Friday, August 8


by Chris Hammond


Slains Castle Cruden Bay, “the castle of the dead” was one of the key inspirations for Bram Stokers immortal classic Dracula. Slains Castle Aberdeen, “the bar of the braindead” is about as inspirational as a piss stain on a bathroom mat.

Being the most atheist of Britain’s major cities Aberdeen has rather brilliantly thrown up a never ending supply of derelict churches to the pub industry; Soul (an eerily vapid drinking experience somehow more sinister than even the most deviant Dracula incarnation) and The Priory (just shite really) join Slains in being the most prominent of these watering holes of worship.

And on the face of it Slains is great! It’s a gorgeous silver church with a huge cavernous interior filled to the brim with suitably morbid décor. Suits of armour, bookcases for doors, chandeliers, torture implements and horror paraphernalia are liberally strewn across the bars two floors of gothic glory. It’s a real feast for the eyes . . . just not the other senses. Aurally it’s about as scary as it can get for an intelligent human being, with a hideous barrage of commercial R&B and pop destroying any atmosphere that the undoubtedly top notch surroundings might have induced. Likewise the edible wares on offer are equally unpalatable, cheap gassy lager and lurid, weak, sugary cocktails are the drinks of choice at a bar so unimpressive it almost seems as if alcoholics anonymous are in charge of the purchasing.

Clientele wise it drips with nervy first year university students finally unleashed after an eternity suckling their mothers teat – here they wander round sheepishly trying to avoid the more seasoned yet equally sozzled assortment of ruffians.

Scary stuff indeed. So much so in fact I’ll let a Bram Stoker quote summarise a Saturday night in Salins . . .

“A horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal."

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Photo by cvander


Anonymous said...

I think this is a very unfair review!
(of Soul -likewise)
Slains cocktails are great fun if anything, for their essense alone- the seven deadly sins..
yu failed to mention the toilets which are somewhat of an attraction with its hidden door, the staff there are pleasant and there's tons of atmosphere. I genuinely think you are either being bitter or used to different kinda places- NOT pubs... in which case, you're in the wrong place!..

The Scottish Pub guide said...

Interesting toilets should never be a reason to enter a pub. Likewise whilst the staff aren't bad, they hardly compensate for the fact it is essentially a goths visual wet dream crossed with a tweenies disco.

I'm not even sure I'd class a themed bar (and part of a chain at that)as a real pub - but if that's what you consider a pub then I guess you are in the right place.


Chris Hammond