9 Inverness Pubs Tried and Tested
Inverness on a Friday Night is like offering an alcoholic residency in a brewery. Who would really say no and whoever does has more self control than we do. There are more bars than there are Tescos in Inverness which in itself is an achievement considering Inverness is also known as Tesco Town. Whilst on the subject of shops, why does Inverness have so many mobile phone repair shops? We can only assume this is down to the amount of phones that are dropped at the weekend here. With some of these pubs, it is no wonder.
My partner and I were lucky enough to win a competition through the UrPal app. The prize included a stay in The Columba Hotel and tickets to attend the refurbishment launch at The Caledonian Bar and Restaurant through the 'UrPal' app. Check out their website here.
Never ones to miss an opportunity, we documented a crawl round some of the finest Inverness pubs, for research purposes obviously... I wish I had done this when I was 18. At least then I could estimate the exact time that everything went downhill, in turn knowing which drink I could blame it all on. We decided to make the most of the boozy bars and the vibrant atmosphere. When in Rome...
You chicken me out?
We were both shattered from the flight from Aberdeen to Inverness that we both needed a good munch. Yes I said flight... We were both so terribly excited to go to Jimmy Chungs as Aberdeen no longer has one. They used to have 4 branches of Jimmy Chungs in Aberdeen but they all closed down/burnt to the ground. Jimmy Chungs used to be the best place north of Elgin but it is just not the same as it was when I was 12. They had at least 16 3 hour old chicken options but there are were no prawns. Prawns are the only reason we went! Unfortunately we were not off to the best of starts.
Is it too early for wine?
My partner is convinced that Inverness locals can drink anyone else under the table and for many of the local boozers, this is the case. I used to be a connoisseur of the Inverness pubs however since then I have aged and matured like a fine wine or an old cheese. Since then, I cannot hack the day time/beer garden boozing or I will be asleep with the Spice Girls album by 7pm.
Therefore we decided a little coca cola (mental) was on the cards. MacNabs is right beside the Columba Hotel so we thought it a goer due to the lack of having to walk anywhere. What a cute little, underrated bar! MacNabs is very traditional but has a classy, clean feel about it. We sat outside in the 16 degree heat. What is that all about by the way? Inverness + 16 degrees in April is almost unbelievable.
Check her out!
The Columba Hotel boasts a very traditional Scottish, bonnie reception area with a nice little sitting area in front of a large stained glass window which looks on to the River Ness. If you have the time to sit down and look at water then this is the place for you. I would advise booking a room or something if you want to sit there though as the staff might think you a little weird if you just walk in and sit down.
After spending a couple of hours putting on the final 2 layers of foundation, we got our best shoes on and took a walk through Tesco toon up to the newly refurbished Caledonian on the High Street. We were treated to a little glass of prosecco in the newly decorated Caledonian whilst we touched base on our plan of attack. My partner had the professional, business like idea of going round the Inverness pubs and documenting the process whilst sipping on a beverage or 12. Now, in any job, anywhere, who doesn't want to be able to sip cider whilst taking in the 'ambience?' Me likey, me lighty.
The Gellions on a Friday evening at 7pm is very different to The Gellions at 8pm on a Saturday night. This was a good thing though as we were both too sober and tired from our flight to bounce about to patriotic, Scottish tunes. Instead, we got to have a nice pinty at the bar and actually talk to each other. We may work together but we don't actually get the chance to speak very much. I realised that I do actually quite like this man that has been following me about for the last 3 years.
I would be lieing if I said that I was a Gellions virgin. We have been here many times before and have made some epic memories. If you are visiting Inverness and are looking for the most Scottish and lively of the Inverness Pubs then the Gellions is your place. There is a pretty solid chance you will not be disappointed. There is quite often live music and none of it is rubbish.
On route to pub numero 2, we witnessed a drunk turd/young guy accidentally shove an old lady. Usually, everyone around would kick off in defence of the wifey. Not in Inverness. Instead the little old, innocent looking woman said some very strong, vulgar words and reduced him down to the size of a 5 piece. The older cliental are tougher than the young ones here so watch out and try and retain balance.
Lauders has become affa fancy. It is great to see Inverness pubs getting a bit of a facelift. Lauders is actually quite a nice looking pub these days. Back when I was younger, Lauders was the place to go with your baseball bat if you were looking for a game of fists. The toilets left a lot to be desired and the punters were kept there by means of glue on the floor. Lauders is like a new pub now. The whole place has been redecorated and everything is just so, damn, sparkling!
The only problem is that the light switch for the disco lights is on the roof. True story, we actually witnessed the DJ use a broom to turn them on. Hey, we can't all get everything right! Check in to Lauders for reasonable prices and a comfortable drink with friends. If you are a tourist then the chances are that you never knew the old Lauders which means you will probably quite like the new one.
Another of the classic Inverness pubs. The food here is pretty glorious. Think reasonable prices and big portions. Should you be looking for some quality pub grub then I would suggest nipping in to the Auctioneers. They cater to kids as well so there is no need to dump the young ones with granny. The Auctioneers is a pretty big bar with big screen TVs for watching the football on. This is also a great place to go for birthdays and special occasions due to the sheer size of it.
By this point the half pints were making a heavy appearance. The truth is, we are on the downward slope towards sensible and cider makes me bloat. On to the next one...
R&Bs Restaurant & Bar
We have found our happy place. There is something that I like about coming back to Inverness for a weekend and seeing that something has changed. R&Bs used to be The Room which I only ever popped in to for a sly shot whilst on a pub crawl. The place has changed hands and has been completely re-decorated. Think plush teal and purple velvet with great customer service, indulgent food and a little bit of mambo no. 5. Eating ain't cheating so I had breaded brie and Scott had a prawn cocktail and some soup. £4.95 for each dish and the portions were pretty spectacular. Get involved people!
R&Bs are soon to launch their new loyalty scheme which offers customers a VIP card. If you have the VIP card, you only have to pay for your booze, mixers come free which means £1.80 for a vodka. This is a cracking bar and restaurant with something for everyone and we have high hopes for the place!
Hootananny or 'Hoots'
Hootanannys is one of the Inverness pubs that you must go to if you are a tourist in Inverness. The Calum MacPhail Trio were playing bouncy Scottish and Irish tunes when we went in and the place was bouncing. We couldn't actually move but managed to get to the bar with minimal effort. Isn't it funny when people say that they didn't enjoy somewhere because they 'couldn't move' but yet they still managed to drink plenty. Moving to the bar obviously didn't pose too much of a problem then.
This is another great, traditionally Scottish bar with lots of fine whiskies and ales on tap as well as all the usual suspects. They serve food through the day however I have never actually eaten there before. Adding that one to the bucket list!
MacCallums is an old, traditional pub in the centre of Inverness. It is a place that people visit to heighten their alcohol levels. Many of the attendees achieve this. There are no bells and whistles. The drinks are pretty cheap and there is nearly always decent live music.
Therefore should you be touring the Inverness pubs and are looking for a place that you can go to get 'loose' then take a stop here. I am pretty sure that MacCallums was here before Inverness was and there are definitely some relics at the bar.
This was the last stop on our tour of the Inverness pubs. Every place needs a decent Irish bar with a good choice of booze and a bit of banter. Johnny Foxes also serves great food through the day. With great prices and pizza available till 2am, you don't even need to leave early for the end of night kebab. Pretty classy stuff.
Happily Ever After
At this point, I was craving a minimum of 32 Mozzarella sticks from McDonalds and a kip that would make Sleeping Beauty envious. We had a great time wandering round the Inverness pubs and we highly recommend this to both the locals and tourists alike.
Should you be looking for an even bigger choice of boozy barns and tasty table service then download the free UrPal app. UrPal gives you the low down on everything Inverness related including transport and events.
We would both like to say a big cuddly thanks to UrPal for their competition which provided us with the opportunity to tour the Inverness Pubs. Thank you to The Columba Hotel for playing host. Thanks to The Caledonian for having us over to see their newly refurbished establishment.
Also, our deepest thanks to the half pints that prevented me from going erse over elbow into the River at the end of the night.
If you are looking for some amazing things to see that aren't pubs, head over to our post about 37 Inverness Points of Interest.