The best nights out in London like anywhere else: they tend to happen out of the blue. It isn’t until you wake up the next morning (more likely, the next afternoon) and have flashbacks from the night before that you start to put together the pieces that make up the fabric of this city’s vibrant, often unparalleled nightlife. When in Britain — not just in London: anywhere in Britain — join in with the Brits for what might as well be their unofficial pastime: drinking and partying. In fact, maybe it’s already official: 2012 British Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins, a.k.a. ‘Wiggo,’ celebrated winning a gold medal by getting blind drunk… Here’s Part I of my nightlife guide to London; come back tomorrow for Part II!
EAST LONDON: Hoxton and Shoreditch
Plastic People is probably the area’s best-known club, but it isn’t the first place I would send a newcomer; the music there is rather abstract for the average club-goer, and the atmosphere transcends dirty, grimy basement. Instead, try Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. Located on Hoxton Square (as the name states), which has undergone a massive gentrification over the past decade. The spot is just what its name promises: a combination of a bar and kitchen, where you can order anything from Tex-Mex food to a wicked Polish Martini (made from bison grass–flavoured vodka, a honey-based liqueur called Krupnik, and apple juice). The bar also features a mixture of live music and DJs in the back room so if you like to dance after a few, be sure to check this place out.
This section wouldn’t be complete without mentioning private member’s club Shoreditch House (pictured, top of post, via Urban Junkies). It’s located just off of Bishopsgate, across the road from a petrol station, in a converted warehouse. You need to be a member, or invited as a guest of a member to get in the doors. Once you qualify, head straight to the rooftop pool to soak up the atmosphere of London’s film, media and creative elite. Even if you can’t get in, it’s worth taking a wander round the back to see if you can spot A-list celebs such as Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Snoop Dogg (yes, we know he goes by Snoop Lion now, but we refuse to participate), spilling out of Shoreditch House’s rear entrance in the wee hours of the morning.
EAST LONDON: Hackney
Home of the London 2012 Olympics, suffice to say Hackney has undergone a tremendous regeneration in the last decade. It’s also an area heavily populated by hipsters, but don’t worry if you’re not that type — you don’t need be a hipster to take in the sights and sounds of the dirty, grimy east.
If you can find an evening when it’s not raining in London, your best bet is to head to the Dalston Roof Park (pictured, above, via Flavorwire; photographer Thijs Gergrandy). From the lofty heights of this summertime venue, you can view Canary Wharf and the Olympic Stadium to the south and east, and the Shard and Gherkin to the south. Order a glass of prosecco or a beer, and take a seat on the artificial grass bordered by flower beds. The Roof Gardens is also a good place to catch an outdoor flick or just to soak up the rays (if you’re lucky enough to get any!)
The Nest is a little spot located in the reincarnated Bardens Boudoir, which originally stood on this site a couple of years back. On most nights, if you arrive before 10-11pm, you’ll be able to get in free; the cover charge usually hovers around 5-10 quid, depending on who is DJing. The Nest is the basement of what used to be Barden’s Boudoir while Barden’s is now a café/coffee house upstairs (don’t worry, it serves booze, too — this is England, after all!). Every Saturday night, The Nest hosts Lemonade, featuring the best of disco, house and electro beats mixed up by DJs including residents The C90s, Kiwi, Kid Who, Citizen, and Blama! Blama!, to name but a few.
To be honest, I don’t get out here much. But all aspiring socialites should check out the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, London’s most exclusive postal code. For bars, head to the King’s Road or Fulham Road; I’m sure you’ll find all of the beautiful people waiting there. You might even spot a star from Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea, if you frequent Bluebird, 86 Restaurant and Bar (pictured, above, via their homepage) or JuJu. If you or anyone you know is a massive Margaret Thatcher fan and wishes it was the ’80s all over again? Maggie’s is the place to go.
Tomorrow on Slice: “London After Dark: A Nightlife Guide” continues, covering off the categories of Central London and South London.
What are your must-visit London nightlife destinations? Tell us in the Comments!
Sarah Lysecki is a freelance journalist based in London, UK, where she has written for Cosmetic News Weekly and Cosmetics International. She has also contributed to Economist Intelligence Unit, ITBusiness.ca, and Foodnetwork.ca. She is currently is in a very happy relationship with a dandy of an English gent.