We’ve all at some point had that feeling where you just don’t want a night to end. Perhaps you’ve been out for a long dinner and don’t fancy going straight home, or maybe you’ve had a few drinks and don’t quite feel like you want to stop at the stroke of midnight. Okay, there’s always the option to hit the clubs but that’s not always going to be what you feel like doing. The issue though, is that sometimes it’s not as easy as you might expect to find cool bars open late in London. However, once you begin to search a little more thoroughly, there are actually a number of pretty amazing late-night bars hiding in various parts of the capital.
There are certain areas of London in particular, which are brimming with late-night bars. In the east you’ve got both Shoreditch and The City, which have late-night drinking spots varying from underground hipster haunts to swanky sky-high bars; whereas in London’s west end, both Soho and Mayfair are home to everything from speakeasy cocktail spots, to restaurants with basement bars, many serving into the early hours. This means that next time you’re in one of these areas fancying a late-night tipple, you have no excuse not to keep the night going.
We understand that these things do sometimes need a bit of planning and that you’ll want to make sure you end up at one of London’s better late-night bars. That is why we have put together this guide of the best late-night bars London has to offer. We can guarantee that at least one of these will tempt you to transform into a night owl and party into the early hours. So, when the perfect opportunity next arises, it’s time to keep the drinks flowing at one of these late-license spots in the City, Shoreditch, Soho and Mayfair before dozing on the night tube home.
Best late-night bars: The City and Shoreditch
Some of London's coolest and most popular bars are in The City and Shoreditch and you might not realise that many of them stay open later than you'd expect. So, whether you've had to stay in the office super late and fancy a nightcap or three, or you're simply wanting to drink late into the night with your friends, here are some of the best late-night bars in these areas.
Why: If you hadn’t already been tempted to go to Black Rock in Moorgate by the fact it has tables made from 18ft oak tree trunks, which also double as whiskey rivers, then perhaps its late opening times will. If you’re a whiskey fan, you’ll struggle to find many better options after midnight than this ultra-cool drinking den.
When: Thurs until 1am, Fri-Sat until 2am
Where: 9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS
Duck & Waffle
Why: Truly astounding city views are just one of the attractions at Duck & Waffle, found on the 40th floor of Heron Tower. Obscure ingredients boldly go where no mixologist has gone before: charred dandelion-root 'expresso', burnt toast, 'damp gin,' asparagus ends and cut grass are not for the timid – and nor are the skyscraper prices.
When: Mon-Sun until 5am
Where: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Mark's Bar at Hixter
Why: The sunken bar, cinema-style seating and exposed brick walls of Mark’s Bar at Hixter give it a cool but relaxed ambience. This makes it a fantastic place to end your night with a cocktail or two. However, what Mark’s Bar also has, is an indulgent selection of delicious bar snacks to accompany your drinks, including Yorkshire puddings filled with whipped chicken livers.
When: Weds-Sat until 1am
Where: 16 Great Guildford Street, SE1 0HS
The Nickel Bar at The Ned
Why: In the resplendent pillared banking hall of the City's most hyped hotel lies The Nickel Bar. Bourbons and rye whiskies lead a short list of ‘strong drinks’ at not too sobering prices – try the Midnight Old Fashioned (Bulleit bourbon, coffee reduction and Brazilian banana eau de vie) to the tune of jazz standards.
When: Mon-Fri until 2am, Sat until 3am
Where: 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
Why: This regularly rammed jazz-age hootenanny, home to nightly blues and ragtime jams, serves up well-built cocktails made from abstruse ingredients in tiki-chic drinking vessels. Nightjar's signature cocktail is the Josephine Baker, named after the 1920s dancer and mixing together Afro mbongo spice, tonka bean liqueur, passion fruit curd and Ysabel Regina brandy.
When: Sun-Wed until 1am, Thurs until 2am, Fri-Sat until 3am
Where: 129 City Road, EC1V 1JB
Old Street Records
Why: Done out like a New York East Village dive circa Blondie's Atomic, Old Street Records comprises of two distinct floors; expect copious booze, sloppy-topped pizzas and twerky good times to Motown, funk and retro rock on vinyl. Top of the alcopops is a diva-licious Black Daniels (a sweet berry 'n' cherry, whisky-laced sling that comes on like pimped-up Vimto).
When: Mon-Wed until 1am, Thurs-Sat until 2am
Where: 350-354 Old Street, EC1V 9NQ
Why: Beneath the Smithfield Market action on East Poultry Avenue, this converted pub is equal parts retro, glam, pan-Asian and a cool bar for our times. From the team behind Nightjar, Oriole promises a subterranean world of stylish cocktails in assorted serving vessels, while there are globally inspired small plates to nibble on.
When: Tues-Sun until 2am
Where: Smithfield Market, EC1A 9LH
Why: Based atop Tower Hill’s DoubleTree by Hilton, Savage Garden is a stunning rooftop bar offering panoramic views of the City skyline from its two terraces. What’s more it also stays open a fair bit later than most rooftop bars. It has also recently introduced a late night happy hour, where you can enjoy two classic cocktails for the price of one between 11pm-1am on Monday-Friday.
When: Mon-Sat until 2am, Sun until 1am
Where: Floor 12, 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF
Why: If you only visit one bar at The Shard, make it Aqua Shard. Soak up the panoramic views of twinkling night-time lights in a slick and sexy three-storey space that’s like an ultra high-spec Manhattan loft. Try one of the tea-inspired cocktails or descend into wickedness with the gin-based Four Stages of Cruelty.
When: Sun-Thurs until 1am, Fri-Sat until 3am
Where: Level 31, The Shard, St. Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
Best late-night bars: Soho and Mayfair
Although you may think of the west end of London as somewhere to avoid due to its touristy nature, the nightlife is far better than you would think. This means that if you’re looking for a late night drink, it’s one of the best areas to head to. From posh Mayfair members' clubs and hotels, to speakeasy cocktail bars, there'll be somewhere in this vibrant area to fulfil your late-night drinking needs. These are just a few of Soho and Mayfair's best late-night bars.
Why: Based in the heart of Picadilly, in the depths of the vast Brasserie Zédel, Bar Americain is a quintessentially American bar. Serving a range of classic cocktails with a twist, such as a Sage Colada, alongside a variety of beers and wines, the Art Deco surroundings lend a feel 30s feel to proceedings. Head here to run away from the tourists and get lost in the night.
When: Thurs-Sat until 1am, Mon-Thurs until 12am
Where: 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
Why: The notorious rendezvous for the 1960s Profumo Affair, Disrepute’s refurbished conspiratorial vaults deserve a new ‘rep’. The sophisticated Soho hotspot admits non-members until 11pm, serving classy cocktails to pre-Beatles easy listening – try a Lime House Royal (rum, lime, honey and carbonated Sauternes) or a Queen’s Cup (Marylebone gin, Riesling, fino sherry, Lillet blanc and elderflower).
When: Mon-Sat until 3am, Sun until 1am
Where: 4 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Experimental Cocktail Club
Why: Much like its Shoreditch sibling and à la mode Parisian thoroughbreds, expect a moody boho pile and evolving list of contemporary cocktails knocked out by keen-to-please/snottily superior staff at Experimental Cocktail Club. We loved the Old Cuban (a rum, ginger and Champagne coupe) but avoid vintage spirits unless you're feeling really flush and really flash.
When: Mon-Sat until 3am
Where: 13a Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS
Why: Discerning drinkers should glide down Hide’s glorious Gaudí-esque corkscrew staircase to the sweeping oak counter in the basement. At Hide Below you can expect seasonal Champagne cocktails, sturdier combos – Blunderbuss is a blast (Johnnie Walker Gold, Cocchi Americano, brown butter and two sherries) – and super-pricey vintage spirits in Hedonism Wines’ walk-in cellar.
When: Mon-Sat until 1am
Where: 85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
The Mekan Bar at Ruya London
Why: Boasting a menu which is said to take you on a journey through the seven different regions of Anatolia, The Mekan Bar at Ruya isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a cheap night cap. However, the wacky cocktail creations on offer are certainly worth trying. Concoctions include the ‘Constantinople’ which features truffle-infused gin, saffron syrup, lemon and egg white.
When: Mon-Sat until 1am, Sun until 12am
Where: 30 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7PH
Milk & Honey
Why: Stick to the rules at Milk & Honey and non-members with prior reservation won’t miss out on this private members club’s old-school sips: think perfectly mixed renditions of the likes of Boulevardier, Floradora and Prescription Julep. Get pally with a member over a bottle of £55 Champagne rather than face the Cinderella walk of shame before the clock strikes midnight.
When: Mon-Sat until 3am
Where: 61 Poland Street, W1F 7NU
Mr Fogg's Residence
Why: Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling’s fantastical Phileas J Fogg set-up is a real hoot, brimming with camp caboodle from the Victorian explorer's foreign forays. The madcap bar serves 'tipsy teas' (gin or Champagne cocktails in teapots), and long-lost recipes with colonial roots, while the well-connected high-society chaps also host guest bartenders, special talks and vaudeville turns. You won't find many places more fun than Mr Fogg's Residence for a late-night tipple.
When: Mon-Sat until 2am
Where: 15 Bruton Lane, W1J 6JD
Why: This three-floor Chinatown cutie is a high-class 1950s knocking shop, masquerading as a Hong Kong herbalist's consulting rooms. Seasonal prescriptions at Opium rely on homemade tinctures and syrups: Gunfire, an incendiary bullet of spiced rum, lemon oil and black tea, will blow your head off.
When: Mon-Tues until 1am, Wed until 2am, Thurs-Sat until 3am
Where: 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
The Pink Chihuahua at El Camion
Why: The late Dick Bradsell’s former haunt will keep you in the pink with its spontaneous wild disco dancing, fuelled by over 300 of Mexico's finest mezcals and Tequilas: knock 'em back neat, with red sangrita. The tiny cellar gets rammed to the rafters, so negotiate (free) membership to join The Pink Chihauhua's late-night fiesta.
When: Mon-Sat until 3am
Where: 25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR
Sketch: The Parlour
Why: Fashionistas still pack out this raffishly postmodern drawing room of a Mayfair must-do. Knock back consistently good drinks from The Parlour's evolving list – sips include an affordable Nolet and the Whale (vodka, Aperol, peach and almond syrup) or a pricier patrician French fizz.
When: Mon-Sat until 2am, Sun until 12.30am
Where: 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
Why: You wouldn’t guess that hiding in the Hilton on Park Lane is a Polynesian-themed tiki bar. However, once you know that Trader Vic’s exists, it’s difficult not to end up there if you’re looking for post-midnight drinks in Mayfair. Having been open since 1963, this fun little bar is perhaps most famed for creating the iconic Mai Tai cocktail which is still on its menu today.
When: Mon-Thurs open until 1am, Fri-Sat open until 3am, Sun open until 2am
Where: 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
Wanting some late-night food as well? Check out our guide to the best London restaurants open late.