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Geneva’s nightlife is as diverse as its international crowd. You can find upscale bars and clubs for the jetsetting elite to parties at squats filled with counter-cultural youths who refuse to take part in the money cycle (but do want to partake in the booze).
If you’re just stopping in Geneva and are looking for a drink, Les Brasseurs diagonally across from the Cornavin train station offers yards of home-made brew as well as reasonably good bar food.
"Les Pâquis" district, a stroll away from the railway station, spreads between the rue de Lausanne going East and the lakeside Quays. It is known for its multi-ethnic population, its smallish red light district and its many bars and restaurants. It is also a district of contrasts between the expensive lakeside apartment blocks and 5* hotels and the more low key multi-cultural traditionnal buildings. Among the many nightlife bars, Les 5 Portes (on rue de Zurich), le Café des Arts (on the rue des Pâquis) and le Scandale are trendy and popular with locals. Grand Duke Pub on 8 rue de monthoux provides excellent blend of music from the 70's to the latest also they show major sporting events like the premier league, NFL, Rugby etc.
On the West of the Mont-Blanc avenue (the main avenue stretching down towards the lake from Cornavin railway station) are the small districts of Saint-Gervais and le Seujet. Mulligans pub ( www.ireland.ch ), Geneva's Original Irish established 1996, is located at 14 rue de Grenus, just below the Manor department store and a few streets away from Shakers; the night club popular with the anglophone crowd, used to be in the Old Town and is now just behind the Four Season Hôtel des Bergues. Close-by is the Charly O'Neills Irish Pub (established 1999), at 18 rue Hoffmann, 1202 Geneva. Further to the West of the city, on Quai du Seujet, The Platinum Glam Club, is a favourite for house music lovers and often hosts Dj's from around Europe and the U.S.A.
The Old Town, on the left bank, is not only a cultural heritage, it is also a hot spot for nightlife addicts and one may find many bars and nightclubs. The central square of "Le Bourg de Four" is surrounded by restaurants and bars including the famous La Clémence; the bar has been a meeting place for students (the university is very close) for generations and every local has at least been there once. Around the corner is the Demi-Lune, a trendy yet easy-going lounge and Tapas bar. Heading down towards the shopping district on la Grand Rue, Springbrothers pub and le Roi Ubu are very popular. A bit further down is the Le Petit Palace, a night club popular with locals rather than expats. Around the corner is the trendy lounge and cocktail bar, l'Alhambar (currently closed for renovation): nice design and good Dj's; they also offer a light menu as well as a Sunday brunch. Just below is the Antidote bar & lounge.
Below the Old Town, the shopping and bank district boasts numerous bars and nightclubs including Lord Nelson Pub on the Place du Molard, opposite the very trendy Senso lounge bar, famous for its afterwork parties. Further on rue du Rhone is the Arthur's Rive Gauche.
While most of the bars and clubs near and around the shopping district cater to higher budgets, Plainpalais district, that spreads West of the Old Town and University all around the gigantic Plainpalais square, is full of slightly less expensive yet trendy bars. Around the Place du Cirque, one may find the very pleasant Ethno bar and lounge; it serves good cocktails and offers a nice selection of wines and on week-ends it features good Dj's. On the other side of the street, a good place for a latino vibe, the Café Cuba while further down the square is the eclectic Barrio's Latino (chill out, Brazil vibe, salsa, electro house, etc..). Close to the Place du Cirque on the Southern side of the square is the popular Pub de la Presse while a 150 yards down the Rue du Stand is the never aging 30 year old MAD (le Moulin à Dance); also a very eclectic club with activities such as dancing lessons , cinema, live concerts and a lot of late nights. The Santa Cruz on the rue du Stand is another latino hot spot. The most recent one, Cohiba Lounge, is really classy (their mojitos are delightful).
There are also many bars to find down the Boulevard Carl-Vogt and the Avenue du mail, while on the rue des Bains (and its many art galleries) is the pleasant Café des Bains (and restaurant).
Between the Cornavin railway station and the airport, there are another few bars. Among those useful to mention, there is the Tentation Lounge bar on the rue de Lyon and a bit further up on the rue du Grand Pré, the Charlie O'Neils Irish pub.
Those more into the alternative scene should try to get to know a punk to get an invite to one of the squat parties or find your way to Artamis, the independent artist colony. If all else fails, trek over to L’Usine at Place des Volontaires close to the Rhône river in Plainpalais, a factory transformed into a bar/club that often features live music and an interesting crowd.
N.B.: Geneva nightlife evolves fast (as in many other places). Bars are suddenly closing while others are opening. Please do check the places listed in this article do still exist. http://www.local.ch (online phone directory) will help.