Map of places

          Rothesay    1 of 3



The Criterion has painted itself bright pink  and blue in the hope of being noticed and advertises quizzes and Sky. Inside the reddy-pink colour scheme is continued in the carpet and seating fabric. The interior is actually nicer than the outside with dark wood for tables and counter. It is long and thin, with a back area having pool and a couple of booths .  The front room, with its long servery has several padded settle areas near the front door and stools along the length of the bar.

have a pint here


Heavy       : McEwan’s 70/-

Lager        :  Stella, Tennent’s

Cider        : Strongbow Guinness

Click picture to enlarge....

The Esplanade Hotel has a bar and restaurant on the second floor. The room is mainly set out for diners with tables for drinkers round to the right.  Staff prefer to do table service with paying a bill at the end. This seems to be a sister hotel to The Victoria.

Have a pint


Real ale    : Armadillo

Bitter       : Tetley smooth Flow

Lager        : Carlsberg; San Miguel

Cider        : Strongbow Guinness


The ferry drops you in the centre of Rothesay and two of the 15 pubs two of the pubs are a short walk along the coast to the left. The furthest of these being The Struan and closer to town is Howards Way. The rest of the pubs are in the centre of the town.


The crawl can be reduced to 13 in number and a shorter walk by missing the two that are 5 minutes along the coast, although this does mean missing quite nice bars and one of the few with real ale.


As you come off of the ferry straight in front of you is The Esplanade Hotel. The door is at the side rather than the main road. On leaving The Esplanade turn round the corner it is on and walk away from the ferry terminal and square. The next place up is The Victoria Hotel which as a downstairs bistro/bar called Ghillies.  From here, carry on a few shop fronts to Gamba’s Bar and then onto the roundabout up ahead.  To the left and across of the roundabout (you cannot miss it) is The Criterion.

more Rothesay pubs

Gamba’s Bar is brightly painted and has large windows trying to show the view. It has been modernised in a minimalist way. Tiled floor and ice blue material for settles makes it seem cold. The bar has three rooms with the front room having the servery, some couches and small round tables. The middle room has several small booths and the rear room, going round to the left has pool, darts, dance floor and DJ post. Disco and Karaoke bar

Have a half pint here


Heavy       : Bellhaven Best

Lager        :  Tennent’s;  Stella;  Fosters

Cider        : Magners Guinness

The Ghillies at The Victoria Hotel is the downstairs bar/bistro for The Victoria Hotel.  It has a large picture window with long couches overlooking the gardens (although parked cars obstruct the view. It has some small round tables for dining or sitting drinking. At the far end is a small curved bar with some stools.

Upstairs is a more traditional dining restaurant and lounge bar which is mainly used by hotel guests and diners. Prices in main restaurant prices and menu is the same as Ghillies.

A variety of bottles beer available as well.

Have a pint or two


Real ale    :Wilderness (Loch Less)

Bitter         : Tetley Smooth

Mild         : Tetley Dark

Lager        :  San Miguel; Birra Moretti,  Carlsberg

Cider        : Somersby Guinness


There are 15 pubs in the town, several of which are associated with hotels. Sadly there are also a number of closed establishments.


Most pubs have pool and/or darts on offer as they accommodate towns people as well as day/weekend trippers.


Some of the pubs make little attempt to lure tourists and day trippers, unless, of course they are only visiting for the drink.


Many of the establishments are under tenement 'shops' and therefore have limited opportunity to improve the front of the bar to make it attractive. there are several who use bright colours to do this and some also have picture windows overlooking the bay and gardens.

There after several with unappealing facias but modern interiors.


Which examination did Prince Rainier require Grace Kelly to pass before their marriage?


Drink and Music


Leonard Cohen - Closing Time

Rothesay is the main town on the isle of Bute near the mouth of the River Clyde.

It is easily accessible from Glasgow by train. The train takes about 50 minutes to reach Wemyss Bay where a ferry takes another 35 minutes to reach the centre of the town of Rothesay. Check Caledonian MacBrayne website for details.

Rothesay is a small town of around 4,500 population. During Victoria times it was popular destination for water therapy. It also had a long period of time from Victorian times to the 1950s when it was a popular tourist destination for people from the west coast of Scotland.

The Winter Gardens, now a visitor centre and cinema, was a top entertainment centre on the River Clyde.


The standout visitor attraction on Bute is Mount Stuart House the home of the Marquis of Bute which is now run by a charitable trust. A second, and remarkable, tourist pilgrimage is to the Victorian toilets (still in operation) on the pier.

The Waverly paddle steamer calls in to Rothesay several times a year.

Bute holds lots of events to attract visitors  : Jazz Festival               Highland Games      Linedancing Festival  

                                                                      Cycling Weekend       Round Bute Run     Regattas

books on beer


Kyle Minogue

Drink and Music


Gil Scott Heron -

The Bottle

in vino veritas


Pliny the elder