Either heaven or hell, depending on your preference. Affectionately known as "The Whorehouse", all expats and many tourists arrive here eventually unaware of the horrors that lie within. Any sports event worth its salt is shown here, from American football to League Two play-off semi finals.
There are surly bartenders who will only answer shouts of 'Dyevushka!' (“girl!”), a happy hour before 6pm and decent American food. The real draw card for the expat community is on Sunday, when the place is packed with prostitutes and prospective expat clients.
If it's culture you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place, but it's open all night and you're guaranteed some sort of a spectacle at some point. In spite of everything, it's difficult not to have a good time here.
Zemlyonoi Val; nearest metro: Kurskaya (brown ring / dark blue line)
The Union is a bohemian piratical bar in a bohemian, piratical area (St Gilles). It was originally the home of the Union of St Gilles football club (holders of the longest unbeaten record of any football club in Belgium) and now plays host to punks, hippies, and stoners of every description (although I wouldn't recommend lighting one up there, new Belgian legislation regarding cannabis notwithstanding).
The décor is composed of insane clowns, grinning pirates, a nice poster of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and various other head toys that will both amuse and fascinate the casual observer. Some nice runework in the loos is representative of the anarchistic spirit of this counter-cultural icon.
St Gilles, the 'Parvis'; nearest tram stop: Parvis de St Gilles
Bizon café is a blues bar in the St Gery area. It offers a wide range of chilled vodkas, genevers, Belgian beers and bison blood (try it you'll like it) in a smoky blues atmosphere. About the only party going on in Brussels on a Monday night is the café's jam session, which hosts such blues circuit favourites as Bai Kamara, Geezer Young, Roman, Stevie and Rob Fewster.
A genuine crowd spirit with the chance to get trollied on a Monday night whenever it's been hard getting back to work.
Karperbrug 7; near central station and the Grand Place; www.cafebizon.com
Genuine London Routemaster bus situated behind the Bolshoi Theatre. Serves pizza, chips and not very tasty sandwiches - but it is a great place for cheapish beer and awful Russian rock music. Candle-lit and full of Moscow skate kids. Looks beautiful in the snow.
Be warned though, the place is smoke-filled and its strongest point is its location.
Nearest metro: Teatralnaya; behind the Bolshoi Theatre. It's just parked up. You can't miss it
Generally, beer in Moscow is either crap or very expensive crap pretending to be German at £3 a glass. 317 serves a good pint called Rubinovoe (Ruby) at 70 roubles a go.
The place is relaxing, none of the modern Russian pomp and forced chic. TV with endless reels of fashion walks is, alas, on all the time (muted), but concentrate on beer and you'll be fine.
Find the White House, the seat of government. Turn your back to the river. The very next street to the left of the government compound is the one you need. Nearest metro: Smolenskaya or Krasnopresnenskaya metro
The cafe attached to the Contemporary Art Centre is effortlessly cool. Its dimly-lit interior suits winter well, in summer it sprawls outside. The soup of the day is usually pretty good and I hear good things about the pancakes too.
Bilingual staff, a non-pretentious art crowd and great music make give it a really good atmosphere. It also hosts talks for the CAC and often has DJs in the evenings.
Vokieciu 2, Vilnius; it's on the corner opposite the town hall
As nice as the tourist traps of the Grand Place are, you could do a lot worse than try this excellent family run bar/restaurant in the popular but sedate St Catherine area.
This a place where locals eat and drink, reflected in the menu and the prices. There are the usual steaks and moules frites, but you can try other typical Brusselois fare such as Anguilles au Vert (eels in green sauce and nicer than it sounds), Stoemp and even horse!
This is a very friendly, real place and well worth a try even if only for a drink before eating at the excellent St Catherine restaurants. Only a brief stroll from Bourse.
Rue St Catherine; The nearest metros are St Catherine or Bourse
Wow. For the definitive view of London, reserve a place at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar at the top of Tower 42. The bar is located on the 42nd floor and gives great views over the city.
Remember to book upfront, the bar does not accept walk-ins. Also remember to dress smartly, there’s lots of city folk in suits. Over 18s only.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ; Nearest tube: Bank; www.vertigo42.co.uk
Breathtakingly gorgeous art nouveau cafe/bar just five or so minutes from the Grand Place. Hearty nosh: moules and frites (of course), tasty Zeebrugge shrimp omelette, rugged carbonnades flamandes stew. There’s also loads of choccy puddings, plus Leffe and plenty of other beers on draught.
The English language menu on their website is worth a look for shameless, cheap-laugh lovers (like your correspondent). How about Salade Landaise “with gizzards and poultry lievers parfumed with orange room”. Or the somewhat Julian Clary-sounding “Warm Entries”.
Henri Mausstraat/Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels;
Nearest Metro: Bourse; www.resto.be/falstaff
A beautifully decorated, trendy, yet unpretentious bar just off the well-trodden Rue Oberkampf. Great music, delicious cocktails and arguably the most beautiful man in the world works behind the bar towards the end of the week. Wonderful local atmosphere, but completely welcoming. Paris doesn't get any sweeter than this.
4, Rue Neuve Popincourt; Metro: Parmentier or Oberkampf; Bus: 96
When in Brussels, this place is not to be missed for three reasons:
1.The museum is located in one of the most stunning art nouveau buildings in Europe, built by master architect Paul Santenoy.
2. It houses one of the best collections of musical instruments you will ever see, with over 6000 pieces.
3. The top-floor bar and restaurant offer good food in a very stylish décor, where you can relax for a few hours or entertain friends.
Bonus: the stunning views over central Brussels. There is an open-air roof terrace in summer.
2, Rue Montagne de la Cour
Tel: 02 545 01 30
Fax: 02 545 01 79
This is a fantastic north African teahouse right in the middle of the old town. Not particularly French or Nicois, it's a great location to escape the madness of the promenade on a Sunday or old dears carrying their minuscule dogs (most days).
You sit on cushions in one of the dimly-lit rooms and choose from a huge selection of teas and juices.
Love this place...
Nocy-Bé, 6, Rue Jules Gilly, 06000 Nice
A fantastic drinkers' bar in the heart of Århus. Just off the chic but expensive Åboulevarden, this hidden gem is a great place for a cheap pint and a chance to meet some of the less well-polished locals. Great small garden for the warmer months.
Just behind Georg Jensen on the Strøget (High St)
A real Belgian street-corner bar, in an area overrun with Irish theme pubs. It is open 24 hours, and when I lived there, it was the scene of many a deep and drunken conversation while watching the sun rise.
On the corner of Rue Franklin and Rue Archimede, near the EU buildings
A sprawling two-storey bar that looks like a junk shop, Goupil le Fol is a favourite place for first dates, thanks to its battered, but comfortable sofas, and its many nooks and crannies. Also known for its range of delicious flavoured wines (blackcurrant, raspberry, nut, etc). A bulwark against the increasing homogenisation of city centre nightlife.
22 Violetstraat/Rue de la Violette 22; Tel: 2 511 13 96
Simply one of the finest bars in Europe. Ring the bell to get in, stay until dawn. Listen to live jazz around the grand piano in the middle of this art-deco palace (once upon a time, it was a brothel but there's no hint of seediness now).
Amazing cocktails, friendly staff and clientele, the bar is open until dawn every day. A slice of glamour in the city centre and away from the scrum of tourists and locals in the nearby bars of Saint-Gery.
Rue Antoine Dansaert, 6; Metro Bourse; www.archiduc.net
A club on Sukhumvit Soi 4. The area is often perceived, wrongly, as a mecca for sex tourists and drunken Brits abroad, but this is a gross generalisation.
Hidden away off the main soi, Angels Disco in the Nana Hotel is a wonderful escape from all the Bangkok cliches and a chance to meet young, cool Thais.
Music is mostly acid jazz and the cooler chilled-out sounds reminiscent of an early dawn in Ibiza in the late 1980s. The disco moniker is ironic as this is essentially a bar-cum-club- cum-restaurant.
If you want to see a different side to Bangkok and a chance to meet friendly young Thais and a better class of foreigner, go to Angels at Nana. But go there soon as the cool crowd in Bangkok tend to get bored of places quickly and move on.
Sukhumvit Soi 4; Skytrain staion: Nana
A vibrant nightlife district of Bangkok. However, amongst the shows, bars and endless offers of “DVD, VCD, sex,” there is a reminder of how the west abuses the east. There are some great bargains, though (in the clothes markets, I mean!)
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