It was Kieran’s birthday last week and for occasions I love to go away somewhere, what better excuse is there? But due to other plans, and limited time off work for two days midweek we had to stay local. Although I’m under strict instructions not to write a birthday post on him, I am allowed to let you know what we got up to. I’ve been asked a number of times to contribute to guest posts on Newcastle, local guides or favourite spots, so it’s something you can expect to see more of, starting with this one on the quayside. Rather than just going out for a birthday meal, I decided to turn it into a sort of ‘staycation’ to make the most of being in good old Newcastle.
The quayside has gone through ups and downs in terms of nightlife and good places to eat. I think it’s fast becoming one of my favourite areas of Newcastle again especially with the arrival of new restaurants and bars. If I was visiting Newcastle for one night, this is what I did/would plan for a Quayside stay – I’ll go through a bit of an overview and then put it in some sort of itinerary at the end.
Hotel – Newcastle Malmaison
My favourite hotel in Newcastle, for comfort, the view and the fabulous staff service. It really is in the top spot on the quayside, right next to the Millennium bridge and the views stretch right down the Tyne, with the Baltic, the Sage, and the Tyne Bridge completing the scene. The staff give a typical Geordie welcome, and can’t do enough for you from the moment you check in.
While I like to go out for breakfast, a night out in Newcastle may leave you feeling a bit worse for wear, so the Mal breakfast baskets brought to your room are the way to go. Just choose your time and fill in your card to hang on the door before 2am and the breakfast fairies will have it waiting right on time.
I’ve ate at the Chez Mal brasserie a couple of times and the food is always really amazing. They even make green beans taste nice mixed in with crumbly feta. The steak is the winner for me though! A Sunday night stay is often cheaper at the Malmaison if you’re combining it with dinner in the restaurant.
We tried out the newly refurbished Mal Bar, which was totally different to how it used to be. I often felt it was a bit like a sports bar, but that feel has definitely gone now, with plush seating areas, and even some secluded sectioned off booths that can be made as private or public as you’d like. The decor is quirky but glamorous, and the cocktail menu is still as good as ever. The two for 10 section is all you need really!
I’ve mentioned the view but there’s a lot more to the location than just the bridges. On a Sunday you can wander along the quayside market, there’s the cultural events that come to the Sage, or the free art gallery at the Baltic. Through the summer months make the most of the ‘Quayside Seaside’, complete with fish and chips from the fish shack next door. Staying here also means you’re close by all the bars and restaurants that live down by the banks of the River Tyne.
The Malmaison is by far my favourite but for other options you can look at The Copthorne, Hotel du Vin, The Hilton on the other side of the river, and there’s a couple of Premier Inns for a cheaper option too.
Italian – one of the best spots for Italian food options in Newcastle is down on the quayside. People rave over Gusto (it’s not my personal favourite), and there’s also Piccolino or Babucho. Babucho is in a great spot for a short walk to the bars of Dean Street after your meal. My go to is Caffe Vivo, as there’s always something amazing on the specials, and it’s right next to the Broad Chare if you fancy a drink before your meal.
Asian – I can’t really look past Aveika, with it’s huge menu of Japanese food, sushi and carefully created cocktails. Other options are Mantra Thai and The Orchid Chinese, both of which I haven’t been to for a while but I always hear good things from those that have. Although to be honest if you want Chinese I’d head straight to Landmark in China town.
British scran – for good pub food, and traditionally British meals the quayside can offer you The Bridge Tavern, Red House or the nicest of them all, the Broad Chare. Book in advance for Sunday dinner at the Broad Chare to avoid disappointment. Their bar snacks are also pretty unbeatable.
Fine dining – for a fine dining experience House of Tides, Dobson and Parnell, Cafe 21 and SIX at the top of the Baltic are all in this area. Cafe 21 is definitely one of the nicest restaurants in Newcastle, and House of Tides is the award winning Michelin Star place near the Tyne Bridge. For a view to match the quality of food then SIX has the best view of them all overlooking the river from above. I’ve not ate at House of Tides myself, but it’s the type of place I’d be researching heavily before paying for it, so for reviews check out these from North East Family Fun, Nomipalony and Scobberlotch.
Quayside Pubs and Bars
Newcastle has a reputation for it’s nightlife and the quayside lives up to this with plenty of options for drinks. Whether you’re after a day session, evening cocktails or a few quiet ones you can take your pick.
Ale houses and pubs – The Bridge Tavern, Red House and The Broad Chare are some of my favourites, and while I don’t know much about beer, I can tell you that the Broad Chare serves Aspalls and that cider is heaven in a glass. Colonel Porter’s has just opened on Dean Street, with a Geordie history and evolved from the beginnings of Newcastle Brown Ale. There’s a Slug and Lettuce right by the river which tends to attract tourists, stag and hen parties as it’s the first bar they see.
Quayside Cocktail and Late night bars – Livello and it’s sister bar Aveika are both hot spots on the Newcastle nightlife scene. I much prefer both of them a bit earlier in the evening when it’s a bit more civilised and they have really nice outdoor terraces. This is purely because I’m too old to deal with the drama of nightclubs these days. Pitcher and Piano right by the river is nice in summer for a drink outside, and for anyone who enjoys champagne or champagne cocktails then Glasshouse is the bar for you.
Cafes – When it comes to cafes there’s a Starbucks in the Malmaison, but I always go to the Great British Cupcakery. It’s amazing for a coffee and a cake, afternoon tea or one of their ‘geet big milkshakes’. If you’re a fan of cats there’s CatPawCino (awful) cat cafe, and further along is Dala, a Swedish cafe and deli. Quay Ingredient is also located under the Tyne Bridge serving delicious coffee.
There’s not much in the way of shopping down on the Quayside, other than the market on a Sunday where you’ll find all sort of local stalls. Paintings, food, photographs, crafts, the market stretches the whole way down. A walk up Dean and Grey Street will take you through two of the prettiest streets in the city, and you will wind up in the centre surrounded by shops.
Enjoy a shop followed by lunch in Fenwick’s food hall to round off your trip – two I’ve tried recently and really enjoyed were Fuego’s and the Saltwater Fish Company.
So Newcastle’s quayside is obviously a great area of the city and has a mix of all sorts for you to enjoy.
Newcastle Quayside Itinerary
For those who asked for a specific itinerary this is what we did last week:
Walk along the quayside, past the bridges and quayside seaside to enjoy the view. If you’re there early enough have lunch at one of the cafes or pubs.
Check in to Malmaison – enjoy the comfortable rooms, especially if they have a river view, or get a spa treatment.
Sample the cocktails in the Mal bar before dinner, with the two for 10 offer you can get through a few.
Have dinner in one of the many restaurants, we went to Aveika.
Follow up your dinner with drinks in some of the bars to be found around the area. We went to Aveika’s outdoor area, and then Livello’s outdoor terrace too because it was such a nice night. If the weather wasn’t so good Babucho’s cocktail lounge would probably have been the alternative, or a walk further up into town.
Either Mal breakfast in bed or a coffee from Quay Ingredient. If it’s a Sunday and the market is on the Tynemouth Coffee Company often show up and that’s good too while you wander among the stalls. If you’re lucky you might catch the bridge blinking.
Walk up through Dean and Grey Street into the centre of Newcastle and go shopping.
Lunch in Fenwick’s food hall. The exception to this is if it’s a Sunday, then you should go to the Broad Chare for lunch.
Afternoons are for drinking, and most people in Newcastle on a day off will be found in literally any of the bars. During the day The Bridge Tavern, the Red House, Broad Chare and Colonel Porter’s are good choices.
If something more cultural is your thing then see what’s on at the Baltic, or watch the world go by from the Quayside Seaside with an ice cream.
Dinner – take your pick from any of the restaurants on offer.
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