With the cost of living in London constantly going up, it's getting harder and harder to justify splurging on a round of drinks. Despite the rising price tags, however, there are still many cheap bars and pubs around the city that are friendly towards your wallet, offering happy hour deals or just have low, affordable drink prices as a rule. To discover these unsung heroes of our time, read our guide to the best budget bars in London.
Guide to the best budget bars in London
In this guide
The best budget bars in London
- Simmons – Five-hour happy hour
- Freud Bar – Low-price cocktails
- Ridley Road Market Bar – Yes they can
- Revolution – Regular food and drink offers
- FAM – Welcome to the FAM
- BYOC – Bring Your Own Cocktail
- Bar Kick – Foosball happy hour
- Barrio – Happy Amigo Hour
- Big Chill – Taking it easy (on the wallet)
- Cloudwater Brew Co. – Attractively-priced craft beer
- Tequila Mockingbird – Vibrant nightlife spots
- The Cocktail Club – 2-for-1-for-everything
- Trapeze – Drinking for peanuts
- Burlock Rum Room – Rum cocktails galore
- Tonight Josephine – Sassy partying
- Pitcher & Piano – The good kind of cheap shots
- The Escapologist – Cocktail escape in Covent Garden
- Be At One – Cocktail-fuelled late nights
- The Exhibit – Balham's entertainment hub
- Two One Four – Budget-friendly G&Ts
- Tank & Paddle – Pints & pizzas
- Four Quarters – Retro gaming, modern drinking
The best budget bars in London
Five-hour happy hour
With their characteristic happy hour offer that lasts five hours and venues all over the city, the Simmons bars are a popular choice for when you want to go grab a drink without worrying about your bottom line. The lively bars are suffused in neon lighting, with the happy hour including 2-for-1 cocktails, shareable cocktail teapots, bottles of wine or beer and more. Many of the locations also offer retro gaming consoles, karaoke or other entertaining activities.
Shaftesbury Avenue’s Freud Bar is a legendary spot for cocktails and art. The massive range of alcoholic drinks at this place comes with an affordable price tag, with the cocktails especially appealingly priced. You can get both classic concoctions and innovative creations to enjoy in the buzzy atmosphere here, accompanied by music and art exhibitions that change monthly.
Yes they can
A tropical party venue, Ridley Road Market Bar features atmospheric lighting and regularly hosts DJs and live performers for an eclectic soundtrack. The inclusive venue with outside seating welcomes everyone, keeping drinks cheap by serving them straight from the can. You can also order flavoursome cocktails, including frozen drinks, or grab a bite from the kitchen pop-ups.
Regular food and drink offers
At the Revolution bars, you can grab a couple of cocktails or a meal-and-drink combo on the cheap, thanks to the chain’s regular offers. The vibrant venues serve burgers, pizzas and other familiar favourites, accompanied by expertly mixed cocktails and other drinks. At night, the party atmosphere ramps up a notch, with the action moving to the dance floor.
Welcome to the FAM
A laidback space just off of busy Oxford Street, FAM Bar & Kitchen lets you and your wallet breathe a sigh of relief after going all out on the shopping. The daily happy hour at this welcoming establishment includes attractively- priced cocktails, draft beer and bottles of prosecco or wine. You can enjoy them in the vibrant retro interior or on the outdoor summer terrace, and you can also order South American-inspired snacks to nibble on.
Bring Your Own Cocktail
If you’ve got any spirits lying around and want to turn them into more than just a homemade mixed drink, head to the 1920s casino-themed BYOC Camden. At this stylish bar, a skilled mixologist will consult with you about your likes and dislikes, then take your bottle and concoct five rounds of bespoke cocktails for you to enjoy. The resulting price tag per drink is quite affordable, even if you do have to supply the main ingredient yourself.
Foosball happy hour
Across its two floors, Shoreditch’s live sport bastion Bar Kick boasts twelve HD screens showing sporting events with a clear view from every seat. Major tournaments are often accompanied by special promotions, and there are regular weekly deals as well. These include a cocktail happy hour on weekdays and a Friday lunch deal. You can also try your hand at table football here – on Mondays, you can play for free.
Happy Amigo Hour
The lively Barrio bars around the city are flooded with clashing colours, vibrant decor and Latin flavour, offering unique cocktails, Spanish and South American wines, Mexican-inspired dishes and more. The Happy Amigo Hour includes 2-for-1 cocktails and discounts on prosecco, Sol beer and tequila. Each day, select classic cocktails are also available as 2-for-1, and there are attractively-priced tacos on offer daily as well.
Taking it easy (on the wallet)
The Big Chill bars are laid-back venues with a welcoming, good-natured atmosphere. They serve juicy burgers, creative cocktails, craft beers and more in a lively atmosphere complete with DJs and folks boogieing late into the night. The weekday happy hour deal includes select 2-for-1 cocktails as well as budget-friendly beer, and there’s a lunchtime menu deal as well. The bars also regularly host fun events and other promotional offers, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their website.
Attractively-priced craft beer
In a disused railway arch in Bermondsey, Cloudwater Brew Co. specialises in super-hoppy beers, with their range over the years encompassing lagers, stouts, IPAs and more. They offer a selection of five different beers – four pale ales and a lager – at happy hour prices to promote their tasty new range.
Vibrant nightlife spots
The Tequila Mockingbird cocktail bars can be found at several locations around town, with their venues ranging from intimate drinking dens to spacious party spots spanning several floors. All feature the group’s signature daily happy hours, when all the cocktails are 2-for-1 and there are deals on other drinks as well.
Found at various locations around the capital, the Cocktail Clubs offer unrestrained fun and wild abandon in differently themed settings. A big part of their success in doing so is their happy hour, which slaps a 2-for-1 deal on more or less everything, from cocktails to spirits, mixers and prosecco – only champagne and bottled spirits are excluded. There are numerous other packages and promotions to take advantage of as well.
Drinking for peanuts
Trapeze is a circus-themed bar and nightclub in Shoreditch that spans three floors and puts on its own circus shows, DJ nights and other entertainment. You can also take advantage of the many promotions they offer, including a daily happy hour on cocktails, bottles of beer or prosecco and buffalo wings, or the weekly bottomless brunch that includes unlimited wings as well drinks.
Rum cocktails galore
The Burlock Rum Room is a Havana-style speakeasy that boasts more than 200 different rums from around the world and regularly hosts live reggae music. The happy hour here includes 2-for-1 cocktails and affordably priced bottles of wine, beer or prosecco. The rum punch bowl is worth a mention as well, as it’s designed for sharing with a group, and there’s a bottomless brunch offer as well.
The ostentatious Tonight Josephine bars combine cocktails, neon lighting and friendly prices to deliver sassy party nights. In addition to various events and deals, from Britney-themed brunches and boozy afternoon tea, the bars offer 2-for-1 cocktail happy hours, with every concoction on the menu included. You’ll be dancing the night away with youthful abandon in no time.
The good kind of cheap shots
The Pitcher & Piano bars offer affordable and varied drinks, burgers, snacks and other bites, and a friendly atmosphere with a touch of sophistication. On weekdays, they do offers on lunch dishes, while Fridays feature promotions on bottles of prosecco. During the weekend, the bottomless brunch and cheap shots and bombs come into play. The Richmond location also boasts a sunny outdoor terrace.
Cocktail escape in Covent Garden
Specialising in expertly mixed cocktails, from signature specials to staples such as mojitos and negronis, The Escapologist offers a 2-for-1 happy hour on any of the concoctions on the menu, as well as glasses of prosecco and bottles of Peroni beer. With its vibrant Victorian-inspired decor and a buzzing contemporary vibe, this underground hideout is a good spot to retreat to from the busy Covent Garden area.
Cocktail-fuelled late nights
With more than 100 cocktails, from old favourites to inventive house potions, on the menu, the Be At One bars are a true cocktail institution in London. Their various locations around the capital are open late and are known for their partying vibe, in no small part thanks to the chain’s daily 2-for-1 happy hour. Other promotional deals are also available regularly.
Balham's entertainment hub
The Exhibit has been providing all sorts of entertainment in the heart of Balham for over twenty years, from live music and comedy to life drawing, puppy yoga, masterclasses and more. It also serves food and drinks, with a selection of the latter available as 2-for-1 during the daily happy hour. The offer includes pints, prosecco, G&Ts and martinis, and there are other promotions available regularly as well.
Tucked away beneath a pasta restaurant, the cosy Two One Four speakeasy in Bermondsey features wood furnishings and boasts a varied collection of spirits from around the world. You can also sample different gins or have the skilled bartenders mix you up one of the creative house cocktails. The happy hour offer is available every day and includes attractively-priced G&Ts and signature cocktails.
Pints & pizzas
Focusing on the natural pairing of beer and pizza, the Tank & Paddle bars serve up yard-long paddles of freshly baked Italian goodness and pints poured straight from the tank. With the combo regularly available at promotional prices, you won’t have to dip too far into your wallet to have a fun night out here if you don’t want to. Other deals are available as well.
Retro gaming, modern drinking
The Four Quarters bars around London double as retro arcades, where you can spend your hard-earned quarters mashing buttons on restored old-school games from the previous century. Thankfully, you can make up your gaming deficit by taking advantage of the bars’ promotional deals, for example the 2-for-1 house cocktails or the jugs of sangria or beer.