Up all night in 24-hour London

The launch of the 24-hour London Underground "Night Tube" opens up a whole world of nocturnal activities in the capital. Make the most of it with our top spots for nighthawks in search of caffeine, cocktails or even an after-hours haircut

Café culture

Old Italian rules about consuming cappuccinos after noon clearly don’t apply at Soho staple Bar Italia, where you can take your coffee any way you want, any time you want it. One of the many reasons London gives NYC a run for its money as a city that never sleeps, the Frith Street bar’s famous coffee machine grinds into action from dawn to dawn – serving early birds and shoppers through to bar workers and sociable insomniacs. A family-run business passed through three generations, their expert baristas claim that, having taken an order once, they never forget how a customer likes their coffee. Another much-loved all-hours institution is east London’s Brick Lane Beigel Bake (159 Brick Lane) – widely considered the best bagel shop in London, it’s also the oldest. Otherwise, if you want a sit-down affair, down the road on Bishopsgate is Polo Bar, which has been looking after Londoners via a 24-hour licence, all-day-all-night breakfasts and beautiful burgers since 1953.


Most people book a blow dry before a night out, but why not squeeze one in on the way home? Ideal for busy people who struggle to fit beauty treatments into their schedule, Bond Street’s Neil Cornelius Salon offers appointments 24 hours a day. With A-list fans from Elizabeth Hurley to Sienna Miller, it’s unsurprising that you’ll need an advance appointment but, once you’re in, you can enjoy late-night cocktails or early morning breakfasts while you’re groomed. Elsewhere in London, the Soho House group’s Shoreditch Cheeky Parlour is open until 11pm for super-fast hair and beauty treatments that don’t require appointments, while Coco Nailbar on Portobello Road – open until 10pm – is also a fully-functioning bar and café.


An afternoon cinema session might be the ultimate indulgence, but nothing’s more fun than a proper movie marathon. Soho’s Prince Charles Cinema is the undisputed king of the back-to-back film fest, and their all-night movie marathons come with a party atmosphere, excellent snack selection and, often, games. Be it the teen movie pyjama parties ending at breakfast or an Arnold Schwarzenegger all-nighter, there’s a 12-hour line up to cater for any cinematic taste. And if there really isn’t, they take requests too. For those less keen on committing, Dalston’s Rio Cinema screens cult classics every Saturday night at 11.30pm.



It’s 4am. You’ve woken up in a sweat because, all week, you’ve been unable to break into a sweat. But with 24-hour gym access now available, there’s no need to panic. The Gym Group operates a number of gyms in central London (including Angel, Vauxhall and Waterloo) with 24-hour access. The gyms are clean, spacious, kitted out with new machines and surprisingly lively at most hours. And they’re not the only ones: with almost 20 gyms across London, Pure Gym is another 24-hour chain catering to night owls after some exercise. Both chains offer day passes, too.

Fine dining

Fine dining

Since opening in 2012, Duck & Waffle has never closed. Sitting pretty on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, it serves up-all-night city workers a welcome reward after (or before) a long day, or simply those with a 6am craving playful, decadent British and European dishes. Fancy Champagne topped with a Guinness and marmite reduction to go alongside your breakfast? A midnight foie gras crème brûlée? Or a serving of their signature crispy duck leg and waffle with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup before bed? You’re in good company here. It’s worth noting that ‘casual elegance’ dress code is in effect, but it’ll be worth wearing your smart shoes to watch the sun rise above the city skyline. And don’t worry if you’re awake and hungry on the other side of town; the menu at chic, 24-hour VQ (with branches in Chelsea and Bloomsbury) runs the gamut from breakfast to dinner, with everything from Eggs Royale to ribeye steak served around the clock.

Visit our London guide for more top places, travel tips and hotel picks

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