Mahima Kohli

Writer | Editor | Traveller | Photographer | In love with history, culture & fine food

LGBTQ Culture in London: All you need to know


London is one of the foremost LGBTQ tourist destinations in Europe. Homosexuality was decriminalised in the United Kingdom in 1967, but London was an LGBTQ hub even before that. There is a lot to see and do in the city for both locals and tourists. Here’s a complete low down on the LGBTQ culture in London.

Wine and Dine for the LGBTQ community

Soho, in Central London, is the centre of the city’s LGBTQ community. Here you’ll find the best gay and lesbian clubs, live entertainment shows, and sex shops. Bordered by Oxford Street, Regent Street, Charing Cross Road, and Leicester Square, the area covers about 2.6 square kilometres and can be explored on foot. G-A-Y Bar on Old Compton Street regularly hosts live music and DJ nights and stays open until the wee hours. Freedom is another popular bar and club in Central Soho, with over 200 mirror balls and several dance poles for the live events held downstairs, and a chic bar upstairs. She Soho is unique in that it’s primarily a lady’s bar, though men are welcome to accompany female patrons. Heaven, just off Trafalgar Square in Central London, is also one of the largest gay clubs in Europe.

London has a vibrant LGBTQ nightlife
London has a vibrant LGBTQ nightlife (Source)

The range of LGBTQ bars and clubs in London doesn’t just end in Soho. Dalston Superstore in East London is an artsy cafe by day and a pulsing club by night. Fire, in Vauxhall, South London, is an industrial-style club with a killer sound system, laser light shows and some of the best DJs in town. Nearby is also The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the oldest surviving LGBTQ club in South London.

Films and Theatre for the LGBTQ community

Enjoy Musicals at the Above The Stag Theatre, London
Enjoy Musicals at Above The Stag Theatre, London (Source)

The London LGBT Film Festival, BFI Flare, is the biggest LGBT film festival in Europe. It began in 1986 as a season of LGBT films for two years at the National Film Theatre. In 1988, it was renamed the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and later changed to BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. It takes place every spring in BFI Southbank, London. What makes London even more unique is the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall, the only LGBT-centric theatre in the entire UK.

Pride in London

Pride in London is an annual LGBT pride parade and festival held every summer in London. A long-running tradition, it attracts thousands of LGBTQ visitors and their friends, family, and supporters to the city. Barclays Bank is the headline sponsor for the march, and it garners support from the Mayor of London as well.

The London Pride Parade 2013
The London Pride Parade 2013 (Source)

For LGBTQ Bibliophiles

Gay’s The Word is the only bookstore in the UK to cater specifically to the LGBTQ community. Located in Bloomsbury, London, the store was founded in 1979 by people from a socialist group called Gay Icebreakers. Its genesis drew inspiration from the growth of lesbian and gay bookstores in the US. The independent bookstore has ample patronage across communities today.

The only gay and lesbian bookstore in the UK.
The only gay and lesbian bookstore in the UK (Source)

Social Groups for and by the LGBTQ community

There is an array of support groups for and by the LGBTQ community in London. Centred is one such community organisation that lends the LGBTQ culture in London a unique character. Their major activities include publishing, networking, community events, volunteering, community infrastructure, and LGBTQ history and heritage activities. Another such organisation exclusively for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women professionals is the Gay Women’s Network. They work towards giving LGBT women access to career development and networking opportunities in an inclusive space and supporting positive change for LGBT women in the workplace. Women from all sectors, levels, industries, and walks of life are welcomed into the network.

Village Drinks is a well-known social networking community for gay professionals in London, with events in Bristol, Brighton and Manchester as well. Their social events are immensely popular and well-attended, and what’s more, their membership is free.

There is a vibrant community of LGBTQ individuals and their supporters in the English Capital. Plan a trip to explore the LGBTQ culture in London on your own, and I promise you will go home a richer person.

London Fashion Week S/S 2017: Restaurant Guide


London is the place to be this September, for the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of London Fashion Week will be on in full swing. Calendars have been marked and tickets have been booked as the fashion world awaits one of the biggest fashion storms of the year.

While you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the ramp shows and pop-up events, you’d certainly need little breaks every now and then to treat your senses to good food and drink. Here’s a low down on the best cafes and restaurants around the LFW venues where you can rejuvenate and nourish in style. Check out our hand-picked suggestions below:

Nordic Bakery

A chic catfishing out scrumptious Scandinavian fare and delicious coffee, Nordic Bakery is a favourite with London Fashion Week regulars. Their unassumingly good cinnamon buns and rye bread sandwiches are served fresh out of the oven. A few minutes’ walks from the LFW main venue and with a serene ambience and unique menu, this quaint establishment is a no-brainer.

Where: 14a Golden Square, London W1F 9JG

nordic bakery golden square soho
Nordic Bakery Golden Square Soho

Señor Ceviche

This Peruvian wonder promises to tease your tastebuds with its flavourful ceviches, sizzling barbeque, fresh salads and an array of street food. Make sure to order their melt-in-the-mouth Chifa Chicharrones and juicy Super Pollo. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to say Hola to the ever-fashionable Señor of the ceviches.

Where: Kingly Court, Carnaby London, W1B 5PW0207

senor ceviche
Senor Ceviche, Carnaby London

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle is London’s famously infamous 40th-floor round-the-clock restaurant. With its mix of quirky cocktails, European food made with fresh seasonal ingredients, and a bird’s eye view of the Big City, this place is a sure-shot winner. Its signature item, The Duck and Waffle, has it all – waffles, duck confit, a fried duck egg and maple syrup – and has to (has to!) be tried when you’re there.

Where: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

The Duck and Waffle
The Duck and Waffle (Source)


Hoppers Named after the signature Sri Lankan dish Appam (somehow contorted into ‘Hopper’ by British colonists, go figure), Hoppers is a very modern, no-reservation Sri Lankan restaurant a stone’s throw away from the action at the London Fashion Week. The place lures you in with its aroma of coconut, curry and fragrant spices. Try the hopper with fried egg, hot butter devilled shrimps, the dosa and their wide selection of cocktails.

Where: 49 Frith Street, Soho W1D 4SG

Hopper with fried egg (picture: Sophia Evans for the Observer)
Hopper with a fried egg (picture: Sophia Evans for the Observer)

Drake & Morgan

Your best bet for an evening of ‘healthy’ intoxication, Drake & Morgan concocts inimitably low-calorie cocktails, especially during the fashion week. You can try the Reina Cubano: Cuban Queen (209 calories) and the Skinny Superfood Collins (175 calories) for starters. And of course, for those who aren’t on a weight watch, the entire yummy menu is your oasis.

Where: King’s Cross, 6 Pancras Road, London N1C 4AG


An elegant French restaurant that distinguishes itself on Greek Street, l’escargot is a five minutes walk from Brewer Street Car Park but miles away from the push and shove of the fashion industry. It offers a classic French menu including specialities like lobster bisque, snails and steak tartare. Complement your meal with a choice of the finest French wines and round it up with their famous chocolate souffle a taste of heaven in the middle of London.

Where: 48 Greek Street, Soho W1D 4EF

L'Escargot: Restaurant, Bar, Club Prive (Source)
L’Escargot: Restaurant, Bar, Club Prive (Source)
Lescargot Soho London
Lescargot Soho London

Plan your days with this list in mind and you are bound to have the best of both worlds at the LFW.

How will Brexit impact tourism in the UK?


It became official this June – Britain is no longer a part of the European Union. The exit of the UK from the EU, popularly dubbed ‘Brexit’, has dealt a historic blow to the supposed unity and economic integration of Europe. But while its political and economic aftermath has been the topic of every discussion and news hour debate, what travellers within and outside Europe and the UK are waiting to know is how Brexit will impact tourism in the region, especially London.

The divorce process is expected to unfold over the next two years. While changes are certainly beginning to show, it is still early to make any concrete assumptions or predictions. The following are some possible implications of Brexit for the travel and tourism industry.

Cheaper to travel to the UK

The British pound saw a rapid free fall against major international currencies following Brexit, hitting record lows against the US dollar and Euro. Although the pound is expected to stabilise soon, it is unlikely to regain its former glory. It has subsequently become a good deal cheaper to vacation in the UK. The weakened currency might offset the British economy, but the resultant increase in inbound tourism might just prove to be the silver lining.

Outbound tourism from Britain to fall

British residents’ wallets are bound to take a hit following the economic slowdown and political instability at home. With the pound falling hard against the Euro, Britons are anxious about the increased costs of travelling through the EU. The same is the case with the USA, whose biggest source of overseas visitors is Britain. In the wake of Brexit, the EU-US Open Skies Agreement ceases to apply to the UK, which may also mean greater restrictions on air travel between the UK and the US.

It's official - Britain is out of the EU.
It’s official – Britain is out of the EU. (Source)

Restrictions on tourism between the UK and the EU

Following Brexit, there is speculation that the UK and EU may impose reciprocal restrictions on travel and customs, making it difficult for Britons to move around the continent and for European tourists to visit Britain. Many pro-Remain British residents went so far as to say that their nation had transformed overnight from the ‘United Kingdom’ to ‘Little England’, referring to the absence of free movement, which was a core principle of the European Union.

Higher Airfares travelling to and fro from the United Kingdom

The European Union has facilitated more open competition among air service operators on routes between EU countries. This led to the success of no-frills airlines with historically low airfares and a variety of routes to choose from. In the wake of Brexit, new air service agreements will have to be signed for British airlines to continue operating freely across the EU and for European airlines to fly in and out of the UK. This is expected to cause an increase in airfares and a limited choice of routes between the UK and the EU. Check out the latest “Airfares Here

Higher roaming charges on mobile phones

The costs of using mobile phones in Europe have reduced a lot under EU rules in recent years.?Roaming charges are also set to be completely abolished next year. What remains to be seen is whether the UK government will continue to implement these EU directives.? If it changes track, which is presumable, mobile phone roaming costs for Britons in Europe will see a significant hike.

Bottomline in the wake of Brexit
Bottomline in the wake of Brexit

Brexit is hence being seen as happy news for travellers headed to Britain, though not so much for travellers within the region. Keeping our fingers crossed and waiting for a better outlook on tourism in the months to come!