The city of London is a lot like its nightlife: just as quirky and extravagant as it is friendly and charming. But sometimes it can be difficult to figure out where to go and which neighborhoods to explore in this ever-changing city. Follow us through our selection of five spots taken from our Indie Guides London city guide to discover the London that never sleeps. Sip craft beer while listening to the latest local band play live, lose yourself in a party that’s completely bonkers, dance like crazy until the wee hours, and then recover from it all the next day by munching on treats at every London foodie’s favorite market!
Oval Space: Don’t expect to come home ’til the next morning…
London’s scene is constantly evolving – when some family favourites disappear, other new ones appear in their wake. The birth of this space was a much needed addition and the massive hangar makes for quite the atmospheric setting. Come here to dance like no one’s watching. The massive outside terrace space is unmatched by any other London venue, but is probably best enjoyed in the summer months…
29-32 The Oval, E2 9DT London
Opening hours: see their program
Drink Shop Do: As it says on the tin
This shop is a real hidden gem, nestling among the hustle and bustle that is King’s Cross. From the outside, you expect the interior to be small and dark, but it opens up into a surprisingly enormous and wonderfully bright (thanks to the Victorian sky light) space upstairs where you can enjoy tea, coffee, beer, cake and a small selection of food. When night falls, head downstairs for the bar and dance floor where all their weird and wonderful themed nights take place. And on your way out, don’t forget to stumble through the shop and pick up one of their hand-drawn greeting cards.
9 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX London
Open Monday through Thursday from 10:30am to 12am, Friday and Saturday from 10:30am to 2am and Sunday from 10:30am to 8pm
God’s Own Junkyard: A light that will never go out
It’s thanks to venues such as this that Soho is the seedy place we know and love. This East London warehouse is the life’s work of one man (since passed away) who has lit up the town we live in. His neon signs are certainly numerous and, housed all together as they are, make for a jaw-dropping weekend outing (it’s only open Friday-Sunday). Despite the glaring interior, the place itself is fairly well-hidden so it’s worth looking at their website for useful photos/map to find it.
Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ London
Open Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm
Maltby Street Market: Where the chefs go to eat
This is the king of the food markets in London and where the real food freaks among us go to gorge ourselves at the weekend. Buy your coffee at the very factory that roasts the beans; buy bread from the famous St John’s restaurant’s very own bakery; sample the cakes and sausages – you’ll be able to find pretty much anything delicious you can think of. Then wash it all down with some Little Bird Gin, which – in case you haven’t guessed – is also made in small batches in South London. This is a food lover’s heaven and not to be missed.
Ropewalk, SE1 2HQ London
Open Saturday from 9am to 4pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm
The Lexington: Good gigs in a good pub with good food
Sometimes the simple things in life are the best – like a superb pub that shows great live bands. Downstairs is the classic English pub, with good beer, good pub grub and nice booths to sit in and have a chat. They even host a regular Rough Trade music-themed pub quiz.
Then head upstairs to find the live music and have a dance. Their ‘White Heat’ night has been running for many, many years and is now pretty legendary. Although it just looks like a pub from the outside, it’s open till 4 a.m. at weekends so you don’t have to be worried about the party ending too soon.
96-98 Pentonville Road, N1 9JB London
Open Monday through Wednesday from 12pm-2am, Thursday from 12pm-3am and Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 4am
Discover more alternative and cultural spots in London with our city guide Indie Guides London.
Photos: courtesy of the places mentioned & Tavi Ionescu (Maltby Street Market)