The Ultimate LGBTQ+ Guide To London
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London, England, is the epitome of a city break destination. An impeccable mix of history and charm, with every neighbourhood different from the last.
With so much to see, do and eat in London, it’s the perfect location for anything from a two day to five-day break.
We currently live a four-hour drive from the city and visit a handful of times a year for various reasons.
Ask most people from England whether London is worth visiting and what they love about the city, and you’ll often find they all have a similar answer “no two trips are the same” or “there’s always something new to discover”.
Is London LGBTQ+ Friendly?
The city of London ranks highly on lists of the best LGBTQ+ destinations in Europe. However, this hasn’t always been the case.
That’s because homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967. However, that never stopped the LGBTQ+ people from building underground communities.
The majority of these communities were based in London, and subsequently, the protests and movements that gave the LGBTQ+ people the legal freedoms they have today came from the country’s capital.
Today, however, visitors to London can be themselves with no legal prosecution, with recent polls in the British capital finding that most people support same-sex marriage and believe that homosexuality should be accepted.
As with all countries and cities around the world, discrimination can still happen in London.
However, reports of discrimination are rare, and we have never personally felt discriminated against or fearful while travelling as a same-sex couple in the city.
Annual LGBTQ+ Events In London
London has five major LGBTQ+ annual events, with one-off events being added to the calendar throughout the year (visit TimeOut for the most up-to-date list).
The colourful London Pride takes place annually in the summer and is designed to celebrate and showcase the LGBTQ+ community through theatre, dance, art, cinema, with parties and activities across the city.
This celebration began in 1972 and has grown into the incredible scene of over 300 floats and celebrity performances we know today.
Trans+ Pride began in 2019 as an event in which trans people could feel safe and continue to protest against the lack of support is a response to the injustices that trans+ people face daily all over the world.
UK Black Pride
UK Black Pride is the largest celebration for African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Caribbean LGBTQ+ people.
The event takes place over three days in East London and attracts over 30,000 people annually.
Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Festival
This LGBTQ+ film and ars festival was launched in 2011 as a queer communities response to arts budget cuts.
The festival’s mission is to offer a dynamic, representative and unmistakably fresh alternative to other film and arts festivals.
The main Fringe festival runs over five days in November. However, the community also hosts year-round pop-up events with complete listings available on their website.
GFest – Gaywise FESTival
Since its inception in 2007, GFest has and continues to be an incredible LGBTQ+ arts festival designed to promote LGBTQ+ arts.
Every November, the festival takes place in venues across London and includes everything from dance, music, drag, film screenings, art exhibitions, debates, readings, comedy and talks.
LGBTQ+ Friendly Neighbourhoods
While London as a whole is LGBTQ+ friendly, like most cities, you’ll find that some neighbourhoods are gayer than others, and in London, these neighbourhoods are;
Soho is the epitome of queer London with an LGBTQ+ history that dates back to the 1890s.
Home to the London LGBT Tourist Office, gay bars, clubs and cafés, the region of Soho is a neighbourhood that should be on everyone’s London bucket list.
Vauxhall is one of London’s most popular gay-friendly neighbourhoods and has been famous for cabaret and drag acts for over seven decades.
Here you’ll find a range of gay-friendly cocktail bars, pubs and even the countries first LGBTQ+ retirement village.
Camden is without a doubt the epicentre of London’s alternative scene. So it should come as no surprise that this neighbourhood in London has been welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community for decades.
While there aren’t as many dedicated queer bars in Camden compared to the likes of Soho, you will find that everywhere is very gay-friendly.
According to a recent census, the North London neighbourhood of Islington has the highest number of same-sex couples.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that Islington is primed with a variety of gay bars, clubs and cafés as well as queer community-owned small businesses.
LGBTQ+ Friendly Hotels In London
While there is no gay or LGBTQ+ exclusive accommodation in London, it’s hard to find any accommodation here that isn’t LGBTQ+ friendly.
After all, being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community is all about providing a respectful, understanding and non-judgemental environment.
However, with that being said, we wanted to take the time to share the hotels and hostels in London that have gone above and beyond in recognising the LGBTQ+ community.
If you’re travelling as a LGBTQ+ family then we’ve put together an expanded post as to the best family hotels in London.
Not only are these hotels fantastic allies, but they also offer a high standard of accommodation and boast a prime location perfect for tourists.
The LaLit London
This five-star luxury hotel comes complete with a complimentary minibar and is located just a couple of hundred yards from one of London’s most iconic landmarks, the Tower Bridge.
Inside you’ll find high-end facilities including a 24-hour gym, a spa, two restaurants, a bakery and a tea-room.
Book The Lalit London
The Corner Hotel
The Corner Hotel Hotel is not just one of the most quirky hotels in London but also one of the most environmentally friendly.
That’s because this hotel has been built on sustainable Qbi pod principles. As a result, all rooms at The Corner Hotel have a hand-made hypoallergenic NaturalMat mattress and an integrated private bathroom featuring a powerful rain shower with water-saving technology.
Book The Corner Hotel
The Z Hotel City
Z Hotel City is situated in the centre of London between the Royal Courts of Justice and the Temple Church and offers a range of modern, clean, budget-friendly rooms.
While rooms at Z Hotel City are smaller than you’d likely find in many hotels elsewhere in the UK, they are still packed with features.
These include air conditioning, a 40-inch Samsung HD TV with free Sky Sports, BT Sports and Sky Movie channels, as well as complimentary toiletries and WiFi.
Book The Z Hotel City
LGBTQ+ Nightlife In London
The queer nightlife in London is some of the best in the world, with a bar, club or pub for every desire.
Sadly, it was near impossible to list every London LGBTQ+ establishment here, so instead, we wanted to give some of our (and our friends) favourite a mention;
This East End pub is one of the leading queer venues in London and was co-opened by drag legend Jonny Woo in 2014.
You’ll get everything here at The Glory, from cabaret performances to cocktails, beers to drag shows and late-night discos to comedy sketches. There really is something for everyone.
Queen of Hoxton
If rooftop films, fabulous entertainment, and experimental cocktails are more your thing, then head over to the Queen of Hoxton.
Situated in the heart of Shoreditch, bold neon signs and some of the cities best DJs make this place a ‘must-visit’ during any gay trip to London.
The Village is one of Soho’s original gay venues and has been a firm fixture in LGBTQ+ London for over 30 years.
The Village is unique because it’s split over multiple floors, complete with a dance floor, basement club, café bar and cocktail lounge.
Ku Bar is one of the largest gay bars in London. Situated in the prime location of Leicester Square, this incredible gay bar is spread over three floors, making it a destination hotspot for fun-seeking regulars, locals and tourists.
Open seven days a week, until the early hours of the morning; you can count on Ku Bar for a fantastic night out.
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Thanks for stopping by! Do you have experience with this trip or want to share some of your own tips? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below and let’s chat!