About Time: You Had a Girls’ Weekend in NewcastleBy Rose Dykins
Friendly, fun and full of energy – Newcastle has all you need for an exemplary bar crawl. So get your best girls on the case, leave your coats at home, and hit The Toon. Here’s how to make the most out of a short stay…
Girls Weekend in Newcastle: Friday night
If you’re fresh off the train after a long day’s work, walk for just under 15 minutes to the city’s Quayside district and check in to the Malmaison Newcastle.
The hotel’s plush, sultry rooms with silver velvet furnishings set the scene for opening a bottle of prosecco and getting glammed up together. And the sink-in-able beds are perfect for climbing into with a buddy at the end of the night and passing out.
The sleek architecture of Quayside reflecting off the Tyne is lovely to wake up to in the morning – and you can get some (icy) fresh air and photos of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (directly next to the Malmaison). However, the area is pretty quiet at the weekend, so you’ll want to head back in to the centre of town for nightlife.
If (like us) you decide to save yourselves for the next night, Malmaison Newcastle also offers “Girls night in” spa packages – including a 30-minute treatment, chocolate truffles, continental breakfast, a two-course meal and a cocktail (£99 per person).
Girls Weekend in Newcastle: Saturday
Came to shop? If you’re a vintage fan, make your way to Small Change (109 Heaton Park Road), the city’s largest vintage fair. It’ a cornucopia of 70s jumpsuits, novelty jumpers and glamorous one-off pieces – there’s even a space where EVERYTHING is £1.
There’s also High Bridge Quarter – a series of cobbled streets in the town centre lined with independent shops.
Check out Retro (2 High Bridge Square) for high top trainers and woolly jumpers, The Yesterday Society (9 Grainger Market) for accessories, and RPM Music (4 Old George Yard) for browsing through vinyl records. Union (12 High Bridge) is also great for mens’ clothing and denim.
Also on High Bridge Street is The Stand a bright, cosy comedy club, known for its improv nights and for hosting top comedians-to-watch fresh from their stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s a chilled-out spot for tucking into a hearty, well-made lunch – you’ll find flavoursome lentil burritos (£6) and lamb kofta pitta sandwiches (£5) on the menu. It also has an outdoor terrace if you fancy an al fresco experience…
A five-minute walk up the hill is Eldon Square (Northumberland Street), Newcastle’s shopping headquarters, with every high street brand you can think of.
If you’re all shopped out, and just want to relax before the big night ahead, the Ruen Thai Spa in Jesmond offers a 30-minute Swedish massage with coconut oil for just £20. The staff are really lovely, and will get to the bottom of any stubborn knots – even if it means climbing on top of you. Prepare to leave feeling like a new woman.
Newcastle has plenty of brilliant museums housed in repurposed buildings: such as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in an imposing former factory.
If you only have time for one cultural stop, make it the Biscuit Factory. The UK’s largest art, design and craft gallery is set in a converted Victorian warehouse that somehow looks like a New York-style apartment.
As well as seasonal exhibits showcasing imaginative paintings, furniture, textiles and more from across the globe, the Biscuit Factory also hosts workshops, where local artists teach you everything from screen printing to fashioning wire sculptures. So you can leave Newcastle with a new string to your creative bow.
Girls Weekend in Newcastle: Saturday night
Line your stomachs with a delicious Italian dinner at Pinnochios (61 Westgate Road) – a down-to-earth restaurant with creamy risottos, satisfying pizzas. The food is great value, and within walking distance from all the action.
Then, let the drinking begin. Your first port of call should be Dat Bar (11 Market Street). It’s like an American diner inside, with scarlet leather booths that are great for cramming into to play drinking games. There’s an impressive craft beer menu, and cocktails are delectable too – go for the Banana Eater, a curious infusion of tequila, yellow Chartreuse, wheat bear, pineapple preserve, lemon juice and Mescal drops (£6).
Afterwards, head back towards Newcastle Station to fin Mecca of bars. The roads of Grey Street/Dean Street and Collingwood Street are lined with them, as is the district known as Bigg Market, just to the west of these. Stick with this patch, and you can’t really go wrong. I highly recommend The Vineyard (1Grey Street), Alvinos (88 Pilgrim Street) and, for lively crowd, Blackie Boy (11 Groat Market).
Lastly, and most importantly, finish your night at the Sneaky Disco at Madame Koos (36 Collingwood Street). Why sneaky? Because you enter a nondescript ticket area, pay your £5 entry, go down some stairs and are instantly pleasantly surprised.
The USP of the venue is its positive atmosphere and the DJ’s choice of fast-changing tracks – lots of nostalgic surprises and delightful mash-ups that keep up the momentum. (Note: the bar is cash-only.)
Before you know it, it’s 3.30am and you’re part of the drone-like mass being ushered back up the stairs and into the nearest chip shop. Don’t feel you have to call it a night there – plenty of bars are still in full swing at this time.
Girls Weekend in Newcastle: Sunday Morning
Photo Credit: Jamie Penfold Photography
If you can, prise yourself from your bed and make sure you have time before your train leaves for brunch at Baltic Kitchen at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
You may not feel up for perusing the museum’s galleries, but the casual, airy restaurant’s location along the Tyne (back at Quayside) means you can take in the uplifting city view as you tuck into comforting classics, such as Egg and Soldiers and bacon sandwiches (both £3.95) before 11.45am.
If you do have time, it’s well worth exploring the vast exhibition space and it’s pioneering artwork – such as the BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity exhibition, a “metaphysical adventure story and a fantasy caricature complete with whisky minibar, grand piano and helicopter”, as well as performance from the actor himself. (running until February 28).
And there you have it – time to catch your train and recover on the journey home…
Virgin Trains run services between Newcastle and London starting at £17 single. Journey time is from 2 hours 36 minutes and connects Newcastle with other major cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow, York and Leeds.