There’s a reason Newcastle upon Tyne is so popular for stag and hen dos – there’s no better place for a bar crawl
If you’re planning a serious night out in Newcastle, make sure you’re booked into a hotel with a comfy bed and good windows. Then you can shut out the roar of hundreds of revellers, as they hoover up the city’s legendary atmosphere as thirstily as its Brown Ale, and recover from your own revelling in peace.
You’ll certainly need a good night’s sleep. The Grey Street Hotel, slap bang in the heart of the city and just across from the station, is just the place. The muted browns, creams and soft, deep purples of the rooms here are perfect to help you relax and recoup. Everything is designed to be easy on the eye, so you can luxuriate without brash colours and sharp edges assaulting your senses.
It boasts that it is Newcastle’s original boutique hotel, and the attention to detail in my room shows the place is keen to stay ahead of the growing competition. The beds are designed for your body to melt into, and dressed in pure Egyptian cotton sheets. The toiletries are by nicherange, specially created for the hotel chain, and the waffle bathrobes add an extra touch of luxury. It all helps to prepare you for a night on the Toon.
There are so many fantastic bars around Newcastle, and more opening all the time, that it is hard to go wrong. I started right next door to my hotel in The Living Room. One of the restaurant's cosy leather booths is the best place in which to enjoy fresh tasty starters like garden pea and mint soup, and mains like roasted sea bass served with buckwheat noodles and oriental greens. Yum.
For an after-dinner cocktail, I headed to the tiny, bustling Popolo on Pilgrim Street. If you were looking for, say, someone to play Tom Cruise’s role in a remake of Cocktail, you could do worse than to scout the talent here. Ice shakers are thrown and caught while the sounds of chopping, crushing and general showboating fill the air. Like most bars in Newcastle, from the ‘old man’ variety such as the Bee Hive in the Bigg Market to those that attract the flash men in suits and gorgeously glossy lasses, it is just fun.
Coco V, tucked away from the main road on Forth Street, is a safe bet for late-night drinks if you do not fancy a club. And you shouldn't have to wait too long for a seat, either – the place is so well hidden, many people seem to overlook it. A couple of steps away is The Forth, which serves some nice foreign beers and, like many places in the city now, has a roof terrace where you can smoke without freezing to death. By far the best I saw, though, is at Tokyo on Westgate Road. The decked, semi-sheltered seating area on the roof is busier than the bar downstairs.
The raft of classy late-night bars has overtaken the club scene, although there are still a few choices. The Powerhouse, on George Street, is the town’s biggest gay club, but the cheesy, poppy music makes it a haven for anyone who is too uncool for school. If you consider yourself the opposite, the independent World Headquarters, hidden behind an old bus station in Carliol Square, is the venue for you. With funky soul and Motown tracks played in a virtually dark room, this place is too cool for nursery.
After trawling and crawling my way around the Toon, I was finally knackered and ready for bed. And, passing the mile-long queue of merry/rowdy/angry people waiting for taxis home, I felt smug in the knowledge that my home for the night was just around the corner.