As one of the most iconic cities in the world, London offers a unique blend of history, culture, and diversity that makes it an exciting destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. With a rich history, the City of London boasts a wealth of museums, galleries, green spaces, bars, restaurants, and shops that cater to all tastes and interests. Modern and multicultural, the city welcomes visitors from all over the world with open arms, providing a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere perfect for exploring. Whether you're looking to soak up some culture, indulge in some retail therapy, explore fine cuisine, or experience the vibrant nightlife, London has it all.
Soho, in particular, is known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, with many bars, clubs, and restaurants catering specifically to the community. Other areas such as Shoreditch, Dalston, Camden, and Vauxhall also have a thriving LGBTQ+ scene. Additionally, London hosts several LGBTQ+ events throughout the year, such as celebrating LGBT History Month in February, hosting Pride in London, and London Trans+ Pride in the summer.
Where To Stay:
London is a city that is famous for its abundance of hotels, ranging from luxurious five-star options to budget-friendly accommodations. With so many choices available, deciding where to stay can be a daunting task, especially if you're visiting for a short period. Whether you're looking for a room with a view, an iconic location, or budget-friendly options, London has something for everyone. Below are some of the best options for where to stay in the city, which can help you find the perfect place to call home during your visit.
Hazlitt's is a true gem that offers a quintessentially British experience in the heart of Soho. The hotel, built in 1718, has since been impeccably restored to offer modern comforts while still retaining its original charm and elegance. Despite being located on a quiet street, Hazlitt's is the perfect choice for those looking to experience Soho's vibrant nightlife, as it's just a stone's throw away from many of the city's most popular clubs, bars, and stores, making it a convenient base for exploring London. The hotel is also conveniently located near the Royal Opera House, making it an ideal choice for theater enthusiasts who want to catch a show. One of the standout features of Hazlitt's is its attention to detail. The rooms are beautifully decorated with antique furnishings and offer modern amenities like anti-fogging mirrors that ensure you always look your best. And for those looking for a truly luxurious experience, the Duke of Monmouth suite features a private rooftop terrace with a retractable glass roof, offering a stunning view of the city and the perfect place to soak up the sun or listen to the rain. hazlittshotel.com
The Milestone Hotel & Residences
Courtesy The Milestone Hotel & Residences
The Milestone Hotel & Residences is a luxurious five-star oasis in the heart of London that offers a truly memorable and personalized experience. Located just a short stroll from the Royal Albert Hall, The Milestone is the perfect choice for those looking to enjoy London's vibrant cultural scene. Pre-theatre dining at Cheneston's Restaurant is a popular choice for guests, offering a delicious fine-dining menu in a stunning setting. During the day, the hotel is a sun-drenched sanctuary serving breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. And in the evening, the open fire creates an intimate setting where guests can enjoy a multi-course dining experience. Afterward, step inside the equine-themed Stables Bar, which offers some of the best cocktails in London. With a bespoke menu of rooms to suit your style, the hotel offers a unique and personalized experience. Their multiple suite options are iconic, from the art-deco-styled Ruhlmann Suite to the Hermès Suite, featuring lofty ceilings, custom-made Connemara marble, and a romantic private balcony. In addition to having a resistance pool, gymnasium, and a luxurious spa treatment room, they also have six long-stay residences available for those wanting to make London a home away from home. And for those looking for a truly extraordinary experience, the hotel even has London's smallest licensed wedding venue in their chapel. In addition to its prime location, with Notting Hill and Kensington Palace Gardens nearby, The Milestone is surrounded by a wealth of vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and antique shops, with Kensington Church Street and Thackeray Street just a stone's throw away. milestonehotel.com
Courtesy Flemings Mayfair
Flemings Mayfair is a family-owned boutique hotel that exudes sophistication and charm. This central London hotel has played host to a number of A-list guests, including Robert De Niro, Kate Winslet, and Julianne Moore. The hotel's 129 lavish guest rooms and luxury suites, including ten fully serviced apartments of one, two, or three bedrooms, blend modern Art Deco style with Georgian elegance, creating an intimate atmosphere. The rooms are adorned with chic black branded slippers, adding an extra touch of luxury to your stay. The hotel boasts a simple yet effective gym, perfect for those looking to keep up their fitness routine while traveling. Ormer, a highly acclaimed restaurant and Manetta's Bar, an intimate venue evocative of the 1930s, can also be found in the hotel. Giving back is a huge priority of the hotel; in addition to working alongside Charity Begins at Home, a UK-registered nonprofit, the team also prepares and cooks over 50 warm meals every Wednesday to be distributed to families in real need across the streets of London. Located in the heart of Mayfair, one of London's most sought-after neighborhoods, guests are just a stone's throw away from some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including Green Park, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park. And with a close walk to the bars of Soho, there's no shortage of entertainment options. flemings-mayfair.co.uk
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square
Courtesy Nobu Hotel London Portman Square
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square is a fantastic hotel with an unparalleled experience in Marylebone's safe and friendly neighborhood. This modern hotel is ideal for those who appreciate luxury and sophistication in their travels. Every detail, from the anti-fogging mirrors in the bathrooms to the effective Nobu Pilates classes, is thoughtfully designed to enhance the guest's experience. It would be sinful to stay at the hotel and not eat at their restaurant, with their Omakase multi-course tasting menus being a true highlight of the hotel. The miniature Nobu tacos are also a must-try snack before your meal. And for vegans, the 7-course plant-based option is not only delicious but stretches any so-called limits on vegan food. The staff is decked out in chic all-black uniforms that enhance the elegant dining experience, and with the restaurant being a celebrity hotspot, it's not uncommon to spot A-list diners during your visit. The bar downstairs is a must-visit, featuring the Japan Passport, amenu of unique cocktails inspired by Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa's travels and experiences, taking you on a journey from each location, executed with Japanese precision and finesse, all the while combined with Latin flair and fire. The hotel is steps away from independent boutiques, and additional dining options and only moments from the world-renowned shopping areas such as Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Pan Pacific London
Courtesy Pan Pacific London
Pan Pacific London is a hotel that combines modern and chic design with spacious yet cozy rooms to create a remarkable experience. With incredibly comfortable beds, lush bathrobes, floor-to-ceiling windows providing stunning city views, and so much more to make every moment spent in the room even more special, it's a wonder you'll want to leave at all. However, when you do, the staff at the hotel are welcoming and always ready to help, ensuring that guests have a stress-free stay. The hotel is spotless, and the pool is both luxurious and large, providing a perfect place to relax and unwind. The gym is equipped with two Pilates reformer machines and TRX cables, making it more grandiloquent than your typical hotel gym. The included sauna and steam room in the men's and women's changing rooms are perfect for relaxing after a workout or swimming in the pool. The hotel's central location, right off Liverpool Street, makes it an excellent choice for travelers looking to explore the city, with an abundance of nearby attractions such as the Museum of London and Leadenhall Market and plenty of restaurants and bars to keep guests entertained for hours. Downstairs, past the reception, the Orchid Lounge is a fantastic addition to the hotel, providing guests with a cozy and intimate space to chill out, work, or enjoy Afternoon Tea. panpacific.com/london
citizenM London Victoria Station
Courtesy citizenM London Victoria Station
Inspired to create a hotel for today's frequent travelers, Rattan Chadha set out to create a hotel brand with everything people need and nothing they don't. This meant central locations in the world's most exciting cities but at affordable prices. Somewhere with superfast Wi-Fi, tech that makes life easier, world-class art, a room with an ultra-comfortable bed to crash in, and a powerful rain shower to wake up in. Chadha called this 'affordable luxury for the people.' And the newly opened citizenM London Victoria Station delivers on these lofty intentions. From the king-size beds with sumptuous bedding to the MoodPad device that controls everything from the lighting to the temperature, every aspect of the rooms are designed to provide guests with the ultimate comfort and convenience, creating an environment that feels like home. The communal spaces, including The Living Room and 24/7 canteenM, are places to relax, work, and socialize in a comfortable and stylish environment. The hotel's central location offers easy links to Gatwick Airport and Greater London, and the 226 rooms across ten floors make it an ideal base for both business and leisure travelers. With major tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Tate Britain, and West End theaters nearby, it's perfect for exploring London's culture and history. citizenm.com
Courtesy The Gate London
Combining the luxury of a boutique hotel with the added amenities of longer-stay residences, The Gate offers beautifully designed apartments and apartment-styled rooms that radiate style and comfort. You'll feel like royalty during your stay with stunning bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, including ovens, state-of-the-art technology, and cloud-like beds. The state-of-the-art boutique gym offers Peloton bikes, Techno gym equipment, and in-house yoga classes to energize you while visiting The Big Smoke. Or if you opt for the Penthouse suite, you can even request a Peloton to enjoy and exercise in the privacy of your room. The communal fifth floor lounge and outdoor terrace provides a breathtaking city view and offers seasonal experiences such as outdoor yoga classes, BBQs, and wine masterclasses. With Le Labo toiletries in the bathrooms and morning yoga classes on the terrace, The Gate Aparthotel London is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate while exploring the city. Located just a two-minute stroll from Aldgate East tube station, the hotel is fittingly positioned at the gateway to the City of London. It is also within walking distance to the vibrant areas of Shoreditch, Hoxton, and Hackney, and the iconic Tower Bridge is just a 10-minute walk away, which is a perfect setting for enjoying the sunset over the River Thames.
Lost Property, St Paul’s London – Curio Collection by Hilton
Courtesy Lost Property, St Paul's London
Lost Property, St Paul's London – Curio Collection by Hilton is a hidden gem in the heart of London. Despite some of the rooms being on the smaller side, the hotel's location is unbeatable. It's just a stone's throw away from Tate Modern and Britain's National Gallery, making it perfect for art lovers. Moreover, some rooms offer breathtaking views of St. Paul's Cathedral, a must-visit attraction that boasts a 360° view of London. The hotel's name inspires its interior design and features a fusion of 1940s elegance with Art Deco. You'll find interesting features such as a bird-inspired chandelier in the ground floor restaurant to honor various extinct birds and a beautifully hand-made resin table. The hotel is trendy and organic, making it suitable for business, solo, or couple travelers. Lost Property has 145 bedrooms, including five interconnecting rooms, 15 wheelchair-accessible rooms, and five twin rooms. The hotel's fitness room is well-equipped with a Peloton, and you can enjoy great coffee at the ground floor Tattle Coffee Shop. The hotel's cuisine is also noteworthy, with French-inspired dishes fused with classic British staples. Another plus is that their unused soaps get recycled and melted into oils, making strides in being an eco-friendly hotel. lostpropertyhotel.com
Where To Eat:
Pied à Terre
Courtesy Pied à Terre
Pied à Terre is a Michelin-starred culinary delight that transports your taste buds to new heights with their exquisite French cuisine. From the moment you walk into this intimate, elegant Fitzrovia restaurant, you know you're in for a treat. The attention to detail is impeccable, from the perfectly folded napkins to the tasteful decor. But it's the food that steals the show, with each dish thoughtfully crafted to showcase the flavors of the ingredients in a unique and innovative way. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu here. In addition, the service is top-notch, with attentive staff who are knowledgeable about the dishes and wine and happy to offer recommendations. If you're looking for an unforgettable dining experience in London, Pied à Terre is the place to go. pied-a-terre.co.uk
Fenchurch Restaurant, located on the 37th floor of the iconic Sky Garden, offers a truly stunning dining experience boasting breathtaking panoramic views of the city, making for an unforgettable backdrop to your meal. The modern British menu is a true delight, featuring innovative dishes crafted with the finest ingredients. The service is top-notch, with attentive staff ensuring a seamless dining experience. skygarden.london
EDIT in the heart of Hackney is a must-visit for anyone interested in sustainable and seasonal dining. The restaurant takes its name from its philosophy of ‘altering elements to improve the whole,’ and this ethos is reflected in their hyper-seasonal and low-impact menu. The result is a delicious and innovative dining experience that connects diners with their food sources and promotes sustainable living. edit.london
Paradise Soho brings the vibrant flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine to London with a contemporary twist. The menu features dishes based on family recipes, influenced by Portuguese, Malay, South Indian, and Dutch cuisine. Every bite is a harmonious blend of spices and ingredients, creating a unique culinary experience. The atmosphere is modern and inviting, with attentive and friendly staff adding to the overall enjoyable dining experience. paradisesoho.com
Courtesy Gauthier Soho
Gauthier Soho is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Soho, and it truly deserves its reputation as one of the best restaurants in London. With a focus on seasonality and sustainability, Gauthier Soho's vegan menu frequently changes to showcase the best produce available. The atmosphere is intimate and welcoming, with charming decor that creates an elegant ambiance. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable, always ready to offer recommendations from their carefully curated menu. The restaurant's commitment to exceptional French cuisine without the use of animals has earned it rave reviews and a loyal following in London's vibrant vegan community. gauthiersoho.co.uk
Where to Brunch
Courtesy Club Mexicana
Brunch is a beloved weekend tradition in London, and the city boasts an impressive array of brunch spots to choose from. From the trendy cafés of Shoreditch to the sophisticated eateries of Mayfair, there's something to suit every taste and budget. With so many options, the only challenge is deciding where to go.
A favorite for a drag brunch is Mrs. Riot in Covent Garden, whose signature cocktails guarantee a good time. Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch and Blame Gloria in Covent Garden also put on hilarious drag show brunches! For an all-American feast such as American-style pancakes, Where All The Pancakes Are in Fitzrovia, and Sunday in Brooklyn in Notting Hill are go-to spots. And for a plant-based group visit, the inexpensive queer-owned Club Mexicana, in Spitalfields, promises a good time - just be sure to book in advance!
What To Do:
Discover London’s Free Attractions
Photo by Alan Diamond
London has many free tourist attractions that are widely iconic. A visit to Buckingham Palace to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a stroll through the vibrant and colorful Notting Hill neighborhood where many of the houses are painted in pretty pastel shades, taking a snap with a classic red telephone booth, or witnessing Big Ben, are all great options. You can also walk through one of London's beautiful parks, such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and Green Park.
See a West End Show
Photo by Johan Persson
The West End is London's hub for theater and musical productions, and there's always something for everyone. For a mesmerizing experience, check out The Lion King at the historic Lyceum Theatre. The show is packed with stunning visuals, incredible music, and jaw-dropping choreography, making it a must-see for all theater enthusiasts. The production is also known for its diverse and inclusive casting, with a cast that features actors from different backgrounds and cultures, including LGBTQ+ performers. With its breathtaking spectacle and powerful themes, The Lion King is a show that will stay with you long after the curtains close. thelionking.co.uk
Shop ‘Til You Drop
London is a shopper's paradise, with numerous shopping destinations to suit all tastes and budgets. Mount Street, Bond Street, Oxford Street, and Regent Street are popular shopping areas. Oxford Street is a must-visit, boasting a range of UK retail giants along its 1.2-mile stretch. Explore the charming Leadenhall Market or indulge in luxury at Harrods and Selfridges. And for those who prefer independent boutiques and hidden gems, be sure to explore the quieter side streets and alleyways off the main shopping thoroughfares. A personal favorite is Neal's Yard, a small alley located in the heart of Covent Garden and known for its vibrant and colorful buildings that house a variety of unique shops, cafes, and wellness centers.
Relax and Unwind at AIRE London Ancient Baths
Courtesy AIRE London Ancient Baths
Indulge in a sensory escape at AIRE Ancient Baths London in the heart of Covent Garden. With water as your guide and relaxation as your destination, the historic building offers an unforgettable luxurious experience. The iconic thermal baths, dimly lit by thousands of candles, create a serene atmosphere where the scent of orange blossom and the sound of relaxing melodies help to soothe the mind and body. Escape the stress of everyday life with massages and rituals designed to bring you to a state of complete serenity. AIRE Ancient Baths London promises to awaken your five senses and transport you to a paradise of calm, peace, and tranquility. Pro tip: dedicate at least 3 hours here! beaire.com
Experience Personalized Skincare at Pietro Simone London Clinic
Courtesy Pietro Simone London Clinic
The Pietro Simone Skincare Clinic is the go-to destination in London for anyone looking for a personalized, science-led approach to skincare. Founded by renowned skincare practitioner and facialist Pietro Simone, his luxurious Mayfair clinic offers bespoke treatments that deliver unparalleled, visible results in a beautiful setting. Highly regarded by industry professionals, beauty experts, and high-profile international clients for his unique methodologies and 360° transformative experiences, there's no doubt you'll leave feeling incredible. Simone's extensive treatment list boasts over 30 targeted and transformative personalized treatments that use science-led skincare, shockwaves, radio frequency, and state-of-the-art lymphatic drainage stimulation. These treatments address many skin concerns, from acne and hyperpigmentation to premature aging and unwanted body fat. pietrosimone.com
Museums for Every Taste
Twist Museum Photo by Dan Weill Photography
London boasts some of the world's best museums, from the iconic British Museum to the modern and thought-provoking Tate Modern. For LGBTQ+ travelers, the Victoria and Albert Museum offers a fascinating look into the history of LGBTQ+ culture, with exhibits on everything from drag performances to the AIDS crisis. Additionally, the National Portrait Gallery showcases stunning portraits of famous LGBTQ+ figures throughout history, including Oscar Wilde and David Bowie.
For something entirely unique, step into a world of illusion and exploration at the Twist Museum on Oxford Street. Developed in collaboration with artists, neuroscientists, and philosophers, this immersive experience puts your mind to the test as it explores the power of perception in experiencing the world around you. Be prepared to be amazed as you enter mind-altering immersive rooms, get up close and personal with unexpected interactive illusions, and discover how your brain interprets reality. twistmuseum.com
Don’t Forget the Art Galleries!
Courtesy Saatchi Gallery
Art lovers should also take the chance to explore the city's diverse gallery scene. From the world-famous National Gallery to independent galleries like Gagosian and The Halcyon Gallery, there is something for every enthusiast. One standout gallery is the Saatchi Gallery, a favorite of many visitors to London, including mine. Located in the heart of Chelsea, the Saatchi Gallery showcases contemporary art from around the world, focusing on emerging artists. Its cutting-edge exhibitions, and thought-provoking installations make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the latest trends in the art world.
Get Your Laugh On at 21Soho Comedy Club
With plenty of comedy clubs scattered around the city, choosing which one to visit can be difficult. One of the newest and most exciting additions is 21Soho, a comedy club that hosts some of the best stand-up comedians worldwide. Located in the heart of Soho, the intimate venue has a lively atmosphere and a stylish bar stocked with wine, beer, cocktails, and various alcohol-free beverages, making it a great place to unwind and enjoy a night of laughter with friends. With a rotating lineup of top-notch comedians, including rising stars and established veterans of the comedy scene, 21Soho is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of London's comedy scene. 21-soho.com
See a Play at the Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre photo by Helen Murray
A must-visit destination for theatre enthusiasts, the Royal Court Theatre is known for its groundbreaking productions, bold approach to theater, and commitment to showcasing diverse and inclusive voices on stage. In addition to its main stage productions, the Royal Court also hosts a range of special events, talks, and workshops, providing a platform for emerging talent to flourish. royalcourttheatre.com
Explore Pleasuredome, London’s World-Famous 24/7 Gay Bathhouse
Pleasuredrome, located in Waterloo, is the only gay venue in London that boasts a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week alcohol license, making it unique among its kind. Throughout the lockdown, they used the time closed to renovate at the cost of over £1M (approx. over $1.2M) focusing on cleanliness and hygiene. Monthly, the gay sauna welcomes over 10,000 visitors from various backgrounds, nationalities, and ages, who come to enjoy state-of-the-art facilities such as deluxe pods and rooms, a spa pool, two steam rooms, two saunas, lounging and social areas, a cinema, and a 24-hour cafe bar serving food and a wide range of alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks throughout the day and night. pleasuredrome.com
Where To Drink:
London Gay Bars
Some of the best places to enjoy cocktails include the trendy Dalston Superstore in East London, Admiral Duncan in Soho for a mature crowd seeking a 'local' atmosphere, Two Brewers in Clapham, which hosts one of the capital's most famous drag cabarets.
Other popular LGBTQ+ cocktail destinations include Ku Bar in Soho, The Glory in the East End, Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall, Circa Embankment in Westminister. For a chill evening with the potential to turn into a night of drinking, The Friendly Society is a lovely lounge down a flight of stairs in Soho. Additionally, all the hotels listed above offer creative cocktail menus and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ travelers.
Jin Bo Law
Courtesy Jin Bo Law
Jin Bo Law, a rooftop bar 14 floors up, offers a breathtaking panoramic view of London's iconic skyline. Take in the stunning scenery of Tower Bridge, the Shard, the Fenchurch Building (also known as The Walkie-Talkie), and the Gherkin, from the rooftop terrace. Sip on meticulously crafted cocktails from a carefully curated menu that features unique ingredients transformed into unexpected treasures. This rooftop bar is perfect for a night out with friends or a romantic evening with a loved one. Pro tip: go just before sunset to take in the views.jinbolaw.co.uk
Experience a magical cocktail adventure like no other at Avora London. Step through the gateway and immerse yourself in an interactive world of mystery and wonder, brought to life through theatrical sets and talented actors. Discover unique ingredients and enjoy extraordinary cocktails while exploring the lush surroundings. avora-experience.co.uk
Sky Garden offers panoramic views of London's skyline, including the Shard and the Gherkin. If booked well in advance, you can get complimentary tickets to the roof. The Garden at 120 is another fantastic rooftop with breathtaking views of the River Thames and some of London's most iconic landmarks, such as Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
Café de Nata has locations all across London that serve delicious barista-crafted coffees. The chain of cafés were also the first café-bakery in the UK to specialize in premium pastéis de nata, the crispy, flaky Portuguese pastry with silky-smooth custard (vegan options are also available!).
Grounded Coffee in Spitalfields and the super Instagrammable Peggy Porschen in Belgravia are also go-to coffee spots, and until the end of 2023, Prada Caffè in Harrod's serves delicious Italian coffee as well as breakfast, lunch, dinner, small bites, and aperitivo, all in signature Prada interiors echoing the brand's iconic designs.
Other Useful Information:
- The healthcare system in England is primarily provided by the National Health Service (NHS), which is funded by the government and offers free or low-cost healthcare to all residents, including visitors.
- London's public transport system is extensive and can save you money on taxi fares. Consider getting an Oyster card or using contactless payment on your debit or credit card.
- If you plan to visit popular tourist attractions like the Tower of London or the London Eye, book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues and save money.
- While London is generally a welcoming and accepting city, there may be pockets of homophobia or transphobia in certain areas; be mindful of this and if possible, stick to the more LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods that are mentioned above.
- Tipping culture in England can vary depending on the situation and the industry. Tipping around 10-15% of the total bill for good service in restaurants is common, although optional. However, some restaurants may include a service charge in the bill, so check before tipping.
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