A good old English tradition; a trip to the pub with friends, sitting around, chatting about good times, with a decent pint in your hand. You feel relaxed, you feel at home, you feel as though you could stay there for hours. And then we come to O'Neill's.... Sitting around? This is an impossibility unless you camp outside for hours in a spring sales anticipatory manner to save yourself a seat as soon as the doors open. Chatting? If you and your friends have normal eardrums you will find the level of music unacceptably loud to allow normal conversation (and please don't think me a fuddy duddy - I am only in my 20s). The only 'conversation' you will get is the loud drunken shout of 'Get your coat luv - you've pulled', or some other such original chat up line. A decent pint? I think not! Like so many other numerous 'pubs' in Bristol this one is turning its back on a decent pint of ale. So the choice? Guiness? Fosters? How unusual! If stout - why not something interesting like Marstons Oyster Stout or Youngs Chocolate Stout? God forbid that any Bristolian would wish to be so adventurous! (Or so think the landlords at O'Neills). So... relaxed? Stay there for hours? By the time you have fought your way to the bar, been ignored by perfectly groomed seemingly 16 year old serving girls, shouted yourself hoarse in an attempt to converse with your friends and got pins and needles from standing up for too long you will feel far from relaxed and, in fact, will probably find yourself rushing outside within minutes in an attempt to escape from the claustrophobic atmosphere rather than feeling calm and content. Bring back the log fire, the friendly landlord, the pub dog, the warm ale!!
O'Neill's nice place, good drinks... well, only if you are tall enough as to be able to see some more that the hairy back of who's walking, or trying to walk in front of you. And good drinks if at least a drop can touch your tongue, and beliave me is a great thing if you can take your glass to your mouth! That's why if you don't want to feel alone and think that this is a good option, you're wrong! You'll feel lost inmerse in a multitude. Crowded! Always crowded!
The biggest O'Neill's in the country has recently opened in Baldwin Street, Bristol. It is open until 1:00am Monday - Friday, but its downstairs music room is only open Wednesday - Saturday. Entry to the upstairs bar is free and providing you are in before 10:00 entry to the music room is also free, the rest of the time a charge of £3 applies. Drinks are also expensive for a pub (especially if you want Smirnoff Ice!) you would pay £1.30 just for a lemonade! However, if you are planning to use the music room then there are pretty much what you would expect to have paid in the City's clubs. Upstairs the bar has a supposedly 'Irish' feel, although like most theme pubs is nothing like real Irish pubs. Most of the seating is small tables, although there are a few booths at the back. You can have floor service at your table, with the option of paying cash for everything as you buy it, or opening a tab; but you will need to leave a valid credit card or debit card behind the bar for this. They also serve a full menu until 8:00 pm, and a reduced menu after this. Be warned though they often run out of basics like chips and rolls so you are likely to get a substitute (and they don't always warn you of this when you order). Floor service can also be slow, and they don't always come back to check if things are ok so be prepared to wait and to take complaints to the bar. The music room plays mostly cheese and chart, although be warned the DJ seams to have a limited collection and you will get a lot of repetition over an evening. There is a cloakroom to leave coats, but at £1 an item it is usually empty. The room itself is well laid out with a small dance floor in the middle and small tables around the outside. On the right-hand side there are a row of booths, which can comfortably sit 8 and is a great way to sit and chat with friends. If you are looking for a pub with a late licence, and you aren't too worried about the cost then this place is worth a try. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Just a little update. O'Neill's have now started randomly changing the drinks prices halfway through the evening. With every drink going up by about 10p without warning. Also you now have to pay to go down to the music room even if you are already in the bar, which means the place is usually really empty and lacking in atmosphere. Just thought I would warn you about these 2 very customer unfriendly practices!