The days when Edinburgh’s nightlife was a bit tame and locals went to Glasgow for a decent night out are long gone. Edinburgh is booming and its nightlife is following suit with well-heeled locals fuelling a scene that is bolstered by a steady stream of tourists throughout the year. There is no one set area for nightlife with George Street in the New Town, the High Street area of the Old Town, the university sector and the Grassmarket all popular haunts. Broughton Street tends to attract a ‘mixed’ clientele, while the seaside quarter of Leith is popular with the trendy set. The city’s pubs range from traditional taverns with hundreds of years of history behind them, to slinky modern style-bars. After pub closing time, Edinburgh’s club scene offers everything from easy listening to the latest progressive trance, via 1970s and 1980s revival evenings. Live music can be heard everywhere from intimate pubs to the huge Murrayfield Stadium.
Some clubs may require smart dress and alcohol can normally be purchased until 11pm. Certain pubs and bars may stay open until 1am, café-bars and restaurants until 3am and clubs until 3am (until 5am during the festival). The legal drinking age is 18. Drink prices vary enormously, depending on the venue – beer varies between £2 to £3 per pint.
Nightlife listings are provided in The List magazine, available in newsagents.
Bars: Some good traditional pubs are Bow Bar, 80 West Bow, and Café Royal Circle Bar, 17 West Register Street (which also features great seafood). There are plenty of pubs lining Rose Street (a pedestrianized road behind Princes Street) but the Victorian grandeur is often blighted by hen and stag parties. Also worth trying is The Canny Man’s, 239 Morningside Road, with its highly unusual bric-a-brac décor – beware as cameras are banned. More stylish places to hang out include the Malmaison Hotel Bar, 1 Tower Place, Leith, Ricks, Frederick Street, the Opal Lounge and the Candy Bar, both on George Street, and Indigo Yard, Charlotte Lane. Depending on your favorite tipple, go to the Malt Shovel, Cockburn Street, or The Bow Bar, The West Bow, Victoria Street, to sample whisky; the Cask and Barrel, 115 Broughton Street, for real ale, or Bar Kohl, 54 George IV Bridge, to work your way through the many vodkas on offer. A popular new meeting place is the Villager, 49-50 George IV Bridge. Leith offers everything from raffish old pubs like the Port o’ Leith, 58 Constitution Street, that are not for the faint hearted through to bright style bars like Bar Sirius, Dock Place.
Casinos: The Berkeley Casino, next to the Caledonian hotel, at the west end of Princes Street, and Gala Casino, Maybury junction, 10 minutes from Edinburgh airport, both require membership, which takes 24 hours to clear. A passport or a driver’s license is required for proof of age (over 18 years only). Dress code for both casinos is smart-casual – Gala does not allow blue jeans, sportswear or trainers.
Clubs: Edinburgh’s club scene is lively and clubs quickly fall in and out of fashion. The Honeycomb, Niddry Street, and Cabaret Voltaire, 36-38 Blair Street, are fairly hip. The Cavendish, 3 West Tollcross, caters for an older crowd and specializes in roots and reggae with dedicated African and Latin nights. Opal Lounge on George Street and Peppermint Lounge, Chambers Street, are also popular. During the festivals in August a number of impromptu events spring up – check with The List magazine at all times of year for the latest listings or check out the local record shops for flyers.
Live Music: The Royal Oak, 1 Infirmary Street, is an unpretentious folk bar, while Sandy Bell’s, 25 Forest Road, also has informal folk sessions. Eighty Queen St, 80 Queen Street and Henry’s Jazz Cellar, 8 Morrison Street, both feature live jazz while Bannerman’s, 212 Cowgate, regularly features new bands. Whistlebinkies, 4-6 South Bridge, is a well established live music bar, with bands playing every night. Check The List magazine for fortnightly (weekly during the August festivals) listings.
See more information on the next page... (next)