Want to test out Edinburgh’s nightlife? Then look no further. From traditional Scottish pubs to buzzing cocktail joints, there are plenty of awesome spots in the city to hit for a fun night. And, hidden away below the medieval metropolis there’s a whole new world to discover - we’re talking secret underground bars that will make you fall in love with the drinking scene (but first, you need to know where to look). We ventured to the city to scope out the best bars and here are our top picks…
Tip: The Old Town (where St Christopher’s is based) is significantly cheaper than the New Town. We’ve picked out affordable but fun options based near St Christopher’s all within walking distance - and each one has something different to offer...
1 HOOT THE REDEEMER
7 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
Our favourite underground bar in Edinburgh. As we walked down the narrow staircase and pushed open the mysterious door masked by a fortune teller's booth, we entered the funfair of all bars. Straight away, we knew this was our kind of place.
Expect boozy ice cream that comes out of a vending machine, adult slushies and a selection of inventive cocktails. Quirky, cool, fun and affordable. The vintage interior will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 50s - and it’s brimming with a cool young crowd. A great place to play. Our cocktails recommendations? Papa Don’t Peach and Reykin in Rain.
There’s nowhere else like it! Such a unique experience and one of the best secret joints in town.
2 THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
9 Advocate's Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND
A bar equipped with charm and sophistication. This old Victorian pump house in the historic part of the city has been converted to a chic, cosy bar (and just a 3 minute walk from the hostel). For cocktail enthusiasts and whiskey drinkers, The Devil’s Advocate is all about quality. We got chatting to the highly skilled bartender and he explained how all syrups for the cocktails are made by hand - so they’re super fresh. We ordered based on his recommendations - we told him we like fruity cocktails with a punch (and that’s exactly what we got). Whether you’re a connoisseur or a newbie to the whiskey world, you simply must try some of the Scottish options on offer. This is what the this place is famous for.
13 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE
A student favourite with a killer bar menu. Whether you want to pre-drink or stay here all night, Belushi’s is a great place to party in Edinburgh. I’ve never seen a wider range of ‘Jagerbombs’ in my life - Belushi’s has put a twist on the bomb with a whole selection of fun flavours for Skittle Bombs, Apple Bombs, Pepper Bombs and Glitter Bombs. We braved the Melon Bombs - and they were pretty good!
4 THE DORIC
15-16 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE
For a real Scottish experience, head to The Doric. A backpacker favourite, The Doric is famous for being Edinburgh’s oldest gastro pub (built in the 17th century!) The Doric is a true Scottish pub with a traditional, fully equipped bar with all the good stuff. With several Scottish beers on tap, real ales and over 50 single malts, it’s a place not to miss if you really want to experience the real Edinburgh. Every Friday and Saturday there’s brilliant live folk music - expect bagpipes and fiddles played by true Scotsmen and local musicians. The restaurant upstairs is also impressive for real Scottish grub and for your first try of haggis!
Look how traditional and cute the interior is...
5 THE SECRET ARCADE
48 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1PB
Hidden on a dark alley way in Edinburgh’s Old Town you’ll find The Secret Arcade. Don’t judge it from its exterior. This place is a true hidden gem. Located underground, walk down to find a quirky, buzzing vodka bar. With over 100 different vodkas on offer and an electric vibe, this bar won’t let you down for a fun night. Try some unique flavours from spiced plum, oak, caramel to frozen vodka and other Polish specialities. A vodka drinker’s paradise where you can get 5 vodka’s for just £12.99.
6 PANDA AND SONS
Don’t be fooled. On the outside, Panda and Sons poses as a barber shop but it’s actually a super cool bar! I really wanted to pay a visit but we didn’t get enough time. Located in Edinburgh New Town, it’s a little pricey but renowned in Edinburgh for its incredible, original cocktails. I walked past it in the daytime (when it was closed) and you’d never guess it was a bar from the front. Only the people in the know go here - and now you're one of them! The Reception staff at St Christopher’s (who are budding locals and know the town like the back of their hands) recommend ordering the birdcage cocktail - that is actually served in a bird cage!
Want more? We asked the staff at St Christopher’s Edinburgh for more of their top recommendations in the city…
The Banshee Labyrinth For those who love heavy metal, punk and a bit of horror.... Can you brave it? A haunted-themed underground bar with an indoor cinema!
Whiski Rooms Voted whiskey bar of the year twice in a row, this is a sophisticated place to test the finest of Scottish malts
The Mouse Trap An underground bar with awesome live DJ’s, arcade games and open mic night!