This may be the most useless bar review you’ve ever read, and that’s because I can’t really tell you if Pilgrim Bar is any good. But the pictures might help. Rather than seeking it out or visiting with a purpose, I found myself in Cowgate’s Pilgrim by a simple process of elimination, namely, it didn’t stink. A few minutes earlier, the two Old Town pubs my friends and I had walked into and immediately out of had forced a rare conundrum upon us; exactly what level of stale pee smell are you willing to endure in a pub? If you’ve ever pondered this yourself, I’m sure Whistle Binkies or Bannerman’s can help you find your answer.
So option three brought us to Pilgrim, simply because none of us had been there before and we were standing right outside it. And god blimey, if quirky, vintage decor is your thing, you’ll be in shabby chic heaven here.
Boy oh boy. Some excitable little interior designer has upcycled their little hearts out here haven’t they? And somehow they’ve created a space that is both ubiquitous and original. The name ‘Pilgrim’ had me expecting a wild west theme, but step over the threshold and it’s immediately clear the word refers to the journeying type of pilgrim. Hint number one is the huge bar in the centre of what was an almost empty room, lined entirely with old-school suitcases. Look to the left and there’s a wall covered with world flags. Get it? Suitcase. Travel. World Flags.
But the retro doesn’t stop there. There’s also couch upholstery in the form of denim jeans, very cool 1930’s cinema seats and 1950’s sinks in the toilets (well the females, I don’t know what’s in the males) and wall features of vintage wooden doors and reclaimed wood. Then there’s a pair of skis, but I have no idea where they fit in.
Here’s some photos so you can see what you think.
Since I arrived at the pensioner time of 6pm on a Tuesday, besides my group of four, there were only three others in the bar, two of whom turned out to be the bar staff. As it’s located in Cowgate (or just off actually, in Robertson’s Close), I can imagine Pilgrim gets its fair share of the student/backpacker/stag and hen night crowd, but at that time of the week, they were probably still sleeping off the debauchery of their weekends.
I really couldn’t say what the vibe at Pilgrim is. In fact, it was conspicuous in its vibelessness. The styling is definitely fun, but it suggests a certain crowd (hipsters, girls who dress like 50’s housewives) whilst at the same time there’s TV’s with a loop of extreme sports, student discounts, shots for £2.50 and those pesky skis. I think if this bar was transplanted to somewhere like Tollcross, it would probably attract the crowd the decor seems to desire, but like most of the bars on Cowgate, as the evenings go on it’s bound to be rammed with groups of drunks, too wasted to even notice their table used to be a suitcase.
But I can say this with certainty; the quirky decor aside, if you find yourself stuck on a Cowgate pub crawl (my sympathies) and you’re at the point where you just can’t stand the smell of urine anymore, Pilgrim Bar’s definitely an option.
Stuff to Know:
Address:Robertson’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1,
Opening Hours: 4pm till 1am, 7 days a week.
There’s live music on Sunday from 8pm and a pub quiz on Mondays from 9pm.