Find The Best Of Soho Gay Bars In London


Gay Bars: Soho

If you are visiting or new to Soho, ManPlay can show you the best gay bars Soho. Check Soho gay bars history, best bets, and our local gay bar directory!

Soho is small, multicultural area that is a part of London’s West End in England and has long been established as London’s entertainment district. It is general considered to be bordered by Oxford Street to the North, Leicester Square to the South, Regent Street to the West, and Charing Cross Road to the East. For most of the 20th century, it was known for being a base for London’s sex industry, but has been mostly a fashionable district of restaurants, markets, media offices, and—of course—gay bars and gay clubs since the 1980s.

Now that you have a good idea of what the gay bars Soho scene is all about, let’s dig a little deeper with Gay Bars Soho: A History...

Gay Bars Soho: A History

Being that Soho was once the center of London’s sex industry, it makes sense that it morphed into the conjoined entertainment and gay district. The gay bars Soho scene really is at the center of London’s gay district.

One of the single most influential events in the history of the Soho gay bars was the bombing on The Admiral Duncan on April 30th, 1999. Neo-Nazi David Copeland was implementing a series of London bombings with the hopes of stirring up ethnic and homophobic tensions, and had already bomb attacked Brixton on April 17th and Hanbury Street on April 24th. The bomb attack on The Admiral Duncan injured approximately 70 people—many seriously, losing eyes and limbs—and killed three: Andrea Dykes (27, and four months pregnant), Nik Moore (31), and John Light (32, the best man at Andrea’s wedding). Andrea’s husband was serious injured.

Immediately after the incident, the London Police Commissioner vowed to keep a crime scene van posted outside The Admiral Duncan to take witness statements and collect evidence until David Copeland was found. The van would be run entirely by opening gay and lesbian members of the Metropolitan Police. This gesture was monumental in strengthening the long strained relationship between Soho’s LGBT community and the police force.

David Copeland was located and arrested the same night of the attack. He was eventually charged and convicted of three counts of murder and three counts of planting bombs and given six life sentences, one for each of his offences. Copeland will not be released until 2049 at the earliest, when he will be 73 years old. The Sunday after the bombing, thousands of Londoners gathered in Soho Square to mourn and give speeches.

The Admiral Duncan Soho gay bar still stands today and houses a chandelier with an inscription as well as a separate plaque to memorialize all the victims of the bombing. It is a Soho gay bar that is well-loved by the local gay community and tourists alike, showing that nothing will ever keep gay bars Soho down!

Gay Bars Soho: Best Bets

Soho gay bars definitely lean more towards pleasing the gay party crowd, but that does not mean there isn’t something for everyone. When it comes to "best bets" in the Soho gay bars scene, it all depends on exactly what you are looking to get out of your experience. If you are looking for Soho gay bars where you can shake your rump and get your groove on, you will want to hit up G-A-Y Bar or The Shadow Lounge. If you are looking for Soho gay bars where you can stay out long into the night and the wee hours of the morning, you will want to check out G-A-Y Late or Ku Bar. If you are looking for Soho gay bars where you can have a casual drink in a low-key environment, try Comptons or The Yard Bar.

Bars Soho: A History...

There are no bad choices when it comes to the Soho gay bars we have listed in our directory below—it all just depends what you are looking for!

Gay Bars Soho: Directory

When it comes to gay bars Soho, there really is no shortage of options! Every one of these Soho gay bars is unique and offers a different experience, value, and atmosphere.There are literally dozens more Soho gay bars to check out—we simply could not include each and every single one in this guide! We did research long and hard to make this guide though, so you can be sure that this directory has the best of the best. Check out our picks for the Top 10 Soho Gay Bars:

G-A-Y Bar

Type: club
Space: three dance floors, smoking area, dozens of televisions, coat check
Crowd: young, energetic, mix of gay and straight
Address: 30 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 4UR, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (12:00 PM to 12:00 AM Monday to Sunday), small entrance fee
Description:G-A-Y Bar is good for groups looking for a fun night on the town. This is one of the most well known Soho gay bars for loud music and hours of dancing! Dozens of televisions throughout the club play music videos to enjoy as well. They have tons of nightly drink specials, and lots of cheap drinks in general, but there is always a wait, so it is advisable to order several at once!

G-A-Y Late

Type: club
Space: dance floor, smoking area, coat check
Crowd: young, energetic, mix of gay and straight
Address: 5 Goslett Yard, Soho, London, WC2H 0ER, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (11:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Saturday, open for members only on Sundays), small entrance fee
Description: Just around the corner from the G-A-Y Bar gay club, the G-A-Y Late gay club is where the crowd from G-A-Y Bar goes once it has closed for the night. In order to gain entrance to G-A-Y Late, you will need to acquire a wristband from G-A-Y Bar by giving them your patronage earlier in the night. The vibe and atmosphere of G-A-Y Late is almost identical to G-A-Y Bar.

The Shadow Lounge

Type: bar
Space: large dance floor, stage, stripping poles
Crowd: 20 something to 40 something, mostly gay
Address: 5 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 0RF, United Kingdom
Notes: open 6 days a week (10:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Saturday, closed on Sundays), small entrance fee (members get in for free!), resident and guest DJs perform nightly
Description:The Shadow Lounge is Soho’s original gay bar! Earlier in the week, you can enjoy live entertainment (music performances, drag shows, and more), but the weekends are always reserved for dancing. It is, unfortunately, a members-only gay bar, so unless you can afford the £350 membership fee, you will have to call way ahead of time and try to put yourself on the guest list.

The Admiral Duncan

Type: bar
Space: one room, dance floor
Crowd: mix of gay and straight, energetic
Address: 54 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 4UB, United Kingdom
Website:The Admiral Duncan’s Facebook Page
Notes: open 6 days a week (12:00 PM to 11:00 PM Monday to Saturday, closed on Sundays), drag shows and cabaret acts on the weekends
Description:The Admiral Duncan is one of the oldest Soho gay bars and was named after a real Admiral Duncan who victorious in the 1797 Battle of Camperdown. At this gay bars Soho establishment, there is only a small selection of drinks, but they are all impressively cheap. They also have a jukebox that is well stocked with ‘80s and ‘90s hits.

Freedom Bar

Type: bar/club
Space: two floors, large dance floor with stripping poles, stage, tons of group seating
Crowd: upscale, sophisticated
Address: 66 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TA, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (2:00 PM to 10:30 PM on Sundays, 4:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Thursday, 2:00 PM to 3:00 AM Friday and Saturday), Monday night is ‘Kinky Karbaret’, Wednesday night is Miss Danni Dee drag show
Description:Freedom Bar might just be the height of decadence when it comes to the world of Soho gay bars. With a stunning cocktail gay bar upstairs (chandeliers, private group seating, mood lighting) and a glitzed-out gay club in the basement (huge dance floor, big stage, stripping poles, mirrored walls, and over 200 disco balls!), Freedom Bar really gives you everything you could want. They have happy hour specials until 8:00 PM every night and regularly host a variety of live entertainment: drag shows, cabaret shows, musical acts, comedy shows, and more!

Ku Bar

Type: bar
Space: two floors, lots of room for privacy
Crowd: quiet, low-key
Address:25 Frith Street, Soho, London, WC1D 5LB, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (12:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Saturday, 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM on Sunday), Ku Bar members receive special offers
Description:Ku Bar is one of the only relaxed, low-key gay bays on the Soho gay bars scene. It is the perfect Soho gay bar to grab a quiet drink or have a casual social meetup. It is also popular as a "start of the night" gay bar and has a large selection of cocktails.

Bars Soho: A History...

Friendly Society

Type: bar
Space: small, basement space
Crowd: mixed gay and straight
Address: 79 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1D 6QB, United Kingdom
Notes: open 3 days a week (4:00 PM to 12:00 PM Thursday to Saturday, closed Sunday to Wednesday)
Description:Friendly Society is a Soho gay bar that is known for its friendly bar staff and their off-kilter decor (fish tanks, children’s wallpaper, hanging Barbie dolls, troll stools, disco balls, etc.). Located in the small basement space beneath a lingerie shop, Friendly Society is one of the tucked away secrets of the Soho gay bars scene.

The Yard Bar

Type: bar
Space: garden courtyard, balconies
Crowd: mix of gay and straight, mature and discerning
Address: 57 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D 7PL, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (4:00 PM to 11:30 PM Monday to Wednesday, 3:00 PM to 11:30 PM on Thursday, 2:00 PM to 12:00 AM on Friday, and 2:00 PM to 10:30 PM on Sunday), can make reservations
Description:The Yard Bar is a secret oasis in the middle of the Soho gay bars scene. They have one of the most comprehensive cocktail menus in town and one of the best mojitos in London! It is also perfectly situated between several of Soho’s theatres, so it is a great place to grab a drink and some appetizers before a show.

The Duke of Wellington

Type: bar
Space: two floors
Crowd: mostly straight, gay-friendly, bears and cubs
Address: 77 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1D 6QA, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (12:00 PM to 12:00 AM Monday to Friday, 11:00 AM to 12:00 AM on Saturday, 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM on Sunday), can make reservations
Description:The Duke of Wellington is more of a gay-friendly bar than it is one of the Soho gay bars, but it is particularly favoured by bears and cubs, which is why it still makes our list! It has a busy downstairs bar with music videos playing, and a quieter upstairs area for the more low-key visitors. The food and drink menus are not huge, but they make up for it with cheap prices.


Type: bar
Space: ground floor pub, quiet upstairs lounge
Crowd: tourist, mostly gay
Address: 51-53 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 6HN, United Kingdom
Notes: open 7 days a week (12:00 PM to 11:30 PM Monday to Saturday, 12:00 PM to 10:30 PM on Sunday), live DJs on weekends
Description:Comptons is a large, Victorian styled that has been a staple of the Soho gay bars scene for over 30 years. It is a great gay bar for starting your night, as it is not open very late.

Explore Soho Gay Bars and Beyond

So there you have it—your guide to the wild world of Soho gay bars! We hope this guide will help you find the perfect bar for you, your partner, or your friends. And don’t forget: we have written guides for gay bars all over the UK as well as gay bars all over the world. No matter where you live or where you are travelling to in the world, has every gay bars and gay clubs guide you will ever need. In fact, when you are done checking out Soho, why not check out some other UK gay bars guides! How about Edinburgh? Or maybe Blackpool? Discovers The Best Of Gay Bars Manchester

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