Late-night bars in central London
Venue says: “Accessed through the meat locker… a secret world full of quirky cocktails, metre-long pizzas and live entertainment!”
Don't come here looking for a quiet late-night drink. This is a gaudy, balls-out kind of bar with a wild Italian theme. Banquet on metres' worth of pizza and gallons of prosecco and indulge in an immersive evening out.
If you're feeling a bit drowsy post-midnight, hit this Waterloo bar plastered in neon and glowing from head to toe. It's one hell of a wake up, as are its sugary drinks from a playful cocktail menu and its tongue-in-cheek music selection... at least, we hope it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.
Located in a former Midland Bank, Nickel is less about exchange rates and more about hot dates. It's open until 2am at weekends if you fancy feeling flash in among your late-night crew. Nightcaps include whisky cocktails and a banging grapefruit negroni.
Venue says: “Join us every Wednesday for live music, unparalleled views of London and a special Grey Goose cocktail menu with drinks at £10. Book Now!”
Indulge in sky-high, late-night merriment at the Mondrian Hotel's rooftop bar the Rumpus Room. It's a mega-stylish spot for cocktails, flirting and fun on a terrace overlooking St Paul's Cathedral.
Late-night bars in north London
There are a few beacons of hope along Seven Sisters Road, such as the Bedford Tavern. It attracts a mixed crowd of long-time residents and younger newcomers to Finsbury Park. All seem to be completely at home in the darkly painted room, drinking craft beers into the early hours.
Tufnell Park has a welcoming dive bar in Aces and Eights, where rock 'n' roll plays on the jukebox, pizzas fly from the oven and whiskeys are served by the dozen. With all that party to be had, it's a ruddy good job Aces and Eights stays open until 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Housed in a large building, the King’s Cross branch can feel a little tumbleweedy on quiet nights, but from Thursday to Sunday the bar usually has DJs keeping things lively until 3am. And it becomes quite the raucous joint, as it's one of the few open late these days in such a heaving part of town.
Venue says: “Open until late with live music, we're the perfect host for celebrations. Book a birthday party on Fridays and get a free round of shots!”
This iconic Camden venue has live jazz and DJs until 3am on Fridays and 3.30am on Saturdays. There are around 50 bourbons in a variety of categories, so you probably need all that time to 'explore' the extensive menu.
Its rock 'n' roll theme may be retro, but the late opening hours at Joe's on Chalk Farm Road are nothing but forward-thinking. The joint stays swinging (often quite literally when the Lindy Hop lovers stop by) until 3am every single day of the week. We're thrilled somebody is maintaining Camden's reputation as the place for a late-night knees-up.
This DJ bar still attracts a studenty, music-savvy crowd to what looks like a cross between an old-style corner newsagents and a Shoreditch-like retro bar. Fantastic Four comic albums, board games in tatty boxes and furniture both wobbly and ratty are juxtaposed with a disco ball and a United Nations of beer cans on display. As for actual liquid nectar, drinks include cocktails and taps of Amstel and Tiger atop a tiny bar, behind which packets of Refreshers and Wizz Fizz offer childhood allure.
Few bars stay open late all days of the week the way Slim Jim's Liquor Store does. This Upper Street haunt is alive and kicking until 2am from Monday to Wednesday, and then keeps its doors open until 3am from Thursday to Saturday. This makes a 1am closing time on Sunday look modest (it's really not in Islington!). Drop in for DJs, cocktails and quality whiskeys.
The Dead Dolls House has moved from its supposedly temporary Hoxton base (which actually lasted 18 months) to this sprawling three-storey site, formerly House of Wolf. Expect the same mix of live jazz and resident DJs until 4am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The oak panelling and plethora of leather sofas gives The Winchester a country-house-hotel feel, with space to lounge, a dining area on ground level and room to jump around (mind your head!) downstairs. It's open pretty much all day at weekends so manages to surf from lunch to sub-bass driven beats at 2am.
Late-night bars in east London
Open until 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Ridley Road Market Bar always has a queue winding down the road as soon as night falls. But it's well worth the wait to get a spot on the dancefloor underneath the mirror ball for a spot of cosmic disco. Grab a ginger mojito and let the good times roll.
This Kingsland High Street hangout is a bit of a face on the east London party scene. In true Dalston style it's home to all sorts: popular with a large and diverse LGBT crowd, but welcoming to all and everyone. DJs – mostly local, many well-known – keep feet dancing with sets from Wednesday through to Sunday.
Late-night bars in south London
Venue says: “Punktastic at Four Quarters, Phaedra's Love, James Hunt, Free. 7:30-10:30pm.”
A dedicated classic and retro arcade games bar, The Four Quarters is the place to go if you want to brush up on your 'Street Fighter II' skills or just revel in nostalgia by playing 'Pac Man' until your eyes go square. They certainly will if you're playing until 2am.
Hard to spot but impressive once you find it, this converted tram shed incorporates a cavernous, chandelier-lit main bar and a smaller mezzanine, filled with decorative quirks. It’s a laid-back bunch that mingles here into the wee hours on Friday and Saturday, either parked on turquoise-topped bar stools or lounging on the banquettes and antique armchairs.
At around 3am at weekends, rowdy drunks spill onto the pavements of Clapham High Street from scores of bars and clubs. A few are for the discerning drinker; many are not. Fu Manchu raises the bar, even if a themed drinking spot is hardly an original idea. There's Chinese screens, dim sum snacks and cocktails with an Asian bent. DJs take over from 10pm and last until 3am on Saturday.
Late-night bars in west London
A kitsch, tongue-in-cheek bar that pays homage to the playful side of Italy, with party-animal PM Silvio Berlusconi as the poster boy. It seems natural, then, that this bar would stay open until 2am – although if you're expecting an all-night Italian love-in, you're sure to be disappointed.
The mostly twenty-something crowd at Lost Angel revel in the many themed events – Tea Party Saturdays, Bloody Mary Sundays (bombed the Earl Grey too hard the day before?), plus cocktail-making classes. Late weekend openings only seal this venue's deal as a party destination.
This original VQ on Fulham Road – there's another just off Tottenham Court Road, plus more in the offing – brings 24-hour dining to Chelsea. It's been going for nearly 20 years, with its success not just down to all those people popping in after other local spots have kicked out. If you are stopping by later in the night, drinks – ranging from classic and house cocktails to draught beers and wines from a varied list – are available till late.
Find bars and pubs for all times of day
London’s drinking scene is one of the best in the world, with boundary-breaking cocktail bars taking mixed drinks to the next level, while traditional pubs bring you back down to earth in the best possible way. Should you be looking for the perfect pint or a cocktail beyond comprehension, our critics have rounded up their favourite bars and pubs across the capital on Time Out’s list of the 100 best bars and pubs in London.
The Pepys Riverside Bar & Dining
The views are quite the draw at this pub and dining room right on the river - get the right seat and you can cast your eye all the way from Bankside down to London Bridge, and The Shard spiking the London sky. Inside looks good too though, with generous leather chesterfields, exposed brickwork, filament lightbulbs and interesting art all part of the recent refurb. Food comes from a varied menu ranging from burgers, dogs, charcuterie boards and salt and pepper squid to rib-eye steaks, pan-fried sea bass and calves' liver and bacon served with grilled tomatoes, a herb mash and a red wine jus. Stone-baked pizzas prove popular, with margheritas alongside marinaras, calzones and spicy diavolos - chorizo and chilli providing the heat. Cocktails range from a maple old fashioned to espresso martinis, a house bloody mary and a candy floss - a mix of Beefeater gin, passion fruit liqueur, strawberries and cream. A range of mojitos are on offer, too. Wines take in the big-hitting regions of the wine making world, while beers are sourced from well-known and lesser-known breweries.