20 Best Nightclubs in London
In the wake of 2016 and the start to a fresh faced 2017, we’ve rounded up our top 20 nightclubs to help point you to the best parties in town. So put on your dancing shoes, throw caution to the wind and shake off those January blues.
To help you kick-start this year with open arms, a positive attitude and, well, a pretty fun time, we’ve selected our favourite nightclubs. These spots will not only get you out of bed, but will no doubt keep you up and dancing way past your bedtime.
In our eyes, a ‘good’ club nurtures community, solidarity and a collective sense of enjoyment. Forget high-rolling, sweaty super clubs where you spend half the night trying to find your scatty friend that’s had one too many, only to find they’ve been kicked out by the uptight security. From disused warehouses to vacant art complexes, most of these hand-picked clubs are intimate spaces that have been transformed into almost holy venues of rhythmic hedonism and sonic spirituality, where revellers and DJs come together to shake a leg until the early hours.
Disclaimer: the below is in no particular order (just our thoughts on the greatest).
1. Corsica Studios
A dodgy side street in an even dodgier part of Elephant and Castle may not seem the most attractive location for an honest boogie to some wholesome disco. You may be pleasantly surprised, then, when you discover this not-for-profit venue is a breeding ground for creativity and, unlike its neighbour, ‘Ministry of Sound,’ attracts a more discerning, partisan crowd. Add their impeccable Funktion One sound systems to the equation and we’re onto a real winner. The smoking area also deserves a little mention as it’s a complete vibe; pop out for a breather and you’ll bump into loads of friendly faces.
Address: 4/5 Elephant Rd, London SE17 1LB
Contact: 020 7703 4760
2. The Nest
Firmly established as a Dalston clubbing heavyweight, state-of-the-art lighting and a close-knit clubbing experience are two things that make a night at the Nest one to remember. Reminiscent of the underground vaults at Berlin’s ‘Tresor,’ the atmosphere does not disappoint. Prepare to get lost, let loose, and lose your inhibitions.
3. The Moth Club
A gold mine of retro charm, this former service men’s club has been given a new lease on life as a trendy venue. Still maintaining much of its original décor, albeit with a large helping of glitter, the old regulars can often still be found drinking away at the Moth Club‘s bar. Go for the inviting atmosphere, mesmerising gold ceiling and G&Ts as big as your head.
Address: Old Trades Hall, Valette St, London E9 6NU
Contact: 020 8985 7963
4. Bussey Building/CLF Art Café
Like it or not, Peckham is on a fearsome ascent. One of its many sources of pride is this post-industrial building that sees you emerging from a rather dark and dingy alleyway into a courtyard covered in exquisite graffiti, lit up like a pretty little fairytale. Not the original kind, though – this fairytale is much sweatier and sprinkled with house, techno and disco bangers. Tip: Bussey is best enjoyed al fresco in the summer when you can relish 360-degree views from the rooftop.
Address: 133 Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
Contact: 020 7732 5275
5. Prince of Wales
Seasoned South London partygoers will frequent Brixton’s Prince of Wales on a regular basis, and we don’t blame them. It’s a pub, nightclub, restaurant and roof terrace all at once, meaning you can eat, drink and dance to your heart’s content while basking in its open-air loveliness at one of their popular summer terrace parties.
Address: 467-469 Brixton Road, London SW9 8HH
Contact: 020 7095 1978
6. Ridley Road Market Bar
Until we wrote this, Ridley Road was probably one of London’s best kept secrets. Go and embrace the clammy dance floor, and don’t take that lightly – in the summer even the disco ball drips with sweat. Grab a three-quid red stripe (yes, you read that right) and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
A far cry from its former residence, ‘Plan B,’ Phonox (we can’t pronounce it either) was one of the best things to happen to London’s clubbing scene in the past year. Their utopian aim of creating a community of likeminded clubbers gives the space an almost affable, neighbourhood feel. Snapchat fiends may find the ‘no phones on the dance floor’ policy a tad pretentious, but here, it’s all about the music. The club has had the likes of Kerri Chandler and Omar S helm the DJ booth over the past year, with 2017 looking to be just as big.
Address: 418 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AY
Contact: 020 7095 9411
One of the best nights out South of the river, Hootanannys is a real hoot. It’s a mecca for live music as well as some cutting-edge club nights. In keeping with the spirit of its roots as a pub, it has a lively beer garden for the warmer months. This, along with its loyal customers and welcoming atmosphere, make it one of the most down-to-earth venues in London.
Address: 95 Effra Road, Brixton, London SW2 1DF
Contact: 020 7737 7273
Canal-side, organic beer quaffing hangout by day, and laid back, intimate party space by night, GROW is one venue with a solid initiative. By aiming to encourage locals to meet and exchange ideas around self-sustaining communities, they can source a higher percentage of their supplies locally. Hopefully we’ll all dance green one day.
Address: 98C Main Yard, Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN
Contact: 020 8510 1757
After waving a sad goodbye to Shapes earlier this year, we’re pleased to see that another Hackney Wick venue is on the up, and it’s from the minds behind the infamous Bloc Festival. Don’t let the small, slightly overpriced beers put you off – what Bloc lacks in cheap hooch it makes up for in its stellar billings. From Carl Craig all-nighters to disco visitations from Todd Terje, they’ve gained a devoted clientele from ravers and DJs alike.
Address: Unit 3, Autumn Yard, Autumn St, Hackney Wick, London E3 2TT
Contact: 0844 414 2464
11. Canavan’s Pool Club
A little rough around the edges but in an endearing way, those with a keen eye will know Canavan’s is more than just a place for practicing your aim. Home to London-based record label Rhythm Section, this little spot is great if you want to party ‘til the sun comes up. Getting back from Peckham can be a bit of a pain, though, so you better hope you get lucky with one of the locals.
Address: 188 Rye Ln, London SE15 4NF
Contact: 075 6348 2439
Easily one of London’s most aesthetically pleasing venues, housed in a transformed theatre, the space provides for a different type of experience. Up and coming artists, DJs and bands have filled the bills, as well as big names in the industry. They even had Kayne West grace their stage last year – a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll leave that for you to decide.
Address: 1A Camden High Street, London NW1 7JE
Contact: 020 7388 3222
13. Stour Space
Another jewel in Hackney Wick’s musical crown, this small venue is a beautiful spot both day and night. The gallery and balcony setup makes for a visually appealing clubbing experience that’s unmatched elsewhere. 2016 saw Eglo Records founder Alex Nut take to the DJ booth for a three-month residency, so expect equally exciting things from them in the coming months.
Address: 7 Roach Road, Tower Hamlets, London E3 2PA
Contact: 020 8985 7827
14. Dalston Superstore
It may look like a mild-mannered café from the outside, but the mask comes off when you step inside to discover a down-and-dirty hangout where you can groove and grind to anything from electro to disco and 90s R&B. Consistently packed with it-boys and -girls, the well-worn dance floor is a definite testament to their loyal following.
Address: 117 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB
Contact: 020 7254 2273
XOYO loves nothing more than a great party. Thanks to a booking selection that pays little attention to genre but instead focuses on providing the most on-point nights, their substance-over-style ethos has rightfully earned them their reputation as one of the most forward-thinking venues our city offers. Two separate dance floors mean clubbers can bump and grind to some classic bangers in room two, or lose their minds in the smoky confines of the basement.
Address: 32-37 Cowper Street, London EC2A4AP
Contact: 020 7608 2878
16. Brilliant Corners
One for the vinyl heads, DJs spin on a vinyl-only basis and on an old analogue sound system, making it a glorious listening experience for punters. Don’t be put off by the fact the dance floor is in a restaurant; come midnight, there’s a bustling throng of people mid-vibe, getting down where the tables and chairs were. Similarities to the beloved Plastic People are fair, and Brilliant Corners has kept the Plastic People dream alive with its intrepid programming.
17. Jazz Cafe
Recently refurbished by its new owners, the Columbo Group, with a fresh look and a lot more than a lick of paint, the Jazz Cafe is everything a jazz bar should be – intimate, unperturbed and in love with music. What’s more, there’s a decent-sized dance floor, meaning it’s not the usual table-dwelling and head-bobbing that you’d expect at your average jazz night.
Address: 5 Parkway, London NW1 7PG
Contact: 020 7485 6834
18. Pickle Factory
If there ever was a club that made you feel as if you were partying in your living room with your nearest and dearest, it’s the Pickle Factory. Dubbed Oval Space’s little, less lofty sister, the minimalist 250-capacity venue has been designed with music in mind, encouraging good rapport between punters, staff and DJs. The vibes are friendly and the warm sounds filling its womb-like environs will make you feel all fuzzy inside.
Address: 13-14 The Oval, London E2 9DU
Contact: 020 7183 4422
19. Studio Spaces
The closest we have to a European-minded dance floor, everyone comes here for the dance. They know who the DJs are and they know the tracks being played. The raw space has high ceilings, pared-down warehouse aesthetics and an unfussy aura ensuring that it’s all about the music. Frequently boasting all-night sets from globe-trotting DJs and producers pulled in by the Hydra, we salute them.
Address: Unit 2, 110 Pennington St, London E1W 2BB
Contact: 020 7613 0545
20. Village Underground
Old tube carriages perched on the roof, secret archways, a banging sound system and an impressively large dance floor – there’s a lot to love about this East London club. In a city populated by music venues that pride themselves on possessing ‘character’ when really they’re just a bit grotty, this place is a breath of fresh air that oozes with charm. And the crowd is eclectic, which makes it highly unpretentious. Exposed brickwork enthusiasts, feast your eyes, and lose yourself in the subterranean world of Village Underground.
Address: 54 Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PQ
Contact: 020 7422 7505
Words by Emily Watson