Guaranteed great evenings out in London
“One thing about London is that when you step out into the night, it swallows you.” – Sebastian Faulks
Every night out in London is a different adventure, but there are some activities that run like clockwork every evening. By 5pm, after-work crowds spill out of pubs onto narrow pavements. Restaurants get busy from 6:30pm so they can fit in several services and are open late. Theatres start their shows at 7:30pm and audiences drift out into the night around 10pm, which is when clubs welcome revelers until the early hours of the morning. There’s something for everyone. Here are six guaranteed great evenings out in London.
1. All night grazing
Start your night with a tipple or two at Mercato Metropolitano , an indoor market near the Elephant and Castle tube station that’s full of young professionals. Next, pick your dinner from the many food stalls offering everything from Vietnamese banh mi, fresh pasta, or Venezuelan arepas. For dessert, try the black gelato which has a surprising sesame flavor. There’s also an on-site cinema and hidden jazz bar for later on in the night. Note: There’s another Mercato Metropolitano in Mayfair which is in a converted church with a rooftop bar.
2. Spend the night in a converted Victorian-era toilet
For a truly unique London experience, catch a very intimate burlesque or drag show at CellarDoor , a converted public convenience in Covent Garden. Feel the ostrich feathers waft past your face. Another great loo is the cocktail bar Bermondsey Arts Club which turns into a disco, or check out WC (Wine & Charcuterie) at either location: WC Clapham or WC Bloomsbury .
3. Test your knowledge with a pub quiz
Practically every London pub will host a quiz once a week, typically Tuesday or Sunday evenings. Some are free and some you pay a small fee to enter (around £2 per person). On Tuesdays, try the quiz at The Four Thieves pub in Clapham which also has arcade games; at The Old Queens Head Pub in Angel; or at Retro Bar , a gay-friendly pub off the Strand where quizzes are hosted by fabulous drag queens.
Quizzes usually start at 8pm, but get there earlier to have dinner and pick a team name. Then it’ll be a battle of the brains as you try to recognize celebrities in the picture round, answer questions about what’s been in the news that week, and other fun trivia. The best scoring team wins a prize!
4. Cocktails back in time
Travel back to the 1940s at Cahoots London , a tube station-themed cocktail bar tucked away at the top of Carnaby Street. On Saturdays, they run an escape room game until late. For more old-school glamour, creative cocktails, and live swing bands, visit Nightjar in Old Street or their sister venue Oriole Bar in Farringdon. For cabaret and cocktails, book a table at Zedel’s Crazy Coqs .
5. Late-night comedy
London has some of the best stand-up comedy nights and one of the best venues is the raucous Soho Theatre . Be warned—British humor is dry, sarcastic, and witty; some of it is surrealistic, some of it is slapstick, and some of it is totally relatable. You’ll find comedians make fun of themselves rather than the audience and gentle heckling is encouraged. Grab an early pre-show dinner at boutique DUCKSOUP next door.
6. Serious clubbing
London hosts some of the world’s best supper clubs, with star DJs, top-of-the-range sound systems, and all-night partying. fabric London , Corsica Studios , Ministry of Sound , XOYO , and Printworks London are just some of them. Pro-tip: Headliners tend to come on last, so if you’re keen to see them, plan on going during the early hours of the following day.
7. Catch a film
Book a seat at the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square for retro viewings of Scarface, Mama Mia singalongs, or all-night Studio Ghibli marathons. For contemporary films with a decadent twist, take a pew at an Everyman Cinema . Waiters will bring you drinks and food throughout the film. Now that’s service.