London is a global hub of culture, fashion, nightlife, and entertainment, the city is big, vibrant, exciting, and filled with more activities than you could realistically fit into a holiday. London is the capital of the UK, the second-most visited city in the world, and home to Europe’s largest LGBT population
In London, you can spend your days visiting some of the world’s best museums and most iconic landmarks before diving deep into one of Europe’s most lively gay scenes.
Soho has long been known as the heart of gay London, and the grouping of gay bars and clubs on Old Compton Street – including popular venues like G-A-Y and The Duke of Wellington – is still going strong. However, the district once known for its seedy red light district has been mostly overtaken by trendy upmarket restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. You’ll still find plenty of sex shops and quite a few saunas, but you’ll have to look further for London’s modern gay scene.
In particular, East London has recently emerged as a gay area, especially the neighborhoods of Shoreditch and Dalston. As new clubs, bars, and shows open, several long-standing institutions also continue to shut down in these areas and gay London as a whole, pushed out by increasing gentrification. Nevertheless, the London LGBT community continues to be large, vocal, and well-established. You will not be lacking in choice when planning your gay nights out in London, and in fact you will probably start planning your next visit before you even leave.
London’s gay scene is one of the most exciting and diverse in Europe – whether you’re into old-fashioned pubs, swanky cocktail lounges, sweaty dance clubs, after-hours parties that keep going until 10 AM, London has a gay bar for you.
Although a night (or a few) in Soho is an absolute must-do for any gay visitor, you’ll need to venture beyond the West End to get a real feel for the variety on offer. Vauxhall has some of the best late-night venues, while the East End areas of Dalston, Hoxton, and Shoreditch offer the latest in edgy, anything-goes queer nightlife.
London’s sauna scene is not as varied and active as it is in other cities worldwide, but there is plenty to play with if you know where to look. Premium saunas with large areas and state-of-the-art facilities include Pleasuredrome and Sweatbox, while smaller, local saunas include Sailors and E15.
The gay cruise scene in London is quite focused on the fetish, leather, and rubber niche, and there are some amazing cruise clubs and parties to check out if that’s your thing. Otherwise, naked parties like those held at UNION are your best option for some non-fetish fun.
All accommodation in London is gay-friendly, and you will not encounter any issues booking rooms as a gay couple or with gay friends. The main problem most travelers face when looking for accommodation in London is that it can get very expensive. Soho is the best place to stay if you want to be at the heart of the gay nightlife, but it is also a trendy upmarket area in central London, so prices are high.
Other areas with good gay nightlife include Shoreditch and Vauxhall. These are spread around less central areas of London, so are likely to be slightly cheaper, but don’t expect budget prices either. Your best bet if you are on a budget is to look for hostels (either in a dorm or private room).
If you are willing to splash out, London is also home to some of the glitziest and most fashionable hotels in the world. Expect stunning traditional rooms, excellent skyline views over the river, and maybe even some celebrity-spotting in the lobby if you are lucky. You will be paying upwards of £350 ($460 USD) a night for an upmarket hotel.
The UK is a progressive and tolerant country, and London has the world’s largest LGBT population. Gay travelers should encounter no issues in the city, and public displays of affection like holding hands and quick kisses will barely attract attention. Homophobia can of course be found anywhere, but gay people in the UK are protected by law from discrimination.
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