Whether you’re town or gown, nightlife in Cambridgeshire has got it covered. It all depends whether you’re in the mood for something lively, a glass of decent wine in a stylish bar or a few good ales with friends – the night is all yours!
Cocktails and wine
If you fancy kicking your night off with a cocktail – and you haven’t yet ventured into the centre – then 196 on Mill Road is a great place to start. Although small and intimate, it serves amazing cocktails made with premium spirits – no skimping on the quality here – with emphasis on fresh flavours. The bar is compact with seating for about 20 people, but it’s got a great vibe and it’s not too noisy, either. Novi, on Regent Street, serves a great range of herby, botanical cocktails, and it’s open until 3am at the weekend. It’s also a cafe by day if you fancy stopping by for a coffee or a snack.
In the centre of town, the roof terrace at the stylish Varsity Hotel is probably the best place to have a drink with a view in Cambridge. With stunning panoramas across the city and top views of the fireworks if you come during May Ball time – which is in June, incidentally – it’s a fantastic place to start your evening. There’s also a heap of blankets in case there’s a chill in the air. Enter the hotel and take the lift to the top floor for your wow moment. Riverside, the area around Magdalene Bridge, comes alive at night, with bustling bars and restaurants, and people sitting by the river enjoying a drink.
Cambridge Wine Merchants on Bridge Street is a brilliant spot for people-watching and – as you’d expect – it serves excellent wine. You can also buy nibbles and small plates of food such as scotch eggs or a deli platter if you’re feeling peckish. Hidden Rooms on Jesus Lane is a well-hidden cocktail bar below the elegant Pizza Express restaurant. It’s open from 7pm and there’s no entrance fee, but because it’s seated-service, it’s best to book. It serves amazing cocktails and there are often live events, too.
Right on the market square and above the Don Pasquale restaurant, 12A is a private members’ club. But if you happen to know someone who is a member, it’s a stylish and rather swanky place to spend part of your evening. Cocktails are mixed well, and the bar staff know their stuff. If you’re in the mood for music, 2648 on Trinity Street, which used to be known as The Vaults, is a restaurant and bar that serves cocktails and craft beer, with pop-ups and DJs throughout the year.
In the centre of town, the roof terrace at the stylish Varsity Hotel is probably the best place to have a drink with a view in Cambridge
The passageway just off the market square, Market Passage, is home to a few different clubs and bars. Baroosh, known as B-Bar to the locals, serves good drinks in a happy atmosphere – it’s on a couple of floors, so it doesn’t feel too crowded even when it’s busy. Opposite is Fez Club, a bar and nightclub with a Moroccan feel that definitely has a young vibe. Nearby is Vinyl, a new retro club that’s good fun if you want a blast from the past, and full of 80s and 90s tunes. La Raza, on Rose Crescent, is a funky cocktail and tapas bar that also boasts regular live music. It’s a great place in town to see local bands show off their talent, while club nights are also hugely popular.
Lola Lo is a popular tiki bar and club, just outside the Grand Arcade. On the way out of the centre, on Regent Street, Parker’s Tavern is the newly refurbished bar adjoining the renovated University Arms Hotel, and is well worth a stop – it already has a great reputation for cocktails and wine. Just a bit further along the road is Italian restaurant De Luca. But head straight for the top floor for The Piano Bar, where on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, a fabulous pianist entertains guests all night with a magical set – singalong sheets are available if you suddenly find your voice!
There’s no shortage of good drinking establishments in town. The Cambridge Brew House on King Street not only serves good beer, but it brews it, too. You can see the micro-brewery, The Cambridge Brewing Company, within the pub, and two of its favourite ales are always served, such as King’s Parade or Misty River, along with other local cask ales and craft beers. Its sister pub, The Old Bicycle Shop on Regent Street, is housed in what’s said to have been the oldest bicycle shop in the country. This establishment boasts a cool, pared-back interior, serves good food as well as local ales, and features a decent wine list.
The Pint Shop near the market square is a great place to go for a proper beer, while for spirit-lovers, it has more than 55 gins on the menu. Styled in the same way as a drinking den in the 1830s, it has a soft, lamp-lit ambience and serves delicious food, too. The Liquor Loft, upstairs at Stolen restaurant on King’s Street, is a cocktail and wine bar with an outdoor terrace, which – as the name suggests – has a huge range of spirits. Great for watching the night sky with friends, or cosying up with a throw in its intimate interior.
On the way out of the centre, on Regent Street, Parker’s Tavern is the newly refurbished bar adjoining the renovated University Arms Hotel, and is well worth a stop – it already has a great reputation for cocktails and wine