you’re after a wee dram in a cosy pub, a microbrewery beer in a swanky bar or a
night filled with loud live music and dancing, Glasgow’s nightlife has
something for everyone.
The legendary city pub, The
Horseshoe Bar, dates from the late 19th century and is largely unchanged.
It’s a picturesque spot and, at nearly 32 metres, its Victorian bar is one of the longest in the UK. But
the main attraction is what’s served over it – real ale and some of the best
value pub grub in town (burgers from £5.50; 17–19 Drury Street).
In a quiet corner of the Merchant City area, Babbity Bowster is one of Glasgow
centre’s most charming pubs, in one of its noblest buildings (and indeed the
intriguing name comes from a dance popular at the time it was built). It’s
perfect for a tranquil daytime drink, particularly in the adjoining beer
garden, and service is attentive. There are also six en-suite bedrooms on the
second floor (mains from £10.50; 16–18 Blackfriars Street).
The friendly staff and chilled-out music at Blackfriars pub make it special.
They take their cask beer seriously here – with five regularly changing real
ales on tap, and monthly Meet the Brewer events – and have been rewarded by
twice being named Camra’s Glasgow Pub of the Year. The seating area with large
windows is great for people-watching (sandwiches from £4.50; 36 Bell St).
Bars and clubs
Set in a former cheese market, this baroque bar, music venue
and restaurant has to be seen to be believed. Arta
is opulent, cavernous and candlelit, with floor-to-ceiling velvet. Despite the
luxury, it’s got a relaxed vibe and a mixed crowd. There’s a decent list of
inexpensive cocktails too (62 Albion Street; Canvas Club Thu-Sat from 11pm;
Praise be and let’s give thanks: this converted church – and
an almighty one at that – is now home to Òran
Mór, a venue comprised of two bars, two restaurants and a club. The whisky
bar, with more than 250 malts to choose from, feels like it’s been here for
years: it’s heavy on the wood and thick, exposed stone, giving it warmth and a
celestial air. Club O is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11pm (top
of Byres Road; Club O free–£5 Thur, £6 Fri, £8 Sat).
An impressive domed ceiling, gold-leaf detailing, mosaic
flooring, sculptures and majestic chandeliers make Corinthian Club an awesome
five-floored venue. Originally a bank and later Glasgow’s high court, the regal
building houses the main bar, a plush club (downstairs in the old court cells),
a piano bar, casino and numerous private function rooms. You’ll want to get
dressed up to fit right in (191 Ingram St; Studio 191 Fri–Sat from 10pm; £5).
One of the city’s premier live-music pub venues, the
excellent King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut hosts
bands almost every night. It’s a small, intimate venue, allowing you to get up
close and personal with the acts, and is a showcase for new and emerging bands:
Oasis were signed here straight after a gig (272a St Vincent Street; from £6).
A one-stop culture/entertainment fix, The Arches, below Glasgow’s central
station, makes you feel as though you’ve discovered Hades’ bohemian underworld.
Not only one of the city’s biggest clubs, it also has a theatre showing
avant-garde productions and is an eclectic live music venue for everything from
folk and bluegrass to indie and LA prog rock (253 Argyle St; from £8).
An exceptional old dancehall, dating back to the 1930s and
with a huge luminous sign outside, Barrowland is now a
concert venue that caters for some of the larger acts that visit the city. It’s
a little rough around the edges but the place is dripping with history and the
atmosphere is incredible. This year sees dates for both The Specials and Nick
Cave (244 Gallowgate; from £20).
Ten miles west of the city, Glasgow Airport is well served
by easyJet, flybe and BA, which fly
from major UK cities (from £70 from London), and buses leave for the city every
10 or 15 minutes. National Express runs coaches from UK cities, and Megabus has competitive rates on buses from
London (from £2). Direct trains from London are quicker but more expensive (4.5
hours; from £70). Glasgow is easy to navigate on foot but there are also buses,
suburban trains and a Subway that serves 15 stations.
Where to stay
Hotel in Merchant City is the sort of place that every now and again
converts itself into a party venue, with DJs in the lifts and art installations
in the rooms. The 18 minimal rooms are priced by size, from pokey to penthouse
suite (106–108 Brunswick St; from £50).
The Alamo may
not sound like a peaceful spot, but that’s exactly what this great little
guesthouse is. Opposite Kelvingrove Park, it feels miles from the hustle of the
city, but the West End is within walking distance (46 Gray St; from £55).
Square is housed in a Georgian terrace and the ‘classic’ rooms look onto
the delightful square, but it’s quieter in the new wing at the back. There’s a
bar, restaurant and spa (11 Blythswood Square; from £120).
The article 'Mini guide to nightlife in Glasgow' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.