The Stallions then select which Mare they want and do anything they want to them whilst the Stable Boy watches.
The club provides free lube, rubbers, and is dedicated to making all participants feel safe and comfortable during the event. Are you stable enough for it?
Vault 139 is all about shameless self-love. Thank Heavens they have aircon, as time spent here is hot hot hot! And we aren’t just walking about the dancefloor, every guy who walks through the door is fine as Hell. Depending on when you go, there is a strict dress code that goes between clothed, underwear, and fully nude.
Check their website so you know what to expect when you arrive. After all, there’s nothing like showing up expecting a simple underwear party and finding a room full of sausage! Under 25? Then you can go free on Sundays. And students get free entry on Tuesdays after 7pm.
Gay people sure love an acronym. OMG. DILF. ILY. DTF. And now there is SBN and NBN. Translation: Stark Bollock nak3d and Nearly Bollock Nak3d. Hosted in Union Nightclub every Sunday this double event is super popular. Each week, over 400 gay guys get completely undressed for a night of dancing, frolicking, and partying.
It’s not too dark inside and whilst it can feel a little strange at first, you’ll soon find everyone is totally welcoming. There are mazes and playrooms to get lost in and hook-up with a handsome stranger – truly anything goes. The event kicks off at 2pm, where guys must leave everything (and we mean EVERYTHING apart from your shoes) at the door for epic DJ sets and pulsing music.
SBN starts the evening and then from around 5pm it evolves into NBN for the guys who are more comfortable not completely removing everything. If you sign up on the JamieHP website, you can get discounted entry and be sent details of the latest parties they host.
Who doesn’t love a pool party? This gay event takes place each month for the 18-40 gay man demographic. It occurs on the last Thursday of each month usually at the Covent Garden Health Spa. If you sign up to JamieHP events via their website they will send you details of the next party along with a password to get a discount on entry.
Once inside, you will be completely hidden from public view, with the hot H-Partyboys at your beck and call for anything you might need. Your first time going can feel a bit overwhelming and intense. But don’t worry! Everyone there is lovely, welcoming, and will make sure you feel comfortable. It’s mostly guys hanging around in speedos chatting about the latest Lady Gaga album or Drag Race. Occasionally some guys can get frisky, but remember, it’s completely your choice to do whatever it is you’d like to do or not do!
When you hear of a club night named after the container pigs drink out of, you know you’re about to get down and dirty. Whilst Trough isn’t a regular event, when it does happen, it becomes the talk of the cruising gay world. There are two dancefloors, a darkroom (where things get frisky), changing areas, and an outside area, so you can get fresh air, meet fellow club goers, and get a break from the intensity of the club.
Their resident DJs Assimo Paramour and Tony Bruno, who hails from the tech scene in Berlin, go off every time they perform. The sound system in Trough is super high-quality, you can practically feel the beats pulsing through you.
Outdoor Cruising in London
In most places around the world, the outdoor gay cruising scene has taken a beating. In London it continues to thrive, particularly in two places – Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common. The most important thing to remember whilst cruising is safety. Try to take with you the absolute minimum and leave all valuables locked away in your hotel safe.
Ahh Hampstead Heath… an idyllic park filled with rolling hills, wild plants, lush trees, and murky ponds. And if you look closely enough, you may spot a couple of men dipping in and out of the bushes… we wonder what they may be up to, hmmmm?
There are two main gay cruising areas. The first is by the male-only Highgate Bathing Ponds on the east section of the Heath, particularly in the summer months. The second, and the most famous (thanks to George Michael!) is on the west side of the Heath just behind the former Jack Straws Castle pub on North End Way (located just up the hill from Hampstead Tube station).
Clapham Common is a wonderful park, full of open green space for people to exercise, enjoy an evening stroll…. or grab a quickie in the bushes. Whatever your prerogative is, we won’t judge!
The gay cruising area of Clapham Common can be found amongst the dense bushes and woodland area on the west side of the Common near to the South Circular Road.
Queer Theaters in London
Whilst the West End dominates the London theater scene (and for good reason!) we are fortunate to have several excellent theaters that showcase LGBTQ plays:
Above The Stag (Vauxhall)
Note: Above the Stag is temporarily closed as they look for a new location! Updated September 2022.
Above the Stag is the only theater in the UK that exclusively showcases queer work. Its name comes from the days when it was found over The Stag pub in the Victoria borough of London. Today, it can be found in the thriving Vauxhall area, and produces exceptional LGBTQ dramas all year round.
From theatrical debuts of up-and-coming playwrights, revivals of old faves, cabarets, or dramatic readings, their line-up is jampacked with massively entertaining events. The owners of the theater have talked about their desire to create a space that will always feel safe for everyone.
In the past, they’ve run Eurovision nights, where musical guests perform their favorite hits from the world’s campest song contest. As well as dramas that explore the nuances of gay relationships and gender identity.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern (Vauxhall)
As one of the oldest theaters in London, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has quite the image to uphold. And it does so flawlessly! It’s where gay men and women would meet in secret before the legislation of homosexuality in the UK. It’s where Paul O’Grady kicked off his career, becoming the legendary drag artist Lily Savage.
And it’s even rumored that Freddie Mercury snuck in Princess Diana in drag during the 1990s. You can’t get any more iconic than that. Today, the Royal Vauxhall prides itself on being a place where queer people, trans folk, and people of color can feel celebrated.
And their frequent collaborations with the Cocoa Butter Club have helped to showcase and celebrate performers of color. Their event line-up always features an eclectic mix of panto, live music, musicals, stand-up comedy, and dance performances. Artists that have taken to the stage include Bucks Fizz, Belinda Carlisle, S Club 7, and Liberty X.
Part bar, part club, part performance venue. Is there anything The Glory can’t do? London-famous drag stars Jonny Woo and John Sizzle, and party-fanatic Colin Rothbart lead a staff made up of creative East London artists. They run shows most evenings, which could be anything from a drag show to a comedy stand-up to cabaret.
Sink The Pink, Mariah & Friends, and Little Gay Brother have all performed here. Then at weekends, once the show has wrapped up, the venue transforms into a disco. There is a bar area as well, which is a little more laidback. This is free to enter before 10pm. It’s the perfect spot for those who love theater and dancing. What could be better than seeing an incredible queer performance and then going for a boogie?
Having always dreamed of bringing back pub theater, like they had in Shakespearean times, Dan Crawford opened the doors of the King’s Head in 1970. The pub itself is charming, with an old-English countryside vibe, filled with rickety chairs and stools, and a Victorian-esque roaring fire.
You can book a dinner and drinks package alongside your show tickets. Several shows have made their debut here before going on to the West End. It’s where Hugh Grant was introduced to the world. Other stars like Joanna Lumley, Maureen Lipman, and Steven Berkoff have also starred in productions here. King’s Head regularly features and champions plays and musicals about the LGBTQ experience.
Recent performances have included Cabaret Tropicana, an exploration of queer and gender identity, but with a blend of comedy and 1980s music.
Soho Theatre (Soho)
1 bar. 3 stages. Six shows a day. 2000 performances a year. Audiences arriving from all over the world. The Devil works hard, but the crew at the Soho Theatre work harder. The Soho Theatre Upstairs is an intimate space where avant-garde, experimental work gets displayed.
Catch some cabaret/draggy performances in the Soho Theatre Downstairs that echoes the underground theater scene in Berlin and New York. And then there is the main stage, where sensational new theater gets displayed. You can catch an opera, comedy special, or musical here.
We love visiting here as they are all about championing new works, giving upcoming writers and performers their debut, and are unafraid to try new things. Some of the wackiest stuff we’ve seen on stage was here, but also some of the most moving. Shows often have previews here before heading onto bigger venues or festivals, like the Edinburgh Fringe.
LGBTQ Shops in London
Gay shops are in abundance in London. Trust us, when it comes to topping up your wardrobe or finding a new toy to play with, you will be spoiled for choice. But it’s also worth visiting Gay's the Word bookshop, for all things nerdy and bookish. Also, be sure to check out our bumper guide to the best gay books to inspire your next trip.
Gay's The Word (Bloomsbury)
The unglamorous side of seeing the world is that we spend a LOT of time sitting on planes, trains, and buses. So, to prevent boredom, there is nothing better than delving into a good book. And if that book is GAY, even better.
Every time we come back to London, we make it our top priority to top up our LGBTQ book collection by visiting Gays' the Word. It is the UK’s oldest queer bookshop, having sold books since 1979. Their ginormous collection features fiction, non-fiction, short stories, graphic novels, poetry, dramas, and photography books.
You’ll find every subsection of queer representation here, from bisexuality to asexuality, stories on people who are intersex, biographies by LGBTQ celebrities, and queer favorites, like the Heartstopper books. We could spend hours upon hours here simply browsing. And on the outside leading up to the shop front, there is a crosswalk painted in the trans flag colors (blue and pink).
Opening Hours: Gay's the Word is open daily from 11am – 6pm except Sunday when it's open 1pm – 6pm
Location: It's located at 66 Marchmont Street, just up from Russel Square tube station
You’re going to want to do more than prowl after a visit to this shop… Prowler is the largest adult gay shop in the UK, so we had mega high expectations. Well, we were bowled over from the moment we walked in, both from the sight of so many toys and the smell of scented lube.
Shelves filled with cock rings, plugs, simulators, sprays, and lubricants… and we only just stepped over the threshold. Move further in and you’ll find harnesses, whips, masks (nope, we don’t mean the PVC kind!), and toys of the vibrating nature. Just about everything you could need for a party, right? F
or more in depth shopping, check out Prowler Red just down the road which specializes in restraint equipment, f3tish wear, toys, and stimulators.
Opening Hours: Prowler is open 11am – 9pm on weekdays, until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from midday until 8pm on Sundays
Location: You can find it at 5-7 Brewer Street in Soho
Clone Zone (Soho)
It’s an old favorite on London’s gay scene for a reason. Having been around since 1982, Clone Zone has built up a strong and loyal customer base. Their mantra is that everyone deserves a happy and healthy love life.
They sell a mix of toys, rubber wear, and merchandise. Whether you are looking for a stock up on lube or rubbers, or in need of a total revamp of your sexy-time wardrobe, Clone Zone have your back (and your front).
Opening Hours: Clone Zone is open every day from 11am (from midday on Sunday) until 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, until 9pm on Sunday and until 10pm on other days
Location: It's located at 35 Old Compton Street in Soho
There is nothing you won’t find at REGULATION. They provide a wide range of items for those who enjoy a little bit of pain when it comes down to getting dirty. Items like pins and needles, clamps, ball restraint, hot wax, and whips – it’s all here.
They also provide tons of special wear, with rubber outfits, head gear, and hot underwear. They say you shouldn’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Well, it’s the same for shopping when you’re…
Opening Hours: Regulation is open from 11am until 7pm every day except Sunday, when it's open midday – 5pm
Location: It's located at 13A Bateman Street in Soho
Gretchen Wieners (from the movie Mean Girls) would be so thrilled to learn that her signature phrase has finally caught on. FETCH can be found in the ultra-gay area of Clapham, providing a wide selection of gear, toys, underwear, lube, and more.
It is a go-to place for f3tish fanatics in London. Not only do they ship worldwide, but they offer click and collect, which enables customers to purchase their items online and pick them up from the shop within 30 minutes. They also do same day delivery for those who live in London or next day delivery for anyone further out.
Opening Hours: FETCH is open every day from 11am, usually until 8pm except Saturday when it's open until 10pm and Sunday until 6pm
Location: It's located at Arch 642, Voltaire Road in Clapham, in between Clapham High Street station and Clapham North tube station
Gay Saunas in London
In most places, gay saunas are dying out due to the increase in usage of dating apps. Luckily in London, there are still several that are going strong. Here are the the main gay saunas in London to check out:
Only Boys Allowed – SweatBox is an all-male gym and sauna for guys to hang out, work-up a sweat, and get to know one another. It is open 24/7 and is one of the most popular gay hangout spots in all of London. There is a 30-man jacuzzi, three steam rooms that are connected through a maze, a Turkish-style hot room, and a massive café/bar.
Don’t be shy about getting undressed here. In the gym, guys often wear nothing but their shorts (and even they leave little to the imagination). And it all comes off in the steam room and sauna areas.
They also have an open shower room so you can frolic about with other guys under splashing hot water. On Sundays, they have nude workouts from 2-4pm, with a special host each week leading the class. As those at SweatBox like to say – “get buff in the buff!”
Opening Hours: SweatBox is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
Location: You can find it at Ramillies House, 1-2 Ramillies Street in Soho, quite close to Oxford Circus
The key thing to note about the Pleasuredrome is that it is open 24/7 – so no matter when you feel like working up a sweat, you can come (read that as filthy as you like). Located around the corner from Waterloo Station, general admission is £20, and for those lucky enough to be under 30, entry is £12.
Guests can take full advantage of the sweltering sauna. They can book a private room for 2 hours for £4, should they take fancy to another guy and want some alone time. You can also book a 50-minute, full-body massage for £50. Sublime!
Opening Hours: Pleasuredrome is open 24/7
Location: It's located at Arch, 124 Cornwall Road, in between London Waterloo East and Waterloo Station
The Locker Room (Kennington)
Looking for some hot fun? Or an exciting adventure? The Locker Room is a sauna with a steam room, playrooms, and private cabins. If you go here, you are guaranteed some action. They constantly have events on, so you’re almost always guaranteed a special experience whenever you visit.
On the 1st Thursday, 3rd Wednesday, and last Saturday of every month, there are 100% nude parties. Yep, “no clothes, no attitude” as they say. There’s nothing more liberating than going au naturel in a room full of other guys in the buff. Especially when everyone is super kind and judgement free.
No matter what you look like, you will be celebrated. Every Tuesday is Bears Night, for guys who have and appreciate men with tons of body hair. And looking for an older man? Once a month, they host a Lads for Dads meetup, for younger men who are into older guys.
Opening Hours: The Locker Room is open daily from 11am until midnight
Location: It's located at 6 Cleaver Street in Kennington, not far from Kennington tube station
Pride and Queer Events in London
We sum up the best gay events to check out in London throughout the year in chronological order, but the main one is Pride in London in June.
Do also look out for other non-specific gay events that happen, which are super fun and always attract a diverse queer crowd – our favorites are: “No Pants in the Tube” in January and the “World N3ked Bike Ride” in June.
LGBTQ History Month (February)
February is LGBTQ History Month in the UK. Note that this is a separate time to the equivalent event that takes place in October in the USA, Canada, and Australia. Whilst Pride Month in June is all about uplifting the voices of the queer community and pushing for further milestones to be reached, LGBTQ History Month is about taking time to look back, reflect, and pay homage to those who came before us.
London hosts numerous events throughout the month to honor those who put their life on the line in the struggle for civil rights. From queer walking tours to museum exhibitions, deep dives into how Soho became the gay thoroughfare it is today, and football tournaments featuring queer sports teams, there is so much to get involved with.
Hoopla Music Festival (June)
There are dozens of music festivals across the UK each year, but none celebrate pop like Hoopla. This festival takes place in Brockwell Park in Brixton (South London) on the first weekend in June and attracts around 25,000 people each year. Mighty Hoopla is all about celebrating queer joy, with a line-up filled with LGBTQ artists. It consists of several club nights, DJ sets, cabaret performances, hidden discos, and vogue competitions.
There are karaoke competitions, dance-offs, and drag lip-sync battles – pretty much every aspect of gay life you can imagine gets honored here. In recent years, they had massive acts on their line-up like Cheryl Cole, Chaka Khan, En Vogue, Years & Years, All Saints, Will Young, Sophie Ellis-Baxter, and Becky Hill.
Pride in London (July)
With crowds of over 1 million people, Pride in London is one of the biggest and best gay Pride events in the world. They celebrated the 50th year anniversary of their gay rights movement in 2022, which was so popular, numbers reached over 1.5 million people. Just goes to show that Elizabeth II ain’t the only queen in London…
There are events all throughout the month of June, from lesbian speed dating nights to picnics, cabarets to drag shows, protests to musical productions, you name it, it’s there. Pride parade routes can vary year to year. Recently, the trail has gone back to its roots, following along the original route from the first Pride parade.
This kicks off in Hyde Park and moves up towards the Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square area. The parade features over 600 community groups from across the country, with 30,000 participants overall. It’s considered to be one of the most diverse Prides in the world, with people from all walks of life coming out to represent their community.
UK Black Pride (July)
Over the last few years, there has been a massive shift in dialogue regarding the queer voices who have been drowned out by the media. Queer people of color are often underrepresented in film and TV, with black and trans voices being drowned out by cis-white gay men. Thus, UK Black Pride was born.
It is the largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent in Europe. In recent years, crowds have gathered in Haggerston Park in Hackney to protest against the challenges that continue to plague their communities.
People bring signs, and a stage gets set up with speakers and musical guests. UK Black Pride has also collaborated with NYX, a professional makeup line, by launching the “We Will Be Heard” survey, which helped gain insight into the experiences of LGBTQ people of color in the UK.
London F3tish Week (July)
We all love how wholesome Pride can be. But we mustn’t forget that a large part of queer culture is centered around k1nk and f3tish. So, it only makes sense to dedicate a whole week celebrating that. It takes place in mid-July, and it is getting more and more popular each year.
There are dozens of events that take place across London, such as leather nights, raves, and jack-off parties (yep, you read that correctly!). There are different dress codes depending on the event. These include full-on leather, rubber wear, sports gear, serviceman uniform, pup, and skinhead, where you must have your head shaved. Some events will require you to be fully nude, so just be sure you know what you are getting yourself in for before booking/arriving.
London Trans Pride (July)
Similarly to Black Pride, Trans Pride was born out of the need for trans people to have their struggles and experiences spotlighted. We may all be family under the LGBTQ umbrella, but there is, sadly, more transphobia these days than there is homophobia. And that’s just a fact.
Therefore, we totally love how people have created specific Pride events that celebrate and uplift the beautiful trans community. Trans Pride consists of a march towards Piccadilly Circus, featuring various community groups. Protestors bring their trans flags and homemade placards, raise their voices, and relish in trans joy.
Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Festival (September)
With exceptional LGBTQ representation in media increasing by the year, it is simply marvelous that a festival dedicated to queer art exists. To think there was a time when gay people had to hunt down portrayals of their lives in movies or resort to fangirling over campy Disney villains as they were the closest it came to us seeing ourselves.
The Fringe Film Festival is all about championing queer voices. They run an open call for submission, so anyone can get involved, and anything goes. Movies, art installations, you name it! There are also dozens of panel talks and workshops with actors, producers, painters, and directors, talking about where queer media is today and how it can improve. Check out the full line-up on the website and be sure to nab yourself a ticket to an event, as they can sell out fast.
GFEST – Gaywise FESTival (November)
Merging two of our favorite things, gay people and art, GFEST is all about supporting and uplifting the work of queer artists across the UK. Each year, there is a fabulous line-up of exhibitions, film screenings, and contemporary debates. They run a different theme for every festival.
A recent one being #QueerQueeries, which centered around queer identity, what it means to be queer and the different attitudes towards the use of the term ‘queer’. It is run almost exclusively by volunteers, who are a mix of queer people and allies themselves. Events take place in several popular venues across the capital, such as The National Gallery, V&A, and the RADA. In previous years, its launches have occurred in Houses of Parliament, The City Hall & K&L Gates. So safe to say, it’s a big deal.
Where to eat in London
These are tried and tested hidden gems across the capital from locals… us!
Balans Soho, No. 60 (the big one)
For gay restaurants in London, Balans is THE place to go. There are two, a bigger one and a small-ish one. The bigger one can be found opposite the Comptons bar. It is known for its campy atmosphere, eclectic food and extensive drinks menu. No.60 opened in the mid-1990s, during the Recession, when no one else wanted to rent out the space.
Coming off the back of their ‘sandwich bar turned rave hall’ venue at No. 34, the owners wanted to up the ante by staying open even later and introducing wackier items onto the menu. Breakfast gets served until 5pm (our favorite being the French toast) and their dinner menu is available until they close! They even have an extensive vegan menu, full of scrumptious, veggie goodness.
Balans Soho, No. 34 (the little one)
Does size really matter when it comes to eating out? And by that we mean at restaurants… Balans No. 34 is smaller than No. 60, but it still has an abundance of charm and a marvelously delicious menu. The restaurant’s history is utterly fascinating. Having begun as a simple sandwich bar that was so basic it took them 6 months to afford an Espresso machine, Balans found its niche audience within the queer community.
When the café started staying open late, whipping up 55p coffees for when the surrounding clubs closed, it became busier than a Pride float giving out free poppers. No.34 all-day menu (and by that, we mean ALL DAY) features their iconic pancakes, French toast, delicious burgers, Thai curries, and chicken enchiladas. Hey, if it’s good enough for LADY freaking GAGA to stop by at 2am, then it is certainly good enough for us!
Old Compton Brasserie in Soho
Whilst The Old Compton Brasserie isn’t officially gay, it is in the heart of London’s gay scene – so we think that counts. It is every bit as vibrant and as fabulous as the surrounding restaurants and bars with exceptional wait staff, who make visitors feel fully welcomed and like part of the family. Their menu is forever being updated to keep things feeling fresh, new, and exciting.
Open all day, you can go for brunch, a weekend lunch, or dinner. They also have a ton of veggie and vegan options. We enjoyed the exquisite beetroot cured salmon for starters, sirloin steak for mains, and Belgian chocolate truffle cake for dessert. Now that’s living! And whilst we came for the food, we stayed for the cocktails. Their extensive drinks menu is full of delicious drinks like Espresso martinis, Manhattans, cosmos, and more.
Not technically gay nor a restaurant, but as one of the best foodie spots in London, we simply couldn’t leave Borough Market off our list. The market is rumored to have existed since 1014 – but the present buildings were constructed in the mid-1800s.
There are over 100 stalls, featuring every type of cuisine you could imagine. Whether you are feeling peckish and in need of some finger food, wanting to indulge your sweet tooth at the confectionary stand, or wanting a full meal, you’ll find the perfect choice here. We visited on empty stomachs and were barely able to walk by the end. If you think you can simply wander around, you are sorely mistaken.
The sounds of sizzling meat, the chopping of vegetables, the frothing soups, the concoction of smells and flavors wafting through the air – it’s too tempting! And be sure to check out their website for upcoming events, such as cooking demonstrations and masterclasses by world-class chefs.
There is a growing vegan scene in London. It is the future, after all! Having felt like the vegan movement was geared towards replacing what meat had to offer in people’s diets, restaurant owner Andy Owen put together a menu that celebrates what is gained and not “lost” by going vegan. Thus, there are no “meat substitutes” on the menu.
Inspired partially by his Asian background and by street food cultures from across the world, he has pulled together a varied menu, containing elements of Korean, Vietnamese, Italian, Ethiopian, and more. We tried the charred flat cabbage, which was topped with a scrumptious kolae coconut curry, and were bowled over by how delicious it was.
And whilst before, we could never imagine a dessert without chocolate, we fell in love with the steamed peanut sugar baos. These were Chinese-style buns, which we toasted with a cup of fizzy sake, a Japanese bevvy.
Best Things to do in London
You’ve got everything else organized. Where to sleep, where to eat, where to drink and dance. Now it’s time to figure out how to spend your days exploring this fantastic capital. Here are some suggestions:
Gay Tours and Activities in London
There are some great gay tours and activities available in London if you don't just want to wander around on your own, from a David Bowie walking tour to an LGBT+ City Exploration Game!
Big Ben and Westminster Parliament
You can’t think of London without thinking of Big Ben. It isn’t just an iconic symbol of London, it is THE iconic symbol of London. Having recently undergone renovations, it is now more stunning than ever. And the hourly BING BANG BONGS that echo from the tower will keep you right on time for whatever activities you have planned around the city.
You should also pop into Westminster Palace, where the British Parliament meets. Visitors can visit for free during weekdays to watch Parliament in session from the viewing gallery above. And if you thought the Drag Race arguments were juicy, wait until you get a load of the politicians having a go at one another on a Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions. Debates often get feisty!
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
800 times a year, Tower Bridge famously opens to allow large ships to sail through. It forces traffic to come grinding to a halt (although that didn’t stop the Spice Girls Bus from flying over the gap when they were racing to perform at Albert Hall!).
There is an adjoining exhibition that explores what the bridge is used for, and the mechanics involved in operating it. Right next to Tower Bridge is the Tower of London. This is an historic building, home to the Crown Jewels, where you can meet the majestic (albeit a bit creepy) guardian ravens, who are trained to keep watch over the castle, and learn about the centuries of torture that took place at the Bridge.
Catch a musical or the latest West End show
The West End is London’s famous theatreland, comparable to Broadway in New York (but tickets are a fraction of the price!) It’s mainly based along Shaftesbury Avenue (the main road that runs along the southern edge of the Soho gay area) and around Leicester Square/Covent Garden.
We love catching a show and I always surprise Seby for his Christmas present by taking him to the latest gay musical in London. If musicals aren’t your thing, there are always plays on.
There’s the hilariously ridiculous The Play That Goes Wrong, full of slapstick humor and incredible physical comedy. Recently the gorgeous Jonathan Bailey and Taron Egerton stared in COCK, about a married gay couple struggling to keep their relationship afloat.
Romantic walk along the South Bank
This is the area that starts at the southern end of Westminster Bridge and has some of the capital’s biggest theaters – The Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the National Theater. It’s our favorite part of London. You can’t help but get goosebumps as you take in the iconic city skyline. There’s always a vibe here whether it’s a festival, themed markets, outdoor events, or fun street artists sauntering about.
The walk along here by the riverside on a sunny day is probably the most glorious way to take in the capital – starting from Westminster bridge, passing the London Eye, and heading all the way to the Tate Modern Museum, Tower Bridge, and the Shard. If you’re looking for a chill or free way to spend an afternoon, this is the way to do it.
Trafalgar Square and Whitehall
Trafalgar Square is a gorgeous plaza that has played a pivotal role in British history. It is the sight of several key moments from London’s past, such as Bloody Sunday in 1887 where a clash between police and protestors resulted in bloodshed. Today, it is home to a statue of Nelson’s Column, which stands proudly overlooking the square flanked by powerful lions.
There’s also a permanent quirky art installation on display at the northwestern side of the Square. Just south of Trafalgar Square is Whitehall – the road that leads to Parliament/Big Ben.
Along the road are several monuments commemorating royal family members, former government leaders, and military men. You’ll also find 10 Downing Street nearby where the sitting Prime Minister’s office is. Make sure you give Larry the Cat a pat on the head if you spot him.
Museums Museums Museums!
London is a phenomenal place for museums. Whether you are a history nerd, a fashion fanatic, an animal lover, a radical queer/feminist, or interested in literature, military, or royalty, there is a museum for you. As well as being impressive buildings to admire, most of them are free.
The best ones we recommend checking out are the British Museum in Bloomsbury, the National Portrait Gallery just north of Trafalgar, Tate Britain in Pimlico, Tate Modern in Southwark, and then the famous trio in South Kensington – the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Other fascinating museums worth visiting include the Freud Museum in Hampstead, the museum of Branding and Advertisement in Notting Hill, the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, and the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.
Banksy Tunnel/Leake Street
Who is Banksy? The question has been on the lips of every art fan since the 1990s. Who knows… maybe it’s yours truly, the Nomadic Boys! Wouldn’t that be a gag? They have become such a popular figure that a whole street has been named after them – despite no one knowing their true identity.
Leake Street, aka the Banksy Tunnel, is a 300m long street where graffiti art is not only allowed, but encouraged! We visited it as part of a tour with Tally Ho Gin Safari, which was a hilarious cycle tour around the streets of Lambeth and Southwark, with stopovers to try different gins, and of course, add our own touch to the Banksy Tunnel in Leake Street… see if you can spot the Nomadic Boys graffiti there!
Coal Drops Yard and Queer Britain Museum
Located in King's Cross, Coal Drops Yard is a very trendy new part of the city that has arisen following the big refurbishment of King's Cross. It’s located right by the Canal and popular with designers. The train exit from St Pancras station has a pretty rainbow Light Tunnel worth looking out for to get the best Insta background pics.
Another significant spot to check out in Coal Drops Yard is the Queer Britain Museum. This museum was opened in 2022 by Joseph Galliano-Doig, a former editor of Gay Times, and Ian Mehrtens. Set across two floors, the museum is dedicated to the evolution of LGBTQ rights in the UK.
Exhibitions explore the multiple ways queer folk have impacted culture, shifting them from the “margins of the history books” and into the spotlight.
Plan Your Trip to London
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to London. Read on to find out everything gay travelers should know before they go.
Travel insurance: We never travel without travel insurance because you just never know when something might go awry, costing you an arm and a leg, even in London! We've been using Heymondo Travel Insurance for years and always recommend them to others as well. Their cover is very comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online if you have to.
How to get there: There are a number of airports serving London, although the largest and most well-known is Heathrow, which receives flights from all around the world. Budget airlines often fly into Gatwick, Stansted or Luton as well. It's quite easy to get into the city center from Heathrow Airport on the tube (underground train system) and there's also a direct train line called the Heathrow Express which is faster but not cheaper. If you don't fancy juggling your luggage on train then there's always a private transfer, which we usually prefer since there's no hassle and a driver will be waiting for you no matter what time you arrive.
Visa requirements: If you are from the United States, an EU Member State, or certain Commonwealth countries (including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), you do not need a visa for the UK for up to six months. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements well ahead of time though and organize a visa if you will need one.
Getting around: The easiest (and most fun) way to get around London is either via the tube (underground train system) or on the ubiquitous red double-decker buses! Make sure you purchase an Oyster card at the airport and keep it topped up to swipe in or out on public transport in London. Check out this site for more info about getting around London and maps of the Tube lines etc.
Power Plugs: In the United Kingdom (including London) the three-pin power plug and socket type G is used. If you're traveling from anywhere outside of the UK then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you to London.
Vaccinations: The CDC recommends that all travelers to the United Kingdom should be up to date with routine vaccinations for things like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, etc, and, of course, Covid-19. You may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B, and rabies (if you're planning to go anywhere more rural), so make sure you speak to your travel nurse or doctor before heading to London.
Currency: The currency used in London (and the rest of the United Kingdom) is the pound sterling, also called the British pound, and abbreviated to GBP. £1 converts to about €1.12 or $1.23.
Tipping culture: While London doesn't have as much of a tipping culture as, say, the United States, you should probably still tip around 10% for good service in restaurants or hotels. In London cabs, you can generally just round up to the nearest note amount and it will be appreciated.
Internet access: London has excellent internet services, so you should be able to access fast and reliable Wi-Fi in hostels, hotels, cafes, etc, while you're there. You can also usually pay to use computers at internet cafes or for free at local libraries.
Accommodation: For more accommodation options in London, we always like to use Booking.com to see what's available. They have lots of excellent choices, many of which come with free cancellation if needed, and their online customer support is also outstanding.
Sightseeing and adventure: There are so many fun things to do in and around London, beyond the ones we've mentioned here. We love using GetYourGuide to find the best tours and activities. Their online booking system is easy to use and they also offer 24/7 online support if you need it.
When to visit: London is exciting and beautiful no matter the time of year, although summer is when prices are highest since there are many events on during this season. Winter can be quite cold and bleak, but London is also magical around Christmas.
Gay Map of London
We've put together this handy map for you to plan your own fabulous gay trip to London. We hope it helps you have an awesome time!
For more inspiration:
- Check out the best drag clubs in London
- See our London sightseeing highlights for gay travelers
- If you don't fancy a hotel then have a look at these great gay Airbnbs in London
- Find out why we love attending Pride in London
- Get inspired for your own visit with these gay pride outfit ideas
- And don't miss out on these must-have gay pride accessories!