London's Best Dive Bars

London's Best Dive Bars
Crobar

From award-winning and pricey hotel bars to traditional boozers and cutting-edge cocktail bars, London has just about every type of drinking spot you can imagine. 

For the times when you want late entry, plentiful booze, loud music, sticky floors and good times, there's a host of dive bars in the city to get stuck into. 

Dogstar

What the Dolphin is to Hackney, Dogstar is to Brixton. It's been going for more than two decades and the locals' love of the place hasn't waned over the years. At three floors, it's bigger than your average dive, but it's lovingly battered around the edges, and always buzzing. 

389 Coldharbour Lane, SW9

Slim Jim's Liquor Store

Slim Jim's looks the part, with red leather bar stools, exposed brick and a lot of bourbon. Maybe it's a bit too slick - it is on Upper Street after all, but it's open late, with a strict 'no suits' door policy, a rock and roll jukebox, and will give ladies free booze in exchange for a bra. 

112 Upper Street, N1

Slim Jim's Liquor Store London's Best Dive Bars
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Slim Jim's Liquor Store London's Best Dive Bars
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Bradley's Spanish Bar

This red and yellow fronted bar is just off Oxford Street but still manages to fly a bit under the radar - apart from in summer when punters spill onto the street. Bradley's has a real-deal vinyl jukebox and Spanish beers - on tap and in bottles - with pints coming in at under a fiver. There's absolutely no Spanish food though - nuts and crisps only. 

42-44 Hanway Street, W1T

Bradley's Spanish Bar London's Best Dive Bars
Source yelp

Crobar

Dive bars don't come much dive-ier than this one. You'll be sharing sticky floor space with leather-clad bikers and metalheads, and knocking back beer and bourbon. The happy hour is five hours long - you've been warned. 

17 Manette Street, W1D

Crobar London's Best Dive Bars
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Crobar London's Best Dive Bars
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The Dolphin

This bar is a Hackney legend. When you're not ready for your night out to end, this is where you go. It's rough and ready, though it does have a garden out the back. There's a karaoke machine built into the wall, a music policy heavy on '90s tunes and R Kelly, and they'll let you dance on almost any surface that'll take your weight. 

165 Mare Street, E8

Shacklewell Arms

As a pub in the front and a one-room gig venue in the back, the Shacklewell Arms works if you want to just sink a few drinks or really let your hair down. Decor is on the carefree side and the back room is prone to getting very hot and crowded, so prepare to get sweaty. 

71 Shacklewell Lane, E8

Shacklewell Arms London's Best Dive Bars
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Big Red

If you didn't know the Big Red was a dive bar from the outside, you'd be left with no doubt once you get inside - and not just because it says 'downtown dive bar' on the wall. It's got cowgirl motifs, beer memorabilia, rock music, classic American bar food and moonshine for when you want to get really crazy. 

385 Holloway Road, N7

Efes Snooker Hall

Don't worry if you're ropey with a cue as you can do far more than play pool at Efes. You can go on the arcade games, or forgo games completely and just get the drinks in. And sometimes they'll even let you bring in kebabs from next door. 

17B Stoke Newington Road, N16

Efes Snooker Hall London's Best Dive Bars
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Efes Snooker Hall London's Best Dive Bars
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Old School Yard

Fancy going back to school? Get nostalgic and relive your childhood at this London Bridge bar with cocktails from a comic book menu, graffitied walls, retro arcade games and pop-tastic music. 

111 Long Lane, SE1

Old School Yard London's Best Dive Bars
Source theoldschoolyard
Old School Yard London's Best Dive Bars
Source The Old School Yard

The Alibi

It might have lost a little of its edge after Harry Styles dropped in for his birthday, but The Alibi still packs in the punters. The music is a big draw here so you might have to queue, depending on who's spinning on the night, but drinks are cheap, the speakers are loud and the crowd is cool. 

91 Kingsland High Street, E8

Aces and Eights

This bar brings real American rock 'n' roll to Tufnell Park. Not only is there killer music on the jukebox and an overload of neon, but you can also catch live gigs in the basement. Throw in pizza and bourbon and you've got a real night out on your hands. 

156-158 Fortress Road, NW5

New Evaristo Club

New Evaristo Club, Trisha's, The Hideout - this Soho bar goes by many names. Go through the blue door and down the dingy stairs, and you'll find a tiny bar, a handful of tables, weird photos and a random selection of booze waiting for you at the bottom. 

57 Greek Street, W1D

Canavan's Peckham Pool Club

Pool clubs seem to double as great dive bars - there's more than one in this list. This one's got the pool tables, but also a decent sound system and dance floor. It's turned into quite the club space, but hasn't lost its scruffy charm or cheap bar prices. 

188 Rye Lane, SE15

Canavan's Peckham Pool Club London's Best Dive Bars
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Canavan's Peckham Pool Club London's Best Dive Bars
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Little Nan's Bar

This is less of a dive bar and more like your nan's front room - if your grandmother is a bit like Pat Butcher, that is. Kitted out by Tristan from the actual contents of his nan's house, it's as kitschy as hell - think leopard print, lampshades and teapots galore. 

Arch 14, 4 Market Yard, SE8

Little Nan's Bar London's Best Dive Bars
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Little Nan's Bar London's Best Dive Bars
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Last Updated 11 August 2017