LONDON LIFE • October 2018
Whether you’re craving an all-night adventure or you just can’t sleep, London is one city that doesn’t switch off when the masses hit the hay. One year after a 24-hour service was introduced on the London Underground, The Club heads on a midnight ride through this nocturnal metropolis
Closest Tube station: Green Park
While many Londoners are slipping into their nightwear, our adventure starts at The Ritz, and the unmissable yellow See London by Night tour bus (tickets £21). With a wonderfully off-script guide, 15 illuminated attractions and the 12,000 bulbs that turn Harrods into its very own Christmas tree, this 90-minute ride is the best and brightest way to make you feel like the night’s just beginning.
Top tip: From October to March the last tour begins at 21:20 – make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes early to get your seat.
Closest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus
With technicolor artwork, anime pinball machines and loud Japanese slogans, ICHIBUNS may transport you to a multi-sensory night in Tokyo, but the food is what London’s night crawlers stick around for. Served until 2am every weekend, the menu includes sushi platters and tempting Asian/American bites. To immerse yourself in the cool, comic-book vibes, hit the ground-floor bar, order a yuzu-and-grapefruit Collins and look up at a ceiling plastered in moody Manga pages.
Top tip: In the bathroom you’ll find hi-tech Japanese toilets with heated seats and an array of functions.
Closest Tube station: Leicester Square
Infused with the spirited rabble of nocturnal movie buffs and the smell of hot popcorn, the Princes Charles Cinema is where London’s thrill-seeking film fanatics swap sleep for a night of back-to-back movies – after its famous all-night marathons, groggy cinema-goers emerge for a ‘survivors photo’.
Top tip: No entry after midnight, so arrive before then armed with PJs, a toothbrush and snacks.
Closest Tube station: Old Street
While the masses head to Ronnie Scott’s, sultry venues Nightjar and Oriole both run thrilling jazz sets for a night owl crowd. And they have much in common: hypnotising decor, artsy, Orient-inspired menus, nightly jazz and cocktails served in an ever-surprising selection of glasses, barrels, seashells and more.
Top tip: Nightjar and Oriole’s late sets begin at 00:30 and 23:30 respectively, so if you’re already in the bar you’ll need to pay £4 to stay on, otherwise it’s £5 on the door.
Closest Tube station: Leicester Square
For the ultimate caffeine wake-up call, there’s no spot more legendary than Soho’s Bar Italia. Popular with both celebrity patrons and wayward Soho souls, this neon-lit beacon serves Italian delicacies from 7am-5am, except on Sundays, when it shuts at midnight. Expect walls adorned with posters of Italian American boxers, football memorabilia and proud il tricolores.
Top tip: The food can be expensive, so stick to the (reasonably priced) coffee and nab a pavement table for some prime-time people-watching.
Closest Tube station: Bond Street
What do Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and crooner Sam Smith have in common? Neil Cornelius, or rather his star-studded Mayfair hair salon. This is London’s first luxury, 24-hour salon with appointments throughout the night. The floor-to-ceiling glass frontage is perfect for watching the city wake up, plus there’s a bar for that 4am Bloody Mary.
Top tip: If possible, make your appointment with Batou, ‘the French wizard’, who looks after Mariah Carey’s locks whenever she’s in town.
Closest Tube station: Liverpool Street
While London blushes with the cotton-candy hues of dawn, ascend 40 floors in a stomach-dropping glass elevator to Duck and Waffle, London’s highest 24/7 restaurant. Tawny tones and marble-top tables stand before a panorama of the twirling Thames, a still-lit Tower Bridge and the Gherkin's camera-ready curves. Order the eponymous megastar – a salty-sweet phenomenon of duck leg confit, so lip-smackingly crispy it shreds under your fork, topped by a perfect egg, all resting on one fluffy yet firm breakfast waffle.
Top tip: If you have room, follow up with a sweet waffle – a Full Elvis is the perfect sunrise sharer.