Is London Really a 24-Hour Hub?

Many people, including Sadiq Khan, have said that London is leading the charge when it comes to adopting 24-hour policies. He’s also come out to say that other cities see London as an inspiration for their entertainment policies. London is certainly home to a huge amount of nightlife too, with over 22,316 licensed pubs, restaurants and bars. With that being said, is London really a 24-hour hub

Does London Operate a 24-Hour Economy?

Some London restaurants are open until the early hours of the morning, with new bars popping up all the time. Even though the market is changing, the desire to go out is still there. With that being said, it’s London’s infrastructure that is holding it back from its status of a 24-hour economy. A lot of this comes down to licensing restrictions, as not many places are allowed to operate around the clock. When you combine this with a lowered amount of cabs available after midnight, it’s safe to say that the potential is there, it’s just not been unlocked yet.

Some spots in London are all open 24 hours a day, such as casinos, for example – but if transport is an issue, people can play roulette online instead. When you look at the potential of live dealer games offering an experience that rivals land-based casinos, it’s not hard to see why this sector has taken off in recent years. It’s kept the interest in the casino sector going, even when people can’t venture out to a physical casino themselves.

Just last year, a heated debate happened with Greggs, when they asked for the right to trade in central London during the early hours of the morning. The hearing resulted in Greggs opening their Leicester Square store until 2 am from Thursday through Saturday, but only until midnight the rest of the week. Although their hopes of 24-hour trading were declined, they were happy with the result. One downside however is that they are not allowed to sell products heated beyond ambient temperature, such as chicken goujons and potato wedges, past 11 pm.

Things are Moving in the Right Direction

Even though the London nightlife scene is thriving, the strict restrictions are making it difficult for some operators to stay open through the night. Greggs is just one example, and to build a solid 24-hour infrastructure, it’s more than just bars that need to stay open. Theatres, transport links, cinemas and more all need to unite and offer extended opening times. Even though London isn’t quite a 24-hour hub for entertainment just yet, things are moving in the right direction. Data has shown that pubs and nightclubs open 24 hours grew from 81 in 2012 to 183 in 2022. The hospitality industry in London shows that revenue grew to £46bn just last year, a £3bn increase from 2019. Figures show that London is outpacing other cities in the UK too, growing on average 7.7% a month, compared to a national average of 5.6%.

So London isn’t quite a 24-hour economy yet, especially in terms of hospitality and entertainment. With that being said, things are shifting, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see London granted the status in the coming years.


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