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Retro Bar, Strand

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user reviews of the Retro Bar, Strand

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Rude bar staff.
Ollie_h - 7 Sep 2011 13:01
My friend and I always enjoy going to the Retro. We meet many friendly people and enjoy the special nights. There is a trivia night as well as a games night. This is where they bring out board games and customers are welcome to play them! They have other special nights as well. Although this place is hard to find you'll most certainly not forget where it is (depending on how much you imbibe I suppose).
JackCoke - 30 Jun 2011 23:00
Went on Saturday for a friend's birthday. There was a function downstairs so we were squeezed in on the second floor which was rather cramped. It also meant only one toilet (rather manky) cubicle on the 3rd floor for the gents which was blocked for a fair while at one point by a drag queen preparing herself. No ale on tap but they had bottles of Waggledance in the fridge. Staff friendly and music was good. Odd that it called time at 11pm which is something you don't expect these days for a bar in Central London but I suppose with G.A.Y. now around the corner, they would have less custom if opening later as people drift away to queue for the club.
DuchyBoy - 13 Sep 2010 08:29
It's a smashing little bar. Decent music, nice atmosphere, not too pricey.
roymondo - 8 Jan 2009 22:07
Me and my friends stumbled on this place accidentally. The excelllent music being played by the DJ lured us in. Good quality beer and while none of us are gay, we had a good time.
DickiedeVere - 1 Dec 2008 16:29
This place is one of my fave bars in London. Gay or otherwise. For Central London the drinks are really reasonably priced and there is always somthing going on. The Music Quiz on a Tuesday is not to be missed!
It does seem cliquey at times as alot of the regulars know each other and come in on a daily basis.
Its the perfect place to come for an after work drink and the juke box is fab. MOST of the bar staff are friendly and i recomend everyone give it a try.
It is also the only gay pub to appear in TIME OUT's top 50 bars in London list!!
BettyBlue - 15 Sep 2008 16:06
One of the biggest crap holes I've ever had the misfortune of visiting. Made me remember exactly why I no longer bother with central London gay bars.
crabpaste - 19 Nov 2007 19:57
Of all the dreadful gay venues in the West End, this is probably one of the best. However Wendy is not the cheeriest of landladies, and it suffers from the "gay beer" syndrome: no one can explain how "gay beer" differs from "straight beer", other than the fact it costs significantly more.

No real beer of course, not even in bottles (if the Vauxhall Tavern nightclub which caters to much the same crowd can make Spitfire and London Pride work, why can't the Retro Bar?).

I'm coming to the opinion that the Halfway to Heaven is a better bet, but honestly, when you have The Harp just over the other side of the Strand (a sublime pub), how much do you need a specifically gay pub at all?
ghostwheel - 25 Oct 2007 18:36
Very mixed gay bar, a bit cliquey but I'd imagine because of its success it attracts the same crowd over time. Friendly bar staff of all ages and a good selection of music bordering towards the more indie and rock sound, although hosts a Eurovision night once a month. Good selection of drinks, good quizzes and excellent random DJ nights. Can get overly busy at times but spread over two floors means you can usually escape to a table. Used to be incredibly smokey, I'd imagine that isn't a problem now. Recommended.
DarJoLe - 3 Jul 2007 16:43
You are love this place or hate it ... personally I'm in the middle right now but only becuase some tosser satting blowing cigar smoke over everybody last night ... the landlady is perfectly pleasant, the staff work their butts off. Overall its a great place, I mean where else can you suddenly be assaulted by "Wanted" by The Dooleys. Its very name gives it away. If it's not your kind of pub don't visit again and don't just slag off for the sake of it. There have been nights in there I have found it too loud and smoky and others where that's exactly what I want. As for the music selection ... my mates can usually identify every track (not being quite as trendy I only get the Dooleys) ... but it's great to hear something that isn't so charty!!!
anonymous - 14 Jan 2007 10:07
I've tried to make conversation with the landlady on two occasions, and both times she barely looked me in the eye and tried desperately to get back to the bunch of regulars at the bar.

It really is a "locals" bar. Outsiders will definitely feel like outisders, but regulars will insist it's very friendly and welcoming (see previous comments). You need to be a certain type of person to enjoy this bar, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Probably best if you're a wannabe indie kid.
anonymous - 15 Dec 2006 14:08
Nice pub. A gay friend took me there originally. Liked the 80s-biased jukebox.

Took a female friend there more recently and she loved it too.
edrok666 - 10 Dec 2006 11:02
i just wanted to defend it against the bloke who said it was always eurovision night, that happens only once a month (i think the second thursday of the month) and even then you can go upstairs and avoid it
lex1 - 7 Dec 2006 16:43
For a gay place, it's utterly lacking in pretention or sleaze, and as a result gets quite a mixed crowd. The barstaff are friendly as hell, and Wendy does a great job keeping the place going. And to the idiot who queers off about Justin Bond and the Scissor Sisters, are you the kind of person who sits there, bitterly not being a part of something because you love taking that sense of righteous bitterness to the internet?
disappointment - 6 Dec 2006 11:11
This is easily the best pub in central London. An Oasis away from the hectic madness of Soho, Covent Garden and the Strand. The place is relaxed and friendly.

To the idiot who says Wendy is unfriendly, perhaps you should realise that interaction is a two way thing. She may not be one of those annoying loud people that you obviously think makes a good landlady, but she's actually very friendly. You could try speaking to her; I know it's not the done thing in London, but go on give it a go. Try asking her a question about a track on the jukebox - you may find yourself struggling to get away.
MBurgin - 1 Oct 2006 16:00
the name says it all,very 8o,s.nice smallish bar tucked up a alley .great music (if u like 70 & 8os music}.good service and beer.loads of board games everywhere the last time i went.
toklad - 31 Jul 2006 12:18
I like the pub, but only just after it opens when you can get a seat and it's not overly smokey. The beer is good and the staff are friendly and the place is clean, sorry to moan but it could do with another ladies loo! OK for the odd pint efore going on somewhere - saying that, I've had a few good evenings in there!
FuzzyKipper - 6 Jun 2006 20:44
Friendly place with good bar staff and a friendly land lady. Not the best pub, but not a bad place either!
theadz01 - 6 Mar 2006 10:25
strange one. the actual bar staff are very friendly and helpful and the pub looks good. However, the prices are 20p or so more than they should be, it does get packed, people seem to be in cliques and if you're not wearing the identical indie look people look down at you. the land lady Wendy is supposedly meant to be lovely but unless one of the Scissor Sisters/Justin Bonds of the world are in town and stopped by for a drink she sits in the corner, looking almost like she wishes nobody was there!
anonymous - 3 Feb 2006 16:20
I really can't understand what everyone loves so much about this place. The last time I went it was cramped, smokey, VERY cliquey, and most of the clientele looked identical wearing awful clothes in what I can only assume was an attempt to look "indie". The landlady looked miserable and apparently won't engage in conversation unless you're one of the "in crowd". That said, the service was good and they've got a good selection of draft beers (although I seem to recall that the prices were a bit steep - could be wrong though). It's a Mitchells and Butlers pub, but I prefer their other gay venue across the road (Halfway to Heaven). Depends what you're into I guess.
anonymous - 5 Sep 2005 14:26
Have only been twice, but both nights it was "Eurovision night"! I think that pretty much sums this place up.
rah - 2 Jun 2005 14:19
Genuinely fantastic place... been going there on and off for four years and never had a crap night. Love coming near last in the pub quiz on Tuesdays (except once... when we won). One of the only pubs I would travel miles to get to voluntarily. Wendy is possibly the best landlady in the business - she should be made a life peer for services to drunkeness.
sifr - 21 Mar 2005 20:32
Without a doubt, the very best pub in the whole of London. A 'local' with an atmosphere that's so addictively friendly you'll be back time and time again. The landlady Wendy makes an effort to try and remember the names of everyone who goes along to the Retro Bar, which really does add a personal touch. Don't be worried about going along if you're straight - this gay pub is about as 'non-gay' as you're ever likely to find. The only thing you HAVE to be to have a fun time at the Retro is a fan of great music...!
pauldcondon - 17 Jan 2005 17:00
Fantastic pub. Great atmosphere, great music, lovely landlady and friendly staff. Equally friendly to male/female, gay or straight. I even came here before my hen night with a bridesmaid and another friend and forgot to leave until it shut
patsy - 17 Dec 2004 15:59
Retro is a fantastic pub. Very friendly staff and customers, mixed gay/straight male/female. Got to be my favourite drinking place in London.
Alex - 17 Nov 2004 14:39
This a great, down-to-earth, gay/straight pub. Something for everyone! The karaoke night is a real laugh and the compere is gorgeous! Shame my rendition of Heart of Glass got a boo though!
Pippa - 30 Sep 2004 13:33
and they didn't throw us out for being very bawdy on too many bottles of champagne and shots of tequila...but only cos it ws the afternoon and ther weren't that many people there fr us to upset.
demolitionred - 28 Jul 2004 05:53
The best pub in central London, only down side is the lack of real ale. Excellent juke box, nice staff and a fab landlady. Would go every night if that wouldn't end up inflicting serious liver damage on my body.
Simon - 6 Jul 2004 17:47
Ah yes, great place to take those straight friends who are still - even in 2004 - nervous about going to a gay bar. Break them in gently, eh? Very laid-back, very friendly indeed, very very pubby. The upstairs bar has lost a bit of character since its refurbishment, but that's not much of a complaint. This is, though: getting a signal on your mobile is near-impossible because it's down a narrow alleyway. Actually, no mobiles - that's actually a plus, isn't it?
G - 9 Feb 2004 16:03
Good, friendly service with a low staff turn-over, good music, no tip trays or chuppa-chump sellers clogging the toilets!!!
Blair Wright - 17 Sep 2003 16:44
My favourite pub in the whole of London - genuinely friendly atmosphere. Go there more than twice and the bar staff will make the effort to remember who you are. Great selection of events - pop quiz, karaoke, D.I.Y. DJ nights, guest club DJs, etc.

A 'gay' pub that's equally welcoming to men, women, gay or straight. Well worth a go!
Paul - 15 Jul 2003 12:29

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