About Time: You’ve Discovered London’s Best Gaming HauntsBy Angelica Malin
Looking for a night out in London with a gaming twist? While unsurprisingly Londinium (as it was once known) has an abundance of places and things that you can do, regardless of whatever games you like — be it retro arcade games, board games, poker or pool — the capital caters to all tastes and then some. Indeed, as regular readers of About Time Magazine know, London is much more than just Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace — as great as they are. Here, we outline some of what we think is London’s best gaming haunts…
We begin with Draughts London, which is located in Hackney and billed as the ‘first board game cafe’ in the capital. It certainly has a lot of games — 600+ at the last count, according to its official website — and choosing one is probably going to be a tough decision.
It’s open from 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, closing at 11 p.m. on all days — except Saturday when it stays open until midnight. The staff is very knowledgeable, and while the 4-hour limit can be frustrating, it is only enforced on weekends due to demand. It’s definitely worth a trip; although if you are going to go during the week, it’s worth booking a slot in advance.
Next up on our list is Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes — and no prizes for guessing the main game you can play here. It has a retro American theme, think the 1950s, and serves a nice selection of beers as well as great pizzas and burgers – ‘The Strike Burger’ has apparently been voted the second best in London.
There are also private karaoke rooms — if that appeals to you — and if you want to organise a party, you can book the Kingpin Suite, which boasts five bowling lanes, a ping pong table, a pool table, and even an indoor cricket simulator. It is centrally located, too — near Russell Square and London Euston — and about a 20-minute walk from Covent Garden.
Now if you want to try out some more ‘serious’ games, head to Leicester Square and go to The Hippodrome Casino, which was voted the ‘Best Land-Based Casino’ at the Totally Gaming Awards a few years back.
Since opening in July 2012 after a £45 million refurbishment, it has continued to go from strength-to-strength and boasts three floors of gaming, including the U.K.’s only PokerStars Live deck where you can play anything — including slots, blackjack, and roulette — and experience for yourself the kind of scenes celebrated in films like Casablanca, Ocean’s Eleven, and numerous James Bond flicks. There are also six bars, a great steak house, and an 180-seat music and cabaret room.
Finally, if you like the idea of playing some retro arcade games, head away from the hustle and bustle of central London to Four Quarters in up and coming Peckham. Here, you will find an array of vintage arcade machines from Pac-Man to Daytona USA to Asteroids.
Because of its success in Peckham, Four Quarters opened a second branch in Hackney Wick early this year — not far from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the London Stadium — called Four Quarters East. It follows a similar formula with craft beers and ‘hearty food’ and, of course, games like Space Invaders and Outrun.
So that’s four very different places where you could go to get your gaming fix, and while they are, in our humble opinion, definitely some of the best gaming haunts in London, there are plenty more that you could try. Consider this a starting point to whet your appetite, and on behalf of all of us at About Time Magazine, we hope you have some fun with whichever ones you slink to. Happy gaming, readers!