With its rich history and repertoire of cafés usually taking the limelight, Amman might not immediately strike travelers as a top destination for nightlife. However, since the turn of the century, the local culture and the influence of globalization have combined to develop several distinct scenes.
Several of those renowned cafés now serve alcohol into the late hours of the night (or morning, rather), to the tune of international bands and trendy DJs. Snazzy rooftop bars offer views and ambience to rival any, and the nightclub scene is alive and well thanks to young Jordanians’ affinity for electronic music. There is something and somewhere in Amman for every type of reveler, but one has to know where to look — that’s where we come in.
Cafés and Lounges
Whether they serve alcohol or not, many Jordanian cafés stay open late, offering a relaxed spot to people-watch with some herbal tea and shisha. Cafe Kepi on Paris Square is one such venue, keeping its doors open until 1:30 a.m. every day of the week. In fact, for that very reason, it’s a popular Ramadan spot for the first meal after sundown. Cafe Kepi offers a nice mix of international and local cuisine, with onion rings and nachos that are particularly worth your attention.
Books@Cafe is an Amman institution known for its coffee and cozy setting, but there is so much more to this place than meets the eye. There is a sign upon entering that declares a “no-hate zone,” and both you and your wallet will feel the love from moderately priced cocktails that you can enjoy on their terrace. On Thursday nights, the upstairs restaurant and bar, which is accompanied by a DJ, is home to Amman’s most popular gay-friendly scene.
The Living Room turns the swank up a notch, but without sacrificing comfort or an easy atmosphere. As the name suggests, its decor is influenced by the prototypical Ammani living space of the 20th century, before televisions invaded the home. Though it’s well known for its food (particularly steaks), you don’t need to dine here to receive the full experience; simply soak up the intimacy by curling up on a fireside sofa with a cocktail.
From proper drinking holes to glitzy hangouts, Amman’s bars cater to every mood and style. There’s more good news here: if you haven’t noticed the theme yet, Ammani venues try to be as multifaceted as possible, aiming to provide many different experiences under a single roof. Blue Fig on Irbid Street exemplifies this, containing several bars, a restaurant, and a movie complex within its walls. It has a huge menu of food and drink, with beers on tap from local breweries and around the world, and the selection of bands it brings is just as impressive.
One downside to drinking in Amman is the high price of alcohol in many of the most accessible drinking spots, such as those attached to the city’s luxury hotels. Thankfully, some of Amman’s standalone bars go out of their way to combat this by offering great happy-hour deals. Cantaloupe takes 25 percent off food and drinks between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., a great time to take in sunset views from the rooftop. District has half-priced cocktails from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on its rooftop terrace that looks out over Amman’s old city — though it would look right at home in a trendy American neighborhood. Finally, La Calle on the famous Rainbow Street has daily drink specials from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Much of the best clubbing and dancing opportunities are in the hotel spots mentioned above, so be prepared to fork over a little extra cash for a cover charge and drinks. That said, the prices are usually justified by the high standards that Ammani clubs and DJ venues set for themselves. JJ’s at the Grand Hyatt hotel proves this, being recognized as one of the best nightclubs in Jordan for the foreign DJs it brings in, who attract locals and travelers alike.
For more underground scenes, visit Cube Lounge and CLUSTR. Cube is a year-round club with different DJs every night of the week — entry is typically free before midnight, and on Thursdays it includes a free shot of your choice. Cube is active on social media channels as well, so keep an eye on its Facebook for events and promotions. CLUSTR is a seasonal club that has brought the international dance music scene to Amman from January through May for two years running. Its huge success was predicated on multi-level security and its themed nights, so it is highly likely to return in 2019. Keep an eye out!
Though Jordan attracts visitors from all over the world with its monuments and marvels, Amman can be overlooked as an experience in and of itself. First-time visitors to the Middle East might not expect to find familiar cosmopolitan scenes and settings, but as a major city that has been open to international influence since its beginnings, an eclectic range of ideas about urban living have developed naturally here. Nightlife in Amman demonstrates the easygoing and welcoming nature of its residents, who understand how to blend past and present in some awesome ways. Indulge, rejoice, and make a toast.
Cover Photo by Alex Holyoake