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Vagabond Tattoo

London’s best tattoo studios

Looking for a really good tattoo parlour in London? We select the best tattoo artists and sharpest needles in town for your inking endeavours

Katherine Lovage
Joe Mackertich
Written by
Katherine Lovage
Contributor
Joe Mackertich
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We’ve all been there. You wake up wanting a massive new tattoo covering your whole back and neck, travel to your nearest parlour and end up horrified with the sloppy, badly drawn results. You’ll not be showing your colourful back to anyone any times soon.

The lesson here is do your damn research. It’s extremely important to find the right tattoo artist before going under the needle.

Luckily, there are tons of really experienced and skilled people working in the tattoo studios of London. The places themselves range from iconic spots to tiny parlours you’ve probably never heard of, which means enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting an inking. Whether you’re looking for traditional or tribal art, portraiture or watercolour, here’s our pick of London’s best tattoo studios.

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Vagabond Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Hackney Road

Go for: a fresh take on traditional

The light contemporary space at Vagabond is somewhat typical of Hackney stores, but very unlike traditional tattoo studios - and that’s exactly why it’s so appealing. The vibe at Vagabond Tattoo is classic tattooing meets East End art gallery, and the designs are clean and original. The resident artists each specialise in different genres, including traditional, illustration and geometric, and have their own merch too.

Frith Street Tattoo
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Soho

Go for: traditional done well

Frith Street has been custom designing quality work since 2004, building one of the best reputations in London's tattoo scene. Alongside an incredible stable of artists, their guest spots are the best in the city. Some of the best tattooists in the world (like Chad Koeplinger) regularly drop by the shop - the only problem is deciding who to choose.

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Good Times
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Shoreditch

Go for: tribal masterpieces

Serene tattooing sounds like an oxymoron, but it's an apt description when you take a look at Nikole Lowe’s Zen-like tattoo sanctuary above Curtain Road. Spacious, light and sophisticated, it’s the opposite of garish tattoo shops. The walls boast cross-continental curiosities with a bohemian and exotic twist and there’s a multi-ethnic shrine in one corner, representing the studio’s unique design flair. You’ll have to be patient, however: the waiting lists here can be substantial.

The Family Business
  • Shopping
  • Exmouth Market

Go for: western or Asian iconography

Everything about The Family Business is sharp, from its boutiquey location in Exmouth Market to its suited and booted staff and vintage swing soundtrack. Its blood red interior adorned with Roman Catholic imagery is inspired by owner Mo Coppoletta's Italian heritage and contrasts with the bold Japanese privacy screens separating the work area from the waiting room.

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Diamond Jacks
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Soho

Go for: a taste of true traditional

Soho's longest running tattoo parlour is also London's most rockin' and unpretentious. Nestled in a suitably sleazy alley, every inch of its walls are covered in music memorabilia and rows of vibrant tattoo flashes. Continuing it's punk legacy, the shop has maintained original fittings and neon sign - Diamond Jacks is a quintessential tattoo studio.

New Wave Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Muswell Hill

Go for: old school meets new school

Lal Hardy's Muswell Hill studio is one of London's most famous, offering a wide range of styles, from traditional to Asian to new school, and this is probably why they've attracted so many celebrity customers (we're looking at you Dave Grohl). It's not as chic as some other studios, but it's been open for over two decades so it's one of the most dependable.

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Flamin' Eight
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Kentish Town

Go for: traditional, new school

This once purple corner shop has matured over the years and grown into a sleek, beautifully decorated studio. What looks like the world's smallest tattoo museum sits unassumingly in reception, while a huge collection of oddities and curios also surround the tattoo area, watching peacefully over all who pass through. It's a surprising gem tucked away from Camden's main strip.  

Jolie Rouge
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Caledonian Road

Go for: bright or cute new school

Caledonian Road parlour Jolie Rouge is among the more underground in London, but it's held in high regard by the city's tattoo creatives. The studio has a streetwise approach, matching the graffiti influences prevalent in some of the work, and the decor is all opulent wallpaper and gothic candelabras inside. What's more, they're willing to try what others turn down.

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George Bone Tattoos
  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Hanwell

Go for: traditional meets contemporary

You may mistake George Bone’s solo studio for the set of a Meat Loaf video, with its plentiful skeletons, pentagrams and gothic drapery, but he's been operating his successful tattoo business out of west London since 1973. Extra kudos for the 'monastically-themed' toilet, which comes 'complete with chanting monks'. Bone’s is definitely one for the seasoned rocker.

King's Cross Tattoo Parlour
  • Art
  • Design
  • King’s Cross

Go for: greyscale illustration and portraiture

A stones throw from Kings Cross station, this studio has a classic, sophisticated aesthetic. Co-founded by esteemed London tattooist Snappy Gomez, who specialises in black and grey realism, Kings Cross Tattoo Parlour first opened its doors in 2009 and has been decorating the city’s canvas ever since. A variety of styles are also covered by the rest of KX staff, including some particularly captivating black work that’ll make you say ooooh (and then probably ow).

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Through My Third Eye
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Finsbury Park

Go for: unusual illustrations

As relative newcomers to the London tattoo scene (2015), you’d think that Through My Third Eye would have a difficult time living up to the reputations of longer established parlours, but their unique perspective is a dream for committed tattoo lovers. A lot of the designs here are either black and grey or black work, with slim lines and incredibly intricate detailing. All in all, they’re a pretty dynamic studio, with an emphasis on original artwork.

Cross the Line
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Archway

Go for: colourful watercolours

Bending the rules when it comes to style, Cross the Line’s personality is bold and bright. Their signature look is colour and lots of it, with graffiti influence and just a touch of the abstract. The workspace is light and clean, the atmosphere relaxed but not unprofessional. Plus, their cover-up consultation service means you can finally hide that terrible, old, misspelt tat you got when you were 18.

 

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  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Finsbury Park

Go for: blackwork, cross-hatched designs

Tucked away in an old factory in leafy Stroud Green, this north london parlour is very easy on the eye. Forget all tattoo shop cliches about dingy decor, you won’t find any of that here. The contemporary and airy space is more calm than clinical, so it’s particularly good for nervous inkers. The custom designs at Parliament Tattoo are by appointment only, but if you want to bring a mate, there’s a pretty comfy-looking sofa for them to chill out on.

South City Market
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • New Cross

Go for: intricate designs at agreeable prices

Designed with peak client comfort in mind, South City Market is perhaps one of London's most innovative tattoo studios. Working only in black and grey, a carefully-selected, ultra-talented team of artists (led by Ricky Williams) work on an appointment-only basis, cracking out beautifully intricate designs at surprisingly affordable prices. Ink-redible. 

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