All night long: London's best after-hours bars

After-hours bars make you feel like a dirty rotten stop-out... especially on a school night.

Unbeknownst to UK licensing laws, not all conversations end organically at 11pm. Sometimes we really do want the good times to just roll.

We all know that clubs are open well into the AM, but that's an entirely different affair... it's glad rags, it's entry fees, it's - dare we say it - the prospect of shakin' it on the dancefloor... Luckily after-house bars are an entirely more civilised affair: the bubble of conversation often to a backing of good music or cabaret.

There is, of course, the other draw of an after-hours bar: you feel like a dirty rotten stop-out... especially on a school night.

We've rounded up London's best after-hours bars...

Dalston Jazz Bar
4 Bradbury Street N16 8JN
Region: Stoke Newington
Nearest Station: Dalston Kingsland

AIL Says: At £5 the entry fee to Dalston Jazz Bar is a snip and if you turn up early you can even get in for free. Located on Bradbury Street, the tiny bar is a meat market by the end of the night. People are crammed in, sweaty and dancing and they love it. Cheap cocktails, bottled beers and faultless music till the early morn.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 5/10
The Scotch of St James
13 Masons Yard SW1Y 6BU
Region: St. James's
Nearest Station: Piccadilly Circus (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Sleazy, hip and happening, The Scotch is back in business and opening later than ever. Once an infamous rock star hangout in the Sixties, it has summoned that spirit back to become a night owl’s paradise in Mayfair opening from 11pm till 5am.

  • USERS 10/10
4 Denmark Street WC2H 8LP
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Live music is the name of the game at The Alley Cat on Denmark Street. Stumble in on any night of the week and expect to see some musician or other on stage entertaining the crowd in the underground bar.

    Efes Pool Club and Bar
    17B Stoke Newington Road N16 8BH
    Region: Daslton
    Nearest Station: Dalston Kingsland (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: Dalston has a range of late night bars and clubs but perhaps the simplest of them all is Efes. The snooker and pool club keeps it simple. It’s a snooker and pool club that plays music. Thanks to that winning formula it has attracted a sizeable following of typically young/hip Dalstonites. Drinks are reasonable and opening hours run and run.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    The Big Chill House
    257-259 Pentonville Road N1 9NL
    Region: Islington
    Nearest Station: King's Cross St. Pancras (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: Falling somewhere between bar and club, The Big Chill House makes our list of favourite late night bars because it can offer you the best of both. Find a quiet corner and talk in hushed tones, or alternatively find a space and dance your heart out. We do both and so should you. Located in Kings Cross I has the benefit of yet more clubs nearby should you choose to turn your night into the next morning.

    • OUR REVIEW 7/10
    Trader Vic's
    22 Park Lane W1K 1BE
    Region: Mayfair
    Nearest Station: Hyde Park Corner (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: It may be in the basement of the Park Lane Hotel, but Trader Vic’s is not your average hotel bar. A tiki themed bar, the Samoan/South Seas style shack is an institution in London. The Mai Tai was invented in the original Trader Vic’s (in the USA) and the tradition continues with a 40-long cocktail list. Open till 3am.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    133 Whitechapel Road E1 1DT
    Region: Whitechapel
    Nearest Station: Whitechapel (0.3 miles)

    AIL Says: Open until 3am at the weekend, Indo can offer you all the sleazy, dive bar ingredients you can handle. Arty, grimy and so much fun that when it gets to closing time you’ll already be counting down the hours until next time.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    Janet's Bar
    30 Old Brompton Road SW7 3DL
    Region: South Kensington
    Nearest Station: South Kensington

    AIL Says: When you’ve just been thrown out of Boujis you’re bound to be in a foul mood. However, never fear, just around the corner from South Kensington is the legendary Janet’s Bar where you’ll be free to drink until 3am on weekends amongst the clutter with hot dog in hand.

    • USERS 5/10
    The Phoenix Artist Club
    1 Phoenix Street WC2H 8BU
    Region: Covent Garden
    Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: If you can blag your way into the members-only Phoenix Artists Club (it’s pretty easy) then you can stay until dawn – nearly. Show tunes entertain along with a variety of characters that you only find at places that stay open this late.

      16 Bury Street SW1Y 6AJ
      Region: St. James's
      Nearest Station: Green Park (0.1 miles)

      AIL Says: Well known as a great European restaurant, later in the evening Quaglino's transforms into a late-night, live-music mecca; one of the only venues in Mayfair open to the public with a late-night license and free entry, perfect for partying into the early hours.

      • EUROPEAN
      • OUR REVIEW 8/10

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