The best places to drink in the West End

Whether you are a Londoner born and bred or whether you’ve travelled across the country, if you’re visiting the West End you should definitely grab a drink whilst you’re there. Even if you don’t drink, venture into a few pubs and bars to soak up the atmosphere of central London. No matter what time you happen to find yourself there, there will be a buzz of energy and a flock of tourists scuttling around. Everyone is happy and out to have a good time and the environment is one of community and positivity.

So if you’re in the area to watch a show, don’t miss out on the whole experience. Perhaps have a few cocktails before the show you’ve got tickets for. Maybe you want to go all out and hit the clubs post-theatre. Maybe you want to do both! Well, here is a one stop guide to the best places to drink in the West End to make that easer for you.

Pubs

The Phoenix is a lovely bright and welcoming pub. If you’re after ale or wine, I’m sure you’ll love this place. If you happen to venture into London on a nice day, The Phoenix has the most stunning outside space for you to sit and soak up the sun. It’s the perfect place to go in the day time. The rustic feel inside is emphasized by the wooden floors, walls and furniture whilst still maintaining it’s modern element. It’s a beautiful place and very cosy too. The food is cheap and tasty as well.

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

The Admiralty is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for something typically English. To me, this place looks like a typical English pub, in the best way possible. There are lots of those carpets you used to see at your grandparents house, the tables and chairs they had too. There is brick, leather and wood a plenty. I really like the cosy little seated booths they have in The Admiralty. You can sit with your friends or family and feel like you’re there on your own. Make sure to do the English thing and grab a pint whilst you’re there.

Nearest tube: Charing Cross

Affordable Bars

Yoshiaki is an affordable yet fancy bar in the heart of the West End. They are also a restaurant so are the perfect place to have a meal and a few drinks before a show. It offers beautiful cocktails and spirits throughout the evening and then doubles as a club of a night. It’s a smart place so feel free to dress up, but don’t worry they don’t charge on entry!

Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus

Simmons is a bar offering a really cool atmosphere. It’s a quirky, loveable little place with red lighting, disco balls and wallpaper (that I think they got from my grandma too). There’s a really nice section of the bar that is Super Mario themed and they serve cocktails in cups and saucers. There’s even an outdoor area with heaters for the upcoming summer nights and their drinks are affordable too – perfect.

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

If you are looking for something with a more grungey vibe, Thirst Bar is a very chilled place you might like. They offer super cheap cocktails over happy hour and there’s a club in the basement. It’s definitely the place to go if you want to spill your drinks as you dance into the night rather than sip cocktails in comfy chairs. Entry is £5 after 10pm on the weekends though, so that’s something to bare in mind.

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

One of my favourite go-to bars in London is a place called Scarlet’s. It doesn’t look all that exciting from the outside, but I’ve never had a bad night there. There is a charge for entry on the weekend (£5 I believe), but you’ll find that almost everywhere. The staff there are always friendly (even the bouncers). The main floor is a bar with lots of seats, there is a small upstairs seating area too and then there is a dance floor downstairs. It’s quite a small place but great fun. They don’t do the biggest range of cocktails which is a shame, but if you’re after a vodka and coke then you’ll be perfectly fine!

Nearest tube: Leicester Square

Top tip: girls, make sure you go to the upstairs toilets. They are HUGE and very fancy. I spent more time taking pictures of myself lying on the sofa in the toilet than I did in the actual bar. In the day time, this is a lovely place to get food too. It’s a much different atmosphere by night!

For something a bit quirky, Zenna might be the place for you. Zenna is Oriental inspired so expect lots of cushions, candles and spices. The black pepper and cucumber martini is definitely one to try if you’re feeling adventurous. They offer a nice twist on your average London bar. Chilled in the evenings, this place comes alive at night and you can dance the night away with your oriental cocktails. Just be careful around the candles!

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

Another little quirky place is The Aviary. This place offers a great range of drinks with equally great (but definitely quirky) decor. From Tuesday-Saturday, The Aviary is open until 4am so you have no excuse not to check this one out. If you’re looking to go someone cool that your friends will be jealous of, this is the place. However, do note that you have to be 21 to get in to The Aviary. The drinking age is 18 in the UK but some venues only allow over 21s. I cannot recommend this quirky little place with Haribo topped cocktails enough.

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

Adventure Bar has a slightly similar feel. This bar is underground and you can tell. It’s very small and narrow. It’s dark and sometimes you have to duck because the ceilings are low. Drinks are really affordable though with great cocktail offers and a really positive atmosphere. You can feel the energy of the place as soon as you walk in. With it being so small however, there isn’t much opportunity to dance. Bare that in mind if you fancy a boogie after watching Footloose!

Nearest tube: Leicester Square 

Not so affordable bars

If you fancy dressing up and splashing the cash, why not head to Mint Leaf. Mint Leaf is a restaurant and bar with dim lights, dark leather and dark wood. They offer a huge range of drinks. It’s a champagne and cocktail kind of place and their food is equally fancy. If you’re in London for a celebration, it’s a really nice place to get dressed up for and have some food and a few cocktails before the theatre.

Nearest tube: Charing Cross

Similarly, The Met Bar offers a a sophisticated environment for a few drinks – ideal if you’re on a business trip or want a a quieter night. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of London can get a bit intense and a break is nice. If cocktails are your thing, The Met Bar is ideal. There is the option to jump behind the bar and mix your own drinks in one of their classes, and their cocktails are out of this world. They offer a huge variety of cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), champagnes and wines.

Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner

Overall

There is place after place when it comes to drinking in the West End. If you wonder down one of the many roads, you will find somewhere great to drink. Be cautious in the bars and pubs directly next to the theatres though as these will charge you a fortune. If you wonder down the road for a few minutes you’ll find somewhere just as good for half the price. You’ll be able to get a seat too! Expect places to be very busy of a weekend. Not only will you have the tourists and theatre goers about, but you’ll also have the locals. You’ll all be fighting for the bar staff’s attention and the opportunity to sit down. I guarantee it will be worth it though. The atmosphere of a night in the West End is one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

 

Photos courtesy of each individual venue

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