Pubs on the Ormeau Road  


I meant to write this review earlier but I've been too busy with exams and revision.

The Ormeau road offers quite an interesting selection of pubs. Generally they are quite local with a lot of regualrs. 

The Parador Hotel is a good place to go for a pint and to watch the football. The pints are slightly cheaper than the Belfast average but nothing special. As it's a 'Hotel' it also serves food, on select nights like Valentines the corner of the bar gets decorated a little with artificial flowers and table cloths. The one couple I saw eating there looked especially miserable. I quite like the Parador, it's a nice place to go and talk to people, especially if you know a few people there but it's hardly a Belfast must see.

Just up the road from the Parador is the Pavillion/'The Big House'. The Pavillion is a bar with three floors, downstairs it serves food and has several HD TV's for watching the sport or the racing. Although I was dissapointed when I went there to see the Championship Leauge final on only 2 screens with the racing on the others. It doesn't seem like a bar that takes sport seriously.
There are two other floors in the place but I've never been beyound the ground floor so I'll assume they are shit. I'll never forgive them for so reluctantly showing the Burnley game.

Next to the Pavillion is 'The Erigle'. The Erigle is a big bar, with several rooms all with different atmosphere's. Whilst there is a bit of variety to the place it remains consistent in the very poor quality of the Guinness. Apparently the pipes go through the roof and the lighting heats them up or something. Just make sure you drink out of a bottle.


Rain - Monday night/ Gay Night  


Turns out Rain has it's Gay night on Monday nights, who knew?

I was there from midnight till it closed at 3am. The drink offers stayed on all night: double vodka red bull £3, shots £2. But I wasn't drinking, it's exam season.

Although the whole gay scene isn't my thing, it was a pretty fun night anyway. So if you're in Belfast and Gay/Lesbian, get to Rain on Monday nights, you'll have a blast.


Review: Laverys  


Laverys is situated on Bradbury Place opposite Benedicts Hotel and advertises itself as "Belfasts oldest family run bar". The great thing about Laverys is that is has something for everyone:

  • Great Guinness? Check
  • Quiet downstairs bar? Check
  • Lively back room with modern music? Check
  • Pool room upstairs with a dozen tables? Check
  • Alternative club on the 1st floor? Check
  • Off license? Check
You get the idea. It's hard to imagine anything you'd want on a night out that Laverys does not have other than a hardcore nightclub like Tompsons and perhaps better drink offers.

However, what Laverys does do, it does very well indeed. Downstairs the main is almost always quite quiet, making it ideal to share a few drinks with friends or even grab a quiet pint on the way home from town. It's always well staffed and kept clean. The bar staff are in my opinion the most professional within the Queens Quarter. The drinks are always fresh and delicious. With an extravagent wine list and more whiskeys than most bars have beers you will always find something nice to drink. 

The back bar comes to life later on in the night and is a great place to go to find parties or keep drinking till closing time. 

The alternative club upstairs is often host to all kinds of live acts, often indie and rock bands. The club is called 'The Bunker' and it has different music every day Monday - Friday. 

The pool room has a distinct american feel to it and even has an American pool table. If you'd rather play on a proper table however, there are a dozen or so to play on, so there's always one available and at 50p a game you can afford to play all night. 

The bar is always trouble free and the clientele are generally a few levels more upmarket than The Globe down the street (which isn't a bad bar to be fair). 

My favourate thing about Laverys is the off license next door. After last orders you can get a few beers to take home with you, there's no need to let the fun stop at 1am. 

I'm going to give Laverys 18/20 - it's a good bar.


Review: Stiff Kitten  


Stiff Kitten is one of Belfasts premier venues. Offering a vibrant, modern bar/lounge upstairs and a nightclub downstairs that has been host to world renowned DJ's such as Calvin Harris. I've never been to the nightclub before so I'll save that for another review. Tonight I would like to talk about the bar.

What makes Stiff Kittens lounge unique is that it offers high quality and international drinks and cocktails but in a very modern and stylish setting. The seats are all comfertable with sofas and the area is quite dim but lit with candles creating a cool and almost intimate atmosphere. The background music is often modern and electronic, but quiet. These make it an ideal place to sit and share a drink with friends or take someone on a date.

The place is usually frequented by people in there 20's/30's but a few students (like myself) can often be seen there. 

My favourite aspect of Stiff Kitten is it's coctails. Many places (Rain for instance) offer an impressive set list of cocktails, but rarely are they put together properlly or justify the price. However in Stiff Kitten this is not an issue. The pretty bar girls can put together some very impressive cocktails with high quality ingredients and fruit juices taking there time to mix it and then using crushed ice. Usually the cocktails come in at £5 and they really are worth every penny. 

If you prefer a beer or even wine, they have quite a wide variety of drinks available. Including quite a few types of Erdingers and a range of white beers too.

Often midweek they put on some drink offers too and that's what really stands out about Stiff Kitten - you are guarenteed value for money.

I'm going to rate it 19/20.


Rain Revisisted  


In my earlier review of Rain nightclub I said I'd return on a different night and see if I still felt the same. I was there on Sunday and to be quite honest I was dissapointed. Arriving at 11:45 and paying £5 in to find the place virtually deserted was annoying. Then the drinks were £2 each until midnight after which they becmae quite expensive. I didn't drink much that night, but I'd say I still had fun.

Clearly the management wern't expecting a busy night as the place seemed under staffed. Particually with regards to downstairs before upstairs had opened at about 12:30am. There seemed to be about 20 people all trying to get served by this one barman. Also, the place was a tip, with glasses everywhere, the floor wet and littered with rubbish.

By 1am I had moved upstairs and it felt alot more alive. However one thing that was really weird was the dance floor is a lowered circle in the middle of the room, so everyone else stands around it watching who-evers dancing. It felt a bit weird, especially when there's only a few of you on the dancefloor. It reminded me of a colleseaum. 

The people on a sunday night certainly seemed more scummier too, I'm not sure if it's fair to award this against the venue though. However, neither me nor my friends had fun like we have had at the place last Tuesday and we left early. 

I'm going to therefor keep Rains score at 15/20, it's not great but it can be fun.


Review: The Box  


The Box is probably Belfasts flashiest clubs Upoun entering you walk through a smoke screen with 'The Box' projected onto it, it's pretty cool.

I remember I spent my first night out in Belfast in the box and I was immediately impressed. There seems to be a strict entrance policy, the pricings generally quite good. There is a great selection of cheap coctails on offer. A fantastic DJ and lots of people looking to have fun.

The dispiriting thing about it is a lot of lads go there to get girls. Normally I have no problem with that, everyone likes to pull. But in the box, if your having fun and there's girls in your group, weird lads on their own slowly snake their way into the group. It's pretty creepy sometimes, they don't even talk, just dance next to you trying to get close to your female friends for half an hour, however they're useually harmless and I imagine the girls are flattered by the attention.

If you actively want to talk to new girls in the box, rather than being a weirdo it's a very fun and social club. It's well kept and clean - although a friend of mine once fell over and was pricked by a needle which is pretty crazy but I think that's a one off. I've never seen anything like that happen personally. It always looks very clean to me.

It's probably the only club in Belfast where there are more girls than boys which means it's music orientated and all about the dance floor. Which is of course a lot of fun to anyone after a few 'fruit box' coctails for only £2.50 each.

The admission fee is ususally £3 and it closes at 1am.

On a thursday night the queue is almost always very big, I reccomend going on a Wednesday when the drinks are all priced at £2. 

You can have bad nights in the box - I've certainly had a few. But it really depends on your mood to be honest. The staff are helpful usually but I once had a very bad incident with regards to the cloakroom, the girl working in their that night was really horrible - wouldn't give me my jacket till the place closed becuase I lost my ticket, but my jacket had my passport in it so it was easy to see it was clearly my jacket.

However there are always people like that and it would be unreasonable to hold it against the venue. Definately a place to go, perhaps it would get stale if you went regually but I am a fan of the place at the moment.

I'm going to give it 17/20. Just make sure you're there before ten on a thursday or friday.


The Union  


There's always something going on in Queen's Students Union, however the place really comes alive on a Monday and Thursday night. On those nights, after paying £3 admission, you can get selected drinks for £1.80 and Mandella hall opens with a house DJ playing funky electronic and indie chart songs. 

The place is always heaving on those two nights, but it is always great fun. It's probably becuase virtually everyone there is a student that the atmosphere is so social. Even at it's buisiest, you can still get served at the bar within 5 minutes.

Outside of Mandella in the main downstairs bar there's a house DJ who likes to play rap/hip hop music downstairs. I'm not a big fan of that type of music but I do enjoy what he plays. It's fun to try and sing along to old Eminem songs while your having a few drinks before you move into Mandella.

If you just want a few drinks with friends then you can go to the Bunatee bar where the musics quiter and there's alot of comfy sofas and chairs. 

I imagine most people who read this blog have been to the union, but it you haven't you should definately go. Non students are welcome at anytime too, you just need proof of age.

Friday nights are pretty big nights too, where a widier selection of drinks are available for £1.80 in speakeasy with a DJ and free admission. Very few students attend on a friday night, it seems to be mainly sixth form kids.

Now I'm going to get into a little bit of Union politics here: Why is that on nights students go to their own student union, they have very few drink offers and have to pay admission into their own union.

But on a friday night when very few students go out, it's free admission with better drinks offers? Surely as students pay for the union with their tution fee's they should get offers on nights they go out? 

Also, did you know Queens Student Union has the most expensive alchohol prices in all of the UK? My friend at Imperial College in London can get pints for £2 any time of the day, over here they are £2.50. 

Anyway, the unions a brilliant place, a lot of fun. If you haven't been and you are a student (I've met a few who haven't) then go, right now! There's always something going on, tonight the footballs on with drink offers. 

The union gets 17/20, brilliant fun, if it had £1 a drink like so many other unions, it would get full marks.

Ps. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you have any comments or disagree etc.
dannygillen at gmail.com


The Botanic Inn  


I went to the Botanic Inn tonight for a couple of pints and some dinner. It was pleasent, the staff were friendly and the place had a nice atmosphere. I've always liked the place but wouldn't frequent it often. 

For those who don't know, The Botanic Inn is Botanic Inns (they own almost half the pubs in Belfast) flagship bar. The place is very popular with students during the week, except on Wednesdays when they try and target a slightly older crowd (over 21's). 

The upstairs of the Bot is a nightclub and it's always great fun. My only complaint is the absense of cheap drink offers and I think that is why so many people choose to go to the Egg instead. However the DJs are always fantastic and there is a lot of fun to be had. 

Downstairs is a bar with an enclosed smoking patio and food is served during the day. The food is generally quite nice and the bar always serves a decent pint of Guiness. However, downstairs can often be a bit dirty and dark. It's an interesting bar when you first go in it but after that it gets a bit boring and charcterless. 

Of course, at the weekend evenings or at sporting events it's a different story when the atmosphere in the bar really picks up. At other times though it's just a boring old pub. 

In some respects it's a shame the bar is situated where it is, as it could be very popular with tourists if it was closer to the city center. 

If you plan on going for a night out, make sure to get their before ten or you will be queuing for quite a while. Also, get cash out before you get near by as all the cash machines are usually very busy at night.

I'm going to award the Botanic Inn 13/20 - It's a nice pint, okay food (maybe a bit expenseive for  the quality you get) but has nothing about it that really stands out.


A Failed Night Out  


Tonight me and some friends had a few drinks and then set off out to find a late night club in Belfast at 2am. Nowhere would let us in, we tried Yellow, Tompsons, Rain and Kremlin.

Everywhere was either full or about to close. Those are Belfasts only late night spots. Tonight confirmed what I've always felt about Belfast, that the demand for nightclubs is greater than the supply. Or in other words, more people want a late night drink/party than is available.

Clearly the cause of this is Belfasts restrictive liscensing laws compared with the rest of the UK. It's absurd. I had a couple of nights out in Liverpool a few months ago. In liverpool there were a couple of clubs that stayed open till 7am. Very few places charged an entrance fee either.

It's a continual source of annoyment for me. The bars and clubs in Belfast know that they don't need to try hard with their customer service becuase for every person that gets pissed off with the service they recieve and leaves, there are two people queuing outside willing to take their place.

Something needs to be done, I think the solution is 24 hour licenses. 

Profile: Spring and Airbrake/Limelight  


On a Tuesday night Spring and Airbrake, Limelight and Katy Daly's all come together making a fantastic venue suited to all music tastes. The admission  price is £4 and it's open till 1:30am and worth every penny.  S&A generally plays alternative indie and songs from the charts usually with a strong dance element as well. It creates a fun and loud atmosphere that attracts alot of people. The bars massive too so you rarely have to wait more than a minute or two to get served. 

Next is Katy Dalys which is open throughout the day and they turn the music up at night. It has a great drinks range of bottled ales, fancy larger and if your up for a good time - absinthe. Katy Dalys is ideal to talk to people or just sit back for a while enjoying a decent drink (hard to find in most Belfast night spots). 

Next along is Limelight which plays alot of modern dance and house music. It's pretty much a more mainstream version of Spring and Airbrake but it doesn't have as much atmosphere in it. The musics always good but rarely amazing. If you like to dance you'll definately be able to put an enjoyable hour in there, but it does get stale after a while. The heart of the venue is definately in S&A.

The staff throughout the venue are helpful and proffesional although they are overwhelmed by the mess when it gets busy. The bouncers are friendly and don't seem to turn many people away. 

On a tuesday night, Becks and Stella can be had for £1.50, as well as a selected shots at that price.

On a tuesday night the crowd is young and almost exclusively students or sixth-formers.

I'm going to give the place 15/20. It is definately worth going too. 


Profile: Rain Nightclub  


Rain nightclub has taken over from Milk. It's new, clean and revamped. I'd never been to Milk before but had heard about it (full of scum) and in all honesty I was pleasently surpirsed by Rain. It suffers nothing that I heard associated with Milk. 

I went on a Thursday night at 11pm. There was no queue and the doormen met with a smile, I paid £2 in on the door and then went to the bar. Hoping to spend the last remenents of my student loan I decided to order a fancy coctail. I pointed the bargirl to the most expensive coctail on the menu, however she told me she didn't have the ingrediants; the same incident was repeated with the next two down until she could eventually put together something ressembling a vodka blaccurrent. I was hoping for something a bit fancier but the glass was impressive. 

Other than that, I was satisfied with the drinks, most beers and spirits could be bought for £2 so I have no compaints there. The club was reasonably quiet for it's size but there was certainly alot to explore.

I think I spent most of my time outside in the smoking area, which is impressively large with several tables and lot's of people to talk to. It wasn't until an hour or so in I discovered the dancefloor upstairs which is large, loud and was playing a great fusion of dance and house music which was fun to dance to.  The floor was always clean, with broken glass and spillages nowhere to be seen.

The atmosphere was sociable, I met several people that night and had a great time. Rain is definately my kind of club.

There was a big variety of other punters in attendance too. Third year students, Coked up City Boys, Post Girls Aloud concert girls and a few folks from the country.  The boy girl ratio was pretty even and the scumbags who generally like to frequent places like The Beech Club were nowhere to be seen.

I've heard alot of complaints from people saying they were refused entry for no reason; but they are probably the sort of people who you don't want to share a nightclub with anyway. 

I expected a strict dress code so wore a shirt and skinny tie; but some people had T-shirts and trainers so I don't think the doormen care so much, but they do manage to keep the scum out.

I'm going to award the place 15/20, maybe I'll upgrade that score after I try it again on a different night (something I really intend on doing).

Profile: Tompsons Nightclub  


Tompsons is a club like no other in Belfast; it is always open late (usually till 3am Monday-Saturday) which means it's the place people usually end up after the other bars and clubs are closed. 

This results in a diverse but very drunk crowd of people which can often result in a lot of fun. However Tompsons is very dark and very loud throughout, the dance floor is covered in smoke too, combined this makes it an ideal destination for somebody who's taken a few E's or is very drunk and has lost their friends. It costs £5 in Mon-Fri and £10 on a Saturday.

No-one pays any attention to anybody else in the club so the atmosphere is quite cold and can even get boring (the music is often bland). Definately not the place you want to go if you're with friends and you want to keep partying. You'd be far better off getting some more drink from the Hatfields off sales and taking the party home with you. 

The club is always quiet on a weekday before midnight however if you're looking to meet a sleazy member of the opposite sex then this is the time and place to go. It's very strange during those hour's, you'd have to see it for yourself....

In summary:

Scum Rating: 4/5 - Generally there's not many scumbags about, just people who took too much money on a nightout with them and want to stay out as long as possible.

Chance of Pulling Rating: 1/5 - Everyones very cold and keeps to themselves here

Drinks Rating: 3/5 - Generally you can pick up bottles of corona for £1.50 however they only serve vodka past 1:30

Fun Rating: 2/5 - Rarely is there much going on, if you like to dance in the dark and smoke to loud music then you'll have a good time however.

I'm going to deduct 1 point becuase bizzarely the temperature is always cold making me wish I'd brought a coat.

Total Score:  9/20 - One to miss usually.