Venue Review – Gem Bar, Carnaby Street

Now here’s a place that I’ve been too COUNTLESS times over the years on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays – for good reason! On Carnaby Street/Beak Street, in between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, it’s an ideal spot for anyone looking for a late-night post-dinner drinks/dancing venue to go to, no matter where you are in or around Central London.

It’s a place that’s split into two distinct areas – the Bar area on the Ground Floor as you enter, and a Club area downstairs.

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The Main Bar as you enter, is pretty expansive – lots of tables/stools dotted around in the middle of the Bar, and seating booth areas all along the outside. The Bar area itself, along the far-end of the room is quite big with a wide variety of drinks/cocktails/spirits and it’s well serviced. Beyond that at the back are the tucked-away special/VIP booths, with a hidden corenr/alcove section that has table-tennis (or beer pong) during the early evenings. It’s layout is quite ideal for you and friends to pop in for a quick drink or for birthday gatherings, etc as it’s not too noisey (the music coming from the Club downstairs is echoed through to the Bar) and not really too packed/busy, cool/funky decor and good lighting, with a nice vibe. In addition, unlike the layout of most basement bars, it’s well-windowed, and you’ll be able to from the outside the atmosphere (and where your friends are) before you actually get in which is quite handy

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At the far end of the Bar is a somewhat narrow staircase that goes down into the Club area. It’s noticeably a lot darker, with a few main spotlights/lighting effects. In the evenings/nights, in this section and there are 4/5 booths along the outside of the dancefloor (normally reserved for stag/hen parties, everytime I’ve been) and always a good crowd, with the usual mix of people in London on a typical night out. The DJs play a lot of crowd-pleasing pop/disco/90s favourites, with a big dancefloor too, with enough room to move around between the Bar, the Dancefloor and the booths – and doesn’t feel like a sweatbox, no matter how many people are there. The Bar area in this section takes up a bit of space (and conveniently it’s as you enter, rather than at the back), and no different in terms of service and drinks selection. It’s also stays open very late (until 3am on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays) and there is a good vibe throughout.

It should be noted too that this is one of the few venues I’ve been too that has great service – the Door, Bar and Cloakroom staff are great/quick, as well it should be noted that one time I went there they took really good care of some disabled guests by making enough room for their wheelchairs in the Bar, which was fantastic to see, so it’s a place I really do recommend.

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