48 Hours In... Newcastle

In a new series, Esquire guides you around the best cities in the UK and beyond, recommending the best places to eat, sleep, drink and play

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Like many Northern cities in the UK, Newcastle is still most famous for its twin passions: football, and partying.

But several decades of art-based regeneration, seen most clearly in the gleaming cultural institutions that now sit along its famous river bank, have helped challenge the perception that the Toon is all about hen parties and hooligans.

Today, to the well-informed traveller, Newcastle is more about record-breaking Turner Prize shows, gorgeous Edwardian architecture and a growing reputation for foodie hotspots.

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Not that the nightlife has suffered as a result, of course.

Here, Esquire rounds up its highlights of what the city has to offer for a quick stay.

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There's much to recommend 'Hotel Wine's Newcastle outpost, not least of all the excellent plonk offering available in their small, atmospheric restaurant (tip: don't miss the cheese board). First off, the location. Newcastle city centre is one of the country's most beautiful – and rambunctious. Du Vin is a perfect distance away so you can enjoy the nightlife, then retire to a more peaceful end of town with a short taxi ride – or better still, a walk along the Quayside soaking up the River Tyne and its famous bridges. Then there are the rooms. From the cheapest to the most expensive, Du Vin's suites are spacious and beautifully decorated. Outside in the courtyard, there's a hut to enjoy a taste of their excellent cigar offering.

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This extremely popular cafe has been reinvented a few times over recent years, but one thing has remained a constant: it serves the best fry up in the city. Located in the quieter suburb of Heaton, it's worth a small detour from the city centre to enjoy the relaxed settings and, if your feeling hungry, the 'Business' breakfast (two of everything, including white pudding).


One of the charms of Newcastle is its remaining medieval architecture, the best example of which also happens to host its finest restaurant. Blackfriars is a restored 13th-century friary that, surreally, sits a street or two away from St. James' Park or Chinatown. Walking from either into the tranquil cloisters of 13th century brickwork feels like stepping out of a time machine. The restaurant – also called Blackfriars – makes the most of its setting, restoring the original banquet hall and keeping the stained-glass windows and giant oak tables in tact. Forget the history lesson, though. The traditional-British menu has been acclaimed as Newcastle's best since Blackfriar's opened in 2001, and not just by Esquire either – The Observer, The Independent and the Michelin Guide have all recommended it in recent years.


Going to Newcastle and only visiting one bar would be like going to Paris and only eating in one restaurant. But if we only had time for one after dinner cocktail, we'd head to Toyko. It's not just the extensive and excellent menu, it's the setting too: downstairs, dimly lit and cosy, upstairs a vibrant open air garden where the Toon's socialites flock to share a martini.
 

The best view and the best beer in Newcastle, bar none. Aesthetically The Free Trade Inn is rough and ready like a great Northern boozer should be, but where it really matters – atmosphere and beer – it's in a league of its own. A CAMRA pub of the year in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the selection of craft beers and ciders is curated with passion, knowledge and invention by the friendly staff. A great jukebox and an eyeful of Newcastle's crowning landmark – the Tyne, with its glistening, historical bridges – seals the deal. Don't visit the Toon without making the effort to pop by.


Patrick Forster doesn't just cut the hair of the current Newcastle United team. When former players head back to the city for an away match, they get him down to their hotel to give their teammates a trim, which is how he came to style the millionaires of Man City, too. After 15 years cutting hair, including a stint at the Palace Hotel in Dubai, Forster runs Newcastle's best barbers. Head in for a stylish treatment and a laidback, no-nonsense atmosphere.


Since 2005, End has been connecting the men of Newcastle with high-end sportswear, casual and fashion brands from around the world. If you're after a new pair of A.P.C jeans an Acne bomber, this should be your first port of call. Set over two floors with plenty of room to sit down and ponder your purchase, it's an unhurried and enjoyable place to shop, too.

First Class travel from London to Newcastle is available from EastCoast starting at £328, getting you there in under 3 hours. Make sure you enjoy the view of the Tyne and is bridges on your right as you pull in.