With more microbreweries than any other county, it’s fair to say that Carlisle and Cumbria take their drinking very seriously indeed. With lively bars, traditional pubs and several late-night clubs, Carlisle’s nightlife caters to its young student population as much as it does to those who don’t know what a Jaegerbomb is.
Centred around the city’s Botchergate region, Carlisle has a wide range of bars, from stylish cocktail haunts to bars named after David Bowie.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Botchergate, through a barely marked door and down into a mysterious cellar, you’ll come to The Lane Bar. With low, dark ceilings, slinky alcoves and enveloping sofas, the bar does some of the best cocktails in town. The bar, set down a brick lane in Carlisle’s Historic Quarter, was a breath of fresh air when it opened in 2011 and has become a local favourite. Enjoy the beer garden in the summer with a hookah pipe or equally find a sofa, order yourself a cocktail and relax to one of the city’s best soundtracks. The drinks aren’t cheap by Carlisle standards, but they’re worth it for the service and setting.
It might be hard to up the ante on The Lane Bar’s setting, but the Thin White Duke just about does it. Located less than two miles from our Central North hotel, in a converted monastery that includes a tunnel that once crossed over to the cathedral, it’s a drinking den loaded with atmosphere and decorated with twinkling fairy lights. And as you’d expect from a bar named after Bowie – the Thin White Duke was one of his many aliases – the bar is big on music, with the resident DJ dropping a toe-tapping mix of funk, soul, disco, hip-hop, indie and beyond. Food is served daily from 11.45am to 9pm, and the White Duke burger comes highly recommended.
A strong all-rounder, Bar Solo isn’t just a cute bar on Carlisle’s main street, Botchergate, but also has a killer tapas menu, serves some of the best-roasted coffee in town and is also the perfect stop for travellers – located just over the road from the train station, they’ll look after your luggage for just £3. The Art Deco bar is a little slice of European glory in the middle of the UK – a Grade II listed building, the architecture and style are almost as good as its pastry selection. And if you have a passing interest in art, make sure to check out the hundreds of hand-painted tiles that litter the interior, including characters from Wordsworth poems.
Carlisle might not have the same diversity in clubs as it does with bars and pubs, but the late-night drinking and dancing dens it does have are well worth checking out.
A mainstay on Carlisle’s late-night circuit since 2004, Concrete Club caters largely to the student and young professional crowd. They hold dedicated Freshers events every September designed to hook a new generation of fans, while they also have a popular pop/cheese night called Le Grand Fromage, which has been making people dance to Britney and Bryan Adams for years. Focusing on themed events, including 90s parties and Aloha Hawaii throwdowns, entry is generally just 99p which includes a free shot on entry, with cheap drink deals all night long.
As well as plenty of UK-wide chain pubs, Carlisle is home to some seriously good public houses all within a short walk from our Carlisle Central hotel.
One of the top-ranked pubs in Carlisle by TripAdvisor, it’s not hard to see why the Golden Fleece is so highly thought of. A relaxed pub that crackles with an open fire in winter or enjoys long beer garden evenings in the summer, the pub’s main calling card is its food – it’s been listed in the Michelin Guide for five consecutive years, making it one of the best restaurants for miles around. With a come-as-you-are attitude, dog walkers, hill hikers and businessmen are all welcome, with mucky boots and brogues equally accepted in the bar. Located six miles to the east of our Carlisle Central hotel, it’s well worth the trip. Book ahead for your Sunday lunch or for evening meals, or simply rock up to the bar after a long day of walking and sightseeing and knock back a guest ale or three.
Another pub noted for its food is The Crown Inn. A gastro-pub located to the north of the city beyond the River Eden and just a short walk from our Carlisle Central hotel, it offers big plates of comfort food with excellent value for money. They have a decent selection of ales and a wide range of lagers, ciders, wines and spirits, perfect for those thirsty after a long day walking along nearby Hadrian’s Wall.
After a recent renovation, The Reiver is once again a shining light in Carlisle’s pub scene. With an open-plan bar and kitchen, there’s a great feeling of space in the pub, while the extensive beer garden is perfect for long summer evenings. The pub also has a large games room at the back, with three darts boards, a pool table and all the main sporting action across several large TVs. Factor in regular quiz, bingo and live music nights, and you have a pub that’s a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, and one that offers serious value for money.
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