Whilst jam packed during the daylight hours, London is no less buzzing at night… but what to do as the sun goes down and the lights go up?
This city is absolutely filled to the brim with seriously good museums, world-class art galleries and all sorts of other daylight cultural experiences. But things are no less kicking after sunset… we even have a Night Czar! Here are some of the best things to do in London at night, courtesy of Devour’s resident night owl.
6 p.m. – Drinks and Snacks
1. Bedales of Borough Market
Check out this quaint little establishment, smack dab in the middle of Borough Market. Bedales boasts an insanely good international wine list—by the glass or bottle—plus exquisite locally sourced cheese and charcuterie boards. You can even choose to sit outside at the wine barrels, with a cozy blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Cute and so very Borough.
Tube stop: London Bridge
2. Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar
This is the award-winning bar of the glorious British steakhouse that is Hawksmoor. Get down with the luxurious Fuller-Fat Old Fashioned, featuring bourbon infused with brown butter. Or sip the lighter end of the spectrum with a Venetian slushy-inspired Grapefruit Sgroppino—and don’t forget about the bar snacks! We suggest the cauliflower cheese, spare rib nuggets with kimchi ketchup or a couple of cheeky bone marrow oysters.
Tube stop: Shoreditch High Street
3. Mr Foggs Tavern
Based on the global travels of Mr. Phileas Fogg, this establishment is kitsch, twee and over-the-top, but so very enjoyable for it. Sit under Union flags and fake birds in cages as you enjoy an array of beers, gins and thoroughly British bites. Mr Fogg’s is an eccentric experience, but in the words of Jules Verne himself, “If to live in this style is to be eccentric, it must be confessed that there is something good in eccentricity.”
Tube stop: Covent Garden
7 p.m. – A Cultural Experience
4. Hit the Theater
Whether you’re a serious drama lover, a jazz-hands-and-sequins type, or looking for a bit of small-budget edgy satire, London’s 230 or so theaters will have something for you. Our version of Broadway is called the West End or Theatreland; this is where you’ll find the big-name shows. Get discounted last-minute tickets at the TKTS kiosk in Leicester Square.
For an affordable way to enjoy Shakespeare’s masterpieces, buy groundling tickets for the reconstructed Globe Theatre. For as low as £5 per person, you can watch the plays the traditional way—standing in the pit. Or try something edgier at Hens & Chickens or The Vaults, where you’ll wander from room to room getting involved in the action.
5. Museum Lates
Museum lates provide free entry and late-night access for adults only to some of our top museums and art galleries, including the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum and Tate Modern. All the usual extraordinary exhibits are complemented by speed dating, silent discos, pop-up bars and assorted themed banter. What’s not to like?
6. Drink, Shop & Do
With a plethora of creative wine-fuelled evening activities—from boozing and painting to imbibing and poetry writing—Drink, Shop & Do is your one-stop shop for social events and creative things to do in London at night. Workshops could include anything from aromatherapy candle-making to Frida Kahlo-inspired flower pots. Check the program online and book in advance!
Tube stop: King’s Cross
9 p.m. – Dinner Time
7. Brasserie Zédel
The more budget-friendly (yet no less delicious) sibling of the Wolseley and the Delaunay, Brasserie Zédel serves a post-theater menu until midnight on most nights. It’s an absolute bargain: £14.25 for a Parisian-style Prix Fixe with three courses. Think shredded carrots with Dijon dressing, chopped steak with peppercorn sauce and French fries followed by a chocolate tart. Almost unheard of in Central London!
Tube stop: Piccadilly Circus
Yes, we write about Hawksmoor a lot, and yes, we’ve already mentioned them in this post, but they really are that good! To experience this epic steakhouse for an exceptionally good price of £28, go for their set menu (only available at certain times). We suggest the potted beef and bacon with Yorkshire puddings, 35-day aged rump and triple-cooked chips and the sticky toffee sundae—naughty yet so very nice. Book ahead!
Tube stop: Various locations across the city
Conveniently located near the Globe, the Old Vic, the Tate Modern and more, tiny little Okan is a “blink and you’ll miss it” Osaka-style dining experience by South Bank’s County Hall. Steaming bowls of yakisoba noodles with pork and king prawns jostle for space on its tiny tables with a spectacular house sake.
Tube stop: Waterloo
11 p.m. – Late-Night Snacks (Because Food is Life)
10. Beigel Bake
On ultra-cool Brick Lane, the hipster highway of vintage stores and street food, you’ll find this local favorite. Turning out thousands of bagels cooked in the traditional Jewish style, Beigel Bake is open 24 hours a day. A massive salt-beef beauty will set you back just a few pounds—devouring one of these is definitely one of our favorite things to do in London at night.
Tube stop: Shoreditch High Street
11. Duck & Waffle
Also open 24/7, this late-night London stalwart is set 40 stories up in the Gherkin building with floor-to-ceiling windows. Duck & Waffle is not inexpensive, but there’s nothing like watching the sun come up over a plate of smoked eel croquettes or the namesake dish: a confit duck leg with a fried duck egg, served on a waffle and smothered in maple syrup. Their cocktails are also very decent if the night still feels young.
Tube stop: Liverpool Street
12. Bar Italia
One of the last remnants of old bohemian Soho, this Italian coffee shop was opened in 1949 by immigrants from Piacenza, Italy. Bar Italia keeps its doors open until 5 a.m., and has been serving the city’s dandies, actors, rockstars, club kids and beggars for decades. It’s the perfect spot for a late-night cannolo (singular of cannoli), a wicked-strong espresso and some serious people watching.
Tube stop: Tottenham Court Road
Now that you’ve got your evening planned, why not explore London with us by day? Discover the mouth-watering secrets of British cuisine and a whole lot of history on our London Bridge & Southwark Food Tour!
Shabby is an experienced tour leader, London guide and punk rock musician. She has a great passion for all foods of the world, particularly if they involve offal! As Devour London’s Operations Manager and first guide, she’s on a mission to smash the reputation that the cuisine of London is bland and uninteresting, one glass of award-winning sparkling wine and spoonful of spicy curry at a time.