The best,worst bars in London

Inspired by the boycotting nightclubs thread..

You know the type i mean.. 

- Abacus (RIP)

- The Dolphin Shoreditch

- Infernos

Didn't have to be current..  It should be held up as a pillar of a  best worst bar! 

The Swan in Stockwell.  An absolute disgrace at 3am on a Saturday.

Abacus is still there, it's just called The Forge now.  The experience is identical.

My vote would be for The Blue Eyed Maid, which really is RIP.  I used to love belting out 90s pop with a load of randoms.  Or, for somewhere that's still open, Giuseppe's, which is just round the corner from The Blue Eyed Maid, stays open until 4am and has the lowest ceilings, stickiest floors and strongest sambuca you could ever wish to sample.

Sorry, South London Pacific. Speaking ill of the dead

I have always thought Tiki bars in a city are a strange concept to begin with. 

My favourite bad bar in the City was Fuego’s near Monument.

I had quite a few nights that started there or in some other suit bar and ended in the St Christopher’s backpacker bar on Borough High St, where my mate was a DJ. Quite a change of scene. I’d love to say “both great places in their own way”, but they were both actually shit.

What was the dive on Bread St round the back of the old A&O building called? The underground one with a big curving staircase down from the lobby.

shout also to

Whatever that Japanese themed place was called on Charterhouse St - where Be At One is now.

Nearby, The Fence, Farringdon, and all its previous identities.

The bar that used to be in the bottom of the old Royex House.

The City Boot

any bar in or anywhere near Citypoint

+1 for the Japanese themed bar.  God awful cocktails of luminous colours (this is actually quite authentically japanese I have since discovered) but it had a certain charm. 

The one in the converted underground bogs in Aldwych.  Only ever went there completely twotted after drink nearby and it always had a deeply surreal almost blade runner feel to it to me in my befuddled state. 

Think you mean Fluid

Bed Bar was awful

Not London, but the best worst bar anywhere has to be the Chinese in york that converted to a disco at 11 but mandated that you had to eat beforehand. 

You mean Beduin in Smithfields?

I've had some of the worst working days of my life after leaving there at 4 or 5 in the morning.

Wurst bars aren't really my thing but I believe Soho has a high concentration.

The City Boot was a dive, but my favourite worst bar was Throgmotons, the food was crap, the booze dreadful, the service even worse.  The only redeeming factor was te incredible distressed (falling down) splendour of the place. At its peak it must have been an amazing place.

+1 for Beduin. The cause of many a dreadful hangover as a trainee/junior lawyer.

Beduin! I blush now at some of the memories. 

I think someone above is thinking of Minsters?

I've had some of the worst working days of my life after leaving there at 4 or 5 in the morning.

Are trainees ever going to experience after work impromptu drinks that turn into 4am finishes and then trying to get into work (still drunk) for 8.30am the next day probably having had 2 hours sleep, and trying not to vomit all morning. Feels like a time gone by. 

One because so many bars/pubs have shut, two because nobody goes clubbing, three because people don't drink in the same way (instagram/health/probably scared of being sacked for saying something wrong), four because people are never all in the office all at the same time now to do a 5pm whip round about who wants a drink and five because they will just do a WFH day the next day....

They will never know the struggle.

Cheers on Regent Street.  The only place I've been thrown out of.

The downstairs at Beduin was absolutely tragic - a bunch of repressed, overworked, lightweight lawyers dancing to terrible music and trying to get off with their colleagues.

Good times.

Now we are back in the office I still see one or two looking a little errrm tired and stuffing their face with carbs in the kitchen Londonhead so there is hope. I reckon the latest generation are slightly less boring fvckers than the one before them tbh.


Strawberry Moons, beloved of OEs in their early 20s.

Haha I have a very funny OE story from Crazy Larry's but I can't tell it on here because it's too outy.

What's wrong with The Fence? They have a nice garden and have a half decent wine list. Only ever went there at lunchtime, mind. 

I agree the generation now in their early to mid twenties seem less dull than those a few years older than them.

Second Beduin bar and Fluid. Beduin bar is / was a bit of an institution and it had longevity - I think it only closed down in the last couple of years.

Why are people saying Beduin is closed? A mate of mine went there last week.

Digress latterly Amber below CityPoint as mentioned by Laz is a good shout. Also Digress on Beak St. 

Special mention to Rainbows Sports Bar where I was a regular weekday attendee, frequently by myself, in the years 2008 to 2011 when I lived in Shoreditch.

I've never been to any of these, but I bet one of them is as good/bad as lizard lounge on Clifton triangle 

Ah Linda I loved it there. John the owner died not that long ago. He used to smoke in a bit of it , and didn't give a fook . Cheap drinks, friendly people , and sports night they subsidised the drinks further..

Sticky floors, sweaty but all in all very good.

I was this time last week courtesy of a date with an Irish lady who works in advertising.  Should have known it would get messy.

Those stairs in Fluid were a death trap.

also second Bedouin. And the Clapham Grand/Infernos duopoly 

Last time someone on here asked about the griffin I had literally just walked past it - so still open mid lock down last year 

Shepherds Bush walkabout (rip) was a cathedral of total depravity it was just brilliant 

Do you mean the Dolphin on Mare Street? Some of the best nights of my life in that place.

The Clapham Grand is just astonishingly awful. I was there about four years ago on a stag do. Surprisingly it was, to my recollection, the first time I’d been. Was a regular at Infernos tho.

If the Lizard Lounge in Bristol is as bad as the late 90s one in Nottingham then MY GOD

In what seems to be a weird theme on this thread (some kind of consolidation in the shit bar industry?) Digress is now a Be At One.

It and Strawberry Moons were just feeble Tiger Tiger imperson8rs anyway.

Must stop posting, but Draper did you ever get in Charlie Wright’s?

Ah this thread has brought back some happy, albeit very hazy, memories

the corney & barrow / digress / Bedouin bar combo was a classic back in the day. So bad. 

For bad bars in Chelsea i was always more a 151 girl than crazy larry’s, but some fun nights had in there for sure  

Anyway, my contribution is the now defunct shoeless joe’s on the river behind the strand. Not on the way to anywhere, god knows why you ever ended up there. I think it became a walkabout for a bit post the closing of Joe’s, and then closed altogether  

i also have very very vague memories of a very bad late night place up in Islington, more canonbury way. I recall spending many nights there but its name escapes me. It was a dive. 

TC I cycle past Temple on my commute and I was thinking about Shoeless Joe's just the other day. iirc there was another (smaller) branch up near St Pauls that wasn't as messy. it is still open under the name "Salsa!"

was at the Bovington tank museum this week and in the Afghan exhibition there was one of those signposts pointing to places all over the globe (Kabul 300 miles, Los Angeles 7,000 miles, Birmingham 4,800 miles etc). one of the signs pointed to Infernos, which made me chuckle.

Laz, i will see your (Nottingham) Lizard Lounge and raise you a Market Bar. plus that weird separate club in the basement of the Ritzy which had the sticky dancefloor.

Must stop posting, but Draper did you ever get in Charlie Wright’s?

It had a 4am licence back in the days when places had to shut at 11….

Yeah I remember the club under the Ritzy. Rock City also had one of these sub-clubs, called The Rig. Both actually more fun than the mothership but both scruffy as hell.

What about Bad Bob's in Covent Garden? A classic bad night out combo was Porterhouse to watch the rugby and drink their awful own brand lager, and then BB's. It's Wahaca now I think.

I can only assume that Charlie Wright himself maintained friendly relations with the local authorities.

I think i had one of those scream membership cards, what did you even get for it 5p off a £1 pint!?

Porterhouse is always completely dark even in the middle of the day. I think j it must make you drink more. 

The Big Red on Holloway Road. Many a 5am game of pool played there, completely off my face. Toilets were a fvcking state.

I used to go past Big Red in my taxi home and was always impressed by its late-openness. How the hell did you manage to be a city professional and live anywhere near that? It's right in the heart of Holloway Shitsville. I always felt like telling my driver to stop so I might alight to socialise there, but never did of course.

The other thing about Big Red is that it seems still to be there. May have closed earlier this year for a while, and it's no longer painted red, but yup it's still standing.

Surprised nobody has mentioned Slim Jim's on Upper St yet...

Yes Laz would often end up in Charlie Wrights for a late one. When I say often I mean I probably went there 7 or 8 times over a couple of years. They had Red Stripe on tap and did Thai food in the early hours.

I remember Big Red didn't let my bro and his mates in once because they were too smart - not in suits - but they weren't sufficiently grungy. LOL

Charlie's Bar on Crosswall in the City. 

Was the go-to for one particular partner despite it having no appeal and being a decent taxi ride away from the office. 

Oh oh oh

Trader Vic’s on St. john St

Good grief, some of the nights I had in there.

Many of my worst friday nights out in the early years started at The Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver, and went south (literally - sometimes as far as The Bedford).

Big Red isn't too far from Highbury, where I lived, and is a perfectly acceptable place for the young City professional to live.


The new Big Red (in the same place) has new owners and isn't the same apparently. Haven't been since about 2016, when the original incarnation closed.


I have been in wearing a suit, but I can imagine people getting turned away for the same reason. My medium length messy hair at the time possibly compensated for the smartish suit.

I used to go to the bedford when I was 22, and I thought: this place is great, it’s full of people my age getting trashed and dancing to the music we remember from sixth form.

I went back when I was 35 and I thought; this place is great, it’s full of people my age getting trashed and dancing to the music we remember from sixth form.

I can’t believe I am now old enough to reminisce about things that happened when I was 35.

Holloway sh1tsville is changing also FYI - while Seven Sisters Road and further north is dodgy territory, the stretch up to around the Emirates has been steadily gentrifying for years.


You can still buy a townhouse around there for around/just over £1m I think, which is a bargain in London terms and I think would see you double your money in a decade.

Some of the old City wine bars were proper grotholes. I never got to Charlie’s but the Balls Brothers under Minster Court, my God, and there used to be something similar on Bishopsgate dead opposite Latham HQ.

might get in on that, Lollers

Used to live in tufnell park. The Boston by Tufnell Pk station - that’s a proper Irish pub. Oddly, because TP isn’t really an irish area, though Kentish Town is. This reminds me that as a trainee I had many pleasant evenings in Quinn’s, Camden, which was frequented by an Irish mate from work.

Quinn’s is also still going strong. Wonder if they’ve got round to re-springing the lounge seats since 2001.

Laz, I spent my 6th form (97-99) in the Dome above the Boston Arms. The Brit pop era. Trying to snog Jewish chicks from Henrietta Barnet. The Boston is now a gastropub I think, the guvnors son went upmarket.  I thought Quinn's had closed?

worst: any one dozens of pubs in soho where you pay £6 a pint to stand on a narrow pavement.

Met Alex Baldwin in the Bedford once. True story. 

If you didn’t love law so much Laz I’d say you’d missed your calling in life as you should have been a tour guide. Conducting pub crawls around London pointing out the history and architecture.

Next time you’re in London give me a shout and we can combine it with naming random 90s footballers. 

City Limits

Corneys Exchange Square
The Light Bar, at the top of Bishopsgate 


The York disco post Chinese was indeed the Willow. Food inspectors got them in the end. 

Laz - did you mean Reflex near St Paul’s? 

Light bar has recently reopened.  Does not look like it will return to the vibe of its heyday.  

Laz getting his Trader Vic’s confused with Vic Naylor’s. Will never forget seeing the crowds part for Mick Jones in there. Londonpubexplorer on Insta is your man.

Law Firm Satisfaction Survey

If you work in private practice, please take RollOnFriday's quick survey measuring how happy you are with your firm. We use the results to rank firms and write stories and reports.

Your firm*
Your role*
Your sex
How satisfied are you with your pay?*
How satisfied are you with your firm's management?*
How satisfied are you with your career development?*
How satisfied are you with your work/life balance?*
How satisfied are you with your firm's culture?*