I am afraid I have to agree with patrick o. This used to be a near-legendary venue, a cruisy and busy gay bar catering for the age ranges that had grown out of their Soho years (charmingly nicknamed 'Elephant's Graveyard' for that reason), and still wanted the occasional fun night out - maybe along with a few younger patrons, representing the commercial-minded spirit for which our capital has always been famous.
At some point (one of the many changes of management?) they started to 'tidy up' their act, invested in some new furniture and lighting, to give it the ambience of an upmarket Whetherspoons/down-market All-Bar-One, and got rid of the murkier corners that used to make it a fun place for the gay crowd that was there for a pick-up. They introduced a few drag show nights, to make it listable in 'respectable' gay publications, installed CCTV in the loos and started to encourage straight shoppers to visit by 'toning down' the gay side, and now the downstairs bar is largely closed on the fewer and fewer occasions I happen to drop in. That may all be understandable from a management point of view in the time of an economic crisis, but it has effectively destroyed a great gay venue.
Unfortunately their cost-saving policy has also resulted in constantly low staff levels, with high staff turnover, so that you're often served by total (miserable and stressed-looking) newbies who can make you wait for anything up to 20 minutes on a not particularly busy afternoon or night. In the early evenings there are now often more groups of jolly women than men (nothing wrong about that, just a bit strange, considering that this place wants to be a gay venue), and I have seen it half-dead on a Saturday night, and I'm not picking up the Elephant's Graveyard image again. There will always be the groups of gay OAPs for whom this has been their regular for decades, making a half pint last the whole evening, but even their numbers seem to be shrinking. So maybe, as a consequence, they should just get rid of that rainbow flag at the entrance altogether, and start to market themselves as an extension of Primark?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.