How to get exposure right in night photography?

In this link there are some wonderful night time scenes (#4,6,7,9,10,11,13). I’m wondering how the photographer got the exposure right. In my experience my camera metering will overexpose everything once it gets darker.

Would the photographer have used a manual setting and just hope it was right, or are there some metering settings that work in low light conditions?

What are the options?