London's Best Late-Night Dive Bars

By Christina Dean Last edited 6 months ago
London's Best Late-Night Dive Bars

From traditional boozers and award-winning craft beer dens, to cutting-edge cocktail hideouts and pricey hotel bars, London has just about every type of drinking spot you can imagine. But for the times when you just want late entry, plentiful booze, loud music and good times (and maybe a sticky floor or two), here's a handy list of the best dive bars in London.

Slim Jim's Liquor Store, Islington

Best dive bars in London for a late night party: Slim Jim's Liquor Store
Photo: Slim Jim's Liquor Store

Slim Jim's plays the part of the quintessential London dive bar, with red leather bar stools, exposed brick and a lot of bourbon. Maybe it's a bit too slick to get proper down 'n' dirty – it is on Islington's Upper Street after all. But it's open late, there's a strict 'no suits' door policy, live music and DJs are a regular, plus the rock and roll jukebox (free on Mondays) is loaded with all the classics you need to get hips swinging and feet stomping.

Slim Jim's Liquor Store, 112 Upper Street, N1 1QN

Bradley's Spanish Bar, Fitzrovia

Bradley's Spanish Bar is always a good choice for a late night dive bar in London
Photo: Bradley's Spanish Bar

This tiddly red and yellow fronted bar has pride of place near Oxford Street, yet still manages to fly a bit under the radar – apart from on long summer days when punters spill onto the street gaily clutching their draught and bottled beers. When darkness falls, Bradley's has a real-deal vinyl jukebox plus Spanish beers, wines and a gung-ho approach to shots. Rum, tequila, vodka, Jagermeister? They're always game. Plentiful booze doesn't mean plentiful food though — there's a strict nut-and-crisp-only policy.

Bradley's Spanish Bar, 42-44 Hanway Street, W1T 1UT

Crobar, Soho

Crobar is undoubtedly one of the best dive bars in London, full of metal-heads and good times
Photo: Crobar

Dive bars don't come much dive-ier than this one. You'll be sharing sticky floor space and listening to heavy metal classics with leather-clad bikers who've been coming here for yonks. The great crowd, friendly staff and laid-back vibe make it an ideal late-night spot for knocking back beer and selecting your favourite metalhead track from the snazzy new jukebox. What's more, there's a five hour long Happy Hour every night of the week. Buy a round of Bulleit Bourbon mixers for £3.50 each and make some new friends.

Crobar, 17 Manette Street, W1D 4AS

The Dolphin, Hackney

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This bar is a Hackney legend. Quite simply, when you're in the area and not ready for your night out to end, this where you go. Even for a London dive bar it's rough and ready, though it does have a garden out the back. Its main selling points are this: there's a karaoke machine built into the wall, a free jukebox, 90s heavy music policy and they'll let you dance on almost any surface that'll take your weight.

The Dolphin, 163-165 Mare Street, E8 3RH

Dogstar, Brixton

London's best dive bars: Dogstar in Brixton
Photo: 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. Live music dominates during the week (in the past it has hosted The Prodigy and Basement Jaxx), while weekends are reserved for dancing to a mixed bag of house, indie and hip hop DJs.

Dogstar, 389 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LQ

The Shacklewell Arms, Hackney Downs

Head to The Shacklewell Arms in Hackney for one of London's best dive bars
Photo: The Shacklewell Arms

As a pub in the front and a single-room gig venue in the back, The Shacklewell Arms is your go-to if you just want to sink a few fairly priced drinks and really let your hair down to live music. Decor is on the carefree side and the back room is prone to getting very hot and crowded, so prepare to get sweaty. Luckily, there is a smoking terrace out back for when you need to cool down.

The Shacklewell Arms, 71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB

The Old School Yard, London Bridge

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Fancy staying out late on a school night? Get nostalgic and relive your childhood at this somewhat strangely-themed London Bridge dive bar with cocktails from a comic book menu, graffitied walls, retro arcade games and pop-tastic music. There are private karaoke rooms if you want to shriek along to Hanson without anyone watching.

The Old School Yard, 111 Long Lane, SE1 4PH

Aces and Eights, Tufnell Park

The best late night dive bars in London include Aces and Eights in Tufnell Park
Photo: 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 late night out on your hands.

Aces and Eights, 156-158 Fortress Road, NW5 2HP

New Evaristo Club, Soho

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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 inside you'll find a tiny bar that has slightly more style than others on this list (not hard). Decked out like an old-school jazz club, it's a rather intimate spot with just a handful of tables, portraits on the wall, live music on the stage and usually some pretty colourful characters propping up the bar. A true hidden gem of a London dive bar.

New Evaristo Club, 57 Greek Street, W1D 3DX

Canavan's Peckham Pool Club, Peckham

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Pool clubs seem to double as great dive bars thanks to their encouragement of no frills, late-night fun. Aesthetically it's far more scruffy pool club than dive bar, but the decent sound system, karaoke nights, cheap bar and space for dancing means there's still plenty to enjoy while you wait for a table.

Canavan's Peckham Pool Club, 188 Rye Lane, SE15 4NF

Little Nan's Bar, Deptford

Little Nan's Bar is full of higgeldy-piggeldy charm and may be south London's best dive bar
Photo: Little Nan's Bar

This is less of a dive bar and more like your nan's front room - if your grandmother is Pat Butcher, that is. Kitted out by Tristan from the actual contents of his nan's house, Little Nan's Bar is kitschy as hell – think leopard print, lampshades and cocktails served in teapots. Over time this watering hole has grown in popularity and even spread to a second venue in Stockwell. Yet the original in Deptford remains a whimsical little slice of pure dive bar delight.

Little Nan's Bar, Arches 13-15, Deptford Market Yard, SE8 4BX

Last Updated 06 March 2020