When faced with a choice, Swindon might not be the place many are drawn to for a stylish night out. Understandable as by reputation, Swindon isn't on the list of most covetable place to live, or shop, or to go out. But, it really isn't half bad. In fact, it's actually rather good...
The one overwhelming piece of advice I received was to hit up Wood Street, and basically ignore the rest of town. We followed this advice and it seems everyone was on to something, or the one thing, that Wood Street is where you want to be if you're looking for a fun, trendy night out.
Looking out of the window of Baker Street bar you wouldn't know you were in grey, industrial Swindon; you could be anywhere. A pub-lined street in London, a trendy alley in Bristol. I didn't actually mind where I was at that moment as I had two very large and lovely (and two for one!) raspberry flavoured cocktails called "Eclipse" in front of me, tinting everything a lovely shade of rose.
We had a less satisfactory experience with the Long Island ice teas, and decided to move on to The Old Bank, which is spread across three floors. They house a restaurant on the ground floor, a bar/lounge on the first floor and a bar/dance floor at the top. We bypassed the restaurant completely and headed straight for the bar in the middle. We were greeted with lovely cocktails (I had a French Martini, divine) and a very respectable selection of beers and wines. There was also a very nice selection of people to be seen on this floor. I love a bit of people watching! We met these beauties:
as well as various other socialisers at The Old Bank. After another beer (him) and a cocktail (me) we headed upstairs to check out the disco. Again pleasantly surprised! I'm not sure what I was expecting but obviously it wasn't much as I was thrilled by each new discovery. I was dreading what the music would be like as I don't really listen to the radio anymore and haven't kept up with new music or bands for ages. I figured I just wouldn't know any of the songs played and I'd have to bob along, not really enjoying myself. Luck was kind to me though, and the DJ played just the sort of stuff I like to dance to when I'm a little sauced! He played Beyonce, Justin Timberlake... etc etc but it was right up my slightly tipsy alley. Yay! I finally got to have a little dance!
It must've been about midnight and we decided to hop next door to Mackenzie's; a long sprawling bar with lots of tables and still more pretty people. We may have gone to these bars in a reverse order as Old Bank was filling up while Mackenzie's seemed to be winding down. But we met some nice people and ended up having a lot of fun! By this hour the male population was definitely better represented in the style stakes, we found these guys propping up the bar:
And these ones holding down the smoking room:
All polite and lovely young men, we had very fun banter and convo until it was time to turn in.
I'm not sure if Swindon will ever be "up-and-coming", but if a few more outsiders saw this version that I saw, one might be able to overlook the grey squat buildings and the somewhat unsavoury peoples hanging around the town centre, and appreciate the coolness that is there!
All in all, a very worthwhile night out and one I am keen on repeating. All of the people in the bars and even the people manning the bars were all really fun and nice, and well, it really is worth remembering not to judge a book and all that as you may be very, very surprised with what you find on the inside.