Wales – Breathtaking Booze Amongst Breathtaking Views
Shaped in Mother Nature’s image, with miles of scenic coastline, award winning beaches and fantastic national parks, Wales is a country full of visual splendour. Add that to the millions of stories created by human beings over the years, of druids, castles and conflict; industry and innovation, ‘England’s next door neighbour’ is a country immersed in history with, and has long been seen as a favourable holiday destination.
Three of Wales’ more prominent cities and towns include Cardiff, Swansea and Newport; playing a key role in the way that Wales is defined. Magnificent, modern architecture in the form of the Millenium Stadium, a plethora of superb views overlooking Swansea bay, and monuments steeped in history like the Caerleon Roman fortress; together with a thriving nightlife, with bars, clubs and pubs aplenty, make these areas a must-see for tourists and locals alike.
According to major travel website ‘Trip Advisor’, Cardiff is amongst the top three best value cities for a night out (yes a capital city that actually offers good value!). The city centre holds a multitude of drinking establishments just a ten-minute walk away (or a two-minute taxi ride if you’re feeling lazy!) from one of the countries biggest attractions, the Millenium Stadium, attracting over 1.3 million people on average per year. So if planned correctly, you can really make a day (and night) of it in this area of the city! Try some of the old, national favourites like Australasian-themed bar Walkabout, Revolution, the vodka bar and The Gatekeeper, part of the award winning JD Wetherspoons family, or take in some local flavours, such as Cocktail Lounge, Soda, City Arms, for the beer lover, and wine bar Café Floyds – the perfect place to relax and get away from Cardiff’s busy nightlife.
The area offers a range of bars to suit all tastes. Café Jazz is perfect for any jazz and blues fanatics (it’s in the name), whilst you can take a trip back in time with 80’s bar ‘Reflex’; sample some of that famed Irish charm at O’Neills or be transported to South America with Revolucion de Cuba. For entertainment of a more ‘erotic nature’, be sure to visit Fantasy Lounge, and for those that enjoy the weird and wonderful, look no further than Lab 22, the cocktail bar with a chemistry theme. As an added bonus, make sure you check out the various ‘Nightlife Passes’ on offer, and receive the VIP treatment and queue jump privileges from various nightclubs. There is also a thriving gay scene in this area of this city, with clubs like Pulse, who have hosted many illustrious artists, such as The Wanted, Charlotte Church and Alexandra Burke, alongside Bar Icon and drag themed club ‘Wow Bar’, providing something for everyone.
Like every big city, Cardiff has a booming student area; and where you find students, you generally find bars; just a six-minute drive away from the city centre, the Cathays area is rife with spectacular ‘drinkeries’ from which to kick back and unwind, or to let off some steam and go wild. From the traditional community pub ‘Flora’ to live music venue ‘The Globe’, take in some sport at Gassy Jacks, where chilling out with friends is the order of the day. For a night of sophistication, ambience and luxury, GLAM offers as good a night as any. Situated just a stones throw away from Cardiff University, the business offers two fantastic elements. Café bar ‘GLAM Boutique’ combines an exquisite tapas and pizza selection with a superb cocktail menu; no to mention a 2-4-1 deal all day every day! The GLAM nightclub caters for every eventuality. Whether you’re looking to relax in their decadent and comfortable seating area, or let loose on the dance floor, why not try out one of their champagne and booth packages? It’ll make your night extra special.
Situated amongst the splendour of Cardiff bay, Mermaid Quay offers a vibrant atmosphere with a number of waterfront bars from which to kick back, relax and enjoy the view. With floor to ceiling windows offering the best scenic views, snug sofas and roaring fires in the winter time, Salt is seen to be one of Cardiff’s most stylish bars. Step into sinful luxury in the form of the VIP Piano Lounge; with a broad Champagne list and a number of reasonably priced beers, wines and cocktails. The Terra Nova bar offers a more low key type of sophistication, with a full range of Brains cask ales and smooth beers alongside a good number of great wines and champagne, catering for both the traditional and modern tastes. For those comedy enthusiasts, The Glee Club is not to be missed out on; hosting a wealth of stand upcomedy shows, there’s laughs to be had all year. The venue also hosts a number of live music acts throughout the year.
Take a walk along Swansea Bay and sample it’s many delights, from amazing scenic views and fantastic natural beauty to a vibrant coastline with a fantastic atmosphere. The Mumbles area of Swansea bay is home to a fine selection of real ale pubs. Woodman Chef and Brewer, Park Inn and The White Rose stand alongside the Welsh pub of the year 2014, The Pilot of mumbles. Named in the top 16 pubs in Britain by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), The Pilot offers a selection of six fine cask ales alongside fine wines, ciders and a number of spirits, as well as a selection of quality Lavazza coffee, tea and hot chocolate. If you’re not happy finishing off at midnight, then make your way to Whitez. A three storey bar just a ten-minute taxi ride from the Mumbles area, it stays open until 3am and offers fantastic value on drinks amongst some sumptuous deals; it is home to a fantastic live music venue that has hosted such acts as Pete Doherty and Goldie Lookin’ Chain alongside such famed comedians as Jo Brand and Craig Murray. Additionally, there’s a pool hall (the perfect place to get one over on your mates), where they hold a tournament every Tuesday at 7:30 pm and ‘The Terrace’ on the top floor, a classic cocktail lounge with a modern design twist; take advantage of their 2-4-1 deal on an extensive cocktail menu between 3pm and 8pm.
If you’re looking for a party atmosphere to let your hair down, have a dance or to unwind with friends, then Wind Street is highly recommended! The centre of the nightclub scene in Swansea (and once a hangout for Welsh legend Dylan Thomas!), the strip has been aptly renamed ‘Wine Street’ by consumers due to the sheer nature of the street. Perfect for pre-drinking or having a relaxed night with friends, Yates’s sits atop the street offering a wide range of value-for-money beers, wines, ciders and cocktails alongside a quality food menu. Moving down the street, there are clubs to suit all flavours, from the Australasian ‘Walkabout’ (there’s that old favourite again!), known for a ‘dance ‘til you drop’ attitude, to the Pitcher and Piano, a comfortable, elegant bar with great live music every weekend and a huge selection of fine wines, premium draught, bottled beers and cocktails. Enjoy a retro night of 80’s music at Reflex or a night filled with sophistication at The No Sign Wine Bar. At the bottom of the strip you will find Revolution. Specialising in all things vodka, the nightclub offers a variety of shooters and cocktails to get the blood flowing and is the perfect finishing location for any bar crawl.
The Kingsway Centre is one of the most happening places in Newport; the area offers a diverse range of entertainment complex’s, from bars, pubs and clubs to theatres and art centres. On the doorstep of the centre lies the Dolman, a theatre run by the Newport Playgoers Society and home to the amateur drama, dance and musical societies. The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre can be found just a five-minute walk away in the opposite direction. Overlooking the River Usk, it is at the heart of the arts and entertainment scene in Newport. You’ll find a good number of bars and clubs just a ten-minute walk away from the complex, around the Newport Market area. Meze Lounge is a fully alternative club offering many different music genres from Rock to Indie, with a number of themed nights, from Crash on a Saturday offering a selection of Electro, Indie and DnB music to band night on a Thursday. The Queens Hotel is part of the Wetherspoons Chain, offering that great value-for-money drink menu that we all love, perfect for pre-drinking before going to one of the bigger nightclubs or just having a quiet drink with friends. For those into their cocktails, Rift & co is the perfect place! Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there are a multitude of drink offers, such as 2-4-1 cocktails at selected times and a range in beer prices from day-to-day; the bar also offers a varied entertainment set, from acoustic guitar on a Thursday to R’n’b, soul and hip hop with resident DJ Ash.
Residing on the northern outskirts of Newport, the suburban village of Caerleon is a site of considerable archeological importance, being home to such notable artifacts as the Roman Fortress, the National Roman Legion Museum and the Iron Age hill fort. The area is also home to a number of diverse bars, from sports bar ‘Minstrels’ where you can go and have a game of pool, to Boleros Wine bar for those grape enthusiasts. The Greyhound inn offers everything from live sport, to live music on a Saturday night (as well as a happy hour 4pm until 6pm Monday to Thursday), whilst St. Julian Inn offers a traditional Welsh bar experience. All of this (and much, much more) makes this area an attractive prospect for any potential visitor.
By Calum Dewsbury