Situated in the heart of Chueca, Madrid's vibrant and welcoming gay district, Aquarella is a bar you'll want to go back to. Tucked away on Calle Gravina, you will notice the flickering lights and luxurious interiour of this quiet bar. Take a seat on one of their antique chairs and you will be waited on by a friendly, handsome waiter. An intimate hide away, you can go with friends, a lover or alone. If you do go alone, be sure to brouse through Aquarella's small but always interesting collection of second hand fiction. Order a cocktail and keep your voice down. If you become a regular, the waiters will invite you to a drink. Que disfrutes.
Turn left down calle Gravina, just out of Chueca tube station. It's a 30 second walk from the metro, next to a funky hairdresser's.
Why would you want to come all the way to Ulan Bator, only to end up drinking in an Irish pub? Good point. However this brand new bar is the place to be in Ulan Bator at the moment of writing. Packed every night with excellent live music (not just cover versions of Hotel California), the Irish Pub has very little Irish about it, aside from the token (bad) Guinness. Stick to local beers or indulge in sharing a bottle (or more) of Chinggis Black vodka like the locals. Nice outdoor patio in summer.
Opposite Khan Brau
The best place to eat in summer. Upstairs has a European-style menu with excellent dishes at prices not dissimilar to other less impressive restaurants in town. The balcony is the best place to enjoy a beer in summer whilst looking at the view of Choijin Lama Monastery Museum and feeling the peace away from the main roads. Downstairs is a newly-opened Asian restaurant with great Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. Lovely décor, good service and a good location completes the picture.
Tel: +976 91914455
Calle Fuencarral is where the cool is in Madrid. All the "in" shops are there, from global brands like Levi's to national or local ones, you'll find stuff cool enough to impress your mates over here. Once on Calle Fuencarral, go to Mercado Fuencarral, a gathering of shops of all kinds. The area is called Chueca and it's the gay quarter.
I recommend walking up Fuencarral towards Malasaña and walk the pueblo-like narrow streets finding your way to Plaza Dos de Mayo, then choose a bar or cafe and you might be lucky enough to see director Alejandro Amenábar, who lives in the area.
Metro Gran Vía or Noviciado
Smokey blues bar which gets impossibly packed on the free gig nights on Tuesday-Thursday - get there early to get a seat. Top quality musicians squeeze onto the minuscule stage.
Between Sol and Opera on the top part of c/Hileras, just down from Plaza de las Descalzas
Each night there is live jazz, with a 20R cover charge for a stage view or 10R elsewhere. The bands tend to do 20-30 minute sessions, usually starting at 8pm and finishing in the early hours of the morning. The music is never so overbearing that you can't have a conversation.
The food is wonderful; the fresh seafood is always top notch and the steaks so tender they melt in the mouth. It's always difficult to decide between a starter or a dessert.
The house wine selection is very drinkable and goes with the main course, plus it's reasonably priced.
Arcade Pier Head
021 421 7471
Opera and the Palacio Real are two specific buildings but they also describe the area in which they are located, which is pedestrianised and beautifully preserved. There are gardens and bars which, on Saturdays and Sundays, are full of madrileños promenading and street artists playing music or dancing tango.
The Palacio Real (or Palacio de Oriente) is quite ugly itself, like an oversized wedding cake, but the Jardines de Sabatini are worth investigating. The area takes you to the end of Calle Mayor or to Pintor Rosales on the opposite side.
Metro Opera or Plaza de España
Tucked away in the West End this great restaurant serves contemporary Scottish food in a great setting. The Bothy manages to have staff in kilts and irn-bru sorbet on the menu, but still has an upmarket, elegant feel.
Ruthven Lane, Off Byres Road. Opposite Hillhead Subway station
The Peninsula in Tsim Sha Tsui is famous - and very expensive. However you can visit for much less. You can try high tea in the lobby, but the real pearl is the bar on the top floor of the hotel (there's also a restaurant there).
It has the most amazing view of HK Island. Stupid prices, but just have a small beer and drink in the view. Or, even better, check out the view from the gents.
Tsim Sha Tsui - from HK Island, the Star Ferry is terrific value and also has a stunning view.
The New Asia is on the 72nd storey of one of the tallest buildings in Singapore. It offers spectacular views of the city centre and the whole of Singapore - you might even see Malaysia on a clear day. Drinks are reasonably priced (for Singapore!) as long as you go before 9pm. Expect to pay around S$7-9 (£2.50)for a beer.
About 72 floors above City Hall MRT station
Typical local bar - great selection of European beers and the best Patatas Bravas in Madrid! Head down at dusk on a warm summer's evening to soak up the traditional Madrid atmosphere. There are dozens of tapas bars lining the street facing the park, and often buskers providing a bit of live music.
On the corner of Calle de Valmojado and Calle Illescas (Parque de Aluche), Aluche; nearest metro: Aluche/ Campamento
Even cities with a cultural standing as magnificent as Oxford have their sleazy little corners. Not much bigger than the inside of a bus, Downtown Manhattan's is the cheesy dive where no-one wants to end up but everyone always does.
3 George Street; tel: 01865 721101; proximity usually indicated by a trail of pavement pizzas
Original Nilsen is a very brown little pub in the town centre. It has fascinating and friendly patrons who sometimes drink a bit too much beer, but you can end up having some very interesting conversations with them if you’re lucky. It is known to be the preferred drinking hole of some of Norway’s top musicians and actors. Some days, live jazz is played and it’s rather impressive how they manage to fit a band as well as customers into this charming little space. The bartenders are all very friendly and they know their jazz very well. Don’t miss it when you’re in town.
Rosenkranzgate 11; www.original-nilsen.no/index_b.html (in Norwegian)
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