Darjeeling Nightlife, Bars & Pubs
Most of the visitors think that there is no nightlife in Darjeeling. Some even think that there can never be a nightlife in such a lazy hill town that goes off to sleep by 8pm. Well, if you are looking for nightclubs or discos where you can dance away to the wee hours while a DJ plays a hard rock, then surely Darjeeling may not be the place for you.
But to say that Darjeeling has no nightlife at all is wrong. This old hill town with its old colonial charm has adapted itself over time and offers nighttime entertainment in its own unique way.
It's a fact that most of the locals call it a day early. This has been a tradition and a result of somewhat conservative culture of Darjeeling. In summertime many restaurants and bars take last orders by 9:30pm and in winter even earlier. The shops start pulling the shutters down by 7pm. But that doesn't mean you too need to shut your day off for the night. Whenever I feel like extending my evening in Darjeeling to remain immersed in its magic, I pick up one of the following nightlife choices:
This is a more sophisticated and upscale pub & bar which is part of the well known Glenary's. It is located at the basement of the Glenary's building and offers a wide range of drinks and the complete range of food from Glenary's restaurant upstairs. As you walk in, the bar counter is right in front.
The Buzz, Glenary's
There are elevated areas next to the bar counter with tables and seating arrangements, and also several private cabins. The pub is marked by the various collections of items like models of vintage cars, cart wheels, bugles and many other musical instruments hanging from the ceiling and walls. Overall the atmosphere is casual and friendly. A music plays in the background all the time. Buzz also offers Hukas for smokers. They also make nice cocktails.
Although it's a cafe, it's a combination of bar, cafe and a music lounge. Live bands play in the evenings during the high season. Other times a western music is usally played. This is the only bar in the whole of Darjeeling which stays open till late night (until 12am and sometimes beyond).
You can find a lot of foreign tourists here. The ambience is friendly and casual, and ideal to meet and chat with fellow tourists and get to know their experience in treks & tours over a drink. The cafe serves mostly western fares. The food is nice. Other than spirits, cocktails and beer, they also serve hot and cold beverages like coffee, Darjeeling tea and soda of various kinds. Gatty's cafe is located about 10 minute uphill walk from Chowrasta (Mall) along Zakir Hussain road.
Located on Laden La road and opposite to the State Bank of India, The Park is another story where a musician had to turn into restaurateur. Deep, an entertaining jolly man who sits at the front counter with a large cowboy cap and many tattoos on his body, is the owner. If you look at him, you know that he could never set out to run a bar & restaurant.
Deep of Park, Darjeeling
But he too like Puran had to make a practical choice. And he has really done it well. The Park is a great serving authentic Thai dishes and has a bar that keeps a nice selection of drinks. The atmosphere is nice, relaxed and family friendly.
Glenary's Restaurant & Bar
This restaurant & bar was established during the British colonial days. The aura and the old colonial charm is still maintained. As you walk into the upper floor of Glenary's building, the high ceiling with many artwork on it and the large dining hall still holds the grandeur it had over 100 years back. This is a relatively upscale bar & restaurant and offers a wide range of options both for food and drinks.
Ringchen at the Bar of Glenary's
The overall atmosphere is friendly and comfortable. Many of the waiters here are old timers, so service may be a little slow. As you sit next to the windows overlooking the Nehru Road below, you can watch the continuous flow of people walking by. On the other side of the dining room, the windows open up to wonderful view of the mountains and valley. However you can get such view only during the day time or if its a full moonlit night.
Shangri-La Restaurant & Bar
Few yards from Glenary's along Nehru Road that leads to the Mall, you will find this cozy bar & restaurant. This building too came up during the colonial days. The inside decor is really appealing. There is a section next to the bar counter. The interior is mostly wood finished with arches.
Shangri-La Bar, Darjeeling
Fireplaces are lit up during winter. Large plasma TVs are fixed on the walls. The bar has nice selection of drinks of all types including wine, whiskey, bear, rum, vodka etc.
This is a traditional British style pub housed in a cozy cottage building. The pub is owned and run by Puran Gongba, a charming man in his middle age. Initially set out to be a great musician, but as the destiny would have it, Puran ended up running this pub. He named it after his son who lives abroad.
Joey's Pub Darjeeling
If you sit at the bar counter, you are likely to meet up with locals who come here regularly & swear by this pub, and of course Puran himself who is usually always available at the bar making drinks for the guests. There are several tables with cushioned seats, and you can even enjoy watching a sports channel on LCD TV. As the night trickles through and if Puran is in great mood, you can request him to play his guitar - he is a master. But he may not if there are many other guests around.
He learned guitar in a hard way when he dreamt of becoming a musician and even took formal lessons in the U.K. He made several stage performances and worked with well known bands.
But that unfortunately has never been a great way to plan livelihood in a place like Darjeeling. When the reality struck, he had to settle down with something more practical to support his family. And that was when he started his stint in the pub. Before the pub closes, Puran would usually pour a drink or two for himself (only few of his close friends at the bar know that). Joey's Pub is located centrally on a lane opposite to the post office and close to the Big Bazaar of Ladenla road.
Darjeeling Gymkhana Club
This is the most prominent club in Darjeeling which was established in 1909 over 2 acres of land area during the British era. Today it has over 460 permanent members from Darjeeling and other places. While the club is not open to general public, you can either visit the club as a guest or take up a temporary membership.
The club offers temporary memberships even for few days to visitors for staying in its rooms & suites, and/or enjoying the club facilities. Many foreigners do so. On an average, every year about 500 visitors take up temporary memberships. The club was earlier known as Darjeeling Amusement Club because of its many entertainment activities.
Other than enjoying a separate bar which is opened to guests and temporary members, you can also participate in many types of indoor games in the evenings like badminton, table tennis, card games etc. There are three indoor badminton courts with wooden floors and one hard court. The card room has six tables and is complete with fireplace.
The food in the club is excellent and they serve many different cuisine including Chinese, Tibetan, Continental, North Indian, and Bengali dishes. Recently the club has been extended and a new building housing 3-star category rooms and services has come up in the premises.
INOX Movie Theater, Darjeeling
Here is another great way to spend your time at night in Darjeeling - watch a movie at Inox. There are a number of shows that take place starting from morning hours running up to late evening. Usually Hindi blockbusters and latest Hollywood films are screened. Inox Rink Mall. 19 Laden La Road. Phone (Ticketing): +91/354-2257183
Snehasish Goswami (August 2016)
Hi, I have been a fan of your thread now. I am going to Darjeeling along with my friend in October. Can you tell me any special bars in Darjeeling where we can play pool or drink by a fireside.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2016
There is only one bar lounge in Darjeeling that has pool table - Sinclairs Hotel, but that would be very expensive. See the 3rd picture of this page
Most Tea Estate Resorts and few others offer campfire/bonfire. There is otherwise no such provisions for general visitors. Another option is fireplaces in restaurants with bars - Shangrila Restaurant & Bar and Gymkhana club (accessible to outsiders with a temporary membership fee) are the ones that have fireplaces. But unfortunately, the fireplaces are lit up usually in winter, and not in October.
R.Rupesh (November 2013)
How can we celebrate new year in Darjeeling... at night (31st Dec).. in which place new year celebrations will be held?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2013
Hi, There are hardly any public celebrations of Christmas or New Year in Darjeeling. The popular streets like the Nehru Road (that leads up to the mall), Gandhi Road etc are lit up with glittering shops on both sides of the streets. The shops, eateries, restaurants and bars get into the festive mood with colorful decors and lighting. They also make special offerings around this time to attract guests. You will find almost all restaurants and bars full in the evenings on these days. However the real celebrations take place in big hotels like the Windamere, Mayfair,Viceroy etc who organize programs and performances. But those are mostly for in-house guests and not for outsiders. So if you like to enjoy such celebrations, make a booking in one of such hotels, which is going to be quite expensive though. In fact most such hotels offer packages around this time which includes lodging, food and entertainment.