I’m following my usual habit of putting pub tips under “Nightlife”, for want of anywhere better, but I have to confess to only having visited this one during the day! But Chris tells me it’s as good a drinking spot at night, so here goes …
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 (I’m told) 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 our latest 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.
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.
Situated just next to Grey's Monument, Legends is a multi-level club that is a bar before nine o'clock, and afterwards a nightclub proper. It features several levels on which are various bars and dancefloors, with different sounds on each, something that gives a night there plenty of variety, and also means that you can easily escape unwanted attentions. During the week prices are cheaper with a couple of themed nights on offer, but at the weekend it is a pricier and more 'serious' clubbing option.
Dress Code: Dress up if you don't want to be turned away, and it might be worth noting that the earlier you arrive, the cheaper it is to get in
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.
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.
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.
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 has 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. Our plans to take a Rhine cruise with her later this year (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 ...
The best of newcastle, although a bit out of the way..monday nights are brilliant- really good fun! queues can sometimes be rather long, but the music is worth the wait, there's a wide range and it's all fantastic!
Chase is one of many bars doon the Quayside..
If you want to escape the wild parties at the Bigg Market then this is the place to be ...A bit more upmarket with no sight of a Toon Top...
Situated beneath the Tyne bridge , very busy on a weekend ....popular nightspot for some of Newcastle United's young players
Dress Code: Smart dress is essential ...
for the ladies travelling on foot be careful with the choice of heels you wear ...walking down Amen Corner can be tricky as its very steep.....
I've had many a chuckle watching the ladies keel ower.....
Baha Beach club and the Tuxedo Princess are here ...both popular nightclubs ...cost around £10 to get in
Baha's disco is brilliant with top DJ's from Metro radio giving away prize after prize... the boat is also a good night ....watch the rotating dance floor .!! can be a bit of a challenge after a few broon ales....
Watch out for the Beggars on the Bridge
Dress Code: Dress up for these clubs ...Doormen are strict
Bars in railway stations are not usually places I recommend to visit but the Centurion Bar in Newcastle Station is a nice enough place to relax and have a drink, especially if have to wait around for a train or you’ve arrived on a long journey.
The bar is the station’s former first class waiting rooms and there are entrances from both the station and from Neville Street outside.
We stopped here for a quick pint after returning from a day-trip to Durham and again before the trip home to London. At 6 pounds for a beer and wine it's not cheap though they have a great selection of beers including Black Sheep, a good local bitter.
Yel is just one of many bars in the Bigg Market ...There are restaraunts, take aways and Kebab shops here ...
Popular for the younger ravers, very loud party atmoshere...Hen nights and Stag Dooz are also very popular ...
Dress Code: On a weekend it is wise to dress up as most places in this area don't allow Jeans
Offshore 44 is decorated to feel like a ship's chandlers, with ropes, nets, anchors, barrels, and sail canvas dotted around the place. It offers a good selection of wines and beers and is renowned for its reasonably priced cocktails.
Ikon began life as the Oxford when it was a dance hall. Because of this it is a massive building with a huge arched ceiling. At its best it's a modern, spacious club with a first class light and laser show.
I've had some cool nights in here and you can dance the night away or just chill out on the upper level looking down.
lots of bars but not very quick at getting the bottles back in.
Dress Code: Smart gear - dress to impress. Generally no jeans or trainers.
The biggest club in Newcastle, Ikon is a barn of a place. The focal point is the enormous dance floor, surrounded by bars and a balcony where you can either catch your breath or spy on potential dancing partners.
Dress Code: Although Ikon is not as upmarket as some places, you'll still need to dress smartly to get in and join the party people enjoying the latest House and Garage sounds. Keep your eye out for special guest appearances, and the legendary foam parties, which must be experienced at least once.
Our friends took us to see New Castle's Nightlife. We tried one place which was famous at the time. When we got there the doorman didn't let us enter because Cris was wearing sneakers. So we decided to try some other place.
Planet Earth was a great place. Great music and lots of room to dance.
Dress Code: Don't wear sneakers or any shoes which are quite similar or you can't enter famous places. Otherwice you can wear jeans and t-shirt etc.