We all remember our student days fondly, but – despite the occasional pang of nostalgia – we really, really don’t want to go back there.
Nowadays, chugging bottles of Lambrini at someone’s grubby flat before stumbling to the cheapest (and therefore stickiest) club in town to flail our limbs wildly in a sweaty room doesn’t sound like a bundle of fun. Thankfully, now our budgets stretch that little bit further, we can set our sights a wee bit higher.
If you want to keep things classy on your next Edinburgh night out, give The Hive a swerve and try out one of these adult-friendly clubs and late-night bars instead.
Off the beaten track (but, regrettably, not much of a secret these days) Bramble is an effortlessly cool, speakeasy style bar for cocktail connoisseurs – absolutely no pub golfers in sight. With super friendly staff and some pretty great hip-hop beats, this place is far from stuffy, but it’s (blissfully) not really aimed at students either.
16a Queen Street, EH2 1JE – bramblebar.co.uk
Still keen to pull some shapes? Oh, all right then. Location-wise, Cab Vol is literally three minutes walk from Hive, but in terms of vibe, it couldn’t be further away. This club, bar and general hang-out has edgy music (no cheesy tunes in sight) and a laidback feel, whether you’re starting or ending the night here.
36-38 Blair Street, EH1 1QR – thecabaretvoltaire.com
The Jazz Bar
For eclectic live music and an exclusive atmosphere, head to the often overlooked Jazz Bar. Open until 3am every night of the week, here you can dance the night away to everything from jazz and funk to soul and blues music, performed live by bands from all over the world. The small entry fee puts off time-wasters and guarantees you a great night.
1a Chambers Street, EH1 1HR – thejazzbar.co.uk
The Bow Bar
In the unlikely event that you used to drink whisky on nights out in your youth, it’s probably fair to assume that it wasn’t very good whisky. As a grown-up (technically speaking, at least) you’ve now got the means to indulge in some of the finest strains of Scotland’s national tipple. If you’re so inclined, The Bow Bar is a great place to start, with more than 300 single malts behind the bar.
80 West Bow, EH1 2HH – thebowbar.co.uk
Heads & Tales
Another not-so-secret speakeasy, Heads & Tales under The Rutland Hotel is a plush and polished venue to go for a few civilised cocktails. And then a few more, of course. Let queuing at the bar for hours become a thing of the past, with Heads & Tales’s attentive table service and bookable booths for larger parties. You might pay a little extra, but it will immediately suck the stress out of an otherwise enjoyable evening. Heaven.
1a Rutland Place, EH1 2AD – headsandtalesbar.com
The Rat Pack Piano Bar
Open ’til late (3am) in the West End, The Rat Pack is a modern take on the classic live piano jazz bar. Although it does get busy over the weekends, this is a great spot for a mid-week cocktail and a catch up. The prices are reasonable, the performers are really talented and you’re guaranteed to have fun, whether you leave at a reasonable hour or make a real night of it.
9 Shandwick Place, EH2 4RG – facebook.com/TheRatPackPianoBar
From gigs and DJ sets to cracking ceilidhs, there’s always something going on at The Caves – one of Edinburgh’s most unique and beautiful underground venues. Rustic and stone clad, the place is much more appealing to us than the majority of the city’s generic nightclubs. Plus, since it’s hidden away in the Old Town, this one’s still a bit of a hidden gem.
8-10 Niddry Street South, EH1 1NS – unusualvenuesedinburgh.com
Ooh, posh. Believe it or not, The Dome is for life, not just for Christmas. The majority of young whippersnappers will be scared off by the grandeur of this place, but a drink at the bar won’t set you back much more than it would at any other George Street establishment, and the surroundings are truly stunning.
14 George Street, EH2 2PF – thedomeedinburgh.com
The Bongo Club
An important part of Edinburgh clubbing history, The Bongo Club has been around for two decades now. Safe to say, the place isn’t just a passing fad for trendy teenyboppers – you’ll find people of all ages here. All of Bongo’s regular club nights (featuring everything from electro to hip-hop) are – as the kids would say – always on point, so check the listings and see what you fancy.
66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX – thebongoclub.co.uk
With a sprawling bar downstairs and a ceilidh-meets-club-room upstairs, Ghillie Dhu is a roomy retreat for the slightly more mature crowd that fully intend to drink and dance you under the table (in that order) but just need a quick sit down first. Grab a booth that backs onto the bar and get served without even having to move a muscle, before heading upstairs for an impromptu ceilidh and disco dancing until 3am.
2 Rutland Street, EH1 2AD – ghillie-dhu.co.uk
The Bon Vivant
It’s not open late, but The Bon Vivant is a great place to start your night. Who can stay awake much past 10pm these days, anyway? This place is a restaurant too, but you can pop in just for a drink with your mates and enjoy the bustle. Tucked away on Thistle Street, the bar’s classic and cosy decor will make you feel right at home. Their cocktail list is huge and reasonably priced – plenty to discover.
55 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY – bonvivantedinburgh.co.uk
Stunningly presented, Tigerlily is a chic cocktail bar, with plenty of space for groups of friends out celebrating a special occasion or just another weekend – no judgement here. While it’s not a club, the bar is open until 1am, so you can keep the party going without having to change location or lose your table.
125 George Street, EH2 4JN – tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk
99 Hanover Street
This one’s pretty straightforward to find, located at (you guessed it) 99 Hanover Street in the city centre. More popular with young professionals than students, 99 Hanover somehow manages to maintain a chilled out ambience, even when packed to the rafters with a resident DJ on the decks – perhaps because its vibe is somewhere between a Parisian burleseque show and your granny’s sitting room. With more alcohol, of course.
99 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ – 99hanoverstreet.com
Elegant without being pretentious, The Westroom has a chic, modern feel and a wide drinks selection. If you work in the West End, this place is perfectly located for a post-work drinks session that has the potential to go on until 1am at the weekends. Just because you’ve got a grown-up job now, it doesn’t mean you can’t still party like a pro.
3 Melville Street, EH3 7PR – thewestroom.co.uk
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Main image: mrpolyonymous / Flickr / CC