Gone are the days of coal mines and shipping yards. Newcastle, UK is now the party capital of the north east of England.
Hundreds of thousands of people of all ages flock to the Tyne every year to have a good time. There’s a very loud nightlife waiting for you up there but one that some people might find a little too much for their taste. The expansion and development around the Quayside has given birth to a number of cool and trendy bars, which might have brought a slightly more discerning clientele to the city but it’s still all about booze and dressing to impress. If you’re after a more civilised day in Newcastle though, here are three best things on offer.
The Tapas lunch
One of the best places to eat in the entire city has to be El Torero on the street simply named The Side. The staff will certainly be on your side as soon as you walk in the door. With a friendly smile they will lead you to one of the cosy wooden tables in the candle-lit and beautifully Spanish feeling restaurant. It’s big enough to house plenty of people, but you’ll think you’re the only ones there.
When you receive your menus you’ll be staring at the War and Peace of the tapas world. The list of small dishes (all around £4) is as big as your appetite will have to be. It’s worth aiming at three dishes per person, to give you a rough idea of size. If you’re there for lunch then take advantage of the combined set menu option, which is not only very reasonable but also much easier than playing the memory game or doubling up on things. Just when you think you’ve been given all the dishes you ordered, the kind staff squeeze yet another bowl of spicy chorizos, or calamari onto your packed table. For a lunch that’s delicious, friendly and very affordable you won’t find a better restaurant in the whole city.
The best art at the Baltic
Don’t worry if you’re not Damian Hirst. Whether you normally like modern art or not, you’re going to be impressed with the (fairly) new Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. A former flour mill, the huge brick building on the Gateshead side of the Tyne looks like the Tate Modern in London’s little brother, and to some extent that’s a pretty accurate description. But, those of you who know little brothers, you’ll find it cooler, more up to date and altogether popular with more people.
The Baltic’s mission is to make modern art reach everyone. It’s fun, interactive, original and above all very interesting. There are never any permanent collections in the galleries, as the people at the Baltic like to introduce new work every other month and make sure each visit is different from the last.
It’s a wonderful place to wander into after your tapas. Totally free, you can saunter from floor to floor and room to room and one minute be in total darkness hearing sounds and seeing blurred lights from Turner Prize winning artist Steve McQueen, and the next be chatting to a taxidermists and an embalmer in a very ‘northern’ and interactive exhibition that literally gets people talking about anything and everything. The shop is brilliant for presents and the café is great for a sit down, a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Not to be missed and you get to walk across the new ‘blinking eye’ bridge too.
The best evening drinks at Nancy’s Bordello.
As mentioned above, bars are a hard one to please everyone with in Newcastle. In many cases it’s either triple shots and being sick in the toilets, or old blokes with old beers in old pubs. The best choice for everyone though has to be a hidden little treat called Nancy’s Bordello.
Just up the hill a bit from the Quayside and the Baltic, it’s billed as a world music bar and is about as comfortable and snug as you could get. Gone is the pretentious chrome, wide-open empty spaces and so-called funky-house and welcome home is the missed-matched lampshades, naff oil paintings, torn wallpaper, bookshelves and leather sofas. It’s a little bit like walking into your hippy mate’s parent’s house but without the smell of dust. It’s not old fashioned with the drinks or the staff though. Great cocktails, great service and great music. Even as the night draws in, you won’t notice anything become less cool in Nancy’s.
Top 3 Newcastle Hotels on Venere.com
- Hotel Clifton House – 3-star hotel – double room from £65
- Royal Station Hotel – 3-star hotel – double room from £75
- Carlton Hotel Jesmond Newcastle – 2-star hotel – double room from £50
Photo of the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, UK, by Wilka