Vote now: Bristol’s worst smoking area

Where you’ll get cancer AND have a shit night

The nightclub smoking area. If you can’t go on a night out without a packet of cigs, the smoking area can make or break your night.

Some are packed with freshers trying to bum cigarettes off each other, others have people trying to sell you chicken. No two smoking areas are the same.

That said, some are clearly better than others. But which one is the worst?



Who needs the club when you can stay out here all night? (Photo: Jamie Corbin)

Motion is Bristol’s biggest club, and also boasts one of the largest smoking areas, two to be precise.

These come with a bar, plenty of seating, sheltered and unsheltered areas, and enough room to move about, even on popular nights.

One of the smoking areas is also host to the toilets, which is ideal as it makes your trip twice as fruitful.

Pam Pams

I know what you’re thinking: Pam Pams doesn’t even have a smoking area.

Indeed it doesn’t, at least not inside it’s garishly decorated walls. However, it provides space for smoking on the street, mixing together those unfortunate enough to be inside, with those unfortunate enough to be queueing to get inside.

On the plus side, if you do go for a cigarette on the street and the fresh air clears your mind, it is at least easy to make a quick getaway.



Nobody wanted to speak to him (Photo: Jamie Corbin)

Thekla’s smoking area is a breath of fresh air for smokers (clearly not literally…).

For a start, it’s located inside the club. Actually, it’s located on it, as smokers gather on the deck of Thekla’s boat, roughly on top of the dancing masses below.

As well as offering smokers a lot of space and a scenic view, there’s also the opportunity to sit on some fantastic nautical items.

Our only qualm is it’s very open, with little protection from the elements, but if we’re being honest that just adds to the appeal.

You’re on a boat, you should expect to get a bit wet…

The Exchange

The Exchange is known for throwing utterly average nights, but what it should be known for is its diabolical smoking area.

On the rare occasion the club is full, smokers are squeezed together inside a high-walled fence without any form of shelter and with minimal light, few places to sit, and a long wait to get back inside.

The smoking area is at least tantalisingly close to the exit, but annoyingly you’re forced all the way back inside and through in order to get the fuck out of the club.



Welcome to prison (Photo: Jamie Corbin)

There are few places more depressing than the smoking area in Syndicate on a Friday night.

Rather than treat smokers like prized customers, Syndicate forces them to endure a fate that’s somehow worse than the sound of one of the Made In Chelsea blokes pretending to DJ.

You’re sent down into what can only be described as a giant cell, where you’re often not even allowed to sit down. It’s dark, stinks of piss, and although it’s dry, you’d almost certainly rather be soaking wet than have to spend any time in there.

Syndicate couldn’t have a worse smoking area if it tried.

Basement 45

As with Pam Pams, party-goers at Basement 45 are required to head to the street to smoke.

However, due to its less public location, smokers can at least enjoy relative peace and quiet.

The area is also cordoned off, making it slightly better. Still not ideal though.



The smoking area is full of people like this (Photo: Jamie Corbin)

Ah Bunker. The place where it all began on that first night out in Fresher’s Week.

Bunker can be a very busy club, particularly on Monday nights, and because it has its own smoking area (by which I mean, not out on the street) it has limited space.

This makes for some serious overcrowding, and long waits to get outside at peak times. However, it’s not a totally unpleasant place to be. It’s at least got some seating, and a bar. An average smoking area for an average club.


Lakota has one of the most over-rated smoking areas in Bristol.

While it splashes out the cash on the occasional fire dancer, or a bouncy castle, it also has some serious flaws.

Firstly, it sells BBQ chicken.

I’ve never seen anyone buy any and the smoke both blinds you and gives the smoke coming from your cigarette small-man syndrome.

What’s more, the ways in and out of the Lakota smoking area can be so packed that you’re often forced to re-enter the club a different way from how you came in. Given how sprawling Lakota is, this only causes disorientation and drunken anger.