Edinburgh isn’t known as a clubbing destination. If anything, it’s known for not being one. So that it has so many excellent late-night venues may come as a surprise. Sure, it’s also home to clubs where cheesy chart choruses loom large and drinks are suspiciously cheap. But in our run-down of the absolute best clubs in Edinburgh, you’ll find the other ones. We’re talking the intimate, the under-the-radar, the ones with DJ line-ups that rival clubs in much bigger metropolises.
So take a look and remember to reel out all your best moves. And if you really want some help? We say fill up at one of many brilliant cheap restaurants in Edinburgh, then grab a pre-club drink at one of the city’s best bars. Round off an evening at one of these and you’ll be getting the very best out of the city at night.
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Best clubs in Edinburgh
A 100-capacity sweatbox on Edinburgh’s main clubbing thoroughfare, Sneaky Pete’s has punched well above its weight to become the finest gig and club venue in the city. The resident club nights bring in some of the finest DJ talent in the country, with Leon Vynehall, Auntie Flo, Midland and Jacques Greene among recent highlights.
One of Edinburgh’s most atmospheric venues enjoys a location like no other, hewn out of a series of brick arches underneath the city’s famous Old Town. Across two dancefloors, state-of-the-art sound systems play a forward-thinking blend of house, techno and bass seven nights a week. The repertoire of weekly and monthly residencies is switched up every few months to keep things fresh, but it generally follows a format of cheaper or free entry residents’ nights earlier in the week, with larger fees at the weekend.
The Bongo Club occupies a distinctly bohemian library-basement location with a character all of its own, offering occasional gigs, theatre workshops and a monthly ‘rock ‘n’ roll ping pong’ event. The clubbing programme is the highlight, however, and a selection of weekly and monthly residencies cover a range of genres Edinburgh rarely hosts elsewhere. Throughout most of the week (Sundays and Mondays tend to go dark) expect to hear hip hop, reggae, drum and bass, soul and much more.
Housing just a few hundred across the main dancefloor and the balcony above, the Liquid Room is a dark box in the basement of a 19th-century church on Victoria Street. Its diverse clubbing menu incorporates indie and retro nights at one end of the spectrum and high-profile house and techno parties at the other. It also hosts smaller-scale nights in a recently added new extension to the rear of the building, the Annexe.
Seemingly intent on being all things to all people, the Voodoo Rooms does a good job of pulling the trick off in grandiose circumstances. As well as a main bar that sits along one wall of a long dining room illuminated by high-arched Victorian windows, the venue also contains two other concert/club spaces, both informal and fairly compact rooms that don’t echo the style of the rest of the joint. Their programme, including burlesque classes and raucous cabaret shows, is eclectic.
Located in the grounds of the city’s trendy College of Art, the Wee Red Bar is something of an institution for those of a certain age. Largely a student hangout – but open to and used by others – this is a step-up from your usual sticky-floored student gaff. The club nights (not to mention the cheap drinks) are largely sound, especially long-standing Saturday indie night The Egg, which falls back on a solid roster of tunes from the likes of Pixies, Kraftwerk and Bowie.