Clubs in Edinburgh Will Keep You Going Till the Wee Small Hours
Edinburgh has an extensive network of nightclubs with a broad range of music genres to suit all tastes. Whether you’re into up-market clubs, gay clubs, an eclectic mix of music, indie-rock, pop and dance, RnB or underground music, there is definitely something for you!
Surprisingly, it often seems to be the case that many people don’t know where to go to find their favourite music genre and party atmosphere.
My sister works in a bar and if she had a pound for every time she has been asked where the party’s at, well, she’d make more than the manager.
So I guess it’s time we set things straight and got people informed! I will give you the run-down on the clubs in Edinburgh worth checking out according to style and beats.
Clubs in Edinburgh tend to open at 10pm and close at 3am. However during the Edinburgh Festival, many clubs stay open until 5am to keep the insatiable crowds daylight when you go in and daylight when you leave…
Like most clubs in big cities, it’s cheaper or even free to get in to Edinburgh’s clubs before 11pm or midnight depending on the establishment. Drinks are often cheaper before midnight too, so make sure you check out the club’s promotions either before you go or when you get in there!
Clubs in Edinburgh tend to give you a stamp which allows you to leave and return at will. Many people arrive at the club at 10pm in order to pay the lower entrance fee or nothing at all and then go back to the pre-club bar until the dance floor is full. Not a bad plan at all…
I highly recommend carrying identification with you at all times even if you’re over 25 with a Tom Selleck moustache and loads of chest hair. The vast majority of clubs in Edinburgh have a very strict ID policy so take your driving licence or passport with you!
The same goes for dress code and large groups. I do not recommend trying to get in to an up-market or exclusive club wearing trainers. Turning up at a nightclub in a big group (especially men) will often cause you problems too. Bouncers tend to be wary (scared) of big groups of guys, so I recommend turning up in smaller groups.
If you love to get dressed-up, party in style and perhaps even rub shoulders with celebrities, head to George Street where most of Edinburgh’s up-market clubs are located.
At 125b George Street, New Town, below the famed hotel Tigerlily you will find the wonderfully opulent ‘Lulu’. The dance floor responds to the beat of the music and you will see Swarovski crystals glittering in the walls. Each night tends to bring a different musical direction and it’s no surprise that Monday night’s party is called ‘Decadence’. If you get there early (night’s usually start at 9pm) you can get in for free before 10pm.
On the same side of George Street(51a) but at the far end is the ‘Opal Lounge’, probably the most-renowned and up-market of all the clubs in Edinburgh and the number one choice for those with a reputation and those looking to build one.
The DJs are known for their ability to mix various musical genres to create an atmosphere that pleases everyone. The Opal Lounge is open 7 days a week and offers cheap entry before midnight and various drinks promotions.
If you’re looking for a club with a foreign vibe, look no further than ‘Shanghai’, Edinburgh’s ode to buzzing Chinese nightlife. This formerly pretentious club now boasts a varied clientele and even runs a great student night, Enigma, on a Tuesday. Saturday night may be fairly expensive at 10 for entry but you will be entertained by one of Scotland’s leading DJs, Scott Granger, who has remixed tracks for many top RnB and dance artists.
Shanghai is at 16a at the east end of George Street below the hotel and bar ‘Le Monde’.
Many clubs in Edinburgh try to tap into many different musical genres to satisfy as many of their guests as possible. These clubs are among the most popular in the city.
‘The Hive’ at 15 Niddry Street, Old Town, just off the Royal Mile does look a little bit like a beehive, I suppose. The low arched stone ceilings create an intimate, sweaty atmosphere especially when the club is full and the numerous separate sections and alleyways give the club an interesting layout and the scope to have a different vibe in each room. Fridays and Saturdays are big at The Hive with an eclectic mix to please the crowds and smashing drinks promos!
‘Espionage’ at 4 India Buildings, Victoria Street, Old Town, between The Grassmarket and George IV Bridge has five floors. Yes, five. The result of such an unusual layout is the love-hate scenario and not much in between. If you like the idea of having rooms to explore, different music on each floor and a slight identity crisis then you will love Espionage. A big plus-point is the free entry which means there’s really nothing to lose by having a look around!
One of the most popular clubs in Edinburgh at the moment is ‘Ponana’ at 43 Frederick Street on the stretch between George Street and Queen Street.
Set underground in what appear to be vaults, Ponana somehow manages to look stylishly grungy. Quiet drinks and conversations can be had in one of the numerous tomb-like booths until it’s time to hit the very intimate, electric dance floor at the back of the club.
Ponana has a four-day weekend from Thursday to Sunday with reasonable entry prices of 3/4 before 11pm and 6/7 after.
With its fancy entrance, brass sign and its location nestled between Le Monde and The Dome bar at 14 George Street, New Town, ‘Why Not?’ exudes perhaps a little more style than substance. Why Not? has been a popular haunt for many years and continues to attract the crowds with their eclectic mix of mainstream music and large circular dance floor.
Open only on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, the club charges around 5 for entry on a Monday and Friday and 7 on a Saturday. If you are under 21, you may also struggle to win over the bouncers…
Ever been in a karaoke booth? It’s about as much fun as you can have in a padded cell! Of all the clubs in Edinburgh, ‘Electric Circus’ at 36 Market Street, City Centre, next to Waverley Train Station is the most unusual and definitely the talk of the town right now. You can drink, dance, watch live gigs, take part in a quiz, play musical bingo and sing like a dying cat with your mates in the karaoke booths.
Electric Circus is certainly unique and is getting two thumbs up from everyone. It is also proof that clubs in Edinburgh are trying to branch out into new territory. Entry is usually free before 10.30pm and around 5/6 thereafter!
Indie Rock and Alternative
For all you indie rock-n-rollers out there who can’t make do with a few rock tracks at the eclectic clubs, the spots to check out are ‘Opium’ and ‘The Citrus Club’.
The Cowgate is home to numerous live music joints and student bars. At the centre of everything rock-based is ‘Opium’ at 71 Cowgate, Old Town. This long-standing haven of rock and alternative music is the first choice for fans of this music genre. They have a jukebox allowing you to get amongst the vinyl-spinning action at this tight, intimate and gorgeously grimy venue. Open until 3am and free to get in. What more can you ask for?
At 40 Grindlay Street, City Centre just off Lothian Road, you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing ‘The Citrus Club’. Make it in before midnight on a Thursday and 11pm on Friday and Saturday and your wallet stays in its pocket. Thereafter 3 on a Thursday and 6 at the weekend. The DJs will throw anything from 60s classics to new-romantics to new-wave to Madchester tunes to pure 90s indie at you and compel you to have a great time.
Pop and Dance
Clubs in Edinburgh don’t come much bigger than ‘Lava/Ignite’ and ‘City’. Generally these clubs go the way of pop and dance music although they do tend to slip in some RnB, trance and techno.
Given a much-needed make-over a few years ago to improve its faltering image, the old Cavendish nightclub became ‘Lava/Ignite’ (although the locals still call it ‘Cav’ or ‘Chav’) and is located just off Lothian Road at 3 West Tollcross, City Centre. Lava/Ignite, despite its impressive three-area-layout, beat-responsive dance floor and considerable size, is your typical night-dependent club. Choose the right night, Sunday’s student and young person night is still a huge hit, and you’re laughing. Get unlucky on a Friday or Saturday night and you could be staring down at a half-empty dancefloor.
At 1a Market Street, City Centre, opposite Waverley Train Station and next door to partner-bar Sportsters is ‘City’ night club. Make no doubt about it, this is one of the largest clubs in Edinburgh with an extravagant layout featuring multiple bars, balconies, booths and alcoves. You will be struck by how modern and flashy the club appears and impressed by their drinks promotions, especially on a Friday when many drinks are 99p all night suggesting they have lots of coppers to give away.
Although ‘Stereo’ nightclub is not exclusively R’n’B, it is the predominant genre most nights. Set in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle at 28 King’s Stables Road, City Centre, Stereo has been a popular venue for many years especially among younger party-animals.
The club is laid out on three floors. On the bottom floor you can play pool, play the fruit machines and chat in relative quiet. Upstairs is the sizeable main dancefloor. While the layout and decor of the bottom two floors is very straight-forward, the ‘white room’ at the top is certainly eye-catching. Wear black if you want to stand out.
Stereo runs student nights during the week with Tuesday being one of the most popular nights in the city. On Fridays, when R’n’B is king, entry is free before midnight and will cost you 4 thereafter. Saturdays tend to be more dance and pop oriented and entry is 5 before midnight and 6 after. Students get in cheaper every night and there are always a few drinks promotions to be had.
Underground and House
For all things underground and house you have to get underground. Set in the caverns that hide beneath the city’s old town is the club with the cool name – ‘Caberet Voltaire’. Yes – clubs in Edinburgh are often found ‘beneath’ the city.
‘Cab Vol’ at 36, Blair Street, Old Town, just off the Cowgate, is open every night partly due to popularity, partly due to the number of gigs they host. There are currently around 30 gigs on a month at Caberet Voltaire featuring local talent and internationally-renowned groups. House night Ultragroove and eclectic night SugarBeat are two of the most popular nights in the city. Prices and times vary so greatly from night-to-night, I recommend checking their website for more details.
The ‘GRV’ was recently given a major face-lift and is now a slick, multi-media melting pot.
Hidden down a side alley at 37 Guthrie Street, Old Town, just off Chambers Street (Museum of Scotland), The GRV is capable of holding gigs, DJs and club nights at the drop of a hat thanks to their outstanding sound system, stage, creative bar area, air conditioning etc etc etc. This place is growing in popularity very steadily.
Also going down the hybrid route is ‘Club Ego’ at 14 Picardy Place, City Centre. The advantage of having an old 1918 dancehall in your house have a a very big, lavish dance floor. Having been in the club business for 10 years attracting some huge names such as Judge Jules and Mr Scruff, Ego is now branching out into the gig scene, fashion shows, theatre productions and burlesque nights. ‘s diversity!
The gay bars and clubs in Edinburgh tend to be situated near the Edinburgh Playhouse at the top of Leith Walk. Club Ego hosts a very popular gay night the 4th Saturday of every month at 14, Picardy Place which is only a 2 minute walk from C C Blooms and Habana, which are two famous gay bar/clubs next to the Playhouse.
‘C C Blooms’ is Edinburgh’s long-standing gay club at the top of Leith Walk at 23-24 Greenside Place, City Centre, which is open every night until 3am and 5am during the Edinburgh Festival. It’s free to get in although you should expect to pay slightly more for drinks than you would elsewhere. Hi-octane pop anthems and cheese is the order of the day at C C Blooms.
Next door at number 18-22 Greenside Place, you will find the bar ‘Cafe Habana’ which is a logical pre-club bar. This smartly decorated bar has impressive drinks promotions and is the ideal place to meet your friends for a chat or to get in the party mood. Cafe Habana also opens early at 1pm and closes at 1am.