It’s always great to go drinking somewhere that has the aesthetic and music you love. If you prefer things a little on the darker or heavier side, you’ll have a great time at some of London’s alternative bars and pubs. Camden Town has long been a hotspot for these places but there are venues across the city as well. If you’re planning a night out, get some inspiration with our guide to alternative bars in London.
Guide to alternative bars in London
In this guide
Alternative bars in London
- The Dev – Long-established on the goth scene
- The World's End – Hotspot for alternative music
- The Black Heart – Dark by name, dark by nature
- Blondies – Hackney's premier dive bar
- Slim Jim's – Rock 'n' roll in Islington
- The Fighting Cocks – Pub with music and comedy
- New Cross Inn – Top venue for live music
- The Last Tuesday Society – A truly unique destination
- Big Red – US-style rock bar
- Garlic & Shots – Gothic drinking spot
Alternative bars in London
Long-established on the goth scene
Often referred to as The Dev, The Devonshire Arms is a well-established venue for goth and metal fans in London. Based in Camden, there's a buzzy interior with a bustling crowd. You'll hear rock and metal music from DJs and live performers. It's a compact venue tucked away behind a Tudor-style exterior.
Hotspot for alternative music
Pub-cum-music venue The World’s End is a top destination for alternative music lovers. In the bright and spacious main bar with exposed brickwork you’ll hear a rock and metal playlist as you enjoy a wide selection of drinks and stone-baked pizzas. Loads of alternative acts play at the basement music venue.
Dark by name, dark by nature
Arguably one of Camden’s best-loved alternative venues, The Black Heart has a suitably dark and eclectic aesthetic with jet black walls covered in posters. Upstairs there’s a music venue that regularly hosts rock, metal, and punk performers. Although the venue is proudly alternative, it actually attracts a surprisingly diverse crowd.
Hackney's premier dive bar
Owned and run by three sisters, Blondies is a compact rock 'n' roll dive bar. The fascinating interiors are decked out with posters, stickers, and skateboards. Expect friendly service and a wide choice of drinks. Regular events take place at the venue including lots of live music acts from alternative performers.
Rock 'n' roll in Islington
Based in the heart of Upper Street, Slim Jim’s is the ultimate in rock ‘n’ roll. Known for its black walls and bras suspended from the ceiling, expect a rock and metal jukebox and regular live music acts. There’s a huge choice of whiskey from the bar, plus craft beer and cocktails.
Pub with music and comedy
The Fighting Cocks is Kingston's hub for rock and alternative music. It's a friendly bar with a broad selection of drinks and a lively party vibe. Regular live music is on at this comfortable local venue, as well as stand-up comedy from top performers like Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey.
Top venue for live music
If you love nothing more than being at a gig, check out New Cross Inn. This busy bar and venue hosts live acts every night of the week and is open until late. Expect eclectic line-ups covering genres like punk, ska, metal, and psychobilly. It hosts its own music festivals too.
A truly unique destination
If you love a gothic and unusual aesthetic, head to The Last Tuesday Society in Hackney. Part of The Viktor Wynd Museum, its black walls are decorated with taxidermy. You can sample absinthe here served in a variety of ways, as well as cocktails. Alternative events and discussions are held here too.
US-style rock bar
Big Red in Holloway Road is a spacious US-style dive bar and alternative music venue. The crowd it attracts is friendly and diverse. It’s packed with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, there are pool tables and comfy booths, and a jukebox loaded with rock and metal tunes. Local beers and cocktails are served.
Gothic drinking spot
The clue is in the name at gothic bar Garlic & Shots. This dimly-lit venue has a food menu packed with garlic – you can ask for more but never less – as well as a massive list of shots and cocktails. Shots cover the whole gamut of flavours from fruity to spicy, and garlicky.