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The Gay London Guide (United Kingdom πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§)

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The Gay London Guide (United Kingdom πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§)

Welcome to the ultimate guide to gay London, where you'll find a diverse, vibrant, and inclusive gay scene that's constantly buzzing - so much so that the FOMO from one day to another can be extreme. From its historic neighborhoods to its iconic landmarks, London is a city that celebrates diversity and inclusivity in every facet of its existence. Whether you're planning a short visit or intending to stay longer, gay London has something for everyone. Get ready to immerse yourself in the city's pulsating LGBTQ+ scene, from its hip gayborhoods and accommodations to its lively nightlife, saunas, and cuisine -- as well as experience majestic day trips that throw you into entirely new British worlds.

Fabio and I are major London-aficionados, having lived or stayed here on multiple occasions. My mother has been living here since 2012, so I have come many times for long periods and have been all over watching the city develop day by day. My favorite thing to do is stare at the extensive public transportation map and gawk at the fact that I have barely made a dent in all it has to offer. So while we haven't seen all of it, these are our favorite parts of this mystery of a city called London.

Two friends taking a selfie on a sunny day by London's canals, exemplifying the active and sociable lifestyle within the Gay London scene.

Running the London canals

Big Ben illuminated against a night sky with a London bus in the foreground, an iconic representation of Gay London's historic landmarks.

Seeing Big Ben and the lights of Piccadilly Circus always serves as a kick in the ass that I am in one of the greatest cities on the planet

Seeing Big Ben and the lights of Piccadilly Circus always serves as a kick in the ass that I am in one of the greatest cities on the planet


Table of Contents

  1. Intro: Welcome to Gay London πŸŒ†
  2. Gay Map of London πŸ—ΊοΈ
  3. Gayborhoods in London 🏘️
  4. What Kind of Gay Accommodations in London are There? 🏠
  5. Gay Nightlife in London πŸ₯‚
  6. Gay Saunas in London ♨️
  7. Best Restaurants in London 🍽️
  8. Best Markets in London 🍣
  9. What to See in London and Tours of London πŸ›οΈ
  10. Shopping in London πŸ›οΈ
  11. Gay Events in London and Gay Festivals Near London πŸŽ‰
  12. Day Trips from London πŸš—
  13. TL;DR: Plan Your London Trip (Logistics) πŸ›«
Hello, sexy reader! We want to be transparent with you – some of the links in this post are affiliate links. But here's the good news: clicking on them won't cost you an extra dime. In fact, it might save you money! So go ahead, click away, and enjoy the perks without the added expense. Thanks for supporting our site!
Please help us improve this guide πŸ’–: Our gay guides undergo regular updates to ensure that all listed establishments are current, popular, and, most importantly, safe. The recommendations and descriptions provided within this guide stem from personal experiences and/or reports. We welcome any input regarding new venues or updates to existing ones included in the guide. Please feel free to reach out to us by email with your suggestions or updates.

1. Intro: Welcome to Gay London πŸŒ†

London, the capital city of the United Kingdom, is renowned for its cultural diversity, rich history, and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene.

London's reputation as a gay-friendly city is deeply rooted in its history of LGBTQ+ acceptance and advocacy. Since the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967, the city has seen a surge in its LGBTQ+ scene, with numerous gay-friendly venues, legal protections, and annual pride events. No matter where you go in the city, you'll find a sense of inclusivity and diversity, making it a must-visit destination for LGBTQ+ travelers.

But historical accounts of London's gay scene go back several centuries. Here are some key timeline events:

  1. 17th Century Molly Houses: In the 1600s and 1700s, 'molly houses' were places where gay men could meet. They were often taverns or coffee houses which also held private rooms or back areas.

  2. Oscar Wilde: The famous playwright Oscar Wilde was tried for 'gross indecency' in 1895 due to his homosexual relations, a high-profile case that highlighted the criminalization of homosexuality.

  3. The Caravan Club: In 1934, The Caravan Club in Soho was described as "London's greatest Bohemian rendezvous," known to be a safe space for gay men and women, but it was raided by police and closed down.

  4. The Wolfenden Report: Published in 1957, this report recommended that 'homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence'. It led to the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales with the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

  5. Gay Liberation Front: Established in 1970, the GLF was pivotal in activism and the fight for gay rights in the UK. They organized the first UK Gay Pride Rally in 1972.

  6. Section 28: Enacted in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher's government, Section 28 of the Local Government Act prohibited the 'promotion' of homosexuality by local authorities, sparking widespread protests and activism.

  7. Civil Partnership Act 2004: This act was the first legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the UK, giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples.

  8. Same-sex Marriage: In 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales, further solidifying the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

  9. Alan Turing: The World War II codebreaker, who was crucial in decoding the Enigma machine, was chemically castrated for homosexual acts. He was granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013, and the "Alan Turing Law" is an informal term for the 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.

  10. Pride in London: This annual event celebrates the diversity of the LGBT community in London. It has grown significantly since its first inception and is one of the largest gay pride events in the world.

London's gay history is a testament to the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community and their continual journey towards equality and acceptance.


2. Gay Map of London πŸ—ΊοΈ


3. Gayborhoods in London πŸŒ†

London is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm. Depending on where you are, you can often feel like you are in a small town, despite being in one of the largest cities on the planet. For LGBTQ+ travelers, there are a few neighborhoods that stand out for their vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.

  • Soho: Known as the heart of gay London, Soho is home to a variety of LGBTQ+ venues, including bars, clubs, and shops. The neighborhood is buzzing with activity day and night and is a great place to experience London's LGBTQ+ culture.

  • Vauxhall: This south London neighborhood is famous for its more hardcore gay clubbing scene. Vauxhall offers a mix of iconic venues, including the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and hosts various LGBTQ+ events throughout the year.

  • Dalston: Located in East London, Dalston is known for its alternative LGBTQ+ scene. The neighborhood boasts several queer-friendly venues, including the Dalston Superstore and The Glory. This one is probably my favorite for its uniqueness!

  • Shoreditch: Known for its creative vibe, Shoreditch is home to a number of LGBTQ+ friendly venues. From trendy clubs to cozy bars, the area offers a varied and vibrant nightlife scene.

  • Clapham: Located in South London, has become a notable gayborhood over the years. The area's welcoming atmosphere and the annual Clapham Street Party, which is a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture, contribute to its reputation as a special gayborhood in London.

  • Camden: Known for its alternative culture and vibrant music scene, Camden has a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ travelers. While it lacks a lot of gay-specific options these days, it is a quintessential London experience, especially if you love pubs.

The famous SOHO sign in London, a symbol of the bustling nightlife and cultural hub that is an integral part of Gay London.

The gay mecca of the world?

Unique metallic residential architecture along Camden's waterways, showcasing the eclectic and modern living spaces in Gay London.

Camden just being its trendy self without trying

Vivid street life in Camden with a person sporting a dramatic red mohawk, adding a touch of edgy flair to Gay London's diverse community

Camden just being weird without trying

Now, you don't necessarily need to be limited to staying in these places. No matter where you choose to stay in London, the city's extensive public transport system makes it easy to explore different neighborhoods and venues.


4. What Kind of Gay Accommodations in London are There? 🏠

Whether you're looking for a luxurious hotel, a budget-friendly hostel, or a unique Airbnb experience, London offers a wide range of accommodations to suit your needs. Here are some top picks. While there aren't as many gay only options as say Berlin, there are plenty of gay-friendly places to stay:

If you take your luxury seriously πŸ’·πŸ’·πŸ’·:

Hazlitt's Hotel

  • Location: Nestled in the vibrant heart of Soho, Hazlitt's Hotel is a sanctuary for travelers seeking the spirit of London's historic charm. It’s an ideal spot for experiencing the city's rich cultural heritage and bustling nightlife.

  • Amenities: The hotel offers a unique nostalgic experience with its antique furnishings and classic English decor, complemented by contemporary comforts for a lavish stay. Guests can enjoy the quaint library and the company of the resident cat.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: While not explicitly mentioned, Hazlitt's welcoming staff and dedication to providing a homely vibe suggest an inclusive atmosphere in line with Soho's diverse community.

Hazlitt's luxurious rooms

The Milestone Hotel & Residences

  • Location: Situated in the chic Kensington area, The Milestone Hotel & Residences boasts stunning city views and easy access to some of London's most famous landmarks and shopping destinations.

  • Amenities: This five-star hotel is known for its exceptional service, ensuring a luxurious experience for all guests. It offers an array of high-end conveniences and personalized services tailored to individual needs. They are known for their comfortable beds.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: The Milestone is recognized for its LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere, catering to a diverse clientele and ensuring a welcoming environment for all guests.

The elegant and ornate architecture of London's Kensington buildings, embodying the grandeur and history appreciated in Gay London circles.

London's luxurious Kensington

Flemings Mayfair

  • Location: Flemings Mayfair is located in one of London's most prestigious neighborhoods, offering guests a taste of the city's opulence and a prime location close to high-end shops and historic sites.

  • Amenities: The family-owned boutique hotel combines modern art deco style with the timeless elegance of Georgian architecture, promising an environment of sophistication and charm.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: While the LGBTQ+ specifics are not detailed, Flemings Mayfair's elegance and charm in an upscale neighborhood indicate a commitment to serving a discerning and diverse clientele.

Batty Langley's

  • Location: Batty Langley's is the hotel of choice for those seeking to explore the trendy East London scene (the sister hotel of Hazlitt's), particularly the Spitalfields area, known for its vibrant market and artistic flair.

  • Amenities: The hotel offers an eclectic mix of style and comfort, serving as a gateway to the diverse and historically rich offerings of East London.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: The hotel's location in an area known for its progressive and inclusive culture suggests that Batty Langley's is likely to be a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ guests.

Batty Langley's refined and cultured lavish rooms πŸ˜‹

If you are looking for something more mid-range πŸ’·πŸ’·:

The Z Hotel Shoreditch

  • Location: Located in East London, Shoreditch is known for its vibrant street art, indie boutiques, and a lively nightlife scene, popular among the creative and LGBTQ+ communities.

  • Amenities: The hotel offers compact, stylish rooms with en suite wet rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a complimentary cheese and wine tasting each evening.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: Shoreditch is a welcoming neighborhood with a strong sense of LGBTQ+ community and inclusivity. The Z Hotel embraces this spirit with its friendly staff and by promoting local LGBTQ+ events.

The Wesley Euston Hotel

  • Location: This hotel is situated in Central London, close to the Euston Station, making it convenient for access to various parts of the city including the gay district in Soho.

  • Amenities: Amenities include modern rooms with sustainable ethics, an on-site restaurant serving ethically sourced food, and meeting rooms for business travelers. If you like a comfortable bed, you are in the right spot.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: The Wesley Euston Hotel is known for its inclusive environment and support for diversity. They often host LGBTQ+ events and are allies of the community.

The Bailey's Hotel, London

  • Location: Located in South Kensington, this area is known for its cultural attractions like the Natural History Museum and the V&A Museum, and it's a short distance away from the gay-friendly neighborhoods like Earls Court.

  • Amenities: The hotel features elegant 19th-century decor, a sophisticated on-site restaurant, a gym, and classic English charm.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: The Bailey's Hotel staff are well-versed in local LGBTQ+ venues and events, providing a welcoming atmosphere for all guests and offering recommendations for nearby LGBTQ+ friendly entertainment and dining options.

If you are on a budget (we know, London is expensive as hell) πŸ’·:

Generator Hostel London

  • Location: Nestled in the heart of Central London, the Generator Hostel is just a stone's throw away from King's Cross Station, offering easy access to all of London's key attractions.

  • Amenities: This trendy hostel boasts a vibrant lounge bar, a cafΓ© serving continental breakfast, a 24-hour reception, and a travel shop for all your sightseeing needs.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: Generator Hostel celebrates diversity with a welcoming atmosphere and inclusive events, making it a popular choice among LGBTQ+ travelers.

Atlas Hostel

  • Location: Atlas Hostel is located in a prime spot convenient for backpackers, close to public transport and major tourist landmarks.

  • Amenities: Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a communal kitchen, a cozy common area, and secure lockers. The attentive staff ensures a comfortable and memorable stay.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: With a friendly environment that respects all identities, Atlas Hostel provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ guests, hosting social nights that embrace the community.

St Christopher's Village

  • Location: St Christopher's Village enjoys a central location in the bustling area of Southwark, surrounded by lively bars, restaurants and within walking distance to the Thames.

  • Amenities: This hostel features a rooftop terrace, an on-site bar with daily happy hour deals, and clean, modern rooms. They also offer a variety of tours and activities.

  • LGBTQ+ Touch: St Christopher's Village is known for its inclusive vibe and regularly organizes events that cater to the LGBTQ+ community, ensuring a fun and welcoming experience for all.

For more tips on budget-friendly everything in London, you can check out our tips on how to save money in London.

For more local options:

Sometimes hotels are not the best option if you are visiting for a longer time or would like a more local experience. In that case, try out:

  • Misterbnb: This online marketplace and hospitality service allows you to rent short-term lodging in residential properties, with the aim of providing safe and welcoming spaces for gay male travelers.

  • Quouch: A queer couch-surfing alternative, this is a start-up created by one of my old students! You'll find some wonderful like-minded people on this app.

  • House sitting: Another unique way of experiencing London (and experience FREE accommodations), is by doing house sitting. You get accommodations in exchange for watching a home and generally their dogs and cats. It is more responsibility, and it takes a bit of time to get your first sit (plus a membership fee), but we have stayed 3 months in London before rent-free. We love to use TrustedHousesitters as they are based in the UK and therefore have a ton of London and nearby-London offerings. If you want to sign up on the site as a sitter, use the code 12TRUST to get 12% off a year membership. If you also put your email in on our site, you will get a guide on How To Get Your First House sit.

A tender moment between a man and his cat in a modern kitchen, depicting the intimate domestic life within the Gay London community.

That one time we stayed in Wandsworth (Zone 2) completely for free for a month (with 2 bonus kitties)


5. Gay Nightlife in London: The Best Gay Bars in London πŸ₯‚

London's nightlife is as diverse as the city itself, offering everything from high-end clubs to cozy pubs. The city's LGBTQ+ nightlife scene is particularly vibrant, with venues catering to all tastes and preferences.

I recommend definitely just spending an afternoon or evening at a cozy pub, regardless of if it is gay or not. If it is your first time at a pub, the ambiance is unbeatable and when I think of the UK, these pubs are always the first thing that come to mind.

A man enjoying a pint of beer at a traditional London pub, a common social scene in Gay London.

Massive pub fans here

In addition, I'll post the staple gay venues to check out below, but if you want to do a little more research, I suggest checking our article the [Best Parties in London]](/blog/best-london-gay-parties) to see if your dates align with any of these less frequent affairs, that truly provide the best gay night out in London.

Best Gay Bars in London:

  • Two Brewers: This popular gay bar in Clapham is known for its drag cabaret and lively dance floor. It's a great place to let your hair down and enjoy a night of fun and entertainment.

  • The Yard Bar: This is my favorite place in Soho, especially for the summer, as it has an open courtyard and feels particularly friendly. The garden vibes are a nice break from the hustle of the Soho streets just outside.

  • The Glory: Located in Haggerston (nearby aforementioned Dalston), The Glory is a classic pub known for its drag performances and vibrant atmosphere. It's a hub of queer culture and entertainment with a very mixed clientele, making it a must-visit venue on any gay London itinerary.

  • Royal Vauxhall Tavern: One of London's oldest gay venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is an entertainment destination with a rich history. The venue hosts a variety of LGBTQ+ events, including drag shows and club nights.

  • Ku Bar: One of London's top venues in Soho for gay travelers to meet other gay travelers.

Gay Clubs in London:

  • Dalston Superstore: This trendy venue in East London is a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community. With a diverse lineup of DJs and events, Dalston Superstore offers something for everyone and has a very mixed clientele. While it feels quite intimate, each dance floor caters to someone. I can get my techno fill, while Fabio gets his pop.

  • Circa Embankment: Located in Westminster, this stylish venue offers a sophisticated night out. Circa Embankment features a sleek interior, a spacious dance floor, and a range of events, making it a popular choice among LGBTQ+ locals and tourists alike.

  • Fire: The famous (more like infamous) after-hours club in Vauxhall. This is the place to come if you want to get naughty in the early hours of the morning. They host a wild yearly fetish party called Recon, where any inhibitions you've ever had will go out the window.

  • Heaven: As one of London's most famous gay clubs, Heaven is a must-visit for any LGBTQ+ traveler (do see the bold below, though). Located in Charing Cross, this iconic venue offers a range of nights, including pop, dance, and drag shows. I recommend this to anyone in their twenties, as now that I am in my thirties, I feel old here 🀣.

Again, check out the Best Parties in London for a more specific line up of London gay parties that happen on an infrequent basis around London.

A moment captured at Dalston Superstore, a venue known for its inclusivity and as a staple of the Gay London nightlife scene.

Blurry times at Dalston Superstore

A group of friends sharing a night out at Recon, a popular sex positive night known for its LGBTQ+ friendly environment in Gay London

Not ready for what we were about to experience at Fire's Recon


6. Gay Saunas in London ♨️

London is home to a plethora of gay saunas. While I find them to be a bit less hygienic than the options in Germany (what can we say, Germans love their hygiene), the London gay saunas still know what they are doing.

These venues offer a space for relaxation, socializing, and more. Here are a few to check out:

  • Sweatbox Soho: Conveniently located in the heart of Soho, Sweatbox offers modern facilities including a gym, sauna, steam room, and private cabins. It also offers free HIV testing and counseling. This is my favorite of all the saunas, although I feel like they can crank the central heat up a bit higher πŸ€”.

  • Pleasuredrome: Located in Waterloo, Pleasuredrome is London's only 24/7 gay venue with an alcohol license. Offering state-of-the-art facilities and a welcoming atmosphere, this sauna is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The one downside is that it is the stinkier of the two 🦢.

And what about gay massages in London? Well, there are plenty of places, my friend. They range from standard massages to intense tantric. These are some of our favorites:


7. Best Restaurants in London 🍽️

London's culinary scene is as diverse as its population, offering a range of cuisines from around the world. I'll group things into the type of food here that are quintessentially London-esque/British because there is literally everything you can imagine:

Indian/South Asian

Indian cuisine has become immensely popular in London and the UK at large, largely due to the significant South Asian community that has been established in the region since the mid-20th century. When these communities settled in Britain, they brought with them their diverse and flavorful culinary traditions. Over time, dishes such as curry have become staples in the British diet, with "going for an Indian" becoming a ubiquitous part of UK dining culture.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Dishoom: Dishoom is a popular and vibrant chain of Indian restaurants in London, known for its Bombay heritage-inspired ambience and menu. It pays homage to the old Irani cafΓ©s of Bombay and offers a range of traditional dishes and drinks with a contemporary twist. The decor is often a blend of Art Deco and Bombay nostalgia, creating a bustling, casual atmosphere. Dishoom's menu features a variety of items, from small plates and grills to hearty biryani, with breakfast items such as the famous bacon naan roll being particularly popular. You can't really book in advanced unless you have a group of 6 or more, so be prepared to wait a little bit.

  • Apna Punjab: This one feels a bit out of the way, but takes you to a district that feels like you are wandering around an Indian street - Southall. Now easily accessible via the Elizabeth line, Southall is the mecca of South Asian restaurants. We found this very humble restaurant while doing a little Southall wander and fell in love with it (and it is seriously one of the cheapest restaurants in London)

  • Brick Lane: I'll bring the entire essence of Brick Lane to you, since it's a mistake-free zone when it comes to streets radiating with the South Asian (particularly Bangladeshi) essence. Top-notch curry spots worth sampling include Aladin, a classic bring-your-own-bottle balti and grill eatery, City Spice, which offers Indian cuisine that will have your mouth watering, and Bengal Village, which has earned high praise from gastronomic reviewers as among the finest.

The iconic Brick Lane street sign against a backdrop of classic London brickwork, a landmark often frequented in the heart of Gay London.

Magic happens on Brick Lane

English Breakfast

An English breakfast, often referred to as a "Full English" or a "Fry-up", is a substantial and hearty meal typically enjoyed in the UK and Ireland as a morning treat. It traditionally includes a combination of bacon, sausages, eggs (fried, scrambled, or poached), grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, baked beans, and toast or fried bread. Fabio has a knack for actually making these, but sometimes we like to get out and compare the best ones.

  • Regency CafΓ©: Located in Westminster, this cafΓ© is a local favorite and has been featured in numerous films and TV shows. Known for its traditional English breakfast, the Regency CafΓ© offers generous portions at reasonable prices.

  • The Wolseley: - Situated in Piccadilly, The Wolseley is a grand cafΓ©-restaurant in the European tradition, offering a classy version of the full English breakfast in a luxurious setting. It's a bit pricier but well worth it for the atmosphere and quality of the food.

  • Bluejay CafΓ©: If you are looking for something unique, check out Bluejay CafΓ©, which does a "Fry-up" Jamaican style. You have to head a bit south for it, but it is so worth it, particularly to try another culture's food that is so vital to the London identity.

  • Pritchard & Ure: While not your standard English Breakfast, I love this place for a cozy, relaxing brunch. Weirdly positioned above a gardening center in Camden, it is a cafΓ©/bookshop serving banging breakfasts with local ingredients.

A classic English breakfast served at a local cafΓ©, a staple of London's hearty cuisine popular in the Gay London community.

Your standard English Breakfast

Sunday Roasts

No, this is not naughty, despite the naming 😈. A Sunday roast is a traditional British meal that is typically served on Sundays, consisting of roasted meat, roast potatoes, and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding (sometimes unlimited!), stuffing, vegetables, and gravy. It is a quintessential part of British culture, often enjoyed as a family gathering or special occasion meal.

Delicious Sunday roast meals from The Colonel Fawcett in Camden, a local favorite in Gay London's culinary offerings.

Quintessential Sunday Roasts

Quintessential Sunday Roasts

If you cannot manage to sneak into somebody's home to experience the homemade version, most pubs you come across will have a Sunday Roast, done well! Check the ones around you, and I recommend booking in advance.

My favorite is up in Camden, as you will see in this article about the best Camden pubs.

  • The Colonel Fawcett: This Camden pub is renowned for its mouth-watering Sunday roasts. With its selection of succulent meats, seasonal vegetables, and fluffy Yorkshire puddings, this pub offers a roast experience like no other.

  • The Jolly Butchers: Located in Stoke Newington, The Jolly Butchers is known for its fabulous selection of ales and ciders, paired with a hearty and traditional Sunday roast. They offer a variety of meats like chicken, pork, and beef, all served with delicious sides like Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, and seasonal vegetables.

  • The Pig and Butcher: Situated in Islington, The Pig and Butcher specializes in farm-to-table dining, serving up a Sunday roast that's both rustic and refined. They source their meat from British farms, and the quality is evident in their succulent roasts, accompanied by all the trimmings, including perfectly cooked veggies and fluffy Yorkshires.

Chinese

The Chinese food scene in London is as vibrant and diverse as the city itself, offering a wide range of options from traditional Cantonese dim sum to fiery Sichuan dishes. Londoners and visitors alike can indulge in everything from upscale dining experiences at restaurants like Hakkasan and Yauatcha to more casual, authentic eateries scattered throughout the city. Central to the Chinese culinary experience in London is Chinatown, located in the heart of the West End near Leicester Square. This bustling enclave is home to numerous restaurants, bakeries, and supermarkets, providing a taste of China in the midst of the British capital. With its iconic red arches, Chinatown not only serves as a hub for Chinese cuisine but also hosts various cultural events, particularly during Chinese New Year celebrations, when the area comes alive with parades, performances, and traditional decorations.

  • Ermei Sichuan Restaurant: In the heart of Chinatown, this restaurant is the favorite Chinese restaurant in London that we've come across. It is very authentic, so be careful, as your mouth (and ass) may be on fire afterward. Definitely get the Kung Pao Chicken.

  • Silk Road: This one is actually in South London's Camberwell district. Focusing on Xinjiang style (North-Western Chinese food), it is a unique experience for those who want a different kind of Chinese food.

A man smiling while holding a menu at ErmΓ©i Sichuan, representing the diverse culinary experiences within Gay London.

About to face plant into our Kung Pao Chicken from Ermei

Some other restaurants we love (no particular style):

Fancy:

  • Pied Γ  Terre: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a fine dining experience with exquisite French cuisine. The menu features innovative dishes that showcase the flavors of the ingredients in a unique and innovative way.

  • Fenchurch Restaurant: Located on the 37th floor of the Sky Garden, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience with breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

  • Ormer: This highly acclaimed restaurant offers a luxurious fine-dining experience. The menu features a range of dishes based on family recipes, influenced by Portuguese, Malay, South Indian, and Dutch cuisine.

  • Gauthier Soho: This vegan-friendly restaurant offers exceptional French cuisine without the use of animals. Each dish is thoughtfully crafted to offer a unique culinary experience

Mid-range:

  • The Cheese Bar: Think sushi conveyor belt restaurant but with cheese in place of sushi 😍. Pair this with some refreshing wine, and you have a gorgeous afternoon.

  • EDIT: Located in the heart of Hackney, EDIT offers a "hyper-seasonal and low-impact" menu. The result is a delicious and innovative dining experience that connects diners with their food sources and promotes sustainable living.

  • Lina Stores Italian Restaurant: An Italian chain (with awesome branding), this place is the perfect vibe for an aperitivo or a hearty pasta dish.

  • L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele: What started in Naples, this establishment spread to London thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Prey Love. While you can't make a reservation, we have hardly ever had to wait, and the pizza and atmosphere is top-notch!

Budget:

  • Andy's Taverna: Greek restaurant with cozy vibes off the hustle and bustle of Camden High Street. The prices are so reasonable, you will be shocked that you are in London.

  • Bar Italia: This is more of a place to get an aperitivo (the Negroni's are πŸ˜‹) of coffee and experience authentic Italian ambiance, as this is likely the closest thing to Italy that London has to offer.

Bar Italia in London, decked out in Christmas decor, a popular spot known for its charm and warmth within the Gay London community.

That cheeky Italian Christmas decor

For some additional ideas, check out some of Lady Gaga's favorite restaurants when she comes to London. If it is Lady Gaga, you cannot go wrong.


8. More Food: Head to the Best London Markets

  • Borough Market: This is one of the oldest and largest food markets in the city, with a history that stretches back to the 12th century. It's a bustling hub where foodies can indulge in a wide range of gourmet foods, from artisan cheeses and fresh produce to street food from around the world. The market is not only a haven for culinary delights, but also a vibrant community meeting place and a hotspot for both locals and tourists seeking an authentic and diverse taste experience.

  • Upmarket Brick Lane: Also known as The Truman Markets, this is a vibrant hub of fashion, art, and food nestled in the heart of London's East End. It's where vintage meets contemporary, with a plethora of stalls selling unique clothing, handcrafted jewelry, antiques, and a diverse range of international cuisine that reflects the area's rich cultural tapestry.

  • Arcade Battersea: This is a vibrant and contemporary food hall located in the heart of Battersea, London. As a culinary hotspot, it offers an eclectic mix of eateries and bars, providing a diverse range of cuisines from around the world. With its modern design and communal dining spaces, Arcade Battersea is designed to be a social destination where guests can enjoy a unique dining experience, often featuring live music and entertainment to complement the atmosphere.


9. What to See in London and Tours of London πŸ›οΈ

London is a city filled with history, culture, and iconic landmarks. From the historic Tower of London to the modern Tate Modern, there's plenty to explore in the city. Here are some must-see attractions:

  • Traverse Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, South Bank: I'll get these out of the way, because these are an obvious must if you've never been to London before. No trip to London would be complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the King (god rest the queen!). Be sure to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a quintessential London experience. Afterward head to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, London's arguably most iconic buildings. Then take a walk around South Bank to take in all the centuries of London architecture and the world's most vibrant atmosphere. I actually loved the London Eye (okay, I haven't been on since I was 15, but the London Eye has been in my memory since)
Two men enjoying a bike ride near Buckingham Palace, with one man playfully sticking out his tongue, showcasing Gay London's fun and lively cultural scene.

Better yet, take bikes around Buckingham palace!

  • Stroll the parks: London has a lot of gorgeous parks to have a leisurely stroll through:

    1. Hampstead Heath: I will start with this one, as this is the gayest of them all! In summer when the sun finally comes out, the gays congregate here for sun-tanning and swimming. Regardless, it is a fabulous place to come see an immense view of London.

    2. Regent's Park: This is my personal favorite, as it exudes pure opulence, from the landscapes to the surrounding homes. It has a rose garden with 12,000 roses blooming each year. It also makes me feel like I am in the movie 100 Dalmatians, as Pongo and Perdita met here.

    3. Hyde Park: Hyde Park in London is a sprawling royal park, famed for its expansive greenery, Serpentine Lake, and Speaker's Corner. It serves as a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, hosting concerts, festivals, and offering a haven for both leisure and sports enthusiasts.

    4. Kew Gardens: Kew Gardens is a renowned botanical garden located in southwest London, boasting a vast collection of over 50,000 living plant species. It serves not only as a scenic attraction for visitors, but also as a research and conservation center, contributing significantly to the study of plant diversity and sustainability.

    A serene winter day in Regent's Park with classical architecture in the background, capturing a tranquil side of Gay London.

    All the dreamy wealth around Regent's Park

    Magical winter lights on trees at Kew Gardens, a festive Gay London attraction during the Christmas season.

    Kew Gardens puts on a mean Christmas light display 😍

  • Wander the British Museum, Tate Modern, and National Gallery: The British Museum is home to a vast collection of art and artifacts from around the world, the British Museum is a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. The Tate is a modern art museum is one of the largest in the world and features works by artists such as Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney. Admission is free to both, although donations are appreciated. Other amazing museums include the National Portrait Gallery as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum and of course, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum.

Aerial view of a colorful art installation at Tate Modern, highlighting the vibrant and creative spirit central to Gay London's cultural scene.

Getting colorful at the Tate

  • Get drinks at the Shard: The Shard is the tallest building in London, and a very noticeable landmark at that. After seeing it from the outside, head up to the 32nd floor and have a cocktail (or high tea or dinner) at the Oblix. You can have your choice of west or east-facing seating. If you'd rather get a drink from nearby the Shard to continue gawking at its massiveness, hang out in the courtyard of the nearby George Pub. Be prepared for one of the sexiest views of the river Thames and greater London.
The Shard piercing the blue sky, as seen from a bustling London street, a testament to the city's architectural marvels and Gay London's urban charm.

Such an erect building!

  • Do a Jack the Ripper Foot Tour: There are thousands of tours around London, but this was my all-time favorite. Taking place in Whitechapel, the tour guide will take you through the then-derelict East London streets where Jack the Ripper roamed and brutally killed five women back in 1888. The walking tour with Sinead was phenomenal. Her retelling has given me nightmares ever since. If Jack the Ripper isn't your thing, check out some of these other tours at Get Your Guide.

  • Climb the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral: It is only 528 steps πŸ€ͺ.

St. Paul's Cathedral standing majestic over the Thames River, a timeless icon in the backdrop of Gay London.

St. Paul's Sexy Cathedral

  • Walk across Tower Bridge: You will literally feel like royalty walking across this bridge over the mighty river Thames from 1894. Remember that it is Tower Bridge and not London Bridge.

  • Go to a West End Show: London's West End is known for its high-quality theater productions. From musicals to dramas, there's always something exciting happening on the West End stage. My favorite is Tina (Turner): The Musical. Also, check out The Royal Court Theatre. Known for its innovative productions, the Royal Court Theatre is a must-visit for theater enthusiasts. The venue hosts a range of shows, from new works by emerging playwrights to classic plays by established writers. Tip: Download the TodayTix app to get last minute cheap tickets for all kinds of show around the city. When you emerge from the theater, make sure to wander the all-too-famous Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Covent Garden.

  • See Greenwich: In Greenwich, you can explore the rich maritime history at the Royal Museums, including the Royal Observatory where Greenwich Mean Time is defined, and visit the historic Cutty Sark, a restored 19th-century tea clipper ship. You can also stroll through Greenwich Park, enjoy the panoramic views of London from the hilltop, and browse the Greenwich Market for unique crafts and food. This is one of my favorite places to go in the city.


10. Shopping in London πŸ›οΈ

Whether you're looking for high-end designer boutiques, vintage markets, or unique independent shops, London offers a wealth of shopping options. Here are some top spots to check out:

  • Portobello Road: Portobello Road is a historic street in the Notting Hill district of West London, renowned for its vibrant and bustling market selling antiques, vintage clothing, and a variety of street food. It is a cultural hotspot that attracts both locals and tourists, especially on Saturdays, when the market is at its liveliest.

  • Oxford Street: As one of London's main shopping streets, Oxford Street is home to a range of high street and designer stores. Just beware that is ridiculously crowded and I avoid it like the plague. But you'll find anything you need there. Get there by taking the tube to Oxford Circus.

  • Carnaby Street: Known for its independent boutiques and British heritage brands, Carnaby Street offers a unique shopping experience.

  • Regent Street: Home to some of London's most prestigious shops, Regent Street is the perfect spot for luxury shopping.

  • Coal Drops Yard: Coal Drops Yard is a shopping and dining destination located in the heart of King's Cross, London, known for its innovative conversion of Victorian coal warehouses into a stylish retail space that beautifully blends historical architecture with contemporary design.

  • Covent Garden: Need we say more.

If you are looking for gay shopping in London, particularly all the kinky items that you may need for a London party, I would head to Soho. Prowler is probably the most famous, and there are others scattered around.

A dusk view of Coal Drops Yard in London, where historic architecture meets contemporary public spaces, a blend of the past and present in Gay London.

Sexy, industrial Coal Drops Yard


11. Gay Events in London and Gay Festivals In London πŸŽ‰

London hosts a variety of LGBTQ+ events throughout the year, offering opportunities to celebrate and advocate for the community. Here are some key events to look out for:

  • Pride in London: Taking place in late June or July in the heat of Pride Month, Pride in London is an annual parade that celebrates and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. The event features a variety of performances, floats, and festivities.

  • UK Black Pride: This event, usually held in Vauxhall, celebrates the diversity of LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American descent. It is one of the big events of Pride Month.

  • BFI Flare: Held in March, BFI Flare is a film festival that showcases the best LGBTQ+ cinema from around the world.

  • Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival: This arts festival, held in November, features a range of performances, films, and exhibitions that explore queer culture and identity.

If you are into gay music festivals in or around London, London is fabulous, because they tend to do 1-day festivals all throughout the summer. We prefer this, because we tend to get a bit burnt out after one night, so the standard weekend-long or even week-long festivals are not our thing.

Some of our favorites are:

  • Body Movements: This is a queer day festival put on once during the summer and once in the Winter. Taking place in Hackney Wick, the venues are spread out over an old industrial compound. All sorts of people attend this event from afar and you are bound to have a fantastic time letting loose!

  • Anjunadeep: An organic house festival, this one is not particularly queer, but the venue in Finsbury Park is particular leafy and gives off the perfect atmosphere for a transformative experience 🀣.

Crowds immersed in the jubilant atmosphere at Anjunadeep, an electronic music festival celebrated in Gay London.

Leafy and organic Anjunadeep


12. Day Trips from London πŸš—

If you have some extra time on your hands, consider taking a day trip from London to explore some of the surrounding areas. Here are some options:

  • Brighton: Known as the "gay capital of the UK," Brighton is a vibrant seaside town that's home to a large LGBTQ+ community. It's just a short train ride from London and offers a range of attractions, including its iconic pier and the Royal Pavilion. We took a trip there on the hottest day last summer and loved it. They also have Brighton Pride, which is even more famous than London pride!

Check out our Gay Brighton Guide! πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

Pedestrians on a vibrant street decorated with rainbow flag in Gay Brighton.

Brighton is enormously gay!

  • Oxford: This historic city is known for its prestigious university and stunning architecture. It's a great place to explore on foot, with a range of museums, shops, and restaurants to discover. There is even a gay pub, where you can meet the extremely intelligent gay locals.
Two men making faces for a selfie with the grandiose Oxford University buildings in the background, a humorous take on Gay London's academic excursions.

Clearly not cut out to be Oxford students

  • Bath and Bristol: Bath and Bristol are two vibrant cities located in the southwest of England. Bath is renowned for its Roman-built baths, elegant Georgian architecture, and as the home of Jane Austen for several years. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, brimming with history and culture. Bristol, on the other hand, is known for its rich maritime history, pioneering modern street art by artists like Banksy, and the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Both cities offer a unique blend of historical significance and contemporary vitality, making them popular destinations for tourists and residents alike. These require more than a day trip, but are worth it!

We made a Gay Guide to Bristol, check it out!

Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, United Kingdom

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol


13. TL;DR: Plan Your London Trip (Logistics) ✈️

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit London is during the spring and summer months, when the weather is warmer and the city is at its most vibrant. However, I don't think you can go wrong with coming at any time of the year. You must always be prepared to be welcomed with rain at any time of the day during any season, though. Since London literally has a world of attractions to offer, be flexible so you can plan indoor and outdoor activities accordingly.

Visa Information

  • EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen: (Ehemm, f**** Brexit) Now you can stay a maximum of 6 months in the UK on tourism purposes

  • USA: You can stay a maximum of 6 months in the UK on tourism purposes

  • For other countries, take a look at iVisa.

Getting There

  • By air: London is served by several major airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton Stansted, and London City. Take a look at flights today! To find out how to get to the central part of the city from whichever airport you are coming from, take a look at each individual airport. There is usually an expensive and cheaper options (i.e. for Heathrow, there is the expensive Heathrow Express and the cheaper Tube or Elizabeth Line)

  • By train: London is well-connected by train with the rest of the UK and Europe. To get from mainland to London, the Eurostar will get you there. Check out trains.

  • By bus: The city is also well-connected by bus with the rest of the UK and Europe, although this tends to be the slow option! I took a bus once from Paris to London and it was an ordeal. Take a look at Flixbus to see your options.

Internet and Data in London πŸ›œ

The latest alternative that we have been using when travelling is eSIMs. We use Airalo religiously. Through them, you can get an e-SIM that has coverage for most countries in Europe for much cheaper than roaming. Just make sure to research whether your phone is e-SIM compatible before buying an e-SIM. If you go this way, buy it before your trip and make sure you set it up beforehand as well (and turn off your normal SIM before connecting to data).

Health and Safety

London is generally a safe city, but it's always important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

For LGBTQ+ travelers, London is one of the safest places to travel to and live your best life.

The healthcare system in the UK is primarily provided by the National Health Service (NHS), which offers free or low-cost healthcare to all residents, including visitors.

Nevertheless, make sure you get your travel medical insurance!

Getting Around

🚌/πŸš‡

London's public transport system is extensive and includes the Underground (also known as the Tube), Overground, buses, and trams. While an Oyster card or contactless payment gets you on all forms of transportation, honestly, at this point, I wouldn't recommend even bothering to get an Oyster card, and just tap your contactless card at turnstiles and in buses.

For buses, you only have to tap once, but for trains/tubes/etc. make sure to tap once when you are getting on the train and once when you are getting off, or you may be charged the maximum price for the route.

πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ

For a fun alternative, take share bikes or e-scooters around the city. The two services we use often are Santander Cycles and Lime. The first is a cycle-share service, which utilizes docking stations, but are extremely cheap - the sign-up process is a pain in the a** though, and they don't have docks in far-reaching parts of London. If you go for the Lime option, get a ride pass, as you get much more bang for your buck. There are plenty of others as well.

πŸš•

London has standard taxi apps like Uber and FreeNow, which can sometimes be surprisingly cheap or outrageously expensive, but regardless generally beats out the cost of a standard taxi.

Reflection of two men sitting opposite each other in a London Tube carriage, a candid snapshot of everyday life in Gay London.

The tube is our second London home

Currency

The currency in the UK is the British Pound (Β£). You will rarely need cash with you around the city. In 2024, all I have used it for was to get a haircut and to tip on walking tours.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is not compulsory in the UK, but it's customary to leave a 10-15% tip in restaurants if you're happy with the service.

Other London Things and Tips 😼

  • Power Plugs - Type G: The large and clunky one - Do yourself a favor and pick up a universal converter beforehand.

  • Distances can sometimes feel quite far between places. Don't be surprised if you are riding the tube for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. This (and the weather) is something every Londoner will complain about, and you just have to embrace it. I like to get semi-drunk on these long rides.

  • You can drink outside in London, but do not drink on TfL services (buses, trams, tubes and Docklands Light Railway)


And there you have it β€” your ultimate guide to exploring gay London! From its vibrant gayborhoods and nightlife scene to its world-class dining and cultural attractions, London is a city that welcomes everyone with open arms. So grab your passport, pack your bags, and get ready to discover the dazzling diversity of gay London. We can't wait to see you there! πŸŒˆπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

Nighttime view of the Thames with the glittering lights of Chelsea in the distance, a serene Gay London riverside experience.

A view of the Thames from (very) west London


More UK stuff: