Heaven Review | A once great club ruined by overzealous security

Review Updated in February 2017

Heaven is a superclub located underneath Charing Cross station and is one of the most famous gay night clubs in the world.  The club consists of 2 massive dance floors, 3 smaller rooms and 4 bars over 2 floors.

In my 5 years as a London resident I’ve seen Heaven turn from one of the most fun, enjoyable, stress free clubs into an absolute nightmare of a place. Granted, it still plays decent music and has a great variety of rooms and styles, however I truly believe it’s become a victim of its own success and people should find other places to get their camp fix.

 

heaven review

I first reviews Heaven nearly 3 years ago and gave it glowing praise. The drinks were cheap, the staff were mostly friendly and everyone was having a good time. This was all true back then and it was probably my favourite place to go clubbing in London.

Much has changed now and the staff are either non existent or rude, the place is packed to overcapacity, drinks have doubled in price and the vibe is very fake.

 

 

Heaven review

 

Heaven has been dubbed a superclub and whilst it is large by London club standards, is isn’t so massive that if you lost your mates you wouldn’t have a hope in hell of finding them again. The capacity of the club is just over 1800 and is usually full by 12am on weekends. You need to arrive between 11pm – 12am if you want any chance of getting in. After that there is usually a queue of several hundred people, many of whom will never make it into the club because it’s just too full. It would probably save everyone a lot of time if the staff just told those queuing 200 metres from the front entrance that they should find somewhere else.

There is a strict security regime in place at Heaven to combat drug dealing, you will be searched and patted down on your way in and the security guards are not to be messed around with. Whilst I don’t blame the door staff for their policies, the level of aggression they show to almost everyone is astounding. I’ve never had a bad encounter myself, but spend more than 5 mnutes near the entrance to the club and you’ll see what I mean.

You may be breathalyzed, your bag emptied, water bottles thrown away or even snatched from your hand. You’ll be pushed, shoved and shouted at for standing in the wrong place for 3 seconds. The job must be stressful, but seriously?

 

The Club

The club is split over 2 floors with each floor catering to a different music taste. There is also a smaller room on the ground floor with a more casual feel.  Heaven attempts to cater for everyone in one building and mostly succeeds.

Heaven review

This definitely isn’t a ‘sitting down’ club, so don’t expect to find a comfy chair or sofa to perch yourself on all night. There is seating available at Heaven, but it’s rare to find any unclaimed.

I must confess that I am a lover of the 90’s classics and no other club plays them in such abundance. You will find a range of music played on any one night in Heaven, the ground floor sticks to the camp classics, current chart toppers and 80’s/90’s hits, whilst you will find hints of D&B, house and electronica on the upper floor.

When you do make in into the club after the grueling security process, I recommend floating between the rooms to experience the contrasting atmospheres. Heaven also plays host to live music, and I don’t just mean some unknown bands forms 2 months ago, Heaven plays host to superstars on a regular basis.

If you didn’t know about Heaven before, you may be shocked to know that the club has had performers including Lilly Allen, Ellie Goulding, Lady GaGa (who decided to perform naked, obviously) and Miley Cyrus on their stage. In the past, Cher released her famous song Believe to packed crowds and the club helped a young Madonna launch her career. the also host many drag queen from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

 

Drinks

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a club? Grab a drink, right? Shouldn’t take too long, 10 minutes of waiting is reasonable, right? Try half an hour.

This is what I said in my last review of Heaven 3 years ago:

“In between tracks, you may want to pop to one of the 4 bar and grab yourself a drink. Fortunately this isn’t too much of a stressful experience at Heaven. Whilst the club is busy and you will have to wait to  be served, you shouldn’t be standing at the bar for more than 10 minutes”

Unfortunately this situation is now but a dream. You’ll now find around 5 separate bars in the whole club, previously each would be manned by 3 or 4 servers, however now there is only 1. With around 40 people at each bar waiting to order their 4 Jager Bombs, 3 shots and 2 Vodka & coke’s, you can imagine the length of time you’ll be waiting for your turn.

I’ve clocked half an hour before giving up in my most recent visit. If you have to queue for an hour just to get in, the least they could do is have enough staff so you don’t have to repeat the process again. I know the British love to queue, but this is ridiculous! After a recent refurbishment I can only imagine Heaven is trying to save money by cutting back staff, much to their detriment.

You may think a good way to remedy this is to have your drinks before you go out, but if the door staff detect you are even tipsy they will throw you out, right after they use their “breathalyzer” to prove you are “over the limit”. This happened to a friend of mine who I happened to be with at the time, I’d been with him all day and had a single pint before heading to the club. He tripped on someone in the very busy queue and was singled out to be breathalyzed in front of everyone. He was then told he was over the limit and told to leave. When exactly the “limit” is still isn’t clear.

Essentially Heaven wants to discourage anyone from drinking anywhere else, a few years ago they would only chuck out the trouble makers or people who were clearly wasted and posed a danger to themselves.

A double spirit will set you back around £5.50 last time I checked and a single £3.50. Not bad for literally the centre of London. However all is not as it seems. The drinks are of the poorest quality available and the “doubles” are clearly not. They use Smirnoff Vodka bottles that are filled with a cheaper brand, trust me as a bit of a Vodka Connoisseur I can taste the difference.

ONE bit of good news is that you can still get free entry into the club if you get a wristband from outside the partner club G-A-Y in Soho.

Summary

 

Heaven used to be great, now it’s closer to hell. The stress of getting in, getting you stuff into the cloak room and getting a drink is enough to make you want to leave immediately. This processes alone could take 2 hours. What’s the point? It’s no longer worth it. Yeah the music is good for a dance and there are always lots of people there, but the same can be said for a dozen other gay clubs in London that aren’t so draconian. Do yourself a favour and actually have a good night out in one of these other clubs: Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Ku Bar or the Dalston Superstore.

I may come across as bitter in this review, maybe I am. Bitter that one of my favorite places in London has been ruined. Yet everything I’ve said in this review is factual, if you don’t believe me check out the Heaven tripadvisor rating (2 stars, yeesh).

Heaven gets a lot of hype as being London’s best gay club, unfortunately it not longer deserves this title.

See also: Nights Out Reviews

 

London Writer and Blogger. Featured in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times.
2 Total Score
Closer to Hell

London's biggest gay club is stressful and not worth the entry price, even though it's free.

Music
7
Waiting times
1
Fun
2
Staff
1.5
PROS
  • Good Music
CONS
  • Aggressive Staff
  • 1-2 hour long queues
  • Drinks Expensive and Poor Quality
  • Only 1 Server per bar
  • A shadow of its former glory
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