London Nightlife

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An insider’s guide to the best bars and nightclubs in London, including the best for live bands, clubbing and late night partying. By Sophie Campbell Telegraph Travel’s London expert.

Sky high is where you want to be in a busy city and the latest rooftop offering is The Sky Garden (skygarden.london) at 20 Fenchurch Street, aka the ‘Walkie Talkie’. It has an airport style ‘outdoor’ piazza with tables, the Sky Pod Bar, plus the Darwin Brasserie and the more secluded Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill on the 35 to 37th floors. Expect to pay around £30 for two courses at the Darwin Brasserie – or £2.25 for an espresso at the Sky Pod Bar (which also has a monster list of cocktails.)

London city break guide

SushiSamba is on Floor 38 of the Heron Tower.

Other high spots include the Atrium Bar at Aqua Shard (the-shard.com/restaurants/aquashard/); the Mondrian’s Rumpus Room (morganshotelgroup.com); the sheet glass and white leather Radio Bar at ME London (melia.com); SushiSamba on Floor 38 of the Heron Tower (sushisamba.com); and Galvin at Windows at the Hilton Park Lane (galvinatwindows.com). Sadly the Paramount Bar on top of Centrepoint has now closed for redevelopment.

In a city not renowned for its late hours, Theatre Bars are a good bet in London: the Charing Cross Theatre Players Bar & Kitchen (7)(charingcrosstheatre.co.uk) under the arches beneath Charing Cross Station stays open until 2.30am and has live music from 11pm, Mondays to Saturdays; and you can see new music post-show at The Pit at the Old Vic (8) (oldvictheatre.com) until 2am, Thursday to Saturday, otherwise midnight and closed Sundays. Not late, but always popular, are Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory (9)(menierchocolatefactory.com) in Southwark, Benugo’s Riverfront Bar & Café (10) at the BFI on the South Bank (benugo.com/restaurants/riverfront-bar-kitchen) and the Mahogany Bar (11) at Wilton’s Music Hall in the East End (wiltons.org.uk) – however, check opening hours during the Capital Project restoration programme, which runs until autumn 2015.

Clubbing & Live Music

London city break guide

You can see new music post-show at The Pit at the Old Vic

Giants such as the Ministry of Sound(12) (ministryofsound.com) still surviving the development of Elephant & Castle and Fabric(13) just off Smithfield Market (fabriclondon.com) are rammed with youthful clubbers. In place of Pacha London at Victoria is The Qube Project (14)(thequbeproject.com) Check their sites for DJs or music nights and expect to pay £20-35 to get in. Brazilian club Guanabara(15)(guanabara.co.uk) off Drury Lane is not only full of jolly Brazilians but is free on Tuesdays and early evening on other nights (£5-10 otherwise, closed Mondays). Cargo(16) (cargolondon.com) is a cavernous space in a converted rail yard on Rivington Street, epicentre of Shoreditch clubbing, and has a great programme of music, party nights and after parties. Open until 3am, Fridays and Saturdays, midnight Sundays, otherwise 1am. £10 after 10pm, Fridays, £15 after 9pm, Saturdays.

For live music, try The Borderline (17) on Orange Yard, Manette Street (mamacolive.com): exposed brick walls, long bar, small stage, mainly indie, folk and jazz.

Late-night Venues

Chill down of a late evening at The Book Club (18) (wearetbc.com) on Leonard Street, Shoreditch, an electic mix of art, ping pong and party nights, with plenty of food under a tenner. Open until 2am, Thursday to Saturday, midnight the rest of the week.

London city break guide

Another good, if slightly dressier, bet is The Roof Gardens, Kensington.

Another good, if slightly dressier, bet is The Roof Gardens, Kensington(19) (roofgardensclub.com): a 1930s institution now owned by Virgin, with flamboyant rooftop gardens and flamingos perched 100ft above Kensington High Street. Open Fridays and Saturdays only, 10pm-3am. Over in Shoreditch, sip cocktails in 70s retro-cool splendour at Calloo Callay (20) (calloohcallaybar.com) on Rivington Street; it’s a club, but the bar is open to all until 1am, Thursday-Saturday, and the snacks are really good value. For late-night munchies, if you are reasonably dressed, the Duck & Waffle(21)(duckandwaffle.com) on the 40 floor of the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, in the City, has both phenomenal views and food and drink 24/7. It’s also very friendly, especially in the small hours.
London city break guide

The Duck & Waffle on the 40 floor of the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate has both phenomenal views and food and drink 24/7.

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