167 Best Bars in England

Albert Hall

City Centre Fodor's choice
One of the city's most exciting venues, this former Wesleyan chapel was abandoned and forgotten about for over four decades; it's now a superb indie music hall and clubbing venue retaining many of the site's original features, including an organ and stained-glass windows.

Amused Moose Comedy

Soho Fodor's choice

This roving West End comedy night group is often considered the best way to see new talent as well as established household names doing "secret" shows. Famous British comedians like Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, and Russell Brand are among those who have graced an Amused Moose stage, and every summer a handful of the Edinburgh Fringe comedians preview with them. They keep the bar open late (and serve food), and there's a DJ and dancing after the show. Tickets are often discounted with a printout from their website, and shows are mainly on Monday, Wednesday, and weekends.


Fitzrovia Fodor's choice

They don't take reservations at this jewel box of a cocktail bar at The Langham hotel, but you can order a drink while you wait for a chic mirror-top table surrounded by some of London's most beautiful people. The innovative, creative cocktails involve exotic ingredients, like aromatic bitters all the way from Marrakesh, and are simply unforgettable, if pricey. Service is also top-notch, making this a nightlife treat.

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Bar Américain

Soho Fodor's choice

The Beaux-Arts-style interior of this enduringly popular subterranean bar just north of Piccadilly Circus is so opulent that you'd be forgiven for thinking it had been here since the 1890s. In fact it's a relatively new revival and has been a hit since it was reconverted in 2012, along with the cavernous Parisian-inspired Brasserie Zédel and the racy Crazy Coqs cabaret, which share the premises. The nifty cocktails cover Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, and Post-Prohibition standards, with additional special menus on occasion.

Bath Distillery Gin Bar

Fodor's choice

This distillery produces authentic English gin with the finest botanicals from across the world, including bitter orange, kaffir lime leaf, and English coriander. They have their own atmospheric gin bar on Queen Street, where you can try a range of gin-based cocktails and buy bottles to take home. There are more than 230 gins on the drinks menu, by a large range of distillers, so you're guaranteed to find something you haven't tried before.

Beach Blanket Babylon

Notting Hill Fodor's choice

In a Georgian mansion house close to Portobello Market, this always-packed bar is distinguishable by its eclectic indoor-outdoor spaces with Gaudí-esque curves and snug corners—like a candlelit fairy-tale grotto, folly, or medieval crypt. Also perfect for an alfresco lunch or intimate dinner, the cocktails here are the star of the show.

Beaufort Bar

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

Things could hardly get more glamorous than at the Savoy's lesser-known Beaufort Bar—a black-and-gold art deco–inspired spot with dramatic low lighting that specializes in vintage champagne and an enticing spread of heritage cocktails. Dark and sultry, with a rising cabaret stage once graced by Gershwin and Josephine Baker, this venue has nightly live jazz piano music beginning at 7 pm.

Cafe OTO

Dalston Fodor's choice

A relaxed café, book, and record store by day, and London's leading venue for experimental music by night, Cafe OTO is a Dalston institution. Its programming of free jazz, avant-garde electronica, and much more is enough of a draw that it regularly sells out, with music fans steaming up the windows and spilling out onto the pavement and road outside to smoke during breaks. Café customers are kicked out at 5 pm to make way for sound checks. It's open as a bar (no cover) on nights when no concerts are taking place.

Depot Mayfield

City Centre Fodor's choice

This vast cultural venue in the historic former Mayfield railway station showcases the city's industrial past alongside a lively roster of arts, music, industry, culture, and community events. Its atmospheric spaces include the old concourse and the roof-top, open-air platform, and the place is dotted with street food vendors.

Digbeth Dining Club

Hockley Fodor's choice

If you want to know where locals come to hang, this is it. Held every Thursday through Sunday, it’s a collection of street food stalls—largely from homegrown cooks—and bars, all with buzzy, fun atmospheres. There’s a heady mix of music, too, and the occasional market. Originally held in the neighborhood of Digbeth (hence the name), it relocated to a former printing work in Hockley in 2021 and its organizers host similar events across the Midlands, including pop-ups everywhere from Warwick Castle to Coventry. It's about a mile from the Jewellery Quarter—get off at the Jewellery Quarter train station and walk 10 minutes.

EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney)

Dalston Fodor's choice

East London’s coolest performing arts venue occupies two huge spaces (one standing, one with unallocated bench seating) in an old art deco movie theater. Original architectural details add to the shabby-hip feel of the place, while in EartH Kitchen, the bar and restaurant on the venue’s second floor, you’ll find Scandi-modern styling (along with delicious cocktails and reasonably priced dishes from a changing roster of pop-up chefs). The wide-ranging and very much on-trend program runs from world music and hip-hop to country, folk, and dance, with stand-up comedy and free sets by leading DJs in the bar.

Experimental Cocktail Club

Chinatown Fodor's choice

It's easy to miss the unmarked shabby-chic black door with a scuffed wash of red paint on Chinatown's hectic Gerrard Street main drag, but once you find it and make your way past the sometimes hard-to-please doorman, you'll be in a secret three-floor speakeasy that is also one of London's coolest cocktail joints. With a lively crowd, heavenly cocktails, moody lighting, and a DJ spinning smooth jazz sounds, the vibe is laid-back, sexy, Parisian cool.

FAC 251

City Centre Fodor's choice
This club and occasional live music venue brings the old offices of the legendary Factory Records to life with sounds ranging from drum 'n' bass to indie.

Gordon's Wine Bar

Westminster Fodor's choice

Nab a rickety candlelit table in the atmospheric, 1890s, low-slung, brick-vaulted cellar interior of what claims to be the oldest wine bar in London, or sit outdoors in the long pedestrian-only alley garden that runs alongside it. There are no reservations, so be prepared to line up outside during busy periods, like after work and on sunny afternoons. Either way, the mood is always cheery as a diverse crowd sips on more than 70 different wines, ports, and sherries. Tempting cheese and meat plates are great for sharing.


Covent Garden Fodor's choice

Offering arguably the best light show on any London dance floor, London's first and most famous gay club Heaven is unpretentious, loud, and lively, with a labyrinth of rooms, bars, and live music parlors. Set under the arches at Charing Cross railway station and going strong since 1979, on Thursday through Saturday nights it's all about the G-A-Y club and comedy nights. Check in advance about live performances—they can take place any night of the week. If you go to just one gay club in London, Heaven should be it.

Jam House

Jewellery Quarter Fodor's choice

This is the place to come for live music in the city. The excellent drinking, dining, and dancing venue has live jazz, soul, or funk nightly.

Jazz Café

Camden Town Fodor's choice

A long-standing hotbed of cool in Camden, the Jazz Café hosts top acts in mainstream jazz as well as hip-hop, funk, world music, soul, and Latin fusion. On Friday nights, DJs sample club music from around the world while on Saturday Soul City nights, DJs play disco, house, and soul. Book ahead if you want a table in the balcony restaurant overlooking the stage; otherwise you'll be standing (and probably dancing).


Camden Town Fodor's choice

Once known as the Camden Palace, this legendary venue has lush red decor and gilt-trimmed boxes that recall its past as a Victorian theater, but now is the home of packed dance nights featuring everything from funky house and electronic to club classics and indie, in addition to concerts on the big stage. Headliners who have performed "secret" gigs here include Madonna, Prince, Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Amy Winehouse, while recent gigs range from Angie Stone to Adam Lambert. A renovation following a 2020 fire has added a four-story extension to the original theater and two adjoining buildings, incorporating a good Italian-themed café/pizzeria. A membership gets you access to a cocktail bar in the large roof dome, a summer rooftop bar, an intimate jazz and blues bar, and a recording studio.

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Le Bar at Louie

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

On any given night, ace jazz player Trombone Shorty might work his way through this beyond cool New Orleans–meets-Paris cocktail lounge on the second floor of Louie restaurant. Even if Shorty's not there playing that night, the friendly staff dish out deviled eggs, truffle pizzas, and themed cocktails until 2 am five nights a week.


City Centre Fodor's choice
Tea shop meets bar and live music venue (with club nights) at this bohemian spot in a former art deco cinema.

Mr Fogg's Residence

Mayfair Fodor's choice

Explorers of all stripes will be captivated by this Jules Verne--inspired cocktail parlor, which is chock-full of the weathered maps, hunting trophies, taxidermy, suspended penny-farthings, and Around the World in 80 Days globe-trotting items of eccentric fictional Victorian British adventurer Phileas J. Fogg. Expect Victorian tipples and gin-based afternoon "Tipsy Teas" from staff in bow ties and other old-fashioned getups.

Pizza Express Jazz Club

Soho Fodor's choice

One of the United Kingdom's most ubiquitous pizza chains also runs an acclaimed jazz venue in Soho. Established in 1976, the dimly lit basement restaurant hosts both established and emerging British and international jazz acts every night, with food and pizzas available about 90 minutes before stage time. The thin-crust pizzas are always popular, but it's the intimate live jazz sets that draw in London's hip jazz aficionados.

Prospect of Whitby

East End Fodor's choice

Named after a collier ship, this is one of London's oldest riverside pubs, dating to around 1520. Although a regular for Dickens, Pepys, Samuel Johnson, and the American artist James Whistler, once upon a time it was called The Devil's Tavern because of the lowlifes—sailors, smugglers, footpads, and cutthroats—who congregated here. With a 400-year-old flagstone floor and ornamented with pewter ware and nautical objects, this much-loved boozer has a terrace with views of the Thames, from where boat trips often point it out.

Ronnie Scott's

Soho Fodor's choice

Britain's most famous jazz club has attracted the biggest names—from Stan Getz to Ella Fitzgerald—since opening nearby on Gerrard Street in 1959 (moving to its current location in 1965). It's usually dark, hot, and crowded, and thankfully the food and table service are now largely up to par. The ultracool James Bond vibes can't be beat, despite the sad departure of the eponymous founder and saxophonist, Ronnie Scott, who died in 1996. A full program of free-form jazz sets and shows takes place every night, with additional late gigs on Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended.

Rye Waterworks

Fodor's choice

This cozy little micropub, set within a 17th-century pump house, offers eight (mostly local) beers on tap. The bar staff is friendly and chatty, and there's a real communal vibe to the place, with most drinkers sharing tables. If you get peckish, there are tasty pub snacks available; try the pork pie with mustard and chutney. If you like the pub furnishings, you can pick some up for yourself at the Waterworks Curios antique shop next door.

Scarfes Bar

Holborn Fodor's choice

Named after renowned London-born artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe (whose work adorns the walls), the Rosewood’s seductively glamorous bar is one part Edwardian gentleman's club to two parts Downton Abbey drawing room. Recline on sofas by a roaring log fire or sink into velvet armchairs and explore the bar's impressive collection of fine wines, cocktails, and spirits (there are more than 180 single malt whiskies alone to choose from). Bar snacks are restaurant-standard dishes, and there's complimentary live music six nights a week.


Mayfair Fodor's choice

One seat never looks like the next at this downright extraordinary collection of esoteric living-room bars off Savile Row. The exclusive Parlour, a patisserie during the day, exudes plenty of rarefied charm; the intimate East Bar at the back is reminiscent of a sci-fi film set; the Gallery is a golden-yellow wonderland; and in the Glade it's permanently sunset in an enchanted forest. The space-age dinosaur egg–pod-shaped restrooms are definitely London's quirkiest.


Soho Fodor's choice

Book ahead to avoid the lines at Soho's top-ranked bar and cocktail lounge on Old Compton Street. Split into two distinct areas, head through the ground-floor aperitivo bar to the infinitely more sexy speakeasy in the basement, where there are lambent brass lamps, antique mirrors, dark red leather booths, and an array of world-class themed cocktails, ranging from a rum-based Josephine Baker to a vermouth and orange bitters–tinged Dita Von Teese.

The 100 Club

Soho Fodor's choice

Since this legendary live music venue opened on Oxford Street in 1942, many of the greats have played here, from swing and jazz stars Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong to punk bands the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Host to the first-ever punk festival in 1976, The 100 Club was saved from closure in 2010 by Paul McCartney, and thankfully the fabled basement venue still rocks and reverberates today to all shades of jazz, blues, funk, ska, and soul.

The American Bar

St. James's Fodor's choice

Festooned with a chin-dropping array of old club ties, vintage celebrity-signed photographs, sporting mementos, model airplanes, and baseball caps, this sensational hotel cocktail bar has superb martinis and Manhattans. The name dates from the 1930s, when hotel bars in London started to cater to growing numbers of Americans crossing the Atlantic on ocean liners. The collection of paraphernalia was started in the 1970s when a customer gifted a small carved wooden eagle.