Someone once said, ‘the man who’s bored of gay London is probably straight’. Actually nobody said that, but being bored and gay in London is pretty rare with the biggest gay scene in the world. London being London, there are plenty of gay pubs to choose from. Here are eight of the best.
The Nelson’s Head
32 Horatio Street
Tucked away behind the famous Colombia Road of Flower Market fame, ‘Nelsons’ is the perfect mix of cool, friendly and edgy, where DJs, club promotors, models and East London fashionistas come to chill out. There’s a jukebox, some stunning old chandeliers and some very sexy bar staff. The art on the wall, in the form of ‘interesting’ portraits, is for sale too.
The George & Dragon
2-4 Hackney Road
Just a stones-throw from Nelson’s, this is probably the quirkiest gay boozer of them all. There’s a menagerie of epic decorations adorning the walls – including a ‘singing’ horse head that can be a tad freaky after one too many gins. This is a popular spot with east London hipsters and arty types, with regular exhibitions. A great place for a post-work drink.
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT)
372 Kennington Lane
The RVT is way more than a pub. You could almost say it’s a way of life. Home of the phenomenal Dame Edna Experience on a Sunday for many years, Charlie Hides has taken up the mantle with his superb impressions of GaGa, Cher and Madonna. On Monday is the ever-popular Gay Bingo, and throughout the week there’s a ton of creative nights. Saturday’s is super-fun Duckie, and there’s even the ‘grassy knoll’ of Spring Gardens behind, which becomes the gayest park in London with even a glimmer of sunshine. Just go!
349 Kennington Lane
Another diverse venue with cruising, boozing, BBQs and DISCO on various nights, The Eagle’s Horse Meat Disco party on a Sunday is so popular it’s travelled around the globe. With queues around the block on any Bank Holiday, this place is the perfect melting pot of beards, handsomeness, and hunky hedonism. This is a man’s world, but more than friendly enough to take your cool girl friends. Look out for the handsome beardy manager, Simon (swoooon).
The Kings Arms
23 Poland Street
Known as ‘the bear’s pub’ and for good reason, this blokey boozer is always a safe bet for a fun night out. Sunday evening karaoke is an institution, with some talented regulars! The upstairs is a bit quieter, with a pool table and old wooden paneling. Working behind the narrow bar can be tricky – there’s a trap-door right in the middle…
The Duke Of Wellington
77 Wardour Street
A beacon of manliness, ‘The Welly’ is an exceptionally popular pub in the heart of Soho. On summer nights, it’s surrounded by a veritable moat of men drinking al fresco. There’s a fun area for dancing inside (not quite a ‘dance floor’, more a space without tables and chairs), while up the winding staircase there are plenty of tables and some quiet corners for grabbing a snog or three.
53 Old Compton Street
One of the oldest gay venues in London, Compton’s is just a few steps away from The Welly. It’s bigger and grander – with intricate features, old woods and an impressive, sweeping staircase – a good spot for surveying the throng of drinkers below. Likewise, nabbing a table upstairs by the balcony is great for watching the gay world go by on Old Compton Street. Also a great spot for some pre-clubbing dancing and drinks, especially if DJ Lee Harris is playing.
The Old Ship
17 Barnes Street
A charming, traditional pub that blends effortlessly into its East End neighbourhood, a two-minute walk from Limehouse DLR Station. Although the décor is exactly what you’d expect from an East End pub, the entertainment is not, with regular drag performances and cabaret from the likes of Titti La Camp and Sandra. Quiz night Wednesday and Cabaret on Sundays. Threatened with closure last year but won a battle to stay open after a large successful petition.