Newcastle upon Tyne Nightlife Tips by toonsarah Top 5 Page for this destination
Newcastle upon Tyne Nightlife: 65 reviews and 67 photos
The Centurion claims to be the most beautiful station bar in the country, and was voted 'Newcastle's most impressive watering hole' by the Observer newspaper. I haven't been able to check all the country’s station bars (!) but it would certainly be hard to beat. It started life in 1839 when it was commissioned by George Hudson (the Victorian "Railway King") to be the best first class lounge of any station in the world. The interior was designed by local architect John Dobson and is decorated with tiles made in Leeds and valued today at over £38 million! The lounge was in use until the 1960s when it closed, and the for a while the space was used by British Transport Police as holding cells. Despite its Grade 1 listed status, British Rail destroyed parts and painted over the tiles in a lurid red.
It was rescued in 2000 and restored for use as a pub, and is today one of the most popular places in the city for a drink, and an almost obligatory stop for a farewell pint for any departing Geordie. It serves a full range of the usual drinks and pub foods, and has screens showing live football and other sports, as well as occasional live music.
The pub also has a deli / café attached, on the station side, selling decent sandwiches and salads etc. to eat on the premises or takeaway – useful to take on the train as they are rather superior to on board catering!
Dress Code: A casual place, especially given that many customers will be dressed for travelling and carrying luggage.
Address: Central Station, Neville Street, NE1 5DG
Directions: There are entrances from inside the station and from Neville Street
Theme: Eating and Drinking
In the Lady Grey
It seems that at any given time we will have a favourite Newcastle pub or two, but those favourites change every few years, as places decline or are done up, or the beer or food served changes, or simply because of new discoveries. The Lady Grey in Shakespeare Street falls into the first category. This used to be the Adelphi, a traditional pub popular with actors (the Theatre Royal’s stage door is just across the street) and football fans. We used to come here from time to time but wouldn’t have ranked it as a favourite. But in 2011 it underwent a transformation and became the rather elegant Lady Grey.
We have been here a few times now – at different times of day and for different reasons. We’ve had lunch a couple of times (they do great sandwiches, and the more substantial choices look good too, though we’ve not tried any of these yet). We’ve been mid afternoon on New Year’s Eve, when the atmosphere was lively but not as raucous as in some parts of the city. And we’ve been for a night-cap after dinner. On all these occasions we found the pub just to our liking – not too quiet or too busy, with friendly service and staff who are knowledgeable about the beers they serve.
And talking of beers, they have a great range and really take things seriously. We’ve had several good ones here on the various visits, but a couple that stand out are local ones – the Ouseburn Porter, and a wonderful Cherry Stout from the Tynebank Brewery. But if beer’s not your thing, or not what you fancy right now, they also have an excellent selection of wines (I had a super Rioja on New Year’s Eve) and all the regular drinks you might expect. There’s also a proper espresso machine if you would like a coffee.
Dress Code: As in most city centre pubs in Newcastle, you'll find that anything pretty much goes here. Some will be dressed to the nines for a night on the town (which could mean wearing very little at all!), some will be in business suits after a long day at work, some in casual wear or football strips etc.
Address: 20 Shakespeare St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6AQ
Theme: Eating and Drinking
View from the bar
I’m following my usual habit of putting pub tips under “Nightlife”, for want of anywhere better, although this is as much a favourite of ours by day as it is by night.
Firstly, I think this pub scores highly on location. It’s in the city centre but a little off the most beaten pathways – away from the shops (so a little quieter during the day) and from the focus spots for night-time activity such as the Bigg Market and Quayside. But it isn’t just this slightly off-path location that makes it a winner; it’s also its lofty perch above the River Tyne. And the pub makes the most of the views, with an outdoor terrace and a raised area inside which looks out over the river to Gateshead beyond. OK, maybe a view of Gateshead isn’t going to grab you, but with three of the Tyne’s famous bridges in the foreground there’s plenty to look at, and at night the lights of the city make the view even better.
But you could get a view from many places, I know. This is a pub and you want a drink! Well, if real ale is your thing you’re in luck, with a decent selection of regulars and a varied rotation of guest ales. In fact, the pub has been listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide every year since 1998. We sampled a wonderful hazelnut coffee porter from the Solitaire Brewery on one visit and were impressed enough to buy a second round of the same. Once you’ve chosen your drink there’s plenty of room in which to relax and enjoy it, and you can also admire the stained glass windows which depict various scenes linked to the surrounding area – the bridges, the houses stacked up on the steep river banks, boats on the Tyne etc (see photo 2).
There is Sky TV so you can watch the Toon on a match day and I imagine the atmosphere is as good as any other pub in the city though we’ve not been there to watch a game. Or for something a little different, I understand that there is a Folk Club here on a Monday evening.
A piece of trivia relating to the main photo – the rather ugly building on the Gateshead skyline is the Trinity Street multi-storey car park featured in the cult Michael Caine film “Get Carter”. Debate has raged for years about whether or not the car park should be demolished, with film buffs calling for its preservation and most locals viewing it as an eyesore and keen to see the back of it. See www.riskybuildings.org.uk/docs/04gateshead/ if you’d like to read more.
UPDATE Those who favoured demolition have won; those who campaigned to save the car park have lost. If you look at this view from the Bridge today, the car park will be missing.
Address: Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1R
Directions: A few minutes’ walk from the Central Station – turn right out of the station and fork right towards the High Bridge where you’ll see the pub right next door.
Theme: Eating and Drinking
The Classic auditorium
If you love film you’ll want to visit the Tyneside Cinema! The building that houses it dates back to 1937 and its design reflects the spirit of those times, when a “picture palace” was expected to transport audiences out of their humdrum lives into an exotic world where anything was possible. Nowadays its modern cinema, with four auditoria, focuses mainly on art films and world cinema, although mainstream releases are also shown. But this is more than just a cinema. There is a wide programme of events for film buffs, such as talks, quiz evenings and special screenings, and other cultural events including exhibitions, poetry evenings, live music and much more.
This is also a good place to come for a meal, and the “Tyneside Coffee Rooms” is a popular lunch-time spot with shoppers, “ladies who lunch”, families and local workers. Although I’ve not yet been myself, I’m told by a friend who is a member that the Tyneside Bar is great for cocktails or a glass of wine with friends, and is also the sort of place where a woman drinking alone will feel comfortable (sadly this isn’t yet the case everywhere in Newcastle). The four auditoria are licensed too, so you can easily enjoy a drink and a film at the same time. And a new (2014) coffee shop / bar / restaurant has opened up as part of the complex (in the space formerly occupied by the Barclays Bank which can be seen in my third photo) which as well as refreshments has free silent film screenings, quiz nights and other events (though so far we've only been here for a daytime coffee).
The Tyneside Cinema was originally built as Newcastle’s News Theatre in 1937 and today is the finest surviving news reel cinema in Britain. These news theatres were very popular in their day and did an important job at a time when there was no television news, bringing images from all over the world to ordinary people back home. My mother-in-law told me that when she and my father-in-law were “courting” in the 1950s a visit to the news theatre here was a cheap and popular evening out. For a few pennies they could watch not only the news-reels but also some cartoons and a travelogue or two. The Rhine cruise we took with her in 2010 arose from her reminiscences about these travelogues.
If you are interested in the history of the building you can take a free guided tour. These take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11.15 AM, and take you behind the scenes. Check the website below or call 0845 217 9909 to book. We haven’t yet done this, but it’s on my “things I must do some time soon” list! I’ll update this tip when I do ...
Address: 10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE
Directions: Only a short walk from Monument metro station – along New Bridge Street and first right into Pilgrim Street
Phone: 0845 217 9909
A beer with a view
If you follow the suggestion in my Off the Beaten Path tip and take a walk in Ouseburn, you might like to stop off at this characterful pub. It’s not fancy and it’s not smartly decorated, but it oozes atmosphere, serves a great selection of beers and has great views of the Tyne from both the pub itself and the small garden area opposite. Oh, and there’s a friendly welcome from both bar staff and the resident cat!
We have never eaten here but they do offer sandwiches and pies at lunch time. But really this pub is mainly about the beer. Many of the rotating selection on tap are from local breweries, while there’s also a good range of bottled beers from further afield, including Belgium. And if you’re not sure what to choose the bar staff will let you try a sample (of the tap beers, obviously, not the bottled!)
It’s also about the view. So settle down at the window with a glass and enjoy the river scenes below. You’ll be glad you came and will quickly forgive any lack of fanciness in the décor.
Address: St Lawrence Road, Ouseburn Valley
Directions: On the east side of the Ouse looking down on the spot where it enters the Tyne – easily visible from the Quayside footpath. The Q2 Quaylink bus stops nearby
Theme: Eating and Drinking
Update August 2014: this super bar has now sadly closed down but I'm leaving the tip for my own records only
Popolo describes itself as a “cross between a New York bar and an Italian coffee shop” so, given that New York and Italy are among my favourite places in the world, perhaps it’s not surprising that I love the atmosphere here. It’s open from late morning to late at night, and although we’ve enjoyed an afternoon coffee here before now, it’s in the evening that it really starts to buzz. It attracts a good mix of people – after-work drinkers, local “night on the Toon” groups, tourists, straight and gay couples ... Perhaps because it’s not the cheapest bar in town, or perhaps because it’s on the fringes of the party areas, it doesn’t seem to appeal quite so much to the Stag and Hen crowd, but that’s a plus in my view.
The décor certainly reflects the “part NYC, part Italy” claim, with retro diner-style bar and seating, US type bar price signs (those old-fashioned white clip-in letters) and large posters for Italian and Italian-language-version movies. There’s a large cocktail list and various special deals to be had, including a happy hour and day-specific offers (e.g. “Mojito Wednesday”, or “Tiki Thursday” with rum-based cocktails priced lower). The bar also offers a good range of beers, with some local real ales alongside UK and European favourites such as Staropramen. And of course there’s a full selection of spirits and wines.
On our latest visit (early evening on a Thursday) it was busy but not packed, and we were able to grab a seat in one corner to watch the buzz. I had a lovely summery cocktail, Basil Grande, with vodka, raspberry liqueur, crushed strawberries, cranberry juice and of course basil – very nice! And as it was happy hour it only cost me £3.95.
Dress Code: With such a mix of people you’d expect the dress code to also be mixed and relaxed, and it is. You’ll see everything from business suits to party frocks to jeans and t-shirts, and feel comfortable in any of these.
Address: 82 Pilgrim Street, NE1 6SF
Directions: At the lower end of Pilgrim Street, on the right as you walk down the hill
Theme: Eating and Drinking
This is a relatively new addition to the Newcastle drinking scene, so we came here for an early evening drink to check it out - and rather liked it. The atmosphere was friendly and there was quite a mixed clientele - more young than old, but not so much that we felt out of place. I had an excellent cocktail while Chris just had a pint of beer. As you might expect the beer was dearer than in a pub so I wouldn't come here just for beer, but if you want a more interesting venue than a pub, want to try the cocktails, or want something to eat (the menu looks very reasonably priced) then it's worth a visit. I'd also like to come back in nice weather as they have a terrace and I'm curious to see how good the view might be, if any.
Dress Code: Most people seemed to have made a bit of an effort; you won't go far wrong with "smart casual" however
Address: 88 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Directions: On the right-hand side of Pilgrim Street quite near the bottom
Phone: 0191 261 5656
Theme: Eating and Drinking
Happy Cats at the Irish Centre
If you get an opportunity to see local band the Happy Cats perform, I would recommend that you take it. We’ve seen them twice in the last year and had a great time on both occasions. The most recent was at the Tyneside Irish Centre, which although technically a “members only” club allows temporary admittance on payment of a £1 fee. A further £3 gained us admittance to the upstairs concert room where the band performed, and where regulars were friendly and welcoming.
The Happy Cats are a trio of musicians who combine Irish and local folk songs with some original numbers and well-known compositions by “singer songwriters” such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The lead singer Marty Craggs is especially accomplished, playing lots of different instruments (I love his drumming on the Irish bodhran) and interspersing the songs with dry Geordie humour.
The website below gives details of where and when they are playing.
Theme: Live Music
The Gate at night
I wasn’t sure whether to put this tip under “Things to Do” or “Nightlife”, or even “Restaurants”, as it covers all three, but since The Gate is at its liveliest at night I’ve chosen that option.
The Gate claims to be “Newcastle’s premier leisure and entertainment centre” and certainly tries its best to live up to that hype. Under its one roof you will find bars, restaurants, a 12 screen cinema and even a casino. During the day its restaurants and cafés are a good place to meet friends – indeed the Gate’s advertising slogan when it first opened was “Meet at the Gate”. We’ve had reasonable meals in Nino’s (Italian food – not fancy but OK and well-priced) and Ask (national pizza chain that’s a cut above the usual chain food). More recently we visited the Empire cinema for the first time and were very impressed by the comfort, facilities (excellent disabled access) and staff. We had been mistakenly given tickets near the front of one of the smaller auditoria, despite asking for the middle, and when I went back to ask to have them changed we were upgraded to the dearer seats further back as an apology!
Be warned – if you come here at night, especially Friday or Saturday, you’ll find yourself in “party central”. Newcastle didn’t get its reputation as the party capital of Europe for nothing, and while the traditional venues around the Bigg Market, and the more recent ones on the Quayside, still attract the majority of revellers, there are plenty left to fill the bars of the Gate and to spill onto the streets outside. If you aren’t prepared to run the gauntlet of Stags and Hens sporting strange attire and reeling under the influence of too much alcohol, perhaps you should stay away. But the crowds are largely (in our experience) harmless, and police look on in mild amusement most of the time, so this shouldn’t put you off unless you are of a very nervous disposition – although those of you who are, like us, of a “certain age” may feel yourselves very out of place in any of the bars after about 8.00 PM!
Dress Code: It's "de rigeur" in Newcastle to wear as little as possible at night, even in the depths of winter, so for young people party wear is quite normal - strappy tops and high heels for the girls, a trendy t-shirt and jeans for the guys. But really anything goes, so just wear what you feel comfortable in.
Address: Newgate Street, NE1 5TG
Directions: From Haymarket metro or bus station turn left onto Percy Street, which links in to Newgate Street, or walk down Grainger Street from the Monument until you find Newgate Street and turn right.
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