From historic pubs to modern bars and all-singing, all-dancing clubs, Bedford has a lively nightlife scene that’s well worth exploring.
Nightlife in Bedford
With a cosy fire in winter and a suntrap beer garden in the summer, The Devonshire Arms is rightly one of Bedford’s most popular pubs. They have one of the best ranges of real ales in town, as well as an impressive array of single malt whiskies. With regular beer festivals, live music, gin-tasting sessions, pub quizzes and – when the weather calls for it – BBQs in the summer, you’ll find plenty here aside from the great beer.
One of the oldest pubs in Bedford, the Three Cups dates back to the 1770s and is a real ale champion. Voted ‘Town Pub of the Year’ in 2018, expect a range of cask ales from its microbrewery, as well as several other guest beers. With good food and a handy location on the edge of town on Newnham Street, it’s a dog-friendly pub that, thanks to the addition of a beer garden, has thrown off its image as being a winter pub.
Recently refurbished, the George and Dragon is a fine place to head for some food and a quiet drink. With a nod to posh pub grub – yes, we’re talking to you Wagyu burger – and with a patio that quickly fills up in the sunshine, the George and Dragon is handily located in the centre of town just off Mill Street.
Another refurbished watering hole, The Rose is a Grade II-listed building and is a smart new pub that offers an impressive and tasty food menu, including a range of tapas plates. But the real star of the show is their large beer garden, which is one of the best in town, with beach huts and even an outdoor pool table. They also do a wide range of craft beers, ales and regular 2-for-1 drink deals through the week.
As the name implies, the Tavistock Pub and Carvery comes into its own with its food, offering an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet daily from 8am, with a carvery open from midday until 9pm daily. A popular pub, especially on the weekends, it’s located slightly out of the town centre on Tavistock Street and is three miles from our Bedford (Priory Marina) hotel.
Finally, make sure to add The Embankment to your Bedford to-do list. A quality gastropub that serves up British classics using locally sourced food, they also take their wine, beer, cocktails and gin very seriously. When the sun is shining, there are few better pubs to be visiting, sitting on The Embankment’s terrace overlooking the River Ouse, complete with glass in hand.
With two rooms split across two floors, a VIP room and four bars in total, Empire is one of the leading dance clubs in Bedford. Throw some moves on the huge dance floor, which plays a mix of RnB, house and commercial music, or get lost looking up at the 18,000-piece crystal chandelier. With neat touches throughout – water features, chameleon lighting and USB ports in all the booths – and stylish design to the fore, including leather sofas and marble-topped tables, Empire is open until 4am on the weekends.
Spread over three floors, Vogue on the High Street is one of the largest clubs in Bedford. And that space means it’s able to offer three different dance floors and DJs at the weekend, spanning chart and pop cheese on the ground floor, RnB on the middle floor and commercial house on the top floor.
If you’re not a fan of the glamour and glitz and want something a little different from your night out, The Studio Club might just be the place for you. A multi-purpose space during the day that acts as a bar, workshop and internet radio base, it runs regular club nights where resident and guest DJs throw down everything from reggae to soul and funk. It’s handily located less than half a mile from our Bedford Town Centre (Riverside) hotel.
Wine, cocktails, suck-you-in-sofas and good music – what’s not to love about The Flute Wine & Lounge Bar? Located in Ram Yard, they serve up fine wines, craft beers and spirits every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night until 2am. They also have a funky disco and funk soundtrack that often gets the dance floor moving well before midnight.
One of the newest additions to Bedford’s nightlife scene, the intriguingly titled Bears & Tales is a small but perfectly formed cocktail bar that serves up some of the best in town. The barmen know their stuff, so feel free to order off the menu but book ahead, as the bar can get packed out on weekends.
For something a little less hipster, head to The Auction Room. A cocktail and wine bar on Duke Street, the large, high-ceiling bar with an atmospheric skylight is the perfect place for a chilled drink, while the snug candlelit basement with velvet sofas and comfy chairs is ideal for something a little more romantic.