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The Student’s Guide to Nightlife in Ottawa’s Original Downtown: Part 1 

September 5, 2023

School is back in, and that means that Ottawa can expect new and returning students to start settling in at university and college campuses across the city for another academic year. If you count yourself among them and have spent countless long nights hitting the books and writing exams, chances are you might be looking for a means of blowing off steam with friends. 

Sound like you? Then it’s high time you paid a visit to Ottawa’s Original Downtown! Once you step off the O-Train’s Confederation Line at Rideau Station, there’s hardly any walking involved in order to get to these exciting venues. From dinner to dancing and everything in between, check out what’s available right on the Rideau strip! 

The Palace Night Club  

This opulent night club has an affinity for all things African and Caribbean! Guests can expect to dance the evening away to some afrobeat while surrounded by their opulent décor, including breathtaking luxury chandeliers! 

📍 400A Dalhousie Street 

Friday – Saturday: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 366-1045 


Parties at The Palace feature DJ sets filled with African and Caribbean music as well as luxury décor.
(Image: The Palace Night Club) 

The Hudson 

Taking its name from the river in New York City, The Hudson’s décor is inspired by the architectural aesthetics of the condos that surround its namesake. Reserve a booth for yourself and enjoy their bottle service while their DJ spins a mix of hip hop, R&B, afrobeat and Latin American music. 

📍 158 Rideau St #1/2 

Friday – Saturday: 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 366-1045 


Experience The Hudson’s signature décor inspired by the infamous river in New York City.
(Image: The Hudson) 

56 ByWard 

Many in Ottawa were saddened to learn about the closing of Mercury Lounge, which was one of the city’s most storied and celebrated night clubs. In its place, however, rose a brand-new nightlife venue that aims to offer patrons a fresh clubbing experience while remaining true to the values and aesthetics of its predecessor. Every night, 56 ByWard plays a mix of contemporary funk, soul and jazz music out of each of its three sub-venues: Krüsch, a luxurious cocktail bar, Berlin, a night club featuring monthly exhibitions and pop-up shops and Underground, which features resident DJs playing carefully curated house music all night long. 

📍 56 Byward Market Square 

📞 (613) 416-3422 


56 Byward sports not one, but three high end nightlife establishments – a fitting means of carrying on the legacy of the Mercury Lounge that came before it. (Image: Berlin) 

Joy on Sussex 

Located in the Former Geological Survey of Canada Building, Joy on Sussex’s extravagant menu features award-winning teas, sushi, cocktails and champagne. This venue has quickly become the first choice for some of Ottawa’s most esteemed citizens, including ambassadors, federal and provincial ministers, the Mayor and more! You can dine inside and be surrounded by art, chandeliers and luxurious decor or you experience the outdoor patio and enjoy a meal under the stars. 

📍 527 Sussex Drive 

Wednesday – Thursday: 8 p.m. – late 

Friday – Saturday: 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. 

📞 (613) 627-2335 


Joy on Sussex has hosted many notable guests over the years, including federal ministers and ambassadors.
(Image: Joy on Sussex) 

Laugh Lounge 

Feel like getting your funny on? Spend the night in stiches at the Laugh Lounge, the Byward Market’s first and only comedy club! Featuring a roster of amateur and professional comedians as well as high-end craft cocktails and premium spirits, this is the place to be if you’re looking to yuk it up during the evening. 

📍 61 York Street 

Thursday: 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. 

Friday – Sunday: 7 p.m. – midnight 

🖱️ Tickets 

Laugh Lounge is one of the most celebrated comedy clubs in the city, with “Pros and Joes” performing on the regular.
(Image: Laugh Lounge) 

Hyde & Seek 

For a high-end, modern clubbing experience, be sure to check out Hyde & Seek on George Street! This venue was recently renovated and now features leather banquettes, polished tile flooring and granite counter tops. You can also reserve a VIP table for you and your friends as well as a spot on their guest list as late as midnight. Be sure to dress for the occasion as well, as the club maintains a strict dress code! 

📍 130 George Street 

Friday – Saturday: 11 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. 

📞 (613) 714-5084 


Hyde & Seek sports a sleek and stylish design that includes beautiful granite countertops and dazzling light displays.
(Image: Hyde & Seek) 

If you’re looking to leave the stress of student life behind for an evening, be sure to visit any of the nightlife establishments that this city has to offer! And if you still haven’t quite found the perfect spot yet, don’t worry – we’ll have more places you can visit in Part 2 of our guide! 

Thinking of driving down? Check out this handy resource that lists all the available parking spots in the area – please have a designated driver!

And check out our Events page to see everything else that’s happening on Rideau Street!