London: Cocktail bars with great happy hours


Enjoy the extra-long happy hour in Soho's Barrio Centrale. Photo: Yukino Mayazawa
Enjoy the extra-long happy hour in Soho's Barrio Centrale. Photo: Yukino Mayazawa

By Nina Derham in London—

The streets of London may be lined with bars, but as most Cheapos know, stretching your budget to the early hours and making the most of London’s nightlife is no easy feat.

We all have our weaknesses and cocktails are mine – my wallet-shrinking, budget-reducing, wholeheartedly guilty pleasure. I’m constantly on the hunt for ways to enjoy a cocktail without breaking the bank and, fortunately, London boasts some excellent happy hours that let me do just that.

Start your night out right at the friendly Cuba Libre. Photo: Seanbjack

Here’s three of my favorite bars in London that are sure to get your night off to a happy start:

Cuba Libre
72 Upper Street
N1 0NY
Tube: Angel
Web site

One of the most authentic Cuban-style establishments I’ve seen outside of Cuba, this friendly bar and restaurant is located in the middle of North London’s buzzing bar-lined Upper Street, and makes for the perfect spot to start the night.

Head through the restaurant to the little bar at the back between 5 p.m.-8 p.m. every day and get two delicious cocktails for just £9. If you can’t get there early then drop in between 8 p.m.-10 p.m. and grab a large jug of cocktail for £18.50 (serves four). The “Havana Daydreaming” comes highly recommended.

Waterloo Bar and Grill
119 Waterloo Road
Tube: Waterloo
Web site

An excellent choice if you’ve been exploring the South Bank or if you’re heading to a performance at The Young Vic or the Royal Festival Hall, the Waterloo Bar and Grill serves up a fabulous list of cocktails for £5 between 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Ever-popular with local office workers, get there early to avoid fighting for a table and take your time to peruse the incredible menu, which ranges from Ginger Margaritas and Honey & Lychee Mojitos, to Berry Breezers and Espresso Martinis (your author is yet to find a cocktail she wouldn’t recommend here). Beer lovers can also take advantage of two bottles for a fiver during happy hour, as well.

Barrio Central
6 Poland Street
Soho, W1F 8PS
Tube: Oxford Circus

This funky Latin-themed venue is one of Soho’s busiest hangouts, but if you don’t mind the crowds, then it’s the ideal choice for a fun-filled night out in central London. Barrio Central’s extra long “amigo hour” actually runs from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. every night of the week and offers cocktails for £4 each, bottle beer for £2.50 and bottles of house wine for £10.

Bag a table early on and watch the place fill up to bursting point as you sip on your Caipirinha. The reason this place is just so darn popular is that the downstairs area becomes increasingly club-like as the night goes on. Happily, punters aren’t charged a hefty entrance fee for the pleasure of dancing the night away. A rare treat in central London.

And if you find yourself in North London, then Barrio North on Essex Road offers the same wallet-friendly deals daily between 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Need more suggestions? Check out our previous post for more bars with happy hours in London.

Also in our guide: Looking for other ways to save some pounds while visiting London? Check out our reviews of the city’s best affordable hotels. Our picks have been visited, inspected and reviewed by the EuroCheapo editors. They’re all clean, central and affordable. Read more in EuroCheapo’s Guide to London.

About the author

Nina Derham

About the author: Nina is a freelance travel writer who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to discover the very best on offer in a destination. She recently relocated to London after spending over four years in Madrid and is currently enjoying rediscovering her home town.

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