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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded London article click DailyXtraTravel
Text below is an edit of June 2009
Burned to the ground in 61 AD by
Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Celts,
Londinium was soon rebuilt by it's
Roman founders. The prosperous city
became the capital of their province of
Britannia. Anglo-Saxons and
Vikings vied for control after Rome
left around 410, but by the time
William of Normandy was crowned at
Westminster Abbey in 1066, London
was again the largest and richest city
within what are now the British
The next millennium would see the
city become the center of an
empire, with the wealth of a quarter of
the world flowing into its
coffers. The widespread use of English
around the globe is a legacy of
that period. So, too, is the
interesting diversity of the city's
population. A third of Londoners were
not born in Britain.
In the past few decades, the
improvements in the lives of gay
people have been truly astounding.
Today's gay scene rivals that of
anywhere worldwide. There's a vast
array of gay bars, clubs,
restaurants and saunas, meaning that no
matter what time of day or
night there's fun to be had.
Samuel Johnson famously said:
"when a man is tired of London, he
is tired of life; for there is in
London all that life can afford." Two
centuries later, 25 million tourists
each year might agree that a trip
to London will never be forgotten.
For the most part London is very safe,
but for your own peace of mind
keep your wallet in your front pocket.
Leave your passport at your
hotel (keep a photocopy with you), and
use common sense when cruising.
Station (37 Wharfdale Rd; 20-
7278-3294) three rooms above bar
in King's Cross, breakfast at the
(Fitzovia; 44-7834-372-866) gay
B&B, quiet street, not
far from Soho.
House (22 Stockwell Green; 20-
holiday apartments near Vauxhall gay
Soho studio apartments,
multi-level units, daily or weekly
Hotel (18 Swinton St; 20-7837-
1451) central location in
King's Cross, relaxed vibe, modern
rooms with bath/showers.
(Old Compton and Charing Cross; 7834-
372-866) two double
rooms share kitchenette and
End Apartment (West End; 20-
7486-0855) guest room share with
owner, Marylebone mansion.
Bars, pubs, & cafes
Gay life is everywhere across this vast
metropolitan area, but Central
London is a good place to start. Soho's
Old Compton Street is a major
artery with plenty of bars and pubs.
The partying is non-stop from
Friday until late Sunday night. Denim
and Dicks, Hustlaball, Salvation,
and Matinee are some of an ever-
changing line-up of special nights at
dance halls around the city. See the
local gay magazines to keep up
with all that's happening.
Soho & Central London
CXR (79 Charing Cross Rd) West
open front for street stargazing.
Duncan (54 Old Compton St)
famous raspberry exterior,
across from Comptons.
West (34 and 60 Old Compton St)
bar and cafe, stylish light
fare in club and theater district.
Code (3/4 Archer St) fetching
staff, upstairs rocks
nightly with top DJs, downstairs
(Seven Dials, 32-34 Monmouth St) open
and airy in Covent
Of Soho (53 Old Compton St) two
levels, always crowded by late
afternoon, spills onto the street.
of Wellington (77 Wardour St,
Soho) conversation video bar,
mixed ages, busy early, decent
(11 Soho Sq) Euro-style bar and cafe,
attractive crowd, dancing, fills up
Bar (10A Brewer St, Soho) video
bar, classics to latest
releases, young Latino, Continental,
and English crowd.
Out Cafe (52 Giles High St)
neighborhood bar and cafe, 18+
crowd, veggie menu, juices and
(66 Wardour St, Soho) trendy early
spicy Mediterranean nights with shows.
Society (79 Wardour St, Soho),
friendly vibe, 18+ mixed crowd.
(30 Old Compton St, Soho) elegant video
bar on three
levels, cheap drinks and bagels.
Late (5 Goslett Yd) modern
style, late-night lounge and
dance club, near Leicester Square.
(under The Arches) (under the
Arches, off Villiers St)
legendary dance club,
three rooms, amateur strip
II Heaven (7 Duncannon St)
traditional pub upstairs,
downstairs intimate encounters.
Bar / Ku Klub (30 Lisle St)
young lads, three floors, cheap
drinks, comedy club.
Bar (25 Frith St) second
location, fine coffees, teas and
sweets afternoons, three floors of
(10 Adelaide St) European and Asian
bartenders, light meals, big-screen
(84-86 Wardour St, Soho) busy basement
dance club, hot
guys, drag divas.
JoJo's (8-10 Brewer St, Soho)
live bands, classic burlesque
and cabaret, famous Tranny Shack
Diavolo (8 Old Compton St,
Soho) good pizza and pasta,
reasonably priced lunches and
Bar (2 George Ct) bar and
lounge off the Strand, retro
sounds, gaming machines.
Street Cafe Bar (50 Rupert St)
light fare all day, stylish
ambiance, young and fashionable
(15 Bressenden Pl) Victoria Station
sanctuary, pub grub
menu, fish and chips recommended,
Palace (11 Wardour St)
alternative to golden oldies, hip
vibe, young Piccadilly crowd.
(139b-143 Whitfield St) cruising, dark
rooms, mixed age
range, underwear and naked nights.
(81 Wardour St, Soho) split-level
space, cool vibe,
younger set hangout.
Bar (57 Rupert St) fashionable
scene, fresh-air seating in
(Wentworth Mews) serious gay fetish
club, rubber, leather,
naked nights, dedicated following.
(58 Old St, Barbican) 'odd glamour'
decor, internet juke
box, cheap drinks, party-boy dance
(483 Hackney Rd, Bethel Green)
'Gutterslut' parties, nude
dancers, attire to amaze.
Days of Decadence (145
Shoreditch High St) art-deco club,
live music and shows, artsy crowd, all
Swan (556 Commercial Rd) pub,
entertainment, live DJs and drag
Kingston (184 London Rd,
Kingston) dance club and lounge,
students, young professionals.
Place (305a North End Rd, West
Brompton) private club, very
cruisy, men-only and transgender
Castle (152 Bath Rd, Hounslow)
local pub with seven
nights of entertainment, contests, all-
Cap (171 Camden High St)
classic pub, rooftop terrace, drag
include Lily Savage and Reginas Fong.
Station (37 Wharfdale Rd, Kings
Cross) cabaret shows,
restaurant, roof terrace, free
Kali @ Dome (3rd Fridays) (178
Junction Rd, Tufnell Park) only
music GBLT event, each 3rd Friday, with
BBC DJ Ritu.
(74 Upper St, Islington) trendy bar and
Club (37 Wharfdale Rd; under
men-only fetish, rubber, spanking,
naked, and cruise parties.
Vauxhall & South London
(51-53 Southwark St) big dance venue,
circuit parties, bears
(67-68 Albert Embankment; Vauxhall)
massive club, shirtless
hunks, club kids, Latinos, after-hours
Vauxhall (69 Albert Embankment,
Vauxhall) warm-up place
for bears and dance crowd.
Colosseum (1 Nine Elms Lane)
big Indie club, serious dancing,
variety of music, special party
(349 Kennington Lane) big beer
games, cruisy, leather and fetish
@ Southern Pride (82 Norwood
High St, West Norwood) southeast
karaoke and house parties, behind
(South Lambeth Rd) cutting-edge
lighting and sound system,
muscle guys mix with club kids.
(131 Grange Rd, off Tower Bridge Rd)
dark rooms, glory
holes, blackout parties, boots-only
(1 Town Hall Parade, Brixton Hill) big
performances and special events.
(100 Tinsworth St, Vauxhall) serious
dancing, latest in
sound and lights, fetish parties.
(47 South Lambeth Rd) raunchy fetish
skinheads, buff guys.
Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington
Lane) drag shows, male
burlesque, diverse ages, shirtless lads
(286 Lewisham High St) biggest gay club
in the southeast
(66 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall)
cruising, dancing, glory
holes, cabins, spanking, jack-off and
Club (20-7259-2529) Earl's
Court location, in or out service,
date or overnight companion.
Saunas & Gyms
England's largest chain is Chariots,
and in London there are five
locations, each with video rooms,
internet connections and
around-the-clock hours Wednesday to
Limehouse (574 Commercial Rd)
big hot tub and three
floors of playspace.
Shoreditch (1 Fairchild St)
heated pool, hot tubs,
30-man steam rooms, full gym,
Streatham (292 Streatham High
Rd) three hot cabins,
cinemas, video rooms, tanning bed.
Vauxhall (63-64 Albert
Embankment) 20-man steam room,
30-man sauna, dark rooms.
Waterloo (101 Lower March) UK's
largest sauna, 40-man
steam room, huge cruising maze.
Club (6 Leytonstone Rd,
Stratford) small sauna and steam
room, hot tub, local rough trade and
Room (8 Cleaver St, Kennington)
local men's sauna, cruisy
dark rooms, video lounge.
Gym (73 Goding St, Vauxhall)
fully equipped gym, mixed
gay/straight crowd, serious body
(125 Alaska St, Waterloo) "gym with
large men-only sauna and spa, always
Covent Garden (29 Endell St,
Covent Garden) huge whirlpool,
after-work relaxation, steam, massage.
Portsea (2 Portsea Pl, Marble
Arch) small gay sauna with
bar, massage specialty.
Stream (38 Lavender Hill,
Battersea) saunas (one very hot),
steam, videos, sling room, outdoor
(309 New Cross Rd, New Cross) 20-man
(1-2 Ramillies St) sauna, gym, massage,
Shopping & Services
Filmstore (Belvedere Rd, South
Bank, Waterloo) classic
limited edition DVDs.
Rose (4 Kentish Town Rd) sex
shop to tickle your fancy.
Zone - Earls Court (266 Old
Brompton Rd) gay chain, fashion
and fetish wear.
Zone - Soho (64 Old Compton St)
CDs videos, books, magazines,
ticket sales, staff knows the local
(50 Old Compton St, Soho) masculine
fashions and accessories,
styles from sports to military.
(75 Great Eastern St, off Old St)
fetish, toys, undies, guides, erotic
books and comics.
Freak (S Lambeth Rd, next to
Hoist) everything for your
Room Art Gallery (77 Beak St,
#31, Soho) gay artists, sexy
male paintings, leather archive.
the Word (66 Marchmont St)
London's leading gay and lesbian
bookshop, near King's Cross.
(The Mall) best of new art
and film from Britain
and around the world, bookstore and
U (330 Kennington Lane,
Vauxhall) custom-crafted leather,
bondage gear, toys accessories.
Sculpture (phone 07961 338 045)
torso or genital castings
in everything from plaster to
Camden (283 Camden High
St) books, skin mags, videos,
gadgets, lubes, novelties.
(3-7 Brewer St) books, videos, large
section, fashion wear, variety of
(17a St. Albans Pl, Islington Green)
accoutrements, leather, rubber,
London (24 Wells St,ï¿½ West
End) leather/rubber emporium,
quality clothing, toys, accessories
Wellbeing (7 Silver Pl, Soho)
salon, laser hair removal,
For fans of theater, London's West End
needs no introduction.
For direct and discounted
Above the Stag
Bressenden Pl) Shameless Theatre
productions include such gay titles as
Europe's largest music, theater,
dance, and film center, home to London
Club bears meet to
go to movies each month, visitors
Street Theatre (16-B Jermyn St)
new talent showcased at
buildings of music, dance, and visual
arts, plus the London
Philharmonic and Sinfonietta Orchestra.
Museum has a vast collection of
world art and artifacts, free to
Gardens extensive gardens and
botanical greenhouses, draws 2 million
visitors each year.
Wheel' has views of the city from 443
Museum life and earth science
specimens include famous dinosaurs.
Museum has a current show beside the Thames that reunites William Blake works from an 1809 display.
The Tate Boat ferries you to
the Tate Modern with it's contemporary
collections at Bankside.
Departures every 40 minutes.
(Cromwell Rd) world's
greatest collection of decorative arts
Gatwick and Heathrow airports get most
international arrivals. Express
trains from Heathrow to Paddington
Station take 15 minutes. The Gatwick
Express takes 30 minute to Victoria
Station. Tickets can be bought
online or on the train. A return ticket
is good for up to 30 days.
Stansted Airport has an express
train to Liverpool Street Station
or buses to Victoria Station. Luton
Airport has a free shuttle bus to
Luton Parkway Station, where you can
catch a train to Kings Cross/St.
Eurostar trains from Europe arrive at
Getting around London is a snap. Taxis
are everywhere, buses are
frequent, and the Underground (better
known as 'the Tube') goes most
everywhere. An Oyster card, available
at customer service counters,
will save about half the price of
single Underground tickets. For
information on all public transport
options, see Tfl.gov.uk.
Bull Community Centre (64 Tyres
St, Vauxhall) classes,
exhibitions, events, resources, weekday
coffee shop 10am to 5pm.
Magazine, GayTimes, and Pink
Paper have gay news, reviews,
club updates, escort listings.
Gay- to-Z and Gaylondontravel.com are
helpful gay websites.
2Bexposed and YVY
Magazine are three of many publications on gay
style, fashion, and photography.
March and April
Lesbian & Film Festival
Queer cinema from around the world.
June and July
This 'fortnight of fun' centers around
the July 4 parade, which starts
at 1pm on Oxford Street, rounds
Piccadilly, goes down Regent Street,
and finishes in Trafalgar Square.
June 20-July 5
George Michael is reported to have said
'Fuck off! This is my culture,'
when caught with pants down in
Hampstead Heath. As Mark Turner of
King's College writes in the Guardian
newspaper: 'queer encounters in
parks, on embankments, in toilets,
streets and back alleys are an
integral part of the way our cities,
and sexualities, express
Turner, who wrote Backward
Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of
New York and London, recommends
Hampstead Heath, extolling the crowd of
'leather queens, randy teenagers, local
husbands, young and old, black
and white.' He complains, however, at
the distance one must walk. 'Have
you ever tried getting a taxi at Jack
Straw's Castle at 4am?'
Hyde Park is noted as runner-up, as
well as the more international
option. Russell Square and Bloomsbury
Square, once cruisy with
students, office workers and
pickpockets, are both now locked up at