Nothing’s quite the same as celebrating your birthday with games at activity bars, because-
A) It can dutifully recreate the nostalgic and magical feeling of having played party games as a kid (except with booze now), and…
B) Everybody should let you win.
Maybe you love playing around the foosball table and are looking for a fun night out here in the UK. Wondering what London’s best activity bars are? Here they are:
All Star Lanes – Shoreditch, and Holborn Westfield
Bowling is great, particularly when you bring in a 1950s vibe, non-sweaty shoes, cocktails, private karaoke booths and even a genuine American diner that serves dishes like chargrilled prime beef steaks and Mississippi corn-dipped fish finger sandwiches. The karaoke booths are private and there for those who deliberately get drunk.
Numbers: Up to 21 (with flexibility).
You might also want to look into Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes that have a similarly retro vibe and let you reserve as many as 8 lanes simultaneously.
Baranis – Temple
This basement cocktail bar has a simple menu featuring traditional Provencal snacks and a delightful array of the prime anise-flavoured aperitif of the region, namely pastis. There’s also an indoor but gravelled petanque court. Here, the goal is simply throwing hollow metal balls just as close as you can to the small wooden ball. It’s simple, except for those who don’t have any arms.
Numbers: It’s good to cap things at 8 people unless you want to play the one lane in rounds.
Mac & Wild – Liverpool Street
Yes, this is a whisky bar featuring more than 200 varieties across their shelves, as well as bar snacks such as ‘haggis pops’ and bottled house cocktails. However, the best thing here is a set of virtual shooting ranges that stretch right down the middle, replete with a dressing-up box heavy in tweed. You can take simulated shots at game ranging from wild boar to deer and even grouse.
Numbers: £60p/h for as many as 40 people.
Bar Kick – Shoreditch
‘Shoreditch royalty’ might be a great way to sum up this place. It’s a bustling and even rambunctious bar inspired by football. They offer a menu of wine, beer, cocktails, charcuterie and cheese, and epicurean sandwiches. Oh yeah, there’re also foosball tournaments.
Numbers: A group of 10 to 25 can reserve an area with up to two foosball tables.
The London Shuffle Club – London Shuffleboard Spot
Behold this brief history of the game:
Shuffleboard was invented here in England back in the early 1500s. Its popularity spread when word got out that Henry VIII enjoyed playing it. It actually got so very addictive that many people ended up not working, leading to a 1542 government ban of it.
However, it’s now back.
The folks that brazenly risked the national economy by once more unleashing this once-illicit pastime on an unwitting populace are The London Shuffle Club. They’ve tried out their ideas with two long-running pop-ups and have decided that the crowds are still in favour of shuffleboard, so they now offer in a permanent multi-level home in Shoreditch.
Draughts Board Game Cafe – Haggerston, Waterloo
This board-game cafe is partially crowd-funded in the midst of Hackney. Under the archways below Waterloo station, over 500 games await you along with a considerably more honest selection of homemade baked goods, wines, ciders, ales, and local craft beers.
Numbers: Book as many as 8 people, as that’s roughly how many you can get around a good-sized board game.
Bounce – Holborn, Shoreditch
Over 12,000 square feet of space designed by Russell Sage sports 17 ping-pong tables, a DJ booth, a 40-foot bar serving drinks inspired by the seasons, and a raised restaurant that overlooks all the action. If table tennis was any fun before cocktails came into the picture, along with friends and music, and you know it was, then the folks at Bounce have accomplished the impossible and made it more fun than ever before.
Numbers: Honestly, 2 to 500. Book tables or a whole room!