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4 September 2017


despite the media-born reputation newcastle has itself thanks to the likes of geordie shore and its many knock-off series, i was mega excited to spend the weekend exploring the northern city - and the lesser-known riverside city of gateshead, with charley over the august bank holiday weekend. we jumped on the train at king's cross at 10am and by 1pm we'd arrived in the great north, starving, but ready to get our weekend started! our itinerary was packed with sightseeing, city tours, and meetings with some of the destination's most knowledgeable folk, but the thing we were looking forward to the most was eating and drinking our way around the city.

sleeperz hotel newcastle

colourful, comfortable, and centrally located was our first stop: sleeperz hotel. it was a two minute walk right out of the station, and suuuuper close to everything we wanted to see in the weekend (except the naughty clubs we've all heard so much about, thankfully). the lobby welcomed us with the most incredible decor i've ever seen in a budget hotel, and the staff were even more welcoming still. our room wasn't quite ready, but in 15 minutes it was. quick! our room was small, but the perfect size for two gals who hadn't planned on using the room for anything but sleeping.

our room didn't have much of a view, but again, we weren't planning on spending too much time in it! it was quiet and safe, and the twin beds were some of the comfiest i've slept on (outside of my own) in some time. on both nights in the hotel we were sleeping like logs until the unfortunate matter of the alarm sounded, signalling another busy day. we'd pre-booked the breakfast buffet ahead of time, and it was a good thing too as there's nothing that will set you up for a full day of sight-seeing quite like all-you-can-eat bacon and eggs, is there? you can find the hotel here:

fifteen westgate road
newcastle upon tyne, ne1 1se

the tyne bar

starving, we headed off to the quayside to find some food. naturally we were immediately distracted by the incredible bridges and breathtaking views, but more on that another day. we'd been strolling for about twenty minutes before we realised we had no idea where were walking to, so hit up google. google suggested we were pretty close to a "well known pub with great live music" called the ship, so we headed for that. except, it's re-branded in the last few years, and the venue that now sits on the river at the edge of ouseburm, is now the tyne bar. not a problem in the slightest, as the live music was still a feature, but now it also offered street art murals in the beer garden, fairy lights, and a menu to die for.

we settled in with a nice cold bevvy while we perused the menu, and revelled in getting a round in, and still getting change from a tenner. we both chose fairly cheesy options, which - in hindsight, wasn't the greatest plan, but more on that in a bit. i went with some loaded fries (£4) with cheese and bacon, and charley chose the mac & cheese (£3.50). both dishes were absolutely craaacking, and i literally devoured mine in minutes - and then went on to devour charley's left overs too. totally stuffed with cheese, we sat and lounged in the pretty beer garden, soaking up the start of the early evening, and watching the bar start to fill up with early saturday night regulars. it was a fab little venue, and one that hosts live music every. single. weekend. we made plans at that point to make sure we came back later on to enjoy some of that too. find it here:

one maling street
newcastle, ne6 1lp

the herb garden

the reason for my hindsight regret over the extra cheesy lunch was this: the herb garden and their reputation for incredible pizzas. we had a late reservation, which was helpful because our late lunch had kept up fuelled for the rest of the day (until the point where we both collapsed for an hours nap in the afternoon, totally shattered from walking aaaall over the city), and the hunger was certainly not there until later in the day. to help us digest, and to set us up for our pizza dinner, we started with a few drinks at the bar. it wasn't until we took our seats that we noticed the incredible decor and lighting in the main restaurant - a hundred white paper lanterns hung from the ceiling, and obviously stole all the focus from anything else going on in the restaurant. well, except the food. 

the herb garden is the newest pizza place on the block, and lives in the former railway arches by sleeperz hotel (handy for the pre-dinner naps!). all of the herbs that go into the restaurant's unique pizzas are grown on-site in - you guessed it: a herb garden. i went for a pizza with prosciutto, rocket, mozzarella and parmesan (£11) and charley went for one with happy ham, wild mushrooms, mozzarella, ricotta and thyme (£10), and both were increddddibly tasty. the base was the perfect sort of dough to create a thick, chewy crust, and the toppings were the good sort that go aaaaall the way to the crust and are perfectly spaced out so every mouthful is as good as the last. we legit couldn't eat most of it though - damn that exquisite lunch we'd had earlier, but we did manage to take it back to the hotel with us for midnight snacks. 10/10 best hotel pizza everrrrrrrr. find them here:

arch eight westgate road
newcastle, ne1 1sa

pink lane coffee

on our second day in newcastle, we had a lotttt of things planned in, and the only way i was going to survive any of it was with coffee. the machine in the hotel did the best it could, but it wasn't up to standard so we went and sought the standard i'm used to. pink lane coffee came highly recommended from some local pals, as a speciality cafe right in the heart of the city. and it has a neon pink sign, is dog friendly, and caters for the lactose intolerant in more than one way (almond, soy, and coconut). pink lane uses as much local produce as possible, and all of their cakes, pastries and coffee beans are sourced locally too. get your coconut lattes here:

one pink lane
newcastle, ne1 5dw


in the heart of eclectic ouseburn is ernest, an independent cafe/bar, which boast a host of live music and dancing on the daily. it takes a little determination to find, because - as are most things in ouseburn, it's situated in a pretty industrialised area. what used to be big industry has now become a hub of creative and digital types, and in doing so, has brought some great little venues to the area. ernest is only one of them. when we arrived on bank holiday monday, it was full - of students, of young families, of regular locals. the staff were friendly, the drinks were homemade, and the food looked absolutely delicious. see what all the fuss is about:

one boyd street
ouseburn, ne2 1ap

six at baltic

on the sunday of our stay we planned to have lunch with a view. six at baltic is the art gallery's stunning rooftop restaurant, that has absolutely breathtaking and panoramic views out over the tyne and newcastle and gateshead, and an incredible floor-to-ceiling window in the ladies' bathroom that had the vertically-challenged among us feeling torn between woozy and wowed. almost as wowed as we were with the actual food menu when we saw it. full of sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, we were staring at the perfect lunch offer.

with two courses for £19 or three for £23, there were so many delicious dishes on offer, but being that it was sunday, there was only one thing i wanted: roast. the beef was so incredibly tender and the potatoes were crispy to a point of perfection. the side serving of vegetables was served to share between two, and i would have liked a bit more, or more to myself, but it was roasted exceptionally. the gravy was herby and rich, and was the one thing that could have topped off the meal.. until the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream was served and i was in food porn heaven. try it yourself here:

level six restaurant
south shore road
gateshead ne8 3ba

the botanist

while out and about in the day, we discovered the botanist. from street level all we could see was the glass dome adorning the roof, and our tour guide filled us in on the rest. picture a roof terrace with incredible city view, twinkling fairy lights, excellent cocktails, and soulful live music from two acoustic guitars, and you're still only halfway there. it's not hard to see why the botanist is one of the most popular bars in the newcastle gateshead area, as the refurbished listed building has some of the best views across the city's centre, and out to the river below.

the cocktails and entertainment weren't too bad either. we sat with our cocktails at an outdoor table with a spectacular view of the sunset, listening to a folk bad playing a beautiful version of wonderwall, and watched the clientele go from sunday afternoon classy to geordie shore chic with the dipping of the sun. we were in our element in that bar, and we could have very easily stayed there for the whole setting of the sun, drinking in the pretty victoriana cocktail bar had we not already found the perfect place to finish our night.. have your sunset cocktails here:

monument mall
newcastle ne1 7al

billy bootleggers

our final stop on our big night out was newcastle's newest diver bar: billy bootleggers. we'd spotted the alleyway opening as we sat in another of newcastle's fancier cocktail bars. we'd seen the sign out the front announcing the appearance of a rhythm and blues band later that night, no cover charge, and a happy hour on cocktails. need i say more? ok, i will. the interior was 100% americana novelty chic, the cocktails were all made with either bourbon, whisky, or moonshine, and the dj on before and after the band only played 50s and 60s rock and roll. and jive. and some jazz. and we were there from about 8:30pm until just before midnight when we finally had to call it a night and get ourselves to bed. it was honestly one of the best nights i've had in a long time too, so, see why for yourself here:

nelson street
newcastle, ne1 5an

*some of our meals, drinks, and accommodation were complimentary, but all words are mine!