London is one of the top tourist destinations in England and the world with more than 30 million visitors each year. There is so much to see and do in London that it can even become overwhelming. Whether you come for just a couple days or maybe even a week, you certainly don’t want to miss London’s top highlights like Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. There are countless museums and galleries like the British Museum or National Gallery and also great parks and outdoor spaces like St. James or Hyde Park. You can also check out some of our top nightlife picks in London which includes cool places like Ku Bar, G-A-Y, and Heaven.
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Infamously known for its wet, cold, and dreary weather, spring (March through May) and summer (June through September) are the best times to visit. However, hotel prices and airfare will reflect this prime tourist season. December in London is also quite popular as locals and tourists alike visit for the magical holiday decor that decks the streets. Year-round it’s wise to pack an umbrella as gray, misty days are likely regardless of the season. No matter what time of year, London is an international hub of culture, cuisine, and social activities. A few of our favorite spots are the LGBT-friendly neighborhoods such as Soho (the center of gay London), Vauxhall (behind Soho), and Camden (the alternative scene). Many of our recommendations below are in and around these iconic gay areas of London.
Transportation & Airport Transfer
When traveling to London by plane, there are several airports to choose from, six in fact, and we're covering the three most popular. Heathrow is the most famous and the main hub for international flights. Just 14 miles (23 km) west of central London, it’s the easiest to travel into town and is served by the Piccadilly Line of the underground with stops at all five terminals. Trains run every few minutes and the journey from zone 1 takes about 45 minutes. Although expensive, the Heathrow Express is a train that takes you directly to Paddington Station in west London. Alternatively, National Express is a coach bus starting at Victoria coach station. Beware of London traffic that can make the trip take over an hour. A black cab or Uber is comfortable but pricey and it can also take up to an hour due to traffic. You can also book a private transfer in advance. Book private Heathrow airport transfer →
Gatwick is 25 miles (40 km) from the city center and consists of a north and south terminal. The distance from the city center can make it an expensive and time-consuming journey if you don’t book your transfer in advance. Gatwick Express, Southern, and Thameslink trains all service Gatwick’s station. However, be sure that your ticket matches the train line as it’s easy to get on the wrong one and face penalties. Gatwick also has its own taxi service to central London that takes about 90 minutes and is a bit pricier than public transit. A much more affordable option is easyBus as well as National Express coach buses to take you into town. Book private Gatwick airport transfer →
Very popular with budget flights and those to and from Europe, Stansted sits about 30 miles (48 km) equidistant between Cambridge and London in the countryside. Jump aboard the Stansted Express train for a 45-minute journey to London’s Liverpool Street as well as Totten Hale for connections to the underground and city center. The National Express coach buses are inexpensive and make trips to Stansted 24 hours a day and, depending on traffic, it can take anywhere between 50 minutes and almost two hours. For a taxi, pre-book for the best value as a black cab is very expensive. Book private Stansted airport transfer →
Gay Hotels in London
The LaLit London – right in the heart of London, The LaLit London is just a 5-minute walk from Tower Bridge, a 13-minute walk from Borough Market, and the Tower of London is 1,650 feet away. Luxurious rooms feature free high-speed WiFi, complimentary minibar, a flat-screen TV, comfy beds, and a private bathroom with bathrobes and slippers.
The Piccadilly London West End – 5-star hotel just 1,000 feet from Leicester Square and a 5-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus. The property has a fitness center and modern boutique bedrooms with free WiFi, mood lighting, and a luxury bathroom with free toiletries and fluffy bathrobes.
Haymarket Hotel – located in London’s theater district, this elegant hotel is just next door to the Theatre Royal and steps away from restaurants and bars. The hotel offers afternoon tea as well as a swimming pool, gym, and spa. Rooms have a flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, and fully stocked minibar.
Z Hotel City – in central London just a short walk from Chancery Lane and Temple tube station, this boutique property has compact, stylish, and cozy rooms with hand crafted beds and under-bed storage, a 40-inch Samsung HD TV, free WiFi and an en-suite shower room. Wheelchair accessible rooms are also available.
FitzBB – gay bed and breakfast in central London with three comfortably furnished guest rooms in a charming 18th-century townhouse. Guests can enjoy a light self-service breakfast and complimentary WiFi. Minimum 3 nights booking with discounts for stays of a week or longer.
Park Plaza London Riverbank – on the south side of the River Thames and across from the Tate Britain gallery close to Westminster, the hotel features a fitness center, indoor pool, sauna and steam room. Every room has EU/US power sockets, a large work desk, laptop safe, and a minibar. Request a room with a river or skyline view.
Point A London Westminster – hotel in central London just a short walk away from the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. Every room is compact and well designed, featuring a comfortable Hynosis bed, en-suite bathrooms, free high-speed WiFi, USB charging point, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, and a safe.
Point A Hotel Kings Cross St Pancras – a 5-minute walk from King’s Cross train station and a mile from British Museum, the hotel offers free WiFi and compact, well designed rooms, featuring a comfortable bed, en-suite bathrooms, free high-speed WiFi, USB charging point, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, and a safe.
Stylotel – a 5-minute walk from Hyde Park, Stylotel is a state-of-the-art property set between two 19th-century townhouses, with ultra-modern, contemporary rooms. Each stylish room features satellite TV, a work area, and luxury private bathrooms including a walk-in shower and hair dryers.
There are many sites for apartment rentals in London, with AirBnB probably being one of the most popular. Prices are generally comparable to budget hotels, especially if you’re willing to get a room in a shared apartment. Book AirBnB →
There are even a few LGBT-oriented booking sites like misterb&b with listings from gay hosts for gay guests where you can either rent a whole apartment or a private room in a shared apartment. Understanding London’s gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and apartment sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows how things work, where and when are the best nights to go out, and what places to eat at and which to avoid.
Special Offer!Sign up with AirBnB or misterb&b and you will receive a free $25 credit to use on your first booking!
Sightseeing & Activities in London
Buckingham Palace – home to The Queen, Buckingham Palace is the center of national and royal celebrations. Tour the grand and opulent State Rooms and gardens of this working royal palace. Pre-booking tickets is recommended, and you should budget 2-2.5 hours for your visit. To view the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony arrive early to get a good spot. Book tour →
Tower of London – historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in Central London and home to the Crown Jewels, legendary Yeoman Warders, and the famous ravens. LGBTQ+ royal histories can be found throughout including Edward II, James VI, and I and Queen Anne. Book tour →
The National Gallery – located in Trafalgar Square in Central London, this is the nation’s art museum housing a captivating collection of over 2,300 paintings ranging from the mid-13th century to 1900. A Gallery entry ticket is free but must be booked in advance.
British Museum – in the Bloomsbury area of London, this window into the world was the first national museum to cover all fields of human knowledge. The collections span 2 million years of human history and culture as you view art and artifacts from around the globe. Entry to its over eight million works is free. Book tour →
Borough Market – A mecca for foodies, this covered market dates back to the 13th century making it the oldest in London. You’ll find a wide variety of delicious, affordable bites and small gifts to take home. It’s located in Southwark near the London Bridge tube station
London Eye – aka the Millennium Wheel, is one of the world’s largest observation wheels located on the South bank of the River Thames near the Waterloo tube station. Each capsule holds 25 passengers who enjoy epic views of the city below. Buy tickets →
Somerset House – considered London’s working arts center, Somerset House is a historic site that’s home to the UK’s largest and most vibrant creative community. View exhibits from fresh perspectives that support emerging artists and sheds light on current events while backing progress and championing openness.
Eating London Food Tours – this tour offers a historical encounter of the East End of London that tied in perfectly with the foodie stops. The short bursts of information-packed walks between the establishments are long enough to keep you intrigued but short enough to keep your attention. Each establishment is given its time to shine simply by sampling its featured dishes.
Gay Tours in London
Explore Soho’s LGBTQ nightlife – this 3-hour private walking tour of the heart and soul of London's colorful LGBTQ scene can be personalized to your likes and interests and includes 2 drinks per person. Itineraries can include Old Compton Street, Prince Edward Theater, Soho Square Gardens, and Fashion Space Gallery. Book tour →
LGBTQ London Private Tour – tour the vibrant Soho area of London with a local guide on this private 3-hour walking tour. Visit the best pubs, bars, and cocktail bars and learn about the history of London’s LGBTQ community as you pass by the Soho area, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square. Book tour →
Discover LGBTQ+ London After Dark – immerse yourself into the night and explore the alternative spots of London’s vast nightlife. Approximately 5 hours, the evening may include must-see live acts, racy cabaret, vogue balls, rich discussions, art exhibitions, and hidden gems unknown to most locals. Book tour →
Cabaret Show in Magical Soho – step beyond the art-deco doors of the Phoenix Arts Club and experience a night of incredible entertainment. Acts change up weekly and you can expect stars from London’s cabaret scene performing burlesque, comedy, variety, drag, and more. Shows are about 2 hours and drinks are included. Book tour →
Restaurants and Cafes in London
Balans Soho Society – Serving up Bohemian, sophisticated, and slightly eccentric bites like the infamous Balans burger and cheeky cocktails like the Porn Star and Burlesque-teez, make your way to this quintessential Soho experience for a relaxed and sociable breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
Caffè Nero – (corner of Old Compton Street and Frith Street) – Italian coffee house chain with small bites and a casual atmosphere. This location is a popular destination and meeting spot for LGBT folks as it’s located in the heart of Soho. Enjoy excellent people watching or strike up a conversation with a fellow patron.
Bistrotheque – converted warehouse turned elegant dining establishment, Bistrotheque serves upscale European and British cuisine with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. Perfect for a fancy night out or special occasion with a superb atmosphere including a live piano and modern decor.
Mildreds – with four London locations, this vegan and vegetarian restaurant offers small and large plates that are internationally inspired full of color and flavor in a quaint cafe setting. Some popular menu items are the mock chicken, veggie burgers, and delightful cocktails.
Randall & Aubin – Anglo/French Brasserie specializing in fresh seafood and succulent roasts served alongside a carefully curated wine list in the heart of Soho. Enjoy a relaxed, fun, and approachable luxurious meal underneath the eclectic gold chandeliers and a sparkling disco ball.
London Gay Bars
G-A-Y Bar – popular bar with affordable drinks in the heart of Soho attracting a fun-loving, young LGBTQ crowd. With 3 floors, the top level has a small terrace and is most popular on weekdays while the lower level is a bit more chic. Peak times are on the weekends.
The Yard – opposite the Rupert Street bar, this stylish gay bar is popular for its garden courtyard and loft style upstairs that boasts exposed brick and wooden beams with shirtless cuties behind the bar. Here you’ll find a mature LGBT crowd and a tasty happy hour Monday to Thursday from 1-7 PM.
Ku Bar Soho – on the corner of Lisle Street and Newport Place, this “Award Winning Gay Bar” consists of three levels with a low-lit gay club downstairs. Stop by for the champagne bar, nightly DJs, friendly atmosphere, and a very attractive staff of (often shirtless) young men.
Comptons of Soho – serving London’s gay community for decades, this gay bar has a traditional-style wood-paneled pub on the ground floor with a more chill lounge vibe upstairs. Attracting a more mature crowd, it's perfect for a weekday pint with a friend or a place to party on the weekend.
Bar Soho – not necessarily a gay bar, Bar Soho attracts a mixed clientele to its quirky and whimsical wonderland including a carousel horse, bathtubs as seats, and a drawing room fit for Oscar Wilde. Happy hour runs daily from 5-8 PM and the party vibe sets in later in the evening.
London Gay Clubs and Parties
Heaven – located under the arches of Charing Cross train station, Heaven is one of the world’s most famous gay mega clubs and has been around for decades. There are several different spaces with different music to suit your taste. It hosts the popular G-A-Y party and some of the biggest names in music have graced its stage.
Eagle London – one of London’s most iconic gay venues, Eagle London is a large and stylish space with a dance floor and garden (for smokers). On weeknights, it’s a late-night bar and the weekend club nights like Sunday night’s Horse Meat Disco attracts a mixed crowd dedicated to human happiness.
Dalston Superstore – welcome to your queer paradise. Dalston Superstore is an eclectic LGBTQ+ venue, cafe, gallery, and performance space with a full bar and weekend drag brunch and DJs. The menu features vegan plates, draught beers and ciders, and classic cocktails.
CIRCA The Club – less than a 10-minute walk from Heaven and near the Embankment tube station, this new gay night club is home to sophistication and sass and boasts an industrial yet modern feel. You’ll find resident DJs spinning for the large dancefloor with plenty of house and R&B classics on Friday and Saturday nights.
WE Party UK – typically held on the first Saturday of each month, this is one of the UK’s biggest and best dance parties featuring world-class DJs, amazing light shows and visuals, and gorgeous sexy dancers.
Beefmince – from Victorian music hall to gay venue, Royal Vauxhall Tavern hosts the Beefmince club night attracting bears, cubs, and everything in between. Expect disco, house, electronic, tech, and electro beats from resident DJs.
Club Kali – monthly club event since 1995 where DJs spin a mix of Bollywood, Bhangra, and Arabic tunes with Western pop songs. Here you’ll find dancing, drag shows, live performances, and a lively mixed crowd. Often at Kolis in Camden Town, the location varies so check their website for details.
London Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
Sweatbox Sauna – 24-hour gay sauna and gym attracting locals, tourists, and the late-night crowd after Soho bars have closed. The relatively small space features a full gym, 40-man steam room, 14-man jacuzzi, steam maze, dark rooms, private cabins, lounge, and massage services. 24-hour and 48-hour passes are available for purchase.
Pleasuredrom – open 24/7, this sauna for gay and bi men has been running since 1996. Located near Waterloo Station, the facility offers a four-hundred locker changing room, London’s largest gay spa pool, two steam rooms, two saunas, private rooms, lounge, cafe, and bar with drinks and snacks sold 24/7.
Vault 139 – open at 1 PM Monday through Sunday, this lower-level gay night club and bar is just around the corner from Warren Street Station. A strict dress code is enforced (i.e. underwear only, no clothes, etc) and themed fetish nights. Entrance includes coat check, a drink, re-entry, and Wi-Fi.
The Backstreet – boasted as the UK’s longest-running gay leather and fetish club, The Backstreet is near the Mile End Station and has earned prominence for its strict leather/rubber dress code. It also offers free membership for those under 25 and a private area for smokers.
London Gay Events
London Gay Pride– attracting over a million visitors near the end of June annually, this is the UK’s biggest and most diverse pride celebration with over 60 different events, parties, workshops, and cultural gatherings over a week’s time. With celebrations all over the city, the most famous is the parade that travels throughout London, including Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.
UK Black Pride – Europe’s largest celebration for African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin-American, and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQ people during Pride Month. Additionally, a variety of activities are hosted throughout the year featuring education, the arts, cultural events, and advocacy.
Fetish Week London – biggest leather and fetish festival in London including various events at different venues like an opening social and bondage master class. The week culminates with the Full Fetish event at Coronet featuring a large dance floor and international DJs as well as themed cruising areas.
Day Trips from London
Brighton & Brighton Beach – an hour and a half car ride, or less than 60 minutes by train, the seaside resort town of Brighton is just 47 miles (75 km) south of London. It’s best known for Brighton Beach and you can even get a birds-eye-view of the coast by visiting the British Airways i360, where a futuristic glass pod takes you up 450 ft (138m) to enjoy the views. You’ll also find the oriental-style architecture of the Royal Pavilion, the amusement park rides and concessions of Brighton Palace Pier, and can soak in some history and culture at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Don’t miss the Queers and Piers LGBT+ History Tour while visiting the city. Book tour →
Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge – a day-long tour can be arranged to visit all three of these iconic sights starting at Windsor Castle, home of the British Royal family, to tour the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. Then you’ll head west of London to Salisbury to explore the mysterious Stonehenge rock formation. At last, make your way to Bath to take in its iconic Georgian architecture and Roman baths. We recommend booking a tour that will include a guide and cover transport and entry fees. Book tour →
Oxford – just over an hour by train or car, Oxford is located about 50 miles (80km) northwest of London. Known around the world for its prestigious university, this medieval city has been coined the “city of dreaming spires.” Enjoy stunning city views from the top of Carfax Tower before making your way to the Covered Market to pick up provisions for a picnic in Headington Hill Park. Afterward, visit the 12th-century village church and check out Cowley’s trendy shops and music venues. Book tour →
The Cotswolds – a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, the Cotswolds are about 2 hours by car and well worth the trip to the rural rolling hills. This picturesque region is best known for its stone-built villages, lush green landscape, and old-world charm. Take time to slow down and discover the small towns and villages like Burford, Bibury, and Stow-in-the-Wold. You’ll feel as if you’re strolling through a painting of the English countryside. Book tour →
Leeds Castle – situated in Kent, England about an hour’s drive (40 miles/65km) southeast of London, you can explore Leeds Castle, Henry VIII’s grand Tudor palace. The castle is uniquely positioned on islands in a lake formed by the River Len just east of the village of Leeds. In addition to tours of the castle, the site includes family attractions like mini-golf and a playground as well as 500 acres of beautiful gardens and a Bird of Prey Center among other wildlife. Book tour →
Featured image: ©VisitBritain/Melody Thornton
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