On The Road
The Seven Party Cities To Visit Next
Ahead of New Year’s, here are seven surprising places to let the good times roll – before everyone else catches on
The Copenhagen skyline. Photograph by Mr Tudor Andrei/Shutterstock
The problem with party cities is that by the time they become known as that they are usually exactly the type of places you don’t want to visit – seas of lager and loutishness, teenagers running wild and great blooms of cheap aftershave. Does that sound snobbish? We prefer discerning. The world is big, so why not go a little further afield when you are next looking to party. From Beijing to Buenos Aires, we have the done the homework to find the perfect places to sip an ice-cold martini and then let your hair down once it is jacket-off time. So, scroll down for the low-down on your next big night out.
Photograph by Getty Images
Bistrot B at Rosewood Beijing. Photograph courtesy of Rosewood Beijing
The Chinese capital might seem a peculiar choice – most people consider Shanghai to be China’s party city. But look a little harder at Beijing and you will find a city with many down-to-earth, cultural and friendly people who love to have a good time. The city is picked out by numerous hutongs (small streets) all with very different personalities. Finding the right ones is the key. A good place to start is in the Sanlitun area, at Migas for rooftop disco music (very popular with the style set) or D Lounge for a buzzy house scene. Alternatively, there is the ancient Gulou area, which is full of hipster hangouts. Great Leap 6 is good for local beer and a traditional hutong courtyard experience. After that, head to Yugong Yishan, for the best in Chinese and international bands and DJs or DADA for sets by touring Berghain DJs mixed in with Sichuan-dialect Chinese rap. If you still aren’t sated then it’s on to Lantern, near the Workers’ Stadium, where the party continues until the morning, at which point you can head to Tiananmen Square to watch the raising of the national flag before heading home for some well-earned sleep.
Where to stay: at the Rosewood Beijing, the culture-rich five-star hotel in the Central Business District, known for its opulent gold-tiled pool and numerous in-house bars.
What to wear
Photograph by Mr Jason Jean
A Junior Suite at Hotel Danmark. Photograph courtesy of Hotel Danmark
The Danish capital might be cold at this time of year, but its nightlife scene is always hot. The Apollo Bar at the Royal Academy is where the entire creative class seem to come together every Friday and Saturday and is a nice place to start an evening. Beau Marché and Sabotøren are both cool wine bars, the first Parisian in style and the second with really nice natural wines. Also try Banchina, a tiny boat house serving beers with a view. The late-night scene centres on the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen). This low-rise area takes its lead from the New York area of the same name and is equally as popular with creative types. Kitsch paradise Jolene is a good start to kick things off, its pink neon sign something of a beacon for the unfamiliar. Expect lots of disco. Then head to Mesteren & Lærlingen, which might not have Studio 54 décor but does host all the best bands, local and international. Then clubwise KB18, which is the place for techno. Although it is good to find out where the Copenhagen Underground Posse have events – this group of DJs and producers has made a name for itself in the city, with some of the most innovative and interesting parties around.
Where to stay: Hotel Danmark, the muted 88-room hotel which showcases the best in Danish design along with five-star comfort. Check out the rooftop terrace for 360-degree views of the city.
What to wear
Byblos, Beirut. Photograph by Ms Sarka Babicka
Geopolitically, it’s had its ups and downs in the past few decades but the “Paris of the Middle East”, as it was once called, is back on winning form. No more so than when it comes to a night out. The Mar Mikhael neighbourhood is particularly lively. The arak cocktails at Anise and craft beer at Internazionale are great, the crowd good looking, and the vibe relaxed – make these the first stop. After that, Beirut Groove Collective at The Back Door is a cool spot if you want to listen to Ethiopian soul and 1970s Arab disco. Alternatively, head to The Gärten for the classic outdoor clubbing experience or AHM for house and techno. If your vibe is a little more chilled, or you are on your second night, head to the west to drink arak and get rowdy to some of the best Arabic dance music in the Middle East.
Where to stay: Zanzoun L’Hote Libanais, a charmingly decorated small house-hotel and an oasis of calm in a busy city.
What to wear
The indoor pool at Conrad Osaka. Photograph courtesy of Conrad Osaka
Photograph by Mr Petr Meissner
Many night owls are eschewing Tokyo these days and heading to Osaka instead. A smaller, more manageable city, it is known for its nightlife – and, well, there is certainly a lot of it. The main focus of a night here is Dōtobori, which is a long street that runs down a central canal and is packed with places to eat, drink, dance and sing karaoke. Custom is to fill up on ramen, then set about some traditional journey-man style drinking. Bar Nayuta is a raucous cocktail bar worth pulling up a stool in, while CinqueCento is the place to kick back and sip a martini with local creatives and the international crowd – it is relaxed, unpretentious and usually packed. From there, head to one of the late-night karaoke bars, if that is your particular want, The Drunken Clam being particularly good as it has lyrics in both Japanese and English. Then end your night at one of the roadside octopus snack stands.
Where to stay: the Conrad Osaka is housed in the upper levels of a skyscraper in the centre of the city is one of the best of a new breed of five-star design hotels.
What to wear
Photograph by Ms Karina Vera
Alvear Roof Bar. Photograph courtesy of Alvear Palace Hotel
Buenos Aires has long been a magnet for the sophisticated traveller, the city having some of the best restaurants in South America (see Elena and La Cabrera), but it also has a lively bar and club scene. If you are looking for low-key bars and an arty crowd, Palermo district is a good place to start – we particularly like the Victoria Brown Speakeasy with its range of craft cocktails. But for a more upmarket evening, the place to start out is the modish Floreria Atlántico, a beautifully decked out cocktail bar that is accessed through a florist. Next on the agenda should be mint juleps at the ever-full Presidente bar and then onto Uptown, a multi-roomed bar/club which has a loose New York theme. The best party south of the equator.
Where to stay: the Alvear Palace Hotel is one of the best in the city, a vast palace hotel equipped with an indoor swimming pool and rooftop bars.
What to wear
Photograph by iStock
The Serbian capital’s scene grew up in the late 1990s, when the country was ripped apart by war and its populace sought refuge and forgetfulness in nightclubs. And it is an iron law that you don’t go to Belgrade for a quiet one. The general focus of a night here are splavs, which are a combination of bar and nightclub, bobbing about on the Sava River. The idea is that you book a splav – reservations are essential: try the sites beogradnocu.com and belgradeatnight.com – and stay there for a whole night, rather than hopping around; making your way through the house’s vodka, champagne or the local pale lager Jelen Pivo. It pays to check out the different splavs before you embark on an evening, as each has a different personality and music. If you want a more upscale scene with stylish people head to River Club Lasta.
Where to stay: Square Nine’s Bauhaus-inspired frontage conceals a startling cool, five-star hotel with lots of mid-century modern touched and rootop dining at its restaurant, The Square.
What to wear
The lobby at The Principal. Photograph courtesy of The Principal
Photograph courtesy of The Principal
In Madrid, as with the rest of Spain, an evening tends to begin quite late. Tapas joints and restaurants tend to fill up at around 10.00pm, and it is good to follow suit, as a night out often lasts until sunrise. The key to making the most of the Madrileño nightlife is to understand that each of its barrios has a different personality. For upmarket bars, head to Salamanca; Salesas is cool and popular with the style crowd; Chueca is the main gay quarter; Malasaña, on the other hand, has a rock’n’roll vibe. We recommend taking a cocktail at the relaxed and upmarket Válgame Dios in Chueca, then on to Chatarra, in Salesas, to make your way through the cocktails of Mr Tato Riella, the Uruguayan mixologist of the moment, before heading to Teatro Kapital or El Amante for some disco or house, and then to bed for some (by that time) much-needed rest.
Where to stay: The Principal Madrid is a 76-room boutique hotel in the centre of the city, with a cool rooftop bar which is one of the most popular spots in town for alfresco cocktails.
What to wear
Globe-Trotter 20" Leather-Trimmed Suitcase
Eastpak Station Nylon Holdall
Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano Spinner 68cm Leather-Trimmed Aluminium Suitcase
Berluti Blackout Leather Holdall
Bleu de Chauffe Cabine Leather-Trimmed Canvas Holdall
Smythson Greenwich Lacquered-Cotton and Leather Carry-On Suitcase