Nightclubs & Entertainment
London is one metropolis that is able to offer a vast number of alternatives when it comes to restaurants and entertainment.
Always a trendsetting city, Londoners and tourists alike are truly spoilt for choice, no matter what they choose to do.
With more than 6000 restaurants and 5000 pubs and bars, 70 different international cuisines, and around forty Michelin-starred restaurants, London has anything you could possibly wish to eat or drink.
Pubs – short for ‘public houses’ – are traditional meeting places for Londoners, who relax there after a hard day’s work.
In pubs even social barriers break down, as conservative City businessmen stand elbow to elbow at the bar with factory workers or bus drivers.
The happy hour has its roots in the London pub culture: a form of promotion aiming to attract office and other workers with slashed prices, generally between 5 and 6 pm. The practice has caught on worldwide, with some variations in the formula and times: in the USA for instance, happy hour means buying two drinks for the price of one, while in Italy is has become synonymous with an aperitif with a mini appetizer buffet.
In 2005, some UK clubs and pubs decided to abolish the happy hour as it was seen as promoting alcohol abuse.
In pubs people mostly drink beer or cider, while food consists mainly of snacks and fast food.
Among the more traditional pubs is the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street,
the Citie of York in King's Cross, the Trafalgar in Greenwich and the Dog & Duck in Soho.
Over the past few years, so-called “gastropubs” are becoming more common, offering a higher quality of products, promoting local products, generally from organic farms and breeders, in a sophisticated and refined setting, such as the Anchor & Hope, the Atlas and The Gun.
There are also a number of oyster bars, where it is possible to try wonderful Atlantic oysters and other delicacies accompanied by quality beer, wine, or champagne. The most famous are Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill in Mayfair and the Bibendum in Fulham Road. The Wright Brothers near Borough Market is known for its fresh products and young clientele
For those who prefer cocktails and long drinks should, the Adventure Bar & Lounge in Balham, the Lab Bar in Old Compton Street and the vodka bar of the Revolution chain are well worth a visit.
There is a vast choice of restaurants, covering essentially all world cuisine. Soho is dotted with bistros and small restaurants with good quality/price ratios in an informal setting, such as Andrei Edmunds, an intimate and relaxing classic British restaurant.
Then there are top notch restaurants, with multiple awards from the best gourmet guides, including the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s various restaurants, in particular the one in Royal Hospital Road, the Pied à Terre in Charlotte Street and the Hakkasan in Hanway Place.
“Starred” restaurants include Zafferano in Knightsbridge, an Italian restaurant with numerous awards and accolades.
When it comes to entertainment and relaxation, Cinema fans should not miss the wonderful Electric Cinema in Portobello Road. England’s oldest cinema, it boasts leather armchairs, divans and has a small table for food and drink consumed during films.
The BFI IMAX at South Bank is the world’s most futuristic cinema, with a 20x26 metre screen and IMAX 3D technology.
Europe’s answer to Broadway, the West End is home to the leading theatres, which stage musical classics and premieres.
The London Coliseum, the Royal Opera House, the Garrick, the London Pavilion, Shakespeare's Globe, and many other theatres are located in an area measuring just over one square kilometre.
For music, a number of venues offer everything from classical music to opera at the timeless Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House, to contemporary music at the Barbican Concert Hall and the South Bank Centre.
Nightlife centres around the myriad of nightclubs that London has to offer.
Clubs range from discos to live music venues, and all play very loud music.
The Barfly Club in Camdem launched rock and pop phenomena such as Oasis, Blur and Muse, while Cargo is a funk and soul club and Ronnie's Scott in Soho is a well-known jazz haunt.
If you feel like dancing the night away, head to the famous Fabric in Clerkenwell, the Notting Hill Arts Club or the famous Ministry of Sound.
Looking for something quieter but equally entertaining? How about the Volupte Lounge, a burlesque cabaret club?
Each club has strict ties to a certain musical genre, certain type of public or the latest trends.
If you don't want to end up in “the wrong place”, the best thing to do is to buy a copy of Time Out and take a look at the leaflets and posters around the city to help you choose the perfect venue.