I went to Hive with social distancing and it was strangely vibey

Live, Laugh, Hive

Freshers’ Week this year has been a bit of a let down to say the least. With the ‘rule of six’ in bars and pubs and definitely no clubbing, it has felt very abnormal. What is even more of a let down, however, is that this is set to become the new normal as clubbing will likely be off the cards for a very long time.

Thankfully, many Edi clubs have tried to ‘adapt, improvise, and overcome’ by reopening as bars. And one such club-turned-bar is Hive – the student fave between Cowgate and the Royal Mile.

RIP old Hive, gone but not forgotten

So, on Wednesday night, I had one of the most normal social interactions I have had in a very long time. Put off by the long queues for Three Sisters, one of mates turned to me and just simply said “Hive?”. To which I replied: “Hive.”


I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive about the concept of a socially distanced Hive. I was very confused about how its unique selling points of so-good-it’s-bad music, being dingy but in a fun way, and outrageously cheap drinks would translate into a “cocktail bar”. But, I was pleasantly surprised.

🍾 Introducing The Hive Bar! 🍾 We've made a few changes over the last couple of months, it may be slightly different but…

Posted by The Hive on Thursday, 17 September 2020

After walking up the steep climbs of Niddry Street, we arrived at about 10:30pm which was by far the earliest I’ve ever been to Hive. We queued for about 10 minutes to get in – again, the longest I’ve ever queued. We also had not booked despite the Hive Facebook page and the bouncers both strongly recommending it. As all Hive faithfuls know, you never really chose to go to Hive; the best nights always happen when you magically find yourself there at 1AM. So, for me, this was the first clear example that the new Hive is very different from the old one.

The experience

They managed to find us a table for two in the middle bar area, and on the way in they took our temperatures, and we had to sanitise our hands and both fill out a track and trace form.

The first thing I noticed inside was the lack of cheesy bops (or any music at all). This was possibly the most disappointing bit but it’s mandated by Scottish Government rules, so we move.

The first bar (the slightly strange one in the cage) is completely closed off, and the rest of Hive is set up with socially distanced seating and table service. They’ve made a real effort to make it look less dingy than normal and the main dancefloor area looks like they’ve tried to take inspiration from fancy rooftop bars – complete with astroturf and fake ivy leaf decor.

The tables are very well-spaced out and they’ve put screens up to divide up some of the pre-existing seating (like the Cocktail Bar booths). It was quite clearly busy, but it was sufficiently distanced to not realise. Surprisingly, I felt much safer and more socially distanced in Hive than I have felt in a lot of other pubs, bars, and restaurants in Edinburgh.

Also, the system of ordering is very unique and cutesy. On all tables are recycled booze bottles with fairy lights inside that you turn on to attract attention. I thought it was so adorable I may borrow the idea for my flat – for decor purposes, not attracting attention.

Much to our relief, the drinks have (just about) remained as cheap as ever. Spirit-mixers are now £2 each – so what you would pay on a weekend rather than the astonishingly cheap £1 weekday price. However, this is still one of the most reasonably priced drinks in all of Edi. The usual Hive cocktail bar faves (including skittlebombs and rainbow shots) are still available; but table service means they’re available throughout the club  – not just in that one bar at the far end. They have also added a few new drinks including a giant 1.5 litre glass of pornstar martini!

Fairy lights, face coverings, and food – a sign of what’s to come?

They are also now serving nachos! Even more amazingly, they are free for all tables Monday-Wednesday between 6pm and 12am. The nachos themselves are very obviously made with supermarket own-brand bits that are straight out of a jar. But, just because EUSA Teviot nachos have nothing to worry about competition-wise, they really hit the spot at 11pm when dinner felt like a long time ago.

Final thoughts

Overall, it felt very different from pre-Covid Hive and I am not going to pretend that I prefer this to the old one. But, a lot of thought has clearly gone into making the new Hive as fun an experience as possible, and I think I will go back at some point. The cheap drinks plus the healthy dose of nostalgia made it a genuinely fun night; and the decor made it strangely vibey. I was also tucked up in bed by 1AM – again a first for a night out at Hive. So maybe the best way to describe the new Hive is like it’s had a third year crisis: it’s toned down but is still up for a good time.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

• Hive is re-opening and the world makes sense again

• Household visits banned in Scotland as COVID-19 rules tighten

• Subway saves the day: The return of Clubbers of the Week